Does Sarah Palin know that as long as she talks her story will not end?
And now reporters are “stinkers”. And there is so much more.
Does Sarah Palin know that as long as she talks her story will not end?
And now reporters are “stinkers”. And there is so much more.
Every four years since I was…well younger…Newsweek has had a most remarkable tradition of writing the inside story of the presidential election. The magazine had reporters inside the campaigns, and they were allowed access to the process with the understanding that nothing they saw could be printed until the election was over.
The results over the years have always produced fascinating insights, and 2008 is no different. Below is just a taste of the 50,000 word article…..and may I suggest you either pick up a copy of the magazine, or read the complete story online. It is pure politics from inside both the Barack Obama, and the John McCain team. This is the way the political game is really played. The writers create the scenes, tensions, hopes, and frictions and take us on the campaign trail…….
Here is a portion from the ending of the race that was two years in the making.
Mark Salter, McCain’s closest aide, had become increasingly isolated during the final weeks of the campaign. On the morning of the last debate, he had found the candidate stewing in his hotel room. McCain had become riled up after watching some conservative pundits on Fox urging him to lay into Obama that night. Campaign manager Rick Davis was also urging the candidate to take a more aggressive posture toward Obama on the Lewis comments. Davis argued that Obama had tried to bait Hillary Clinton, and she had called him out on it. Davis wanted McCain to do the same. Once again, Salter found himself as defender of the McCain brand, arguing that the candidate needed to stay dignified and not stoop to conquer. But McCain himself disagreed; he wanted to give Obama a chance to repudiate Lewis’ comments. The discussion became heated. As he sometimes did when he was angry and frustrated, Salter stalked out of the room to have a cigarette.
The polls continued to look grim for McCain as the campaign entered the final weekend. He was trailing by an average of 8 points in 14 battleground states—falling further behind in nine and leading in none. On Halloween, a top McCain aide told a NEWSWEEK reporter that McCain’s odds of winning were roughly equal to “drawing to an inside royal flush.” But McCain, who loved to joke “it’s always darkest before it’s completely black,” seemed unflustered, even happy. His aides had seen this mood before. McCain did not mind being the underdog; he seemed to almost glory in battling for a lost cause. “The crazier things get, the calmer he becomes,” said Matt McDonald, a senior adviser to McCain.
Salter was not surprised by McCain’s attitude. Years before, McCain had told him how he idolized the character of Robert Jordan in Hemingway’s “A Farewell to Arms.” Salter had written a chapter about Jordan in the book he coauthored with McCain, “Worth the Fighting For.” Salter (in McCain’s voice, and clearly imagining McCain) described Jordan as “a man who would risk his life but never his honor.” The title of the chapter was “Beautiful Fatalism,” after a phrase Hemingway had used to describe warriors “who stayed loyal to a doomed cause.” That pretty well described John McCain as he entered the last days of the long campaign.
On a bus trip through Central Florida, McCain was tired but cheerful, exuberantly shaking hands with shoppers at an open-air market and humbly thanking a veteran of the Navy’s submarine service. He made two brief, humorless statements to his former friends in the press. The crowds turned on the reporters, yelling, “When are you going to stop lying to America?” McCain-Palin supporters had embraced Joe the Plumber, and Palin, with her crowd sense, broadened the franchise to include Tito the Builder and Angela the Hairdresser (and Barack the Wealth Spreader). Irrepressible, Lindsey Graham had started calling his Senate pal “Joe the Biden,” which McCain found inexplicably hilarious.
There wasn’t much laughing on a bus ride through Pennsylvania. McCain sat alone in the back with his friend and aide Steve Duprey. “How are we doing in New Hampshire?” the candidate asked Duprey, who had been the New Hampshire GOP chairman. McCain had a great fondness for the Granite State, where the independent-minded voters had given him overwhelming majorities in the Republican primaries in 2000 and 2008. Duprey hesitated, but looked McCain in the eye. “We’re probably going to lose,” he said. McCain looked genuinely shocked. “How did that happen?” the candidate asked, shaking his head. It wasn’t just Obama, Duprey told him.
In truth, McCain’s “ground game,” as the get-out-the-vote effort is sometimes called, was not strong. In many states, the McCain campaign was out-organized as well as outspent by Obama. Duprey believed that McCain’s political director, Mike DuHaime, and the political operation did not understand New Hampshire. DuHaime, who had run the ill-fated Giuliani campaign, practiced off-the-shelf Republican red-meat politics. Duprey’s own son had received a mailer highlighting McCain as pro-life. Duprey, like many New Hampshire Republicans, was pro-choice. Duprey told McCain, “I’m a supporter of Planned Parenthood. If they are mailing something like this to me, who else are they mistargeting?”
In a losing campaign, backbiting is inevitable. McCain knew this from his own experience. In 1996 he had played the role Lindsey Graham performed for him—he had ridden on the campaign plane as a friend/adviser to Bob Dole, the Kansas senator challenging President Bill Clinton. In the fall of ’96, the Dole campaign had become a circular firing squad as the polls pointed to a Republican defeat. Indeed, McCain himself had been one of those advisers occasionally second-guessing campaign strategy with reporters, even as he tried to counsel his buddy (and fellow wounded vet) Senator Dole. McCain did not want to read about his own campaign’s infighting in the press. “Don’t do that to me,” he had told Salter and Schmidt, Davis and Charlie Black. And by and large they didn’t. But especially as Schmidt brought in outsiders from the Bush-Cheney ’04 campaign, the “unit cohesion,” as McCain might put it, began to crumble.
On Sunday, Oct. 26, McCain’s handlers had considered simply removing the Sunday Magazine from the candidate’s copy of The New York Times, but McCain demanded the paper before anyone could remove the offending article. “The Making (and Remaking) of a Candidate,” by Robert Draper, documented, in detail and with behind-the-curtain scenes, the many strategic lurches of McCain and his advisers. Before he was halfway through the 8,500-word article, McCain declared, quietly but firmly, “I’m very disappointed.”
The discomfort among McCain’s advisers was plain to see. Tensions had been building: in early October, as reporters trooped through the lobby of one hotel, they witnessed Salter and Nicolle Wallace arguing heatedly. Days later, Salter was unhappy with a statement by Wallace that seemed to defend the angry crowds stirred up by Governor Palin. Salter and Wallace clearly had a strained relationship. As reporters, who had been kept away from McCain, boarded the plane that day through the front door, they paraded past the candidate who was sitting on the couch that had been installed—but never used—for “Straight Talk” chats with the press. The candidate who had once traded japes with his press-corps pals did not even look up; he just looked glumly at the floor. He was flanked by Salter and Wallace, who stared grimly ahead.
Reporters noticed that Salter had been spending less and less time with his old pal Schmidt, and that Schmidt was more often seen in the company of Wallace. McCain’s 24-year-old daughter Meghan, was increasingly, and sometimes profanely, complaining that her father was being poorly served by his advisers. The atmosphere on the bus was becoming so poisonous that one midlevel staffer e-mailed another to say, “Kill me.” And yet, as the odds grew longer and Election Day grew closer, Salter took his cue from McCain, or perhaps from their shared mythic doppelgänger, Robert Jordan. Salter stopped brooding and began joking around, as if he were mocking the fates. To the tune of “Rocky,” the music used to introduce McCain as the fighting underdog at rallies, Salter entertained staffers with a shadowboxing match with Schmidt. The latter became a little overenthusiastic, however, and clipped Salter’s aviator glasses, slightly cutting and bruising Salter’s eye socket. When reporters asked what had happened, Salter pointed to the small wound and joked, “Vicious staff infighting.”
The sharpest jabs were aimed at Palin. An anonymous McCain staffer described her to Politico as “wacko” and a “diva.” When Politico reported on Oct. 21 that Palin had spent $150,000 for clothes for herself and her family, the governor had been all wounded innocence. At a campaign stop in Tampa, she said, “These clothes—they’re not my property, just like the lighting and the staging and everything else that the RNC purchased. I am not taking them with me. I am back to wearing clothes from my favorite consignment shop in Anchorage, Alaska.” Publicly, McCain aides backed up Palin, saying that a third of the clothes had been returned immediately, before they were worn in public, and that the rest would be donated to charity. Privately, however, McCain’s top advisers fumed at what they regarded as Palin’s outrageous profligacy. One senior aide said that Nicolle Wallace had told Palin to buy three suits for the convention and hire a stylist, but thereafter Palin had “gone rogue,” as the media buzz put it. She began buying for herself and her family—clothes and accessories from top stores like Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus. A week after she announced that she was going back to her consignment shop she was still having tailored clothes delivered. According to two knowledgeable sources, a vast majority of the clothes were bought by a wealthy donor, who was shocked when he got the bill. Palin also used low-level staffers to buy some of the clothes on their credit cards; the McCain campaign found out last week when the aides sought reimbursement. One aide estimated that she spent “tens of thousands” more than the reported $150,000, and that $20,000 to $40,000 went to buy clothes for her husband. Some articles of clothing have apparently been lost. An angry aide characterized the shopping spree as “Wasilla Hillbillies looting Neiman Marcus from coast to coast,” and said the truth will eventually come out when the Republican Party audits its books. A Palin aide said: “Governor Palin was not directing staffers to put anything on their personal credit cards, and anything that staffers put on their credit cards has been reimbursed, like an expense. Nasty and false accusations following a defeat say more about the person who made them than they do about Governor Palin.” The aide added, “It’s incredibly egregious that you even consider running this.”
Just type in any song that was ever played, or a singers name, and see what happens. Then, following the
end of the song, it will keep playing songs of the same era forever.
As a lover of newspapers the lines in front of places like the Chicago Tribune, and New York Times this week was wonderful to see. Many people were lining up for the newspaper that announced Barack Obama was the 44th President of the United States.
The election of Barack Obama produced a clamor for newspapers that publishers said they had never seen. From The Cincinnati Enquirer to The Charlotte Observer to The Dallas Morning News, papers accustomed to years of declining sales pumped out extra copies by the thousands, and could not keep pace with demand.
But these were not papers to be consumed and crumpled as usual.
“Oh no, no fingerprints on this one,” said James Allen, a delivery man from the Bronx, who stood in line for half an hour outside the Manhattan headquarters of The New York Times to get a copy. “This goes straight into a plastic bag. This is a black man becoming president. This is history, to show my grandkids some day.”
Newspapers anticipated some extra demand, but they underestimated. The New York Times had printed 35 percent more than the usual number of copies for individual sale on Wednesday, an increase of about 150,000. Later, it printed 75,000 more.
On an average weekday, The Washington Post has single-copy sales — newsstand and store sales, as opposed to subscriptions — of about 100,000. It printed 30,000 extra on Tuesday night.
“It sold out almost instantly,” said Steve Hills, president and general manager of Washington Post Media.
On Wednesday morning, The Post ordered up 150,000 copies of a special edition of the day’s paper, charging $1.50, not the usual 50 cents. As the day wore on, it raised that to 250,000, then 350,000. “I’ve been here for 21 years and I’ve never seen anything like this,” Mr. Hills said.
The Chicago Tribune planned for an extra 20,000 copies, on top of its usual single-copy sales of about 50,000. “We’ve ended up doing 200,000 more,” said Mike Dizon, a Tribune spokesman.
Papers were forced to turn their headquarters into newsstands. “We sold 16,000 copies from our lobby, where we’re not set up to sell any,” said Jennifer Morrow, a spokeswoman for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Newspaper audiences also swelled online, breaking single-day records for Internet traffic. And some found other ways to profit; The Commercial Appeal in Memphis plans to sell T-shirts with the image of Wednesday’s front page, and framed reprints of the page.
Many people searching for papers found only empty racks and boxes at train stations and convenience stores. “I get home delivery of The Times, but I wanted to get an extra copy as a memento because this is a huge day,” said Simon Ressner, a firefighter who lives in Brooklyn. “But I ran into a lot of people who had the same idea. I tried six places and they were all sold out.”
Megan Soto, who works at a public relations firm in San Francisco, said: “I went to all the places where I would find a paper — Starbucks, Borders — and I texted everyone I knew, talked to people in my office. This was 8:30 or 9 a.m. They were all gone by then.”
Such talk struck a rare upbeat note for a struggling industry.
“With these monumental events, people still want newspapers,” said Marc Z. Kramer, chief executive of The Daily News in New York, which printed well over 100,000 extra copies. “They cherish the report, but they cherish the keepsake, too.”
There was a natural ease among reporters and President-elect Obama as he held his first press conference. In one exchange, Lynn Sweet from the Chicago Sun Times, was called upon for a question. Obama asked why she was wearing her arm in a sling.
Here’s a lively segment. He calls on Lynn Sweet, the campaign reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times, who’s arm is in a cast. What happened, he asks. She says she had an accident while running to his election night speech in Grant Park. She goes on to ask about the big issue of what kind of dogthe Obamas intend to get and where his daughters might go to school in Washington. And what former presidents is he consulting?
All of the Democrats, he says, but not any of the deceased presidents like Abraham Lincoln, saying he didn’t want to get “into a Nancy Reagan thing about seances.”
As for the dog, he recognizes it’s a major issue, saying it has generated more interest on our Web site than anything. He says he has two criteria that may not be reconcilable: His older daughter, Malia, is allergic to dogs, so the dog has to be hypoallergenic; at the same time, “our preference would be to get a shelter dog, but obviously a lot of shelter dogs are mutts like me.”
That brought a laugh…
Not for the first time, I have said to those around me that I welcomed a new President for many reasons. Policy of course was front and center. But right behind that was the fact that the new leader of the United States would be able to put a number of words together in a sentence without mangling them. No more would the nation be embarrassed by a leader without a command of the language. In fact a friend from over-seas wrote this week, and was pleased that we had elected a person who knew how to speak the English language. Many in America agree. No more will we need to cringe over the President when he speaks to the country.
At the first press conference by Barack Obama this afternoon it was indeed a pleasure to hear thoughtful and educated responses to the questions. It is most clear we again have a heavyweight in the Oval Office, with intellect and insight. The precision with which Obama spoke, the clarity of his ideas, the completeness of sentences…..how did we not throw more things at the TV when President Bush stumbled his way thought his press conferences?
I know that there are many who do not care about the ability of a President to speak grammatically correct. But for those of us who missed that trait in our leader, it is so nice to have it back.