|Battleground … Minnesota?|
posted at 7:11 am on September 14, 2008 by Ed Morrissey
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Count the Land of 10,000 Lakes as a new battleground state. According to the Star Tribune Minnesota Poll, John McCain has caught Barack Obama and has put the state in a dead heat among likely voters. McCain has reversed a 13-point deficit from May and has forced Obama to start spending in what looked to be a solidly blue state:
.............Minnesota has become a battleground in a presidential campaign that has dramatically tightened nationwide.
A new Star Tribune Minnesota Poll shows that the race is now a dead heat between Barack Obama and John McCain, each supported by 45 percent of likely voters in the state. …
The poll found that McCain has made gains across the board since a May Minnesota Poll that showed him trailing by 13 points. He has picked up considerable support among men and to a lesser degree among women. He also has boosted his standing with whites, young voters and all levels of household income and education.......................
The selection of Sarah Palin hasn't directly affected the numbers in Minnesota, at least not yet; the Strib's internals look like a wash. However, it may have had an indirect effect similar to that seen nationally in the latest AP poll. While 45% of voters think Palin lacks enough experience for the job, 44% now think the same thing of Obama. Palin and Biden have contradictory numbers. Many more see him as experienced enough for the job, but Minnesotans like her better than him by nine points.
One of the more striking numbers from the poll is the younger voter demographic. Obama has had a large lead in most polling in voters under 35, and in Minnesota, the college-age and young adult vote is a formidable weapon. Now, though, McCain and Obama evenly split that vote, which bodes ill for Obama in a general election.
If Minnesota becomes a battleground, it's yet another place Obama now has to shift to defense. It signals that the empty populism of the primaries has worn too thin in the general election, and even a state that voted for John Kerry by four points over George Bush has doubts about Kerry's successor. It's another in a series of bad signs for Team Obama.
Democrats interfering with subpoenas in Alaska?
posted at 8:15 am on September 14, 2008 by Ed Morrissey
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Amanda Carpenter noted a curious exchange in the Alaskan legislature committee hearing regarding subpoenas in the investigation into "Troopergate". The lead investigator, who was supposed to act as an independent agent in the probe, testified that Democrat Hollis French had overruled him on his subpoena list and struck a witness he wanted to interview:
................Investigator Steven Branchflower admitted he had ceded control of his subpoena list to Sen. Hollis French (D.) during Alaska's Joint Judiciary Committee September 12 hearing that was scheduled to approve subpoena requests. [CLICK HERE FOR AUDIO.] French is a partisan who has endorsed Palin's Democratic presidential ticket rival Barack Obama for president and is actively supporting his candidacy.
Lawmakers approved 13 of Branchflower's subpoena requests that day, which included one for Palin's husband, Todd. Four other subpoenas were approved for aides Branchflower believes participated in a meeting called by Palin's former chief of staff Mike Tibbles where Wooten's firing was allegedly discussed.
Rep. David Guttenberg (D.) asked Branchflower why he was requesting subpoenas for only those people attending the meeting and not Tibbles himself.
Branchflower said he would "have to defer that question to Mr. French.".................
Branchflower then explained that he had submitted Tibbles' name for a subpoena, only to have it removed by French. He could provide no explanation why French, who has endorsed Barack Obama, would have denied him a subpoena to interview the man who conducted the meeting in question. As both Democrats and Republicans pressed Branchflower to explain this omission, French himself interjected that he didn't see a "political will" for the subpoena.
Clearly, this interference demonstrates the partisan nature of this inquiry. Why would the state of Alaska subpoena all of the attendees of a meeting but neglect to subpoena the man who called and ran the meeting? If the "political will" did not exist to question Tibbles, then why would it exist to subpoena the other participants in this meeting?
For some reason, French doesn't want the committee to hear what Tibbles has to say about this meeting. Even beyond that question, though, French's interference shows that this investigation is neither independent nor apolitical. French has been caught manipulating subpoenas for a predetermined outcome of this case. That strongly indicates that French doesn't have much of a case, and feels the need to distort it for his own political reasons.
The management style of Palin, and her popularity
posted at 8:54 am on September 14, 2008 by Ed Morrissey
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The two don't appear to go together if one reads the twin profiles in the New York Times and the Washington Post. For the most part, it's pretty easy to determine why. The press spent the last two weeks in Wasilla, Anchorage, and Juneau and could only find complaints from people fired by Sarah Palin during her time as mayor and Governor. The so-called "Troopergate" scandal gets scant mention in either article, making what's left a series of petty comments from the 15% of Alaskans who don't like Palin.
In reading both, I'd give the Post the most credit for balance, although that's damning with faint praise. The starting point for both is that Palin liked to fire political appointees from previous administrations. Perhaps that's unusual for Alaska, but neither paper makes that case or even attempts it. It's certainly business as usual in Washington, where many political appointees get their walking papers after every election, whether or not the incumbent President gets re-elected.
The New York Times offers a more hyperbolic look at Palin's penchant for hiring people she knows for political appointments:
............The Wasilla High School yearbook archive now doubles as a veritable directory of state government. Ms. Palin appointed Mr. Bitney, her former junior high school band-mate, as her legislative director and chose another classmate, Joe Austerman, to manage the economic development office for $82,908 a year. Mr. Austerman had established an Alaska franchise for Mailboxes Etc...................
Does it now? Did Wasilla High have only three students? The Times mentions three former classmates appointed by Palin to government positions when she took office as Governor. The article was written by that many reporters, who combined to offer this ridiculous piece of commentary in a news article.
The third, Franci Havemeister, gets ridiculed for her "love of cows" as a qualification for her position at the Director of Agriculture. What the Times fails to mention is that the "love of cows" was also accompanied by years in the 4-H program and work done in several sectors of agriculture, as a quick Google search finds:
............Franci and her husband, Bob, have four children and are lifetime Alaskans. She has spent her life actively involved in agriculture from the 4-H program to varied agriculture sectors including dairy, potato, vegetable and greenhouse production............
And how has Havemeister performed as Director? The Times doesn't report any complaints. If she's that bad of a choice, how can Havemeister have succeeded?
Reformers usually clean house, and that's what Palin did. Rather than worry about resumes, why not focus on the successes and failures of her appointments? Neither paper does that, which tends to indicate that they couldn't find any of the latter.
For that matter, neither the Post and the Times ever attempt to reconcile their portrait of a "trail of bad blood" with the inescapable fact that she has astronomical, bipartisan favorability ratings. Alaskans have a ringside seat to the Palin administration, and they overwhelmingly approve of her. She has an 85% favorability rating, and even 75% of Democrats view her favorably. Reformers tend to get rid of entrenched bureaucrats and replace them with fresh faces, and it appears that while the people who got replaced didn't like it, Alaskans feel very differently.
Both articles fail to deliver anything but slanted gossip and old grudges. After two weeks of digging, if this is all they can find, the papers will need to write off the travel investment as a total loss. If the only point taken from both articles is that Palin made entrenched bureaucrats angry, that sounds like a win for Team McCain.
Update: Jazz Shaw dissents, and his point about judgment is certainly well taken. Did Palin look for the most qualified candidates or just her friends? That's a legitimate question about leadership. However, the New York Times deliberately offered a ridiculous justification for Havemeister's hiring — "I like cows" — when a cursory check showed she brought more to the job, including a background in agriculture and some leadership experience.
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