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Sunday, September 28, 2008

From Bill Kristol's lips to John McCain's ear: Free Sarah!

I couldn't quite bring myself to cross-post my Treebeard & Botox post below at HughHewitt.com, so my latest guest-post there is once again on the subject of Gov. Palin. Long before whatever handlers and aides from the McCain team started advising her and planning her schedule, she was kicking butt and taking names in Alaska. It's time for her to cut loose again and dance with who brung her, instead of trying to dance some cautious gavotte to please whatever tight-orificed folks have been orbiting her since the Republican National Convention. A plea to John McCain: Free Sarah!


[Copied here for archival purposes on November 5, 2008, from the post linked above at HughHewitt.com.]

(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)

Bill Kristol was among the earliest conservative pundits with a national following to predict that John McCain would choose Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running-mate. Today on Fox News Sunday, he made this impassioned plea (my transcription, but italics reflect his verbal emphasis):

Some in the McCain camp are nervous about Gov. Palin, but they shouldn't be. They've totally mishandled her for the last week or two. Free Sarah Palin! Free Sarah Palin, that's what I say! They have surrounded her — look, McCain picked her because she is a good governor, a good politician, a good communicator. Let her be a politician! Let her communicate. Put her on TV, put her on radio. Let her relax. Let her go into the debate and try to win the debate!

They've surrounded her with former Bush White House aids, who (if I might say) in a way typical of the Bush White House, have gone into a total defensive crouch: "Oooh, let's not make mistakes. Be very careful! Katie Couric, nine-thousand part interview. Don't talk to any conservatives on talk radio or on television, that would be just talking to the people who might vote for you. Go get quizzed by Katie Couric, and don't make a mistake!"

They really — I think she's strong enough to overcome the very bad advice and the very bad staff work that's surrounded her recently. I gather that Senator McCain isn't happy with the way his own team has been dealing with Governor Palin. I hope they free her over the next few days, and I hope they tell her, "Go win the debate with Joe Biden! Don't be defensive!"

I concur 100 percent with this advice.

One thing that struck me while I watched the first presidential debate was that both candidates surely did not need any intense preparation to be able to adequately respond to any of the questions that were asked. Partly that's a function of Jim Lehrer's genial and vague questions, but mostly — to Lehrer's credit — it's because he stuck to important topics on which the candidates do indeed have well-formed views and substantial depths of knowledge.

Gwen Ifill, who will moderate the vice presidential debate again, as she did in 2004, is Lehrer's colleague and protege. Her questions then were crisper than Lehrer's on Friday night, but they weren't unfair, and they ought not be studied for this time like a final exam in organic chemistry in which exactly the right formulae must be committed to memory for regurgitation on-stage.

John McCain is a gambler. When he picked Gov. Palin instead of someone dull and safe, he was not relying on his staff's ability to brief her into something they think she ought to become, but on the qualities which have made her a phenomenally successful campaigner and popular governor in Alaska. There is no way that she will ever get a remotely fair reception from those who are already in the tank for Barack Obama, which includes essentially all the old-media dinosaurs, certainly including everyone at the three creaky old TV networks, the New York Times, and the Washington Post.

So quit trying to convert them! Go over their heads, directly to America — and have some fun while doing so!

To conservatives, I say this: Remember, folks, that before Gov. Palin's convention speech, Democrats from the Hard Left had convinced themselves that they had already mortally wounded Sarah Palin, that she was a laughing-stock, that McCain was about to say "oops!" and withdraw her from the ticket at any moment. And all she did in response was hit a grand slam with her acceptance speech, the undisputed high point of either convention and the most remarkable moment so far in 21st century American politics. Now the self-absorbed echo chamber on the Hard Left is again convinced that nobody could possibly take Gov. Palin seriously. They're in exactly the same position as was Paulene Kael of the New York Times, wailing incredulously after Nixon slaughtered McGovern in 1972: "But how could Nixon possibly have won? Nobody I know voted for him!"

To undecideds, I say this: Watch as much of Gov. Palin as you can between now and Election Day, especially in unscripted settings, certainly including the vice presidential debate. Make up your own minds.

To liberals, I say this: You're absolutely right. You've got Gov. Palin on the run along with John McCain, and you're obviously much, much smarter than the rest of us. You should continue to invest all your efforts in mocking Sarah Palin between now and November 4. Keep doing exactly what you're doing. Don't change a thing. Please. I'm counting on you, and I know you won't let me down.


UPDATE (Mon Sep 29 @ 2:40 p.m. CST): Kristol's advice on Fox News Sunday was of a piece with broader, similar advice he's given the McCain campaign in an op-ed in today's NYT entitled "How McCain Wins." I agree with it, too: Playing it "safe" is a prescription for defeat. Kristol also expands on one reference he made on TV:

I’m told McCain recently expressed unhappiness with his staff’s handling of Palin. On Sunday he dispatched his top aides Steve Schmidt and Rick Davis to join Palin in Philadelphia. They’re supposed to liberate Palin to go on the offensive as a combative conservative in the vice-presidential debate on Thursday.

— Beldar

Posted by Beldar at 11:09 PM in 2008 Election, McCain, Obama, Palin, Politics (2008) | Permalink


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(1) Aubrey made the following comment | Sep 29, 2008 3:58:24 AM | Permalink

Bad advice.

The left/media is looking for ways to inflict damage, why give them ammunition? It really doesn't matter whether what she says is right or wrong, it will always be spun as wrong.

Palin's best use is to energize the conservative base and attract whatever indies she can. McCain can't do that but she sure can. The way she is being treated really enhances her ability to inspire people to contribute and work on the campaign.

(2) Gregory Koster made the following comment | Sep 29, 2008 5:14:19 PM | Permalink

Der Mr. Dyer: It isn't just the left; Kathleen Parker of NATIONAL REVIEW showed an astonishing loss of nerve, and compounded it by shrieking that Palin was no good, McC oughta can her from the ticket. To which I respond a) Fat lot of good that did McGovern with Eagleton, and b) reread the history of Nixon's "Checkers" speech for a much smarter move.

I think Aubrey is wrong. Sure the press will continue to give Palin the works---but by doing so will damage themselves more than Palin. Already, the cries of "sexist!" and "racist!" do much less damage than they used to because of the grotesque lack of principle with which they've been heaved.

But I don't agree with you either. Palin's help, and I think she will help, is going to be marginal to the ticket. McC is going to win or lose this election by himself. If there's a domestic terrorist attack, or a foreign blowup on the scale of Wall Street's defenestration, he'll cruise home. If not, he's got a long stern chase, and is running short on time.

Sincerely yours,
Gregory Koster

PS--Do your traffic logs show any leakage coming from Hewitt's site? I'd be happy for you, while dismayed at the possibility of the limicolous commenters there showing up here.

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