Tales from the Trail

Will she? Won’t she? Still reading the tea leaves…

USA/Is Sarah Palin getting the kind of press that makes for viable presidential campaigns? Maybe not, and her critics appear to be increasingly of a conservative stripe.

The Mama of Mama Grizzlies proved to be a fierce campaigner on the 2010 midterm election trail, and she continues to command an army of devoted supporters, particularly among members of the Tea Party movement.

But winning the White House requires an ability to attract many, many independent voters. And two months after the Arizona shootings, and her use of the charged term “blood libel” against critics of her gun-toting rhetoric, Palin seems to be having trouble convincing influential conservatives to take her seriously as a seaworthy candidate.

“She’s becoming Al Sharpton, Alaska edition,” says the headline of a  POLITICO article that identifies the Republican 2008 vice presidential nominee with a politics of grievance and group identity that betrays conservative principles. And who are these critics? Conservative columnist George Will… former Bush strategist Peter Wehner… Manhattan Institute analyst Heather Mac Donald

Not exactly the Lamestream Media.

Then there’s Fox News jefe Roger Ailes. According to New York Magazine, Palin sought Ailes’ advice after the January shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords unleashed a deluge of criticism over her use of rifle cross-hairs to identify vulnerable Democratic congressional districts, including Giffords’, on a 2010 campaign map.

Stewart, Colbert rally gets ‘puzzling’ endorsement

TELEVISION-EMMYSFirst came celebrity endorsements from Oprah and Arianna. Now Jon Stewart’s Washington “Rally to Restore Sanity” has a more puzzling promoter.

Here’s a clue: German summer pants for little William? (10 letters) 

Stumped? The answer is ”Will Shortz“. He’s editor of the New York Times crossword puzzle, which today devotes no fewer than eight clues to the Daily Show host, his fellow satirist Stephen Colbert of the Colbert Report and the joint rally they’re planning for Saturday on the National Mall.

For anyone flummoxed by the clues to 54 and 65 Across, Colbert’s version of the event is called the “March to Keep Fear Alive.”

Political Surrogate Smackdown!

USA/You can tell it’s autumn in Washington: the leaves are changing color, Congress has flown away and the political surrogates are in full cry. For those unfamiliar with the phenomenon, the full cry of the surrogate can often be heard from coast to coast — or at least from Broadway to Reno, Nevada.

Surrogates can do things the candidates can’t, sparring with words most candidates don’t use in places some candidates wouldn’t go. That’s why they’re fun to watch when they figuratively put up their dukes in the struggle before the November 2 vote.

At a Broadway theater on Monday night, Michelle Obama got a glitzy introduction from Sarah Jessica Parker of “Sex and the City” fame, who called the first lady “a role model, an inspiration” and a woman who “doesn’t need a pair of heels to stand tall.”

Healthcare bill signing: exuberance, exclamations, expletives

With all the giddiness over the signing of the hard-fought healthcare reform bill into law, Vice President Joe Biden might be forgiven for dropping the F-bomb in the ear of the President of the United States … on open mike.

Fox News caught it and now it’s on YouTube for all to hear.

You have to listen closely.

Right after Biden introduces President Barack Obama at the White House East Room bill signing event, when they’re shaking hands, Biden turns and whispers in Obama’s ear: “This is a big f—ing deal.” (Just to be clear, there’s a u, c, and k missing from the quote).

Slight laughter from Obama before saying “thank you everybody” and beginning his remarks to the Democrats gathered before him.

How well was Palin vetted? McCain, um, doesn’t know

Republican John McCain says he doesn’t know whether his former vice presidential running mate, Sarah Palin, was WASHINGTON-SUMMIT/adequately vetted. At least, he doesn’t know who says she wasn’t, and he doesn’t care. What he does know is that the 2008 presidential race was a tough fight. But now he’s very proud and very happy. Any more questions? Get lost. 
    
McCain just wouldn’t take the bait in an interview with NBC’s Today show when asked to comment on revelations about his failed 2008 White House campaign that appear in the new book, “Game Change,” by New York magazine writer John Heilemann and Time magazine reporter Mark Halperin .
    
NBC asked whether the book is correct where it describes the vetting process for Palin as hasty and haphazard, with no one bothering to speak to her husband or her political enemies.
    
“I wouldn’t know,” McCain replied.
    
Sorry? The Republican Party nominee wouldn’t know if his own running mate had been adequately vetted? 
USA-POLITICS/MCCAIN    
“I wouldn’t know what the sources are, nor care,” the Arizona senator explained.
    
“I am not going to spend time looking back at what happened over a year ago when we’ve got two wars to fight, 10 percent unemployment in my state and things to do. I’m sorry. You’ll have to get others to comment.”
    
McCain’s decision to transplant Palin from political obscurity to the national limelight undermined his credibility even among Republicans. Some worried that voters would see the former Alaska governor as too inexperienced to become Veep and possibly, some day, take on the mantle of Commander-in-Chief during a national emergency. 
    
Palin has since become the most visible Republican figure in the national political firmament, publishing a best-selling book, landing a job as pundit on FOX News and attracting speculation about a possible White House run in 2012. USA-POLITICS/MCCAIN
    
“She will be a major factor in American politics in the future,” McCain predicted, with an apparent air of vindication.
    
“I am proud of everybody in my campaign. I’m proud of the campaign we ran. I’m so proud that I had the opportunity to represent my party in the election. And I’ll always look back on that period with pride and with satisfaction. It was tough. But I’m very happy and I’m very happy in my new role in the Senate and going back and fighting the good fight.”

Photo Credits: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst (McCain); Reuters/Brian Snyder (McCain and Palin) and (Palin)

Click here for more political coverage from Reuters

Sarah Palin’s next move: television pundit

What’s left to do after running Alaska, running for Vice President, and authoring a bestselling book?

For Sarah Palin, it’s turning into a television pundit for FOX News.

USA-POLITICS/MCCAIN-PALINSince losing the 2008 election for the White House, Palin has not quietly faded into the obscurity from which John McCain plucked her.

Instead, she has firmly stayed in the public eye, waving her conservative ideals and gathering a following. People lined up for hours on her “Going Rogue” book tour to catch a glimpse of the former Republican candidate.

Obama nominates Bush spokeswoman to broadcast board

She represented President George W. Bush before the world’s media and now is a commentator for Fox News. And she’s been quite a vocal critic of the current White House. USA/

But he nominated her anyway.

President Barack Obama nominated his predecessor’s press secretary, Dana Perino, to the bipartisan Broadcasting Board of Governors.

We asked Perino about it, and she told us that Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell put her name forward for the position.

Who is the racist, Obama or Murdoch?

So is U.S. President Barack Obama a racist? Or is Rupert Murdoch?

Well the Australian media mogul appears to think that the president made a “very racist comment” and agrees that he hates white people.MILKEN/

But that apparently doesn’t make him a racist.

Confused? Me too.

The News Corporation chairman, one of the most controversial figures in the media world, has never minded hitting the headlines in his own right and this week was no exception.

First, in an interview with Sky News in Australia, he chose to back conservative Fox News commentator Glenn Beck.

White House and media club each other … again

So, the Obama White House is upset at a major news organization over its coverage and trying to marginalize it. Seems like big news in some quarters (well inside the Beltway anyway), but in reality it’s about par for the course.

It would be tough to find a White House that didn’t get upset with media coverage — especially when they believe they are not winning the “message battle” for their agenda. And sometimes it escalates. USA

The latest target is of course Fox News which the Obama administration has labeled as an outlet for opinion rather than news and more simply just an arm of the Republican party doing its bidding.

The First Draft: White House vs. Fox News

In case you’ve not been paying attention, the White House is feuding with Fox News.

In the latest salvo, President Obama’s senior political adviser David Axelrod told ABC’s “This Week” that Fox’s programming “is not really news” but “pushing a point of view.”

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel echoed those remarks on CNN’s “State of the Union” program Sunday, saying Fox “is not a news organization so much as it has a perspective.”