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Saturday, September 06, 2008

Why they won't let Sarah Palin talk to us

Barack Obama, John McCain, and Joe Biden, will all be appearing on the various Sunday talk shows tomorrow. But, not Sarah Palin.

A senior McCain campaign official tells Marc Ambinder that, "despite the gaggle of requests and pressure from the media, Gov. Sarah Palin won't submit to a formal interview anytime soon. She may take some questions from local news entities in Alaska, but until she's ready -- and until she's comfortable -- which might not be for a long while -- the media will have to wait." (Political Wire: Palin Will Avoid the Media)

The media is a conduit between politicians and the people. It's part of how democracy works.

According to Nicole Wallace of the McCain campaign, the American people don't care whether Sarah Palin can answer specific questions about foreign and domestic policy. According to Wallace -- in an appearance I did with her this morning on Joe Scarborough's show -- the American people will learn all they need to know (and all they deserve to know) from Palin's scripted speeches and choreographed appearances on the campaign trail and in campaign ads. (Time-Blog: No Questions, Please. We'll Tell You What You Need To Know)

Yes, between now and then we'll hear her deliver speeches as prepared for her by whoever's really running this campaign (and, by default, the White House, if McCain gets elected). And we'll get little sound bites on the 6:00 news of her in a fitting outfit and cute glasses delivering zingers with a smile. That may be fine for some people. But, is it enough for all of us? I don't think so.

They say they're upset at how she has been treated by the press. I think part of that can be attributed to the fact that she came into this race from so far out of left right field. However, now that the press is a little more used to her, that attitude can and should be quickly disbursed with. Some may speculate that the press will intentionally try to trip her up. (I've seen that ugly tactic done, and it can actually backfire on the reporter.) Or, possibly the campaign is hoping we won't find out just how politically unsophisticated she is (if so). Whatever. Lots of possibilities.

Anyway, I think I know the real reason they don't want Sarah Palin talking to the press. It's their design that if she's not sitting in front of a camera giving spontaneous, unprepared answers to a reporter's questions for the whole world to hear, we, the voters, just won't focus on the issues. Out of sight, out of mind. And with issues out of the public discussion, it'll come down to personalities. And while everyone says they don't want an election based on personalities, I believe the McCain/Palin campaign really does. I think they think they've got a winner with her personality.

And so, we -- all of us -- should keep the conversation going on the issues. Come to think of it, I hope she does stay out of the media. It'll be just that much less ... um how did John McCain put it in his acceptance speech last Thursday night? Oh yeah: "Please, please, please. My friends, my dear friends, please. Please don't be diverted by the ground noise and the static." Exactly.

Edit: Later added link to first paragraph.

Posted by Marie at September 6, 2008 6:58 PM


Elections shouldn't have (much) to do with the personality of the candidates, but the McCain team is implying that's all they've got. Not policy, not competence, nothing other than "cute glasses" and zingers.

Sad. Sadder if we let them get away with it.

Posted by: Seth Anderson at September 6, 2008 9:06 PM

This is particularly maddening given McCain's campaign's propensity for accusing Obama of being able to give a great speech, but not much else. It's as if they expect the voting public to give her a pass on policy because she's been dragged through so much personal scrutiny.

Posted by: nancy at September 7, 2008 3:04 PM

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