2008 Republican National Convention

Sarah Palin Won't Be Facing Questions Anytime Soon

Perhaps she will be accepting filtered questions from Republican voters at campaign rallies and town halls, but Sarah Palin is not ready for questions from the evil media. Not Sunday morning, not on Oprah, not on MTV, not in primetime. Not for a while.

So says Nicole Wallace of the McCain campaign. You remember Nicole "It doesn't matter" Wallace. She's that Scots-Irish American hothead who runs the communications for the Scots-Irish American hothead running for president.

Here she is telling Jay Carney of Time Magazine that Sarah doesn't have to take any questions from the media, or from the general public.

Sorry, public. You'll have to rely on Ms. Palin's scripted speeches until her debate with Senator Biden. Nyah-nyah! You'll just have to trust us handlers. You're not naive to think that we live in a democracy, are ya?

Fair Investigative Journalism Covering Sarah Palin

The Right can complain about commentators on Daily Kos, but there are paid, legitimate journalists who are doing the work that the McCain campaign should have done weeks ago.

Laura McGann at the Washington Independent is doing a fine job going through all the public documents related to Sarah Palin's two terms as mayor of Wasilla. Take a lot at some of her first dispatches from Alaska:

Wasilla hired a Washington lobbyist in 2000 to attract more federal grants.

Palin to Wasilla librarian in 1996: Are you OK with censorship?

Palin on running Wasilla in 1996: "It's not rocket science."

McGann's colleague at the Washington Independent, Mike Lillis, follows-up on the federal lobbyist story:

With Palin remaining receptive to “Don Young’s Way,” Sen Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential nominee, has seen an opening. Thursday his office pounced, sending an email blast to reporters proclaiming, “Palin only announced opposition to one ‘Bridge to Nowhere,’ still supports the other one.”

[Lobbyist Steven] Silver, the former chief of staff to the now-indicted Stevens, began lobbying Congress on behalf of Wasilla in 2000. With Silver’s help, the town secured nearly $27 million in federal earmarks while Palin was mayor, according to an analysis done by Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonpartisan fiscal watchdog group.

Critical Reactions To Sarah Palin's Speech

Will Bunch:

Yes, it was a great speech politically, and a great night for her family, but an empty speech for America -- and for America's families. It was defined by its lowest moment, Palin's shameless lie about "the Bridge to Nowhere." This was a Speech to Nowhere.

Adam McGourney, NY Times (registration required):

Clearly, her big task on Wednesday and in the days ahead was to drive home the image the McCain campaign has sought to attach to this unexpected pick: the corruption-fighting governor from outside Washington, a socially conservative mother of five who can easily connect with working-class Americans in a way that Mr. Obama has so far had trouble doing. She scorned the trappings of elitism — she talked about driving herself to work, and how she put the Alaska governor’s plane up for sale on eBay — as she signaled that she would serve as Mr. McCain’s ambassador to Americans who think the government has lost touch with their values and needs. She went as far to compare herself to a haberdasher from Missouri who became vice president and later president, Harry S. Truman.

The problem for Ms. Palin is that that story has been tripped up by disclosures about her professional and personal life, enough so that at least until Wednesday, she had become a bigger figure at this convention than Mr. McCain.

John Dickerson, Slate:
John McCain will win by making Barack Obama look un-American. That's sensitive stuff. Hillary Clinton destroyed herself trying to use it. But Palin may know how to use it. Palin's attacks are potentially dangerous because they are aimed at the crucial voting bloc of women and middle-class voters who can see their lives in her life. Obama talked about coming from a middle-class life. Palin still lives one. She could improvise a joke about being a hockey mom—what's the difference between a pit bull and a hockey mom? Lipstick—because she is one.

The secondary purpose of Palin's speech may be the most important in the long run. She wasn't just launching a new brand (her own). She was relaunching a whole new product: the McCain-Palin ticket. Experience is no longer the central argument. Reform is. McCain and Palin are presenting themselves as leaders who can deliver because they speak and act regardless of the political risk. "Here's how I look at the choice Americans face in this election," said Palin. "In politics, there are some candidates who use change to promote their careers. And then there are those, like John McCain, who use their careers to promote change."

It was a great act—but it was an act, a one-shot show. Palin will have to keep it up for the next nine weeks, when there won't be time to practice or the opportunity to sand down that line to keep it from sounding small and mean. This is a test Obama has already passed. And her sarcasm will wear thin quickly. Reagan could do it because he was a sunny optimist offering a vision of the future. Palin didn't do much of that, other than by offering platitudes (hey, she had a lot of ground to cover).

The Rude Pundit:

So, like, what the fuck does the governor of Alaska do? You can talk about getting rid of corruption as much as you want, but you're still lappin' at that pipeline like a rim job-givin' man whore. Essentially, one's job as governor of Alaska is to keep the oil companies happy as a pig in shit. Because without them, Alaska would still just be a territory of outlaws, moose hunters, and prospectors wondering what the fuck to do about the Inuit.

And to answer another of Palin's statements, um, a community organizer in the projects of Chicago is probably a little more active than a small town mayor in a distant suburb of Alaska. All Mayor Palin had to deal with was tax abatements for the new Target and the occasional walrus attack.

By the way, using one's PTA membership as an example of one's experience to be the vice president of the United States is like saying that because you once took an aspirin, you can handle your speedballs.

So the reason many of us are saying that Sarah Palin is unqualified is not sexism or anti-middle class bias or sucking up to the Washington power structure or whatever stupid ass excuse the right desperately is clinging to in order to calm that gut churn they're feeling. No, the reason we think Sarah Palin is unqualified is because she's unqualified.

Roger Simon: Why The Media Should Apologize (Scarcasm/Snark Alert)

Roger Simon, Politico, 'Why The Media Should Apologize':

On behalf of the media, I would like to say we are sorry.

On behalf of the elite media, I would like to say we are very sorry.

We have asked questions this week that we should never have asked.

We have asked pathetic questions like: Who is Sarah Palin? What is her record? Where does she stand on the issues? And is she is qualified to be a heartbeat away from the presidency?

We have asked mean questions like: How well did John McCain know her before he selected her? How well did his campaign vet her? And was she his first choice?

Bad questions. Bad media. Bad.

It is not our job to ask questions. Or it shouldn’t be. To hear from the pols at the Republican National Convention this week, our job is to endorse and support the decisions of the pols.

Sarah Palin hit the nail on the head Wednesday night (and several in the audience wish she had hit some reporters on the head instead) when she said: “I’m not a member of the permanent political establishment. And I’ve learned quickly, these past few days, that if you’re not a member in good standing of the Washington elite, then some in the media consider a candidate unqualified for that reason alone.”

But where did we go wrong with Sarah Palin? Let me count the ways:

First, we should have stuck to the warm, human interest stuff like how she likes mooseburgers and hit an important free throw at her high school basketball tournament even though she had a stress fracture.

Second, we should have stuck to the press release stuff like how she opposed the Bridge to Nowhere (after she supported it).

Third, we should never have strayed into the other stuff. Like when The Washington Post recently wrote: “Palin is under investigation by a bipartisan state legislative body. … Palin had promised to cooperate with the legislative inquiry, but this week she hired a lawyer to fight to move the case to the jurisdiction of the state personnel board, which Palin appoints.”

Why go there? What trees does that plant?

Fourth, we should stop making with all the questions already. She gave a really good speech. And why go beyond that? As we all know, speeches cannot be written by others and rehearsed for days. They are true windows to the soul.

Unless they are delivered by Barack Obama, that is. In which case, as Palin said Wednesday, speeches are just a “cloud of rhetoric.”

Fifth, we should stop reporting on the families of the candidates. Unless the candidates want us to.

Sarah Palin wanted the media to report on her teenage son, Track, who enlisted in the Army on Sept. 11, 2007, and soon will deploy to Iraq.

Sarah Palin did not want the media to report on her teenage daughter, Bristol, who is pregnant and unmarried.

Sarah Palin thinks that one is good for her campaign and one is not, and that the media should report only on what is good for her campaign. That is our job, and that is our duty. If that is not actually in the Constitution, it should be. (And someday may be.)

The official theme of the convention’s third day was “prosperity,” but the unofficial theme was “the media are really, really awful.”

Even Mike Huckabee, who campaigned for president this year by saying “I am a conservative, but I am not mad at anybody,” discovered Wednesday night that he is mad at somebody.

“I’d like to thank the elite media for doing something,” Huckabee said, “that, quite frankly, I didn’t think could be done: unify the Republican party and all of America in support of John McCain and Sarah Palin.”

And could that be the real point of the attacks on the media? To unify the Republican Party?

No, that is simply the cynical, media view.

Though as Lily Tomlin says, “No matter how cynical I get, it’s just never enough to keep up.”

I couldn’t resist that. For which I am sorry.

She Started It

Governor Palin did not write her own speech. One of George W. Bush's former speechwriters did. But she owns the words that came out of her mouth. She threw some heavy punches at Senators Obama and Biden (shown below in bold). And now they must hit back.

The speech was entertaining, and was full of red meat and sarcasm (not to mention some lies which I will list in a separate post).

It seems that Governor Palin is a confident, somewhat cocky politician (maybe even more cocky than Obama). There is more than enough material in her speech to develop effective counterpunches. But can the Democrats fight back? Is the fighting Obama we saw last week going to stick around? Tonight he will be on the O'Reilly Factor, and we shall see.

Mr. Chairman, delegates, and fellow citizens: I am honored to be considered for the nomination for Vice President of the United States...

I accept the call to help our nominee for president to serve and defend America.

I accept the challenge of a tough fight in this election... against confident opponents ... at a crucial hour for our country.

And I accept the privilege of serving with a man who has come through much harder missions ... and met far graver challenges ... and knows how tough fights are won - the next president of the United States, John S. McCain.

It was just a year ago when all the experts in Washington counted out our nominee because he refused to hedge his commitment to the security of the country he loves.

With their usual certitude, they told us that all was lost - there was no hope for this candidate who said that he would rather lose an election than see his country lose a war.

But the pollsters and pundits overlooked just one thing when they wrote him off.

They overlooked the caliber of the man himself - the determination, resolve, and sheer guts of Senator John McCain. The voters knew better.

And maybe that's because they realize there is a time for politics and a time for leadership ... a time to campaign and a time to put our country first.

Our nominee for president is a true profile in courage, and people like that are hard to come by.

He's a man who wore the uniform of this country for 22 years, and refused to break faith with those troops in Iraq who have now brought victory within sight.

And as the mother of one of those troops, that is exactly the kind of man I want as commander in chief. I'm just one of many moms who'll say an extra prayer each night for our sons and daughters going into harm's way.

Our son Track is 19.

And one week from tomorrow - September 11th - he'll deploy to Iraq with the Army infantry in the service of his country.

My nephew Kasey also enlisted, and serves on a carrier in the Persian Gulf.

My family is proud of both of them and of all the fine men and women serving the country in uniform. Track is the eldest of our five children.

In our family, it's two boys and three girls in between - my strong and kind-hearted daughters Bristol, Willow, and Piper.

And in April, my husband Todd and I welcomed our littlest one into the world, a perfectly beautiful baby boy named Trig. From the inside, no family ever seems typical.

That's how it is with us.

Our family has the same ups and downs as any other ... the same challenges and the same joys.

Sometimes even the greatest joys bring challenge.

And children with special needs inspire a special love.

To the families of special-needs children all across this country, I have a message: For years, you sought to make America a more welcoming place for your sons and daughters.

I pledge to you that if we are elected, you will have a friend and advocate in the White House. Todd is a story all by himself. He's a lifelong commercial fisherman ... a production operator in the oil fields of Alaska's North Slope ... a proud member of the United Steel Workers' Union ... and world champion snow machine racer.

Throw in his Yup'ik Eskimo ancestry, and it all makes for quite a package.

We met in high school, and two decades and five children later he's still my guy. My Mom and Dad both worked at the elementary school in our small town.

And among the many things I owe them is one simple lesson: that this is America, and every woman can walk through every door of opportunity.

My parents are here tonight, and I am so proud to be the daughter of Chuck and Sally Heath. Long ago, a young farmer and habber-dasher from Missouri followed an unlikely path to the vice presidency.

A writer observed: "We grow good people in our small towns, with honesty, sincerity, and dignity." I know just the kind of people that writer had in mind when he praised Harry Truman.

I grew up with those people.

They are the ones who do some of the hardest work in America ... who grow our food, run our factories, and fight our wars.

They love their country, in good times and bad, and they're always proud of America. I had the privilege of living most of my life in a small town.

I was just your average hockey mom, and signed up for the PTA because I wanted to make my kids' public education better.

When I ran for city council, I didn't need focus groups and voter profiles because I knew those voters, and knew their families, too.

Before I became governor of the great state of Alaska, I was mayor of my hometown.

And since our opponents in this presidential election seem to look down on that experience, let me explain to them what the job involves.

I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a "community organizer," except that you have actual responsibilities. I might add that in small towns, we don't quite know what to make of a candidate who lavishes praise on working people when they are listening, and then talks about how bitterly they cling to their religion and guns when those people aren't listening.

We tend to prefer candidates who don't talk about us one way in Scranton and another way in San Francisco.

As for my running mate, you can be certain that wherever he goes, and whoever is listening, John McCain is the same man. I'm not a member of the permanent political establishment.

And I've learned quickly, these past few days, that if you're not a member in good standing of the Washington elite, then some in the media consider a candidate unqualified for that reason alone.

But here's a little news flash for all those reporters and commentators: I'm not going to Washington to seek their good opinion - I'm going to Washington to serve the people of this country. Americans expect us to go to Washington for the right reasons, and not just to mingle with the right people.

Politics isn't just a game of clashing parties and competing interests.

The right reason is to challenge the status quo, to serve the common good, and to leave this nation better than we found it.

No one expects us to agree on everything.

But we are expected to govern with integrity, good will, clear convictions, and ... a servant's heart.

I pledge to all Americans that I will carry myself in this spirit as vice president of the United States. This was the spirit that brought me to the governor's office, when I took on the old politics as usual in Juneau ... when I stood up to the special interests, the lobbyists, big oil companies, and the good-ol' boys network.

Sudden and relentless reform never sits well with entrenched interests and power brokers. That's why true reform is so hard to achieve.

But with the support of the citizens of Alaska, we shook things up.

And in short order we put the government of our state back on the side of the people.

I came to office promising major ethics reform, to end the culture of self-dealing. And today, that ethics reform is the law.

While I was at it, I got rid of a few things in the governor's office that I didn't believe our citizens should have to pay for.

That luxury jet was over the top. I put it on eBay.

I also drive myself to work.

And I thought we could muddle through without the governor's personal chef - although I've got to admit that sometimes my kids sure miss her. I came to office promising to control spending - by request if possible and by veto if necessary.

Senator McCain also promises to use the power of veto in defense of the public interest - and as a chief executive, I can assure you it works.

Our state budget is under control.

We have a surplus.

And I have protected the taxpayers by vetoing wasteful spending: nearly half a billion dollars in vetoes.

I suspended the state fuel tax, and championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress.

I told the Congress "thanks, but no thanks," for that Bridge to Nowhere.

If our state wanted a bridge, we'd build it ourselves. When oil and gas prices went up dramatically, and filled up the state treasury, I sent a large share of that revenue back where it belonged - directly to the people of Alaska.

And despite fierce opposition from oil company lobbyists, who kind of liked things the way they were, we broke their monopoly on power and resources.

As governor, I insisted on competition and basic fairness to end their control of our state and return it to the people.

I fought to bring about the largest private-sector infrastructure project in North American history.

And when that deal was struck, we began a nearly forty billion dollar natural gas pipeline to help lead America to energy independence.

That pipeline, when the last section is laid and its valves are opened, will lead America one step farther away from dependence on dangerous foreign powers that do not have our interests at heart.

The stakes for our nation could not be higher.

When a hurricane strikes in the Gulf of Mexico, this country should not be so dependent on imported oil that we are forced to draw from our Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

And families cannot throw away more and more of their paychecks on gas and heating oil.

With Russia wanting to control a vital pipeline in the Caucasus, and to divide and intimidate our European allies by using energy as a weapon, we cannot leave ourselves at the mercy of foreign suppliers.

To confront the threat that Iran might seek to cut off nearly a fifth of world energy supplies ... or that terrorists might strike again at the Abqaiq facility in Saudi Arabia ... or that Venezuela might shut off its oil deliveries ... we Americans need to produce more of our own oil and gas.

And take it from a gal who knows the North Slope of Alaska: we've got lots of both.

Our opponents say, again and again, that drilling will not solve all of America's energy problems - as if we all didn't know that already.

But the fact that drilling won't solve every problem is no excuse to do nothing at all.

Starting in January, in a McCain-Palin administration, we're going to lay more pipelines ... build more new-clear plants ... create jobs with clean coal ... and move forward on solar, wind, geothermal, and other alternative sources.

We need American energy resources, brought to you by American ingenuity, and produced by American workers. I've noticed a pattern with our opponent.

Maybe you have, too.

We've all heard his dramatic speeches before devoted followers.

And there is much to like and admire about our opponent.

But listening to him speak, it's easy to forget that this is a man who has authored two memoirs but not a single major law or reform - not even in the state senate.

This is a man who can give an entire speech about the wars America is fighting, and never use the word "victory" except when he's talking about his own campaign. But when the cloud of rhetoric has passed ... when the roar of the crowd fades away ... when the stadium lights go out, and those Styrofoam Greek columns are hauled back to some studio lot - what exactly is our opponent's plan? What does he actually seek to accomplish, after he's done turning back the waters and healing the planet? The answer is to make government bigger ... take more of your money ... give you more orders from Washington ... and to reduce the strength of America in a dangerous world. America needs more energy ... our opponent is against producing it.

Victory in Iraq is finally in sight ... he wants to forfeit.

Terrorist states are seeking new-clear weapons without delay ... he wants to meet them without preconditions.

Al Qaeda terrorists still plot to inflict catastrophic harm on America ... he's worried that someone won't read them their rights? Government is too big ... he wants to grow it.

Congress spends too much ... he promises more.

Taxes are too high ... he wants to raise them. His tax increases are the fine print in his economic plan, and let me be specific.

The Democratic nominee for president supports plans to raise income taxes ... raise payroll taxes ... raise investment income taxes ... raise the death tax ... raise business taxes ... and increase the tax burden on the American people by hundreds of billions of dollars. My sister Heather and her husband have just built a service station that's now opened for business - like millions of others who run small businesses.

How are they going to be any better off if taxes go up? Or maybe you're trying to keep your job at a plant in Michigan or Ohio ... or create jobs with clean coal from Pennsylvania or West Virginia ... or keep a small farm in the family right here in Minnesota.

How are you going to be better off if our opponent adds a massive tax burden to the American economy? Here's how I look at the choice Americans face in this election.

In politics, there are some candidates who use change to promote their careers.

And then there are those, like John McCain, who use their careers to promote change.

They're the ones whose names appear on laws and landmark reforms, not just on buttons and banners, or on self-designed presidential seals.

Among politicians, there is the idealism of high-flown speechmaking, in which crowds are stirringly summoned to support great things.

And then there is the idealism of those leaders, like John McCain, who actually do great things. They're the ones who are good for more than talk ... the ones we have always been able to count on to serve and defend America. Senator McCain's record of actual achievement and reform helps explain why so many special interests, lobbyists, and comfortable committee chairmen in Congress have fought the prospect of a McCain presidency - from the primary election of 2000 to this very day.

Our nominee doesn't run with the Washington herd.

He's a man who's there to serve his country, and not just his party.

A leader who's not looking for a fight, but is not afraid of one either. Harry Reid, the Majority Leader of the current do-nothing Senate, not long ago summed up his feelings about our nominee.

He said, quote, "I can't stand John McCain." Ladies and gentlemen, perhaps no accolade we hear this week is better proof that we've chosen the right man. Clearly what the Majority Leader was driving at is that he can't stand up to John McCain. That is only one more reason to take the maverick of the Senate and put him in the White House. My fellow citizens, the American presidency is not supposed to be a journey of "personal discovery." This world of threats and dangers is not just a community, and it doesn't just need an organizer.

And though both Senator Obama and Senator Biden have been going on lately about how they are always, quote, "fighting for you," let us face the matter squarely.

There is only one man in this election who has ever really fought for you ... in places where winning means survival and defeat means death ... and that man is John McCain. In our day, politicians have readily shared much lesser tales of adversity than the nightmare world in which this man, and others equally brave, served and suffered for their country.

It's a long way from the fear and pain and squalor of a six-by-four cell in Hanoi to the Oval Office.

But if Senator McCain is elected president, that is the journey he will have made.

It's the journey of an upright and honorable man - the kind of fellow whose name you will find on war memorials in small towns across this country, only he was among those who came home.

To the most powerful office on earth, he would bring the compassion that comes from having once been powerless ... the wisdom that comes even to the captives, by the grace of God ... the special confidence of those who have seen evil, and seen how evil is overcome. A fellow prisoner of war, a man named Tom Moe of Lancaster, Ohio, recalls looking through a pin-hole in his cell door as Lieutenant Commander John McCain was led down the hallway, by the guards, day after day.

As the story is told, "When McCain shuffled back from torturous interrogations, he would turn toward Moe's door and flash a grin and thumbs up" - as if to say, "We're going to pull through this." My fellow Americans, that is the kind of man America needs to see us through these next four years.

For a season, a gifted speaker can inspire with his words.

For a lifetime, John McCain has inspired with his deeds.

If character is the measure in this election ... and hope the theme ... and change the goal we share, then I ask you to join our cause. Join our cause and help America elect a great man as the next president of the United States.

Thank you all, and may God bless America.

Barracuda's Big Night

Get the snacks and beverages ready, fellow Liberal Elites. This could be entertaining. The chances of a Palin gaffe are low, but if it happens, we will be watching.

Republicans Mount Defense of Palin Ahead of Speech
By CARL HULSE, New York Times staff
September 3, 2008

ST. PAUL — Gov. Sarah Palin, who has been in virtual seclusion since arriving here on Sunday, prepared to introduce herself to much of America on Wednesday night as Republicans mounted a full-throated pre-emptive defense of the Alaska governor.

Entering their second full night of speeches, Republican leaders also promised to sharpen their arguments against Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, sending out three of Mr. McCain’s former rivals for the presidential nomination — former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee — to take on the Democratic presidential nominee.

But for a party that was taken by surprise last Friday, when Mr. McCain announced that he had selected Ms. Palin, a 44-year-old mother of five to be his running mate, the anticipation of her appearance seemed to take up much of the oxygen here.

“Give the woman a chance to at least have two or three weeks of answering questions before you say, ‘Oh, she’s not prepared to be president or vice president,’ ” Mr. Giuliani said in an interview on the ABC program “Good Morning America.”

Hours later, a group of prominent Republican women held a news conference to highlight Ms. Palin’s executive experience as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, a town of less than 7,000 just outside Anchorage, then as governor of Alaska fore the past two years — a theme Republicans have increasingly pushed to contrast her resume with that of Mr. Obama.

“This is a well-qualified candidate for vice president and well-qualified to be a heartbeat away from the president,” said Carleton S. Fiorina, a top McCain campaign adviser and former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard.

Ms. Fiorina and others compared the intense scrutiny of Governor Palin to what they said was sexist coverage of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Democratic primary. Jane Swift, the former Governor of Massachusetts, portrayed the media’s coverage of her as “an outrageous smear campaign.”

Governor Palin, who has spent much of her time here in a hotel preparing for her address, walked through the Xcel Energy Center Wednesday morning, testing the microphones and getting a sense of the stage before what is looming as the most important speech of her political life — and perhaps of Mr. McCain’s as well. She is expected to speak around 10:30 p.m. Eastern time.

Republican officials said Ms. Palin would focus on her experiences in government and challenging entrenched interest in Alaska as well as what even Democrats acknowledge is an intriguing life story — one that took on a new aspect this week with the disclosure that her daughter, Bristol, 17, who is pregnant.

She and her family then met Mr. McCain, who arrived at the airport in early afternoon before making the rounds of selected gatherings. It was only a few days ago that there was some concern Mr. McCain might not appear at the convention had the hurricane inflicted devastating damage along the Gulf Coast.

After Mr. McCain stepped off his plane to greet his wife, Cindy, he and Governor Palin hugged. Mr. McCain also embraced Bristol Palin and shook hands with her boyfriend, Levi Johnston, a high school senior, and patted his shoulder. He lingered with Mr. Johnston and Bristol Palin — they have said they plan to marry and have their child — a little longer than he did with anyone else.

In all , the 16 assembled members of McCain and Palin families ranged in age from 4 months to 72 years. The two clans stood together for a family portrait before getting into the motorcade and leaving.

In a conference call with reporters, Rick Davis, Mr. McCain’s campaign manager, asserted that Governor Palin and her family had been the subject of frenzied, salacious coverage, which he said was unwarranted and should halt.

“I think everybody could dial it back,” Mr. Davis said.

As Democrats eagerly awaited Ms Palin’s appearance, they focused not on the governor’s personal background but on what they portrayed as discrepancies between the image of a reformer that Republicans are emphasizing and her push as a state official for the type of home-state federal spending projects, known as earmarks, that Mr. McCain opposes.

“Her reform and John McCain’s reform look a lot like what is already going on in Washington every day,” said Robert Gibbs, a top spokesman for the Obama campaign.

Mr. Gibbs also sought to set a high bar for Governor Palin, saying she would give a great speech and rouse her new admirers on the convention floor out of their seats.

She will not formally accept the nomination as vice president on Wednesday night, however, because Mr. McCain’s nomination and the roll call vote will follow her speech.

The aggressive defense of Ms. Palin actually began the night before, when former Senator Fred Thompson criticized “the other side and their friends in media.”

“I say give me a tough Alaskan governor who has taken on the political establishment in the largest state of the union and won, over the Beltway business-as-usual crowd any day of the week,” Mr. Thompson said.

Convention organizers also made it official today that Vice President Dick Cheney would not appear at the convention. He was scheduled to speak on Monday but left the country on a scheduled trip to three former Soviet republics, including Georgia, after his appearance was cancelled because of Hurricane Gustav. Looking ahead to the second night of speeches, Mr. Davis suggested the speakers would also be more aggressive in their criticism of Mr. Obama and the risks presented by a Democratic administration in the White House.

“We are getting more political tonight,” he said, adding that there will be more discussion of such issues as the economy, energy, health care and the environment. “We hit those pretty hard,” he said.

Appearing in Ohio at a town meeting on Thursday, Mr. Obama took the Republicans to task for largely ignoring the troubled American economy on their first night of speeches.

“You did not hear a single world about the economy,” Mr. Obama said before an outdoor gathering in New Philadelphia, Ohio. “Not once did they mention the hardships that people are going through.”

He Had Three Extra Months To Get Going

I sometimes question John McCain's drive to be President. Sometimes it seems he doesn't have his heart in the race.

Remember what I said back in July? I'm no pundit and even I figured out McCain's problem. He's too slow.

While Senator Obama and Senator Clinton raced to the finish line of the primary season, John McCain had three extra months to raise funds, refine his strategy, and begin vetting running mates. He had April, May, and June. And what happened? He wanted Joe Lieberman or Tom Ridge to be his running mate. But one or more members of his campaign steered him to Sarah Palin in August.

Now for the bombshell: McCain aides have admitted to the Washington Post that while Palin spent hours on her paperwork (tax returns, VP questionnaire), the actual 3-hour in-person interview with the McCain campaign did not occur until Wednessday August 27th - the day before Senator McCain asked her to be his running mate.

Dan Baltz, "Aides Say Team Interviewed Palin Late in the Process" (Registration required):

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was not subjected to a lengthy in-person background interview with the head of Sen. John McCain's vice presidential vetting team until last Wednesday in Arizona, the day before McCain asked her to be his running mate, and she did not disclose the fact that her 17-year-old daughter was pregnant until that meeting, two knowledgeable McCain officials acknowledged Tuesday.

Here is Maddow, Matthews, O'Donnell, Buchanan, and Robinson and when the story broke.

UPDATE From the 'Wow, Just Wow' Department:
Laura McGann of the Washington Independent decided to give the Wasilla town hall a call yesterday. It turns out...wait, I'll let McGann's own words explain:

I just got off the phone with the very helpful city clerk at the Wasilla City Clerk’s office, Kristie Smithers, who is pulling some documents for me from when Gov. Sarah Palin was mayor.

I told her I appreciated her help, since I’m sure she’s been bombarded with requests these last few weeks. The clerk’s office keeps all City Council meeting agendas, minutes, legislation, ordinances, etc. She chuckled. Then she told me that I’m the first person who has asked her office for anything.