Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Ellen Lafferty -- a former editor in chief of Ms. who became a PUMA and has recently been working with Sarah Palin -- tells us at the Daily Beast today that Palin's a genius (adding that anyone who doesn't think so is a sexist poopyhead):

It's difficult not to froth when one reads, as I did again and again this week, doubts about Sarah Palin's “intelligence” ... Those who know her, love her or hate her, offer no such criticism. They know what I know, and I learned it from spending just a little time traveling on the cramped campaign plane this week: Sarah Palin is very smart....

Now by "smart," I don't refer to a person who is wily or calculating or nimble in the way of certain talented athletes who we admire but suspect don't really have serious brains in their skulls. I mean, instead, a mind that is thoughtful, curious, with a discernable pattern of associative thinking and insight. Palin asks questions, and probes linkages and logic that bring to mind a quirky law professor I once had.... She sees. She processes. She questions, and only then, she acts....

Really? OK, I'm puzzled -- where is this brilliant creature, and why haven't I seen her on the campaign trail?

I don't want to hear about "the media filter." Yes, Palin gave interviews to those evil distorters of the truth Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric and Brian Williams -- but she's also given interviews to Hugh Hewitt and Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham and Rush Limbaugh and Bill Kristol. At times she's tailored her utterances to conform the McCain campaign's preferences, but at other times, especially recently, she's clearly been going rogue. In short, she's communicated with us a lot of different ways.

So where's the brainiac?

We've certainly seen Palin, on many occasions, steer the discussion from a question she was asked to an answer she was prepared to give -- that's practically all she did in the Biden debate. But that's not the same thing as using "associative thinking" in a way that "probes linkages and logic." If you're making "linkages," you actually have to link the linkage back to a subject. Can anyone provide an example of that?

I'm reminded of an early McCain-Palin joint appearance. The candidates were asked by an Democratic McCain supporter in the audience, "Give us some details and examples of your strategies and plan for economic empowerment for women." Here was Palin's response:

"Well first let me take a shot at that, and I'll tell ya, I’m a product of Title IX in our schools, where equal education and equal opportunities in sports really helped propel me into the -- I guess into the position that I’m in today where," Palin said.

McCain then interjected, "Could I mention she was a point guard on a state championship basketball team."

After the crowd's applause died down, Palin continued: "Sports were very, very important to me growing up, you know just learning about self discipline and healthy competition and about what it takes to win and even how to graciously lose sometimes. But how to win, that's what it teaches ya. Now, I was a product of Title IX where legislation allowed that equal opportunity. Now if we have to still keep going down that road to create more legislation, to get with it in the 21st century, to make sure that women do have equality especially in the work place, then we're there because we understand that in this age we have all got to be working together. I respect you so much that you are a Democrat recognizing that John McCain and me as a team of mavericks understand where you’re coming from, and we can work together on these issues. But yup, equality for women, for all, that’s going to be part of the agenda and I thank you for that question."

That's her brilliant use of "linkage": asked for specific policies to advance women's equality, she cites her experience as a Title IX beneficiary and says, well, that reminds me that we're going to do more stuff. Of some kind. If necessary.


I'm not surprised to see this piece, nor am I surprised to see (also at Tina Brown's Daily Beast) a pro-McCain article by a former Democratic speechwriter, Wendy Button, that's full of GOP and PUMA talking points. The McCain camp is always jealous of Obama; as soon as he started trotting out Republican backers, it was inevitable that McCain would unleash his own.

(Button, by the way, was spotted a year or so ago at the Huffington Post concern-trolling the antiwar movement because she felt that one seemingly anti-troop sentence in a Nation editorial might "spread like a virus" and turn the whole movement anti-troop.)

And in other disaffected Democrat news, I see that Linda Bloodworth-Thomason was denouncing MSNBC yesterday at a Hollywood gathering that was full of right-wingers (Michael Reagan, Patricia Heaton, Frank Luntz, Lionel Chetwynd):

In a room full of television industry executives, no one seemed inclined to defend MSNBC on Monday for what some were calling its lopsidedly liberal coverage of the presidential election.

The cable news channel is "completely out of control," said writer-producer Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, a self-proclaimed liberal Democrat.

She added that she would prefer a lunch date with right-leaning Fox News star Sean Hannity over left-leaning MSNBC star Keith Olbermann....

LB-T is a Clintonite from way, way back, responsible (with her husband, Harry Thomason) for both the short film that introduced Bill at the '92 convention and the Hillary film at the '08 convention. I don't know if McCain has anything to do with the surfacing of her PUMA complaints -- but I do know that there's going to be a whole new crop of Fox News Democrats ready for an Obama presidency, if that's what we really get.

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