Transcript for Observations, August 31, 2008 Posted by: Bryan Pick
on Monday, September 01, 2008
Below the fold you can find a link-enhanced transcript to the latest Observations podcast, in which Dale, McQ, Michael Wade and I talked about the Sarah Palin pick and the effect of Gustav on the Republican National Convention. Use the widget below to listen to the show.
I had hoped to provide this transcript late last night, but the sound quality occasionally made it difficult to hear, I wanted to pay a lot of attention to detail in the links, and my transcription ran too late.
Without further ado, the transcript:
DALE: This is Observations, the podcast of the QandO Online Magazine. Welcome to the podcast; as always, it’s a pleasure to bring the podcast with you. I am joined by Bruce McQuain, my cohost; hello, Bruce.
MCQ: Barely, huh?
DALE: Just barely, yes, but I always figure, I can probably just talk for one or two minutes before you finally deign to make a phone call. [Both laugh.] But anyway, it doesn’t matter that you weren’t here on time. I wasn’t worried at all, you know why? Because I trust you.
MCQ: There you go.
DALE: There you go. I knew that you’re a professional, you’d be here... well, not on time, but before it became too late to be a problem. [Both laugh.] Anyway, I guess we have to — All the plans that we had talked about on Thursday I guess, about talking about the Democrats and about the convention speech and all the other stuff, because, here’s the—folks, for those of you who aren’t behind the scenes and who don’t know, Bruce and I usually do a Friday phone call, and sometimes my schedule is going to look a bit hectic on a Friday, so I call up on a Thursday. This was the wrong week to call up on a Thursday apparently.
MCQ: No kidding. And we should share the quick Friday phone calls. When Dale called me before Sarah Palin had spoken and said “What do you think” and we both went, “Whoa, I don’t know about this” and then the Friday phone call after Sarah Palin had spoken and we both went, “Wow.”
DALE: Yeah. It was funny: Thursday we were all set to talk about the Democrats and the convention and — what was it that James Pethokoukis called it?
DALE: Right, exactly. We’re getting ready to talk about that and I’m just thought it was interesting there, because we were going to bring up, well, in the same week that the Democrats talked about having the worst — as it always is — the worst economy in 50 years is the same week that we came out with 3.3 percent annualized GDP growth, the Conference Board reporting increases in consumer confidence all the way across the board, until all the sudden, on Friday morning, everything we were going to talk about just got blown out the window by this Palin thing, and despite the fact that I think both of us were initially thinking, “Rmmm, not excited about the pick,” as it turned out, we apparently were not reading the mood of the grass roots.
MCQ: Well, we weren’t at all. Plus, frankly I just hadn’t seen her before.
DALE: Neither had I.
MCQ: I mean, I knew who she was, and I knew that she had been talked about, but essentially I really just didn’t know the woman at all, so I was really up for it when she gave her speech. This was going to be my exposure to her and I wanted to see what we had here. And frankly I was... She came off — and everything I’ve read says this is the way she is — she came off as probably one of the most authentic people I’ve ever heard talk. I mean, when she started talking about things in Alaska, she wasn’t talking about promises, she was talking about stuff she’d done. So it — and she is definitely the "super-mom" that everyone likes to talk about: five kids, one a special needs kid; took the chef of the governor’s office out of there and helped him find a new job because she didn’t want her kids thinking that’s the way you live, with a chef. Drives her own car, got rid of her State Trooper detail. This is just — she is an authentic, small town American, which is why I think she appeals so much to the base.
DALE: Well I think there’s an interesting story there behind her, because Alaska — and I guess it’s no sa—or I guess it's no different in any other state, we have sort of a single party control over the state, which Alaska has, I mean Alaska is very definitely a Republican state, and when you have one party who controls just about everything and have no real opposition, what you end up with is, in some ways at least, a very deeply corrupt political culture. And so she’s coming into this Frank Murkowski – Ted Stevens political culture up there in Alaska, and she just came up there and decided that she would sweep all that stuff out.
MCQ: Yeah. And she did it. That was what I mean: when she talked about accomplishments, when you talk about change, she has actually done change. And this was interesting, this was yet another point, the Democrats like to talk about post-partisan? Hey, she took on her own party. So I mean, this woman is, like I said, very authentic, and has done it the hard way, the tough way, not the easy way. When she talks about ethics reform, she talks about getting people kicked out of office and stuff, like Murkowski, taking him on herself and winning the governorship. So, interesting and I think very good pick, now that I’ve had a chance to look at it.When you talk about change, she has actually done change
DALE: Well then you had a chance to see how the party has responded to that pick and just sort of a wildfire of enthusiasm that it sparked. It has really just been one of those game-changing deals that nobody expected. And it’s really interesting if you looked at the polls, if you looked at Rasmussen and Gallup [Saturday, Sunday], both of which are sort of multi-day moving-average polls, none of them really had indicated anything about Sarah Palin simply because of when the polls were taken. But if you look at what was going on in that convention, the bounce that Obama got out of this convention was so modest, we’re talking three, four, maybe five points. Not eleven points, not the thirty points that Bill Clinton got in 1992. Four or five points. That doesn’t even include what happened here with the Palin pick. I would be willing to say that it would not be a surprise at all to see most if not all of that bump sort of eaten away by this Palin pick. It was just — I guess it’s proof that whenever he went through the War College, John McCain was taking notes.
MCQ: [Chuckling] That’s right.
DALE: He got inside the enemy’s decision cycle.
MCQ: That’s correct. Well, and the other thing is — and it’s interesting to watch the Left now talk about, well this was a checkmark pick, and it’s desperation, and she’s the least experienced candidate that’s ever run for vice president, and all the usual stuff — suddenly experience is a very, very hot commodity for the vice presidency. It’s still not a very hot commodity for the presidency, but we’ll go there later. But one of the things you brought up and I found interesting was the reaction of the Republican base. She excited that base, and probably one of the guys who monitors that as closely as anybody is Newt Gingrich, and Newt Gingrich has been very concerned about what you and I have talked about in the past, that enthusiasm gap.
DALE: Well, we went from “ho-hum” to “woo-hoo,” and I think Michael Wade probably has something to say about that. Michael, are you there?
MICHAEL: Yeah, I’m here.
DALE: Hey, how’s it going, buddy?
MICHAEL WADE: Very good.
MCQ: Well, let me read my Gingrich quote, then, and Michael, follow up on that if you will. Here’s what Gingrich said after this was announced and she’d made her speech, he said:
As I wandered around from a family restaurant to the dry cleaners to a variety of other non-political places, people kept walking up to me and talking with energy and enthusiasm about their reaction to McCain’s choice of Governor Palin. As I sifted through their emotions and the intensity of their reaction it hit me that they were responding to "the real thing." The power of Palin is that she is so out of the establishment, and so out of the talking-heads, inside-the–Beltway-elite mindset, that the 80 per cent of Americans who believe we are on the wrong track suddenly can identify with someone who isn’t part of what got us on that track.
MICHAEL: I think that’s exactly right. I mean, it’s new blood.
MICHAEL: After the last, what, twenty years of Bush-Clinton-Bush, it’s something completely new. I mean, this would be one of the only people — I guess Dick Cheney didn’t go to Yale, but seems like everybody else went to Yale, or Harvard — and it’s just kind of the same old, political, insider baseball stuff. Obama, that was part of what made him exciting, was that he’s brand new, he’s not — well he’s brand new at everything, really, I mean, but...
DALE: Yeah, he’s brand new, all right.
MICHAEL: I mean, Palin comes just so completely from outside the mix. I think one of the interesting things about it is the whole “hockey mom” aspect of it. My wife actually commented, she had no idea who Palin was, said, “Well, she’s a hockey mom. She could be me. She’s just like me.” And at first she was put off by that, but then she started thinking, “Well, why couldn’t it be me? Or somebody just like me.” Y’know. . .
DALE: “What’s wrong with me?”
MICHAEL: [Inaudible] like me. And I think that’s going to appeal to a lot of people. Not just women, but a lot of people that can really identify with where Palin’s coming from and appreciate what she has done just so far in her life. She’s just got that kind of personality too, that exudes confidence and not really caring too much what other people say or think, and I guess that’s sort of that pioneer Western spirit or whatever but I think that she brings that new blood that’s really, really important, and I think it’s why people are so excited.
MCQ: Well I know —
DALE: Well let me break in here also, I think we have Bryan Pick on the phone as well, if I’m not mistaken. Bryan, are you there?
BRYAN: Yes I am.
DALE: Yes it is. Am I prescient or what? Just from seeing phone numbers, I know the identities. [All chuckle.]
MCQ: Hey, I do want to bring up one point though here. Mark Steyn came up with a great point. He said with Sarah Palin, they won’t have to stage-manage the obligatory hunting trip. [All laugh.]
MCQ: That’s right. So she is quite a pick. What do you think, Bryan?
BRYAN: Well, I thought — I guess my extra, my posting at QandO this week kinda showed it: I was very excited about the pick, almost from the very first moment that I heard about it. I thought it was brilliant, and I thought that they, when they made the choice, which some of the media are calling, “oh is she dangerously inexperienced?”, I thought it was just a great invitation to the Democrats to try to make that argument because it’s just so full of pitfalls for them, because she has the executive experience, because she has the record of change and fighting even her own party in her own state. I think that it was just a really good move for them.
MICHAEL: I think that’s right, Bryan. It’s almost like McCain put a choke collar on the Obama campaign, because every time they try to charge forward over this, they’re really just choking themselves, I mean, they can’t. It’s almost like McCain put a choke collar on the Obama campaignI think you actually wrote something along those lines of, well yeah, it’s a heartbeat away from the presidency, but you’ve got the presidency locked up with your top pick with somebody who has no experience at all.
BRYAN: Absolutely. And the contrasts couldn’t be clearer.
DALE: And the other thing is . . . [background chatter] Go ahead.
BRYAN: Xrlq made an even better version of the comment than I did, which is — well I posted it on the blog, but — “We can’t have a dangerously inexperienced person one heartbeat away from the presidency. We need a dangerously inexperienced person in there right now!” [Laughter.]
MICHAEL: [Inaudible – “straight for the”?] gutter.
MCQ: Yeah well, did you see Alan Colmes was commenting that “it seems that her first baby may have been premature – oh no, I’m sorry, it may have been born out of wedlock.” I mean, my goodness, the sanctity of family goes right out the window when it’s a Republican that we’re talking about, doesn’t it?
MICHAEL: [Inaudible comment]
DALE: I don’t think it was born out of wedlock – it clearly wasn’t – but uh . . .
MCQ: Okay, conceived out of wedlock. How about that?
DALE: Exactly. [Laughter.] Conceived out of wedlock may be more correct.
MCQ: But no, that’s where they are right now. This has panicked them. Our – we have a canary in the coal mine on QandO, and his name is mkultra. [Laughter.] You can always tell when they’re going bats, when mk shows up and the way he starts talking. It’s hilarious, and mk is really banging around the cage right now before he falls over.
MICHAEL: Well, you think —
DALE: Well, what’s really interesting is, I was reading The Corner on Friday, and I kept going back there because I mean they just kept on hammering on it and hammering on it, much in the same way that we are right now. And one of the things that a lot of the authors there at The Corner were saying is, they were getting emails from all over the country from people saying, “Yeah, I didn’t really care much about this election, but I’m writing a check to McCain right now.” And I heard all of this all day, and then I come home, I open up QandO, and there’s mkultra’s comment: “Oh, well this election is over.” [Lots of laughter.] "Wildfire of enthusiasm"All-rightey then. Yeah, you know what? You may be right. It may in fact be over.
BRYAN: Four and a half million dollars in the first 24 hours, and then accelerated up to seven over the... [Bryan's note: This was incorrect. According to the above link, McCain's campaign in fact raised $4.5 million online that day, and over $2.3 million through mail and phone.]
MCQ: So it is definitely a pick that has caught the base’s attention. It has given it something it hasn’t had the entire time, and that’s enthusiasm and excitement about the ticket. And we have 67 days here in which she has to figure out a way to make a good, positive and lasting impression. And I frankly think she will. I know right now she’s probably got a fire hose going on with the foreign policy part, but as someone pointed out, she can talk about balancing a budget, she can talk about things these other guys can’t talk about. She can talk about oil production and drilling and she can also talk about trade, which is something senators do nothing but talk about. She’s actually done it. And that’s where I think the difference is going to be. She has accomplishments to talk about, they have rhetoric.
DALE: ... that really destroyed Dan Quayle for eight years. I mean, when you think about it, there was no serious possibility that Dan Quayle was ever going to be able to run for president.
MCQ: Right, well, and there’s another point in the presidential debates: all McCain has to do is wait for Obama to compare himself to Lincoln, and then he can say, “Senator Obama, I knew Lincoln...” [Laughter — with thanks to commenter Jeff Medcalf]
DALE: Well, you know what, you have kind of the defining moment in 1984 with Ronald Reagan and Walter Mondale. You know everyone was so worried about how old Ronald Reagan was, and whether he still had what it took to be president. And his first question up, he said, “Before I answer, I just want to take the age question off of the table. I do not intend to use my opponent’s youth and inexperience as an argument against him.” And Walter Mondale laughed and laughed and laughed, but it was the laughter of – it hurt to laugh on that one, because that was the moment that he lost that campaign. And so —
MCQ: I think you’re right, Dale, that that is what has to be avoided, but as Newt Gingrich points out, she’s going to make mistakes. He’s says she’s going to make mistakes, he said the news media and Obama researchers are going to find things to attack. But what she has to do is stay relaxed and continue to be who she has been for 44 years. That’s it, and that’s what she’s got to present, because if what I saw Friday is what she can present through those 67 days, she’s going to make a big impact on this race.
DALE: And it’s going to be interesting seeing her go up against Joe Biden because, of all of the people that you worry about saying something stupid in the 67 day campaign, I think Joe Biden is the guy you’re worried about more than Sarah Palin.
BRYAN: And it’s going to be interesting watching the media try to dig for those kinds of comments out of Palin, and I don’t think they’re going to try nearly as hard with Biden. [Cross chatter.]
DALE: They don’t have to, though. I mean, to be fair, Biden gives ’em away from free.
BRYAN: Yeah. I mean, he’s already supplied us with some, but they’re already out on the table, so...
MCQ: Well, but I think with Palin, her strength and her forte is her genuineness, and so she has to remain who she is. That’s what — I keep saying that, but that’s what struck me, listening to her talk. I mean, she is what she is, she’s proud of it, and she knows how to present it. And I think — Dale, you and I were talking about that and you said, “You know, she might do with a makeover, she looks a little provincial,” and I said, “No! No! Don’t change anything!” You know, the Democrats talk about small-town America, she is small-town America. Leave her just like she is.
MCQ: Exactly! Exactly. So that’s the thing: she is what she is and she will continue to be that. If they don’t try and remake her in these next 67 days, I think she’s going to carry some weight in this election.
DALE: Well it’s going to be interesting to watch her debate against Biden. I think that’s going to be fascinating to watch, because Biden has that horrible, horrible tendency to be condescending to the people he debates with, to come off as ever-so-slightly superior and “oh, if you only had my experience and my depth of knowledge.” Coming from a guy who is not, by the way, going to be a candidate for Mensa membership at any time in the future is particularly jarring. And you have to wonder if it’s going to magnify that “jarringness”, if that’s a word, whenever he’s talking to an attractive, young woman if he comes off as a bit like a heel, you have to wonder if that doesn’t magnify his own sort of general boorishness.
BRYAN: That’s not very flattering, is it? That’s one of the things that’s going to have to be worried about is, the image of just how that appears to everybody more than even the substance of it.
MCQ: Well, I think it’s going to go one of two ways, and I would almost, I’d love to do an over-under on Joe Biden in that debate, being able to get through it without in some way appearing condescending. I just don’t know how he’s going to do it. We’ll see. I would like to change the subject for just a sec: what do you guys think about the way the Republicans are reacting with Gustav headed towards New Orl—the Louisiana coast? Over-reaction, under-reaction, proper reaction?
MICHAEL: Well I’ll say this: that actually, Lee, over at Second Hand Conjecture, wrote something about that, basically chiding the Republicans for even thinking of putting off the convention. And the point I made was that the meme that it was the federal government’s fault that New Orleans drowned in Katrina has been so successfully pushed by the media and the Left — but I repeat myself — that that is the accepted narrative, that is the accepted history, and they can not be seen having a joyous occasion of the acceptance of the nomination, and celebrating McCain and Palin, while there’s another hurricane hitting New Orleans, because that’s just fodder waiting to be cast as disparaging the Republicans, and they know that. So I think that it’s a wise political decision, and I think it’s really the only decision that they had just because the meme had been so successfully sold.
BRYAN: And to have Bush and Cheney speaking while “New Orleans drowns a second time” would just be — you can’t even — it’s just awful. The idea of it and the image of it.
MCQ: Well. . . [Cross chatter.]
DALE: Well the thing is that this time it’s just not going to happen the way it did the last time. If you’ve been watching and seeing what they’re doing there in New Orleans as Gustav is headed their way, this is — the Governor (Bobby Jindal this time) and Mayor Nagin (same guy) — they are pulling out all of the stops. They’ve even got the ASPCA there to take care of dogs for the evacuees. I mean, they have clearly learned their lesson from Katrina. So what’s really happening here, I think, doesn’t do the Republicans any good in that they’re going to have to call off their convention, they’re going to have to shorten it, eliminate some of the bump that they would normally get from having it, simply because of Gustav coming in, and it appears that nothing about this experience will be like the Katrina experience. Everything looks so far as if it’s going quite well indeed, that the evacuation is orderly, it’s effective, that they’ve got all of their ducks in a row, and that even at it’s worst, even if New Orleans is once again inundated, no one’s going to be there to get caught in it. Everything is working this time, and yet this is the time that the Republicans are having this hurricane sort of knock their legs out from under them in terms of the PR that the convention usually gets you.
MCQ: Well I think in fact what they’re doing is toning it down more so than actually curtailing it. They have to do certain things by law: they have to do their nomination, they have to introduce their plank and all this good stuff. And that’s what they’re going to do. They’re just not going to do it in a festive atmosphere; they have decided they’re going to do it in a business atmosphere, which makes sense. So that’s the plan for Monday. Now at some point here within the next day or so, the hurricane is supposed to hit, and then at that point they can reassess. But doing it in a business atmosphere I don’t see as a particularly bad choice given the fact that the president, who was supposed to speak, is going to be focusing on Gustav, as the Left says he should. And as Michael points out, that meme’s been very successfully sold. But the fact is, you’ve got a competent governor in there who is probably leaning like hell on Ray Nagin, and they’re doing what they need to do, so at that point when it hits landfall and we get an idea of what the damage is going to be in New Orleans, then perhaps the convention can go on with the celebration of the fact that we did a good job and lives were not lost or risked.
MICHAEL: Well let’s face it: if Jindal can just draw a map to where the buses are for Nagin, [laughter] then the whole thing can be avoided.
MCQ: You got a point.
MICHAEL: Maybe Cheney can drive one of them or something.
MCQ: That’s probably a little beyond his capacity. But yeah, Dale has a point. This is going completely different from the last, but had this happened two months before or two months after the convention, you wouldn’t have seen George Bush anywhere near there, nor would you have seen McCain and Palin anywhere near there. It’s just, the timing of this thing means there’s a political aspect to it, and they have to play the political aspect.
DALE: Well apparently they’ve killed all the opening night festivities at this point, so...
MCQ: Right. It’s a business meeting now.
MCQ: Yep. And that’s what I’m saying. They’re going to go through and they’re going to do the things business-wise that they have to do at the beginning of this convention. And other than that, the festivities, as you pointed out, are not happening. And I think that’s a good decision. I don’t have any problem with that.
BRYAN: The opening night was supposed to include Bush and Cheney, correct?
MCQ: Correct. And they’re not going to be there.
BRYAN: Okay. Well, that might actually turn out to be a positive thing for McCain anyway. [Laughter]
DALE: Actually, when you look at it that way, it may not be that bad a deal at all! [Laughter]
MICHAEL: Yeah, that’s the emails I’ve been getting anyway, is that he’s going to do the opening of the ceremonies. Oh I guess he’s the keynote speaker [inaudible] instead of Bush or Cheney. But I have no idea if that’s actually going to happen, or if his — I don’t know, I just know that what I’ve been told from his camp is that Fred is going to be delivering the opening address.
MCQ: Well, here’s what the RNC has said, that they will be, they have canceled all speeches and programmed activities for Monday beyond the official business that must be conducted under party rules. And what they’re going to do is, they’re going to constitute the convention, they’re going to secure the report of the credentials committee, they’re going to adopt the rules for the convention, and they’re going to elect officers for the convention, and they’re going to adopt the party platform. That’s what they’re going to do. So that’s their Monday slate of business, and then I assume they’ll make an assessment as to what they’re going to do for the next day.
MICHAEL: That’s probably—
DALE: Well hopefully by then the hurricane will be well inland and breaking up so that, just for the PR aspect, and at some point you want to do your vice presidential thing and you want to do your presidential nomination deal so that everybody sees it, and everybody has a chance to look at you.
MICHAEL: Well they don’t need – they’re going to get a – they’ve already got the bump, and it’s only going to get bigger. I don’t think this hurts them really at all, and it probably helps them.
MCQ: I agree.
MICHAEL: I think it’s probably a smart — like I said, I think it’s a smart political move, and I really don’t think there’s much of a downside to it.
MCQ: I agree. I think that’s what we have to do, yeah.
MCQ: I like that idea, by the way, the blood drive.
BRYAN: Oh. Thanks.
MCQ: I think that’s a good idea.
DALE: Yeah, I –
MCQ: That’s Bryan’s. That’s Bryan’s. Yeah.
DALE: Yeah, I think that’s a better idea than just passing the hat.
MCQ: I agree.
DALE: Well, gentlemen, we’re out of time. We had a run, it’s been a pleasure talking with you all. We hope to talk to you again very soon. So Bryan: so long.
BRYAN: So long!
DALE: Michael, we’ll talk to you later.
MICHAEL: Thanks again.
DALE: And Bruce, talk to you next week.
MCQ: All right. You bet.
DALE: You’ve been listening to Observations, the podcast of the QandO Online Magazine. Observations is produced and co-hosted by Bruce McQuain, sound engineering and co-hosting done by me, Dale Franks. Hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of the podcast, and we hope you’ll be listening again next week when we’ll be back with yet another one. Until then, have a great week everybody. We’ll talk to you again next week. So long.