Tales from the Trail

On book tour, it’s Palin unplugged

Like one of those grizzly bears way up yonder in Alaska, Sarah Palin was in hibernation for months while she wrote her book. And now that the book is out, she’s become unplugged.

The conservative firebrand, who says she was all “bottled up” by the John McCain staff on the campaign trail last year, is chock full of opinions and letting lose on all manner of subjects.

USA-POLITICS/MCCAIN-PALINLet’s go over several of them.

The shootings at Fort Hood were “an act of terrorism” and authorities missed “massive warning flags” about the alleged shooter, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, she said.

“And I think it was quite unfortunate that, to me, it was a fear of being politically incorrect, to not — I’m going to use the word — profile this guy, profile in the sense of finding out what his radical beliefs were,” she told Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity.

Over at ABC News’ “Good Morning America,” Barbara Walters asked Palin what she would do about 10.2 percent unemployment if she were president.

McCain camp pushes back against Palin

You’ve seen the Sarah Palin book excerpts in which she complains about being “bottled up” by Republican John McCain’s campaign last year.

Long-time McCain adviser Mark Salter explains here the thinking behind the McCain campaign’s media strategy that Palin seems to be complaining about in an excerpt of her book published by the Drudgereport today.

PALIN/“After we had been criticized in the press for a lack of disciplined messaging earlier in the campaign when we provided frequent and unscheduled access to the candidate, we felt it necessary to adopt the same deliberativeness and discipline employed by our opponents and rely less on impromptu press conferences with our traveling press, and more on interviews arranged in advance so our candidates would have the same opportunity our opponents enjoyed to discuss and prepare for the interview.

Dealing with “bad guys” in intelligence gathering, OK or not?

Since the September 11 attacks, CIA officials have made it clear that to get the intelligence needed to stop terrorism attacks, U.S. intelligence agencies sometimes have to deal with “bad guys.”

The issue is again in the public eye again after The New York Times reported that the CIA has been regularly paying Ahmed Wali Karzai, the brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, for at least eight years for services that included helping to recruit an Afghan paramilitary force. The newspaper report says that Ahmed Wali Karzai is a suspected player in the illegal opium trade, which he denies.

Senator John McCain told CBS “Early Show” yesterday: “I’d heard that rumor before. I think it’s wrong. It’s wrong of the CIA to do it and I’m sure our military commanders there would disagree with it.”

Watch CBS News Videos Online

Sarah Palin is REALLY tired of Levi Johnston

Former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is striking back hard at her daughter’s ex-fiance, Levi Johnston, for what she called “mean-spirited, malicious and untrue attacks.”

Palin, and Johnston, who had a child out of wedlock with Palin’s daughter, Bristol, have been in a war of words since Levi and Bristol broke off plans to marry early this year.

Johnston appeared on CBS’ “Early Show” and repeated a charge he made in a recent Vanity Fair interview that Sarah Palin would often refer to her son with Down Syndrome, Trig Palin, as being “retarded.”

The First Draft: Obama Decision Time On Afghanistan?

AFGHANISTAN/The latest violence in Afghanistan may raise the drumbeat in Washington for a decision from President Barack Obama on whether to send more U.S. forces.

He’ll make remarks today at a Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony, and could address the matter there. Plenty of other topics are on the front burner, though, including healthcare reform and overhauling financial regulation, to name just two.

Senator John McCain, Obama’s Republican presidential rival in 2008, said the decision on sending more troops to Afghanistan should come soon. McCain told CBS television’s “Early Show”: “Overwhelmingly the military establishment and those who have had the experience of our success in Iraq know that the people there don’t want the Taliban back … and they want an environment of security. And we watch this situation continue to deteriorate while this long protracted process of decision-making goes on. We’re not operating in a vacuum. The president of the United States needs to make this decision and soon. Our allies are nervous and our military leadership is becoming frustrated.”

from Summit Notebook:

Senator McCain: Republicans in search of message to woo angry voters

The Republican Party is in search of a message to attract voters who are angry with just about everything -- healthcare, the U.S. deficit, Wall Street bonuses, increased unemployment and home foreclosures to mention a few.

"There's a lot of anger out there and there's a lot of frustration," said Republican Senator John McCain, who was defeated by Democrat Barack Obama for president last year.

Thousands of people are turning up at townhall meetings and "tea party" protests against government policies, he noted.

What really happened in Obama, McCain Afghan exchange

It sounded like a pretty sexy story — a clash of the titans between President Barack Obama and Republican Senator John McCain in the big White House meeting yesterday on Afghanistan. USA/

But the McCain folks are pushing back against this notion that tempers were flaring between Obama and McCain as reported by major media outlets.

McCain has made no secret of what he feels is an urgent need to increase U.S. troops in Afghanistan, and he repeated that appeal in the meeting, saying he hopes the president will make his decision soon and “not in a leisurely fashion,” according to McCain spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan.

Politicians score big in the NFL — campaign contributions

Politicians have hit pay dirt in the National Football League, with some teams providing far more fertile turf than others.

The San Diego Chargers haven’t been much of a powerhouse on the field during the past 20 years.

But in the game of national politics, the Chargers have been a high-stakes participant, leading the league in campaign contributions during that time frame.

The First Draft: Obama scaling back European missile shield

President Barack Obama is abandoning a Bush administration plan to build a big, fixed U.S. missile defense in Eastern Europe.

The president announced the decision Thursday amid reports from Poland and the Czech Republic overnight that officials there had been informed about the final decision.

EU-PROTEST/Instead of a fixed missile shield, the administration plans a more mobile defense aimed at short- and medium-range rockets.

In his own words, former Bush speechwriter blabs

Matt Latimer, who used to make a living writing speeches for former President George W. Bush, has decided to let loose in a book under his own name that describes the White House as more like the TV show “The Office” and less like “The West Wing.”

In excerpts of his book “Speech-Less” appearing in the October issue of GQ magazine, out on newsstands Sept. 22, Latimer says Bush had something unflattering to say about the leaders of the pack running to win the White House in last year’s election. OBAMA/

(We obtained, and more importantly, read all the excerpts to be published in GQ. There is some discussion about the plan to boost the economy which we leave you to read in the magazine or book).