Tales from the Trail

A Tale of Two Tea Parties

Is it the best of times or the worst of times for America’s Tea Party movement?

The answer may emerge in the next couple of weeks. A pair of Tea-Party-events-in-the-making suggest the movement, which has channeled much of the conservative opposition to President Barack Obama’s agenda, has reached a fork in the road.

It made headlines last summer as “Tea Party” rallies – evoking a famous protest in Boston against British rule in 1773 — were held across the country in opposition to bank bail-outs, Obama’s attempted healthcare overhaul, and other aspects of the White House agenda.


This weekend one offshoot of the movement is holding a conference in Dallas/Fort Worth called “Leadership Tea Party.” It is a low-key, nuts-and-bolts affair that is focused on the practical side of political training and winning elections. Sessions include: “Tea Parties: Legal Overview for Structures and Fundraising,” and “Victory in a Box.” The latter is about how to get out the vote in primary and general elections.

Richard Viguerie, a leading conservative figure and writer, will give the keynote address on Friday night.  Among other things he is seen as a pioneer of  get-0ut-the-vote tactics such as  ”political direct mail.” The conference is being put on by a group called the Nationwide Tea Party Coalition.

State-of-the-Union Bingo!

LEISURE PLAYBOY JAZZYes, of course, President Obama’s State of the Union address is a serious occasion, full of solemn portents for the nation and the world. But even Washington wonks have to have a little fun. Strangely enough, they’re likely to have fun this year by playing SOTU bingo.

For the uninitiated, SOTU bingo involves modified bingo cards, usually filled in with various words or phrases the president is likely to utter. It’s pretty easy to figure out which bingo-card-makers are friendly to Obama and which are foes. Some simply want to push a cause and hope Obama brings it up when he talks to Congress on Wednesday night.

The Center for Global Development offers a sober-sided set of bingo cards, with terms like “G-20,” “security,” “foreign aid” and “globalization” on its grid. “Will President Obama mention global development during his first official State of the Union address? Will he discuss girls’ health, immigration, or the environment?” the group asked on its Web site, urging folks to tally up whether Obama mentions any of these as they fill in their cards.

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? 
“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.

Sarah Palin turns the tables on William Shatner

PEOPLE-SHATNER/William Shatner, aka Capt. Kirk of Star Trek and pitchman for priceline.com, got a lot of mileage last year out of his dramatic reading of parts of Sarah Palin’s speech accepting the Republican vice presidential nomination.

So it was only a matter of time before Palin got him back, and that’s what happened on Friday night on NBC’s “Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien.”

First Shatner came on stage to read some lines from Palin’s memoir, “Going Rogue: An American Life.”

Unveiling the Obama Doctrine

NOBEL-OBAMA/President Barack Obama did more than collect his Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo. Besides the trumpet fanfare, the black-tie festivities, the pomp, the circumstance and of course the speech, he unveiled what Washington-watchers are calling the Obama doctrine. But what is it, exactly?

A quick online search shows an early mention of the Obama doctrine in March 2008, when Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton were still slugging it out for the Democratic presidential nomination. The American Prospect cited Obama speeches starting in January of that election year and talked to Obama’s foreign policy team to get an idea of what the future president’s world view might be. One key quote from the candidate on the Iraq war was seen as defining the doctrine: ”I don’t want to just end the war, but I want to end the mind-set that got us into war in the first place.”

“An inextricable part of that doctrine is a relentless and thorough destruction of al-Qaeda,” The American Prospect said. “Is this hawkish? Is this dovish? It’s both and neither — an overhaul not just of our foreign policy but of how we think about foreign policy. And it might just be the future of American global leadership.”

Obama picks Palin foe for Alaska pipeline job

USA/President Barack Obama picked Larry Persily, a former-aide-turned-critic of former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, to be federal coordinator for Alaska Natural Gas Transportation Projects.

In that position, Persily — who became one of Palin’s most vocal in-state critics — would oversee plans for a massive, long-desired Alaska natural gas pipeline.

Obama asked Drue Pearce, the Republican who held the job in the Bush administration, to leave the post last month.

Sarah Palin, climate science and e-mail

USA/Sarah Palin’s bylined opinion piece in today’s Washington Post drew fire from the Center for American Progress, which also took aim at the Post for publishing “falsehood-filled … tabloid nonsense.” Take a look at the liberal think-tank’s take here.

Like others who question the scientific evidence for human-generated climate change, Palin — former Alaska governor, ex-Republican vice presidential candidate and now best-selling author — targets hacked e-mails from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in Britain. Climate skeptics have cited this correspondence as a sign that the science of climate change has been tainted with politics and maintain the e-mails show repression of data that does not fit the climate change case. The scientists themselves, and others around the world, have said the e-mail comments were taken out of context and reflect an open exchange of ideas.

The e-mails came to light in the weeks leading up to the climate conference in Denmark. Since then, the scientific journal Nature defended the scientists at East Anglia in an editorial that called the hack-attack and the subsequent heated rhetoric by climate deniers “harrassment.”  The Guardian newspaper reported that the climate scientists have received torrents of abuse and even death threats.

Boycott Copenhagen, Palin urges Obama


 If Sarah Palin had her way, President Barack Obama would be staying away from this month’s global climate change talks in Copenhagen and “sending a message that the United States will not be a party to fraudulent scientific practices.”

The summit will hear from scientists like those from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, where recently revealed e-mails showed information that raised questions about climate change was suppressed, writes Palin.

“Without trustworthy science and with so much at stake, Americans should be wary about what comes out of this politicized conference. The president should boycott Copenhagen,” she wrote in an op-ed in the Washington Post.

McCain praises Palin…but calls her “irrelevant”

How’s this for faint praise?

Former Repubican presidential nominee  John McCain talked up Sarah Palin — his 2008 vice presidential USA/partner — on Sunday, saying she had earned an important place in the Republican party.

But he also called the former Alaska governor ”irrelevant.”


“I think that Sarah Palin … has earned herself a very big place in the Republican political scene,” McCain said on the NBC program “Meet the Press.”

“I am entertained every time I see these people attack her and attack her and attack her.  She’s irrelevant, but they continue to attack her.  I am so proud of her and the work that she is doing,” he said.