Monday, October 25, 2010

Thoughts on the KTUU Debate - and on Palin 2012

I. Judy and I watched both the KTUU TV debates Sunday evening. We watched at home, as she prepared for another trip to the lower Kuskokwim villages where she mentors first and second year teachers. Those who attended the debates in person had to deal with the frequent stops in the continuity of the debates. At home, what we got during those lapses was a huge wave of political ads.

The Murkowski and Miller ads are being paid for largely from out-of-state contributions. The Miller ads are going to be fed a huge transfusion, between now and November 2nd, from the billionaire Koch Brothers-controlled Tea Party Express. Had it not been for their July-August infusion of at least $600,000 into Miller's campaign, there would have been two people at last night's table - Murkowski and McAdams. Murkoski's out-of-state money is being supplanted with over 1.2 million dollars in funding from Native corporations. Miller and Murkowski are spending far more on TV ads alone in 2010 than all the 2006 gubernatorial candidates - Halcro, Knowles and Palin - spent on everything, including staff.

The Koch Brothers and other outside influencers on the post-Citizens United vs Federal Elections Commission playing field have bought this election as best they can. They've put their money behind the guy they feel they can control best - Joe Miller. Their ads are slick and, to me, at least, they seem to work better on Alaska's low information voters than do those of Murkowski and McAdams.

Miller's final on-the-air-in-Alaska admission that he committed Federal and Alaska felonies while working as a part-time attorney for the Fairbanks North Star Borough back in 2008 was an important turn. He's obviously been practicing up on how to deliver the carefully scripted lines. It isn't often that you get a candidate to admit to committing multiple felonies in front of hundreds of people and on statewide TV nine days before an election. Yet he did.

One might think such an admission would be worthy of a direct quote in the articles now appearing about the debate. KTUU's own article on this doesn't even mention Miller's admission or the issues of ethics that it begs. As of 6:20 a.m. on Monday, KTUU hasn't posted any videos on the Senate debate, though they have put up the entire gubernatorial debate (which Ethan Berkowitz clearly won).

The Anchorage Daily News article on this is headlined "Ethics takes center stage in Senate debate." It was filed by Associated Press writer Becky Bohrer. There is no Miller quote on the violations of law. Instead, Bohrer writes:

Ethics took center stage Sunday during a debate in which Alaska Senate hopeful Joe Miller said he was suspended for or docked three days' pay for violating ethics policy while working as a local government attorney in 2008. This acknowledgment came less than two weeks after Miller told Alaska reporters he'd no longer answer questions about his past or background after alleging his personnel file from his time as an attorney for the Fairbanks North Star Borough had been illegally leaked.

After former borough Mayor Jim Whitaker said Miller was nearly fired for using government computers in a failed effort to oust the state GOP chairman in 2008, Miller told CNN he had violated ethics policy but said it was unrelated to his leaving the job in 2009 or to the issues of the current Senate race. On Sunday, a day after a judge in Fairbanks ordered the borough release Miller's personnel records, Miller said he had participated in a private poll during his lunch hour. He said it was a mistake that he's learned from. His attorney said no decision has been made on whether to fight the records' release.

Is there some reason for reluctance to directly quote Miller on his admission to having broken the law, or was it just too late on a Sunday evening, with everyone wanting to get home? We'll know soon enough.

It appears to me, though, that Miller admitted to at least as serious of a violation of computer tampering statutes as did young David Kernell. Is Miller being set up to take a fall soon after he takes office? I'm beginning to wonder.

II. Palin is the subject of a long New York Magazine article by Jim Helleman that is coming out this week, titled "How Sarah Palin Could End Up President in 2012." The article explains fairly well how disruptive and different the political environment we have entered is:

For those who believe Palin plans to run in 2012, the fact that she has thrown herself into so many races—to date, she has endorsed 56 candidates, 35 of them tea-partyers—is a significant piece of evidence. There are others. The fund-raising total for her PAC through September 30 ($2.5 million) ranks behind only Romney among potential candidates. She has given more than 70 speeches this year all across the country. In September, she dipped her toe in the Iowa waters by headlining the state party’s annual Ronald Reagan Dinner.

Much was made of the fact that Palin did none of the traditional kowtowing to Republican activists and local officials in the Hawkeye State. Yet, in other places, she has begun courting GOP lever-pullers whose support is critical to winning the nomination. Earlier this month, Palin attended a closed-door dinner at the Breakers in Palm Beach, hosted by the CEO of the conservative media company Newsmax and attended by several dozen A-list insiders, and repeatedly invoked the memory of Reagan. In doing so, she not only tried implicitly to rebut concerns about her electability—noting that naysayers said the same about the Gipper in 1980—but imbue herself with an optimism that some Republicans have found lacking in her relentless assaults on Obama. (In San Jose, she name-checked Reagan eleven times, often in proximity to terms such as “positive” or “exceptionalism.”)

Helleman goes on to describe various scenarios that will start taking place about 13 months from now, as the series of 2012 primaries ramp up. He quotes Tim Pawlenty consultant Vin Weber:

Even with the rise of the tea party, the widespread presumption is that, in the end, the Establishment candidate would prevail: “As Republicans, that’s our history, that’s our DNA,” notes Castellanos. Enhancing that presumption is another: that Palin will be prone to such horrific gaffes, appalling missteps, and gratuitous misstatements that they will clarify for Republican voters what selecting her would mean. “There’s a strong, strong possibility that she will falter, will make some big mistake,” says Weber. “Then it becomes a little bit like Howard Dean, where the party finally looks at her and says, ‘Gee, we like a lot of what she says, a lot of what she stands for, but she would lead us to a disaster.’ ”

But as Weber himself acknowledges, there is another possibility—one that he says is much on the mind of his old friend Newt Gingrich. “She could just take off and sweep everything,” Weber offers glumly.

“You can’t talk about that without talking about the culture in which we live,” says a senior strategist. “Reality-TV culture has taken over real life, which, together with opinion news, she is using more effectively than anyone. At the end of the day, her ability to create a spectacle, get a crowd, whip up people—is that translatable into a plurality victory in a Republican primary? It’s impossible to know. Because you’ve never seen anything like it. It’s totally uncharted territory.”

Totally uncharted territory indeed. As one commenter at this morning's ADN article on the Senatorial debate observed:

Joe Miller and Sarah Palin have played Alaskans like a harp on a string. Although he rails against big government, he's a squatter who's used government subsidies for his welfare family. Sarah Palin, who endorsed this bozo, quit her governorship just to raise money for her hillbilly family, and bamboozle the enablers who support her. Wake up Alaskans, you're being hoodwinked by poor white trash!!

images: Kernell-Reudrich-Palin-Miller - PA; Palin with TriG in Phoenix Saturday - PA; two clowns - Down with Tyranny!


Kevin said...

I'm not a historian, but to say that hypocritical demagoguery from a charismatic candidate is "uncharted territory" is nonsense. Every situation is new, and in that sense "uncharted," but surely we know something about human behavior and mass psychology. We have the examples of successful fascist takeovers in Germany and Italy, and the corresponding failure of fascism in England and France (before Germany invaded) for starters.

While Palin is a cause for worry, we should also be worried about a possible "bait and switch." If the economy continues to be depressed and people are growing desperate, we could see frightening militant agitation from the far right, cheered on by Palin and her ilk. One way or another, it is arranged that Palin does not become the GOP nominee, but is replaced by someone seemingly more rational and moderate -- and who better understands what the bosses want.

Moderates, either believing Obama has failed or that he can't win, flock to this Republican (white) man on a white horse. Once elected, playing on the fear of disorder and violence aroused by the right wing of his own party, the new President obtains broad support for sweeping "national security" legislation that turns America into a quasi-fascist state, and channels the frustrated aggressive energies of the far-right and militia elements into enforcing it.

This scenario is unlikely, but no more unlikely than Palin becoming President. The problem is not Palin, infuriating as she may be. The problem is the malaise she is able to exploit.

Anonymous said...

Every time I hear and see Palin or Miller, I think that very same can so many people want to elect these white trash people to the highest offices in the land?

Is there that much white trash out there that they just want to elect someone like themselves? Or do normal folks somehow not recognize these candidates "white trashiness", and somehow give them "persona transplants" into fine, upstanding citizens?

I recently talked to someone out in the Valley who I consider to be a rather intelligent person. She said that Palin "is a really good mother", but is not qualified to be president. How in the heck could anyone believe that Palin is a really good mother? I just don't get it! bt

Anonymous said...

I am disgusted with MSM. They continue to push Palin and yet she does not hold a political position and quit the job she did do. She doesn't have much sense and lies.

What's with her crude mouth? "No cojones", "manup", "not no, but hell no", jackwagon, backasswards, limp, gutless. Teabaggers might like that talk but many people don't.

Anonymous said...

Heh...anon 1:45. It's ironic that you are on THIS blog complaining about someone's crude mouth.

Anonymous said...

Q Which candidate is a "coke" head.

A. Not Joe Miller

Anonymous said...

Hi. Maybe Rachael Maddow wants to cover the disability question.

She could interview you, Scannell and Miller if he shows.

Anonymous said...

Alaska Dispatch has a new find about Joe. Property issues, see this

And whether for some reason this property does not need to be reported on disclosure forms- which it hasn't lately- there is an ugly story of what the seller claims Joe did to him. UGLY. DOUBLE UGLY. Honor code and all that shit.

Anonymous said...

It's one thing to write on a blog. It is another thing to tweet, facebook and speak to the public using crude language when one is supposed to be a politician and set an example. I bet small children aren't reading Progressive Alaska but they certainly are in Palin's rally/speaking crowds not to mention her own children. I stand by my comment and will add to it. She has a rude, raunchy mouth. That is one of the main complaints I hear about her in a Southern state. Her comments are considered bad manners and manners mean alot in the South and many other regions of the US. If she wants to be representative of the US, then she needs to conduct herself in the appropriate manner. Spewing about male anatomical parts,etc on a national stage isn't what this,or other countries, should have to listen to.
Phil does a service that is needed by writing this blog. There aren't enough reporters to cover the candidates.
I don't always say the nicest things, but I wouldn't use the same words on a national stage. It appears you might be a a palinbot. It was probably a waste of my time to try to reason.

It is simply a fact that there are many who are not supportive of Palin. Those who are should be studying her policy positions and not, on a daily basis, try to challenge every little thing said about Palin. Nothing can change what people consider to be bad manners. They've been around forever and ever.

Anonymous said...

"And when you trust your television
What you get is what you got
Cause when they own the information, oh
They can bend it all they want"

John Mayer, "Waiting for the World to Change"