When You've Lost Hitchens…


The scribe who said he was "slightly for Bush" in 2004 has endorsed the man from Honolulu. Just like in the Bible, the blame comes down on a woman.

The most insulting thing that a politician can do is to compel you to ask yourself: "What does he take me for?" Precisely this question is provoked by the selection of Gov. Sarah Palin. I wrote not long ago that it was not right to condescend to her just because of her provincial roots or her piety, let alone her slight flirtatiousness, but really her conduct since then has been a national disgrace. It turns out that none of her early claims to political courage was founded in fact, and it further turns out that some of the untested rumors about her—her vindictiveness in local quarrels, her bizarre religious and political affiliations—were very well-founded, indeed. Moreover, given the nasty and lowly task of stirring up the whack-job fringe of the party's right wing and of recycling patent falsehoods about Obama's position on Afghanistan, she has drawn upon the only talent that she apparently possesses.

It therefore seems to me that the Republican Party has invited not just defeat but discredit this year, and that both its nominees for the highest offices in the land should be decisively repudiated, along with any senators, congressmen, and governors who endorse them.

For once, Hitchens isn't alone. McCain is trailing Obama in newspaper endorsements, losing (so far) five newspapers that backed Bush over Kerry four years ago. (You remember that election, right? The one that inaugurated the permanent Republican majority?) From the San Bernardino (CA) Sun:

McCain's recklessness, which in our opinion is evidenced by his selection of the unworldly Gov. Sarah Palin as his vice president, makes us uneasy. We view the selection of Palin as putting cynical politics ahead of the national interest.

From the Stockton (CA) Record:

If elected, at 72, [McCain] would be the oldest incoming president in U.S. history. He's in good health now, we're told, although he has withheld most of his medical records. That means Gov. Sarah Palin could very well become president.

And that brings us to McCain's most troubling trait: his judgment.

While praiseworthy for putting the first woman on a major-party presidential ticket since Geraldine Ferraro in 1984, his selection of Palin as a running mate was appalling. The first-term governor is clearly not experienced enough to serve as vice president or president if required. Her lack of knowledge is being covered up by keeping her away from questioning reporters and doing interviews only with those considered friendly to her views.

The Express-Times of Easton, PA:

McCain's choice of Sarah Palin for a running mate seems as shockingly amateurish and ill-advised today as it was in August. Nothing that has happened on the campaign trail has changed this.

The spirit of Lee Atwater and Karl Rove seems to be the energizing force of the McCain/Palin Express, and it's the opposite of straight talk. Slimy campaigning is headed for another all-time high. While the nation is seeking guidance on economic and national defense problems of momentous proportion, this election seems to hinge on the guilt-by-association grenades that Republicans keep lobbing up, hoping to bring down Obama.

If this is a manual for how a McCain/Palin partnership would guide the nation out of a morass, we'd opt for Bob Barr or Ralph Nader first. Their campaigns look like beacons of integrity in comparison.

The Canton (OH) Repository doesn't mention Palin, but it scorches McCain's response to the mortgage crisis. (The Wisconsin State Journal of Madison doesn't much discuss McCain.)

The events of the last two weeks have provided another telling contrast between the two candidates. Obama has stressed the need for a bipartisan agreement on a financial bailout and reform package that includes strong accountability measures. McCain has indulged his penchant for drama. He declared that if he were president, he would fire the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission — action that a president doesn't have the authority to take. Then he abruptly refused to debate Obama on Friday — at a time when Americans need to hear directly from both men about their reaction to the financial crisis — but, fortunately, McCain changed his mind again.

I can hear you: "Big deal! The liberal media always endorses the Democrat!" Well, for one that's not true, and for another it's never been true for McCain. As Matt Welch recorded during the primaries, McCain was boosted in state after state by newspaper endorsements that praised his character (sometimes even fudging his POW experience to make it sound better!) and blasted the Romneys, the Huckabees, and the rest of 'em.

These endorsements won't swing the election, but McCain's on track to keep losing them. Newspapers don't like Palin and they don't like negative attacks, and McCain is offering up plenty of both. It's been 10 days since Palin opened up the front on Bill Ayers. How have the polls moved since then?

But I'm sure if McCain just talks about it some more, then voters will rush to him.