What They're Saying at the RNC (And What They're Not)

| Thu Sep. 4, 2008 6:53 PM EDT

Progressive Accountability has counted the number of times certain words have been used by the speakers at the Republican National Convention. A sampling of the results:

Obama: 32
Pelosi: 4
Hillary Clinton: 2
Bill Clinton: 2
President Bush: 1
War: 22
Iraq: 11
Terror: 9
The surge: 6
Osama bin Laden: 1
Pakistan: 1
Diplomacy: 1
Afghanistan: 0
Taxes: 64
Business: 46
Poverty: 4
Mortgage: 3
Middle Class: 2
Recession: 0

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Things To Do With the Price of Cindy McCain's Outfit

| Thu Sep. 4, 2008 5:12 PM EDT

cindy_mccain_dress.jpg Vanity Fair added up the value of all the parts of Cindy McCain's ensemble Tuesday night and came up with this:

Oscar de la Renta dress: $3,000
Chanel J12 White Ceramic Watch: $4,500
Three-carat diamond earrings: $280,000
Four-strand pearl necklace: $11,000–$25,000
Shoes, designer unknown: $600
Total: Between $299,100 and $313,100

Why is Cindy McCain's $300,000 outfit relevant? Because just one day later the GOP spent the evening slamming Barack Obama as an out-of-touch elitist (using, ironically, former CEOs Meg Whitman, Carly Fiorina, and Mitt Romney to make the case). For reference, here are some things you could do with the money it took to buy Cindy McCain's outfit.

- Buy the average American home, which costs $266,00.
- Fund the $5,000 tax credit John McCain proposes giving to working families to help with the annual cost of health care. You could cover 60 families.
- Buy 30,000 anti-malarial bed nets, including distribution to Africa and education on use for recipients.
- Pay the tuition of 59 Arizona State University students.
- Fly a Learjet 60XR for two and a half days at the price of $4,800 an hour (it's the only way to get around Arizona, you know).
- Provide 6,000 students with school desks taken away by a schoolteacher that Mike Huckabee knows.
- Give tire gauges to 75,949 Americans hit hard by the price of gas, so they can get better mileage in their cars. Or so you can mock Barack Obama.
- Send nine community organizers and one part-timer into the streets to work for a better America (hahahaha!).

Look, there's nothing wrong with being rich. But there is something wrong with the party that has been in bed with the super-rich and with Big Business for decades, and has consistently pushed policies that benefit those interests, claiming to know the pulse of the working man. The price of Cindy McCain's dress isn't relevant because of Cindy McCain, the woman can wear what she wants. It's relevant because of what it illustrates about the Republican Party.

Obama Fundraising Goes Bonkers After GOP's Day-Long Attack

| Thu Sep. 4, 2008 4:41 PM EDT

Proving Sean at correct, Barack Obama has raised around $8 million since Sarah Palin's speech last night. Better than the $7 million McCain got after the Palin pick was announced. Democrats I've spoken to since the speech have had two reactions, sometimes simultaneously: (1) anger about the fact that their guy got roughed up pretty bad, and (2) fear that the GOP has a new super-effective and super-likeable surrogate. Both emotions lead to the opening of wallets. Maybe Obama doesn't want people to calm down?

For the record, Obama has responded to the beating he took last night. It's after the jump.

Palin, Giuliani Mocked Obama's Organizing Work, But It Was Sponsored By The Catholic Church

| Thu Sep. 4, 2008 4:20 PM EDT

Last night at the Republican National Convention, both Rudy Giuliani and McCain veep choice Sarah Palin mocked Barack Obama's work as a community organizer in Chicago two decades ago. Comparing her experience to Obama's, Palin said "I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer—except that you have actual responsibilities." Despite the fact that organizers do have responsibilities, Palin's derision was echoed by the delegates in the hall, who roared with laughter at the idea that "community organizing" is real work.

But in guffawing at Obama's work, the GOP was mocking the efforts of an important group: the Catholic Church. Obama's community work was part of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, a project sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The Campaign for Human Development has been the church's main anti-poverty and social justice program in America since 1969. Do Palin, Giuliani and all those GOP delegates really believe that bishops' effort to improve the lot of the poor and jobless is a laughing matter?

Mocking church-sponsored community organizing also undermines the right's case for faith-based initiatives and so-called compassionate conservativism. Under the conservative model, a caring citizen doesn't wait for the government to help; he raises himself and his community up—sometimes with the help of community (but non-governmental) groups. It's hypocritical for Republicans to make fun of people for doing what Republicans are always saying they should do—lifting themselves up by their bootstraps. If you want government to to do less, you ought to want community organizers to do more. And as Roland Martin pointed out yesterday on CNN (video below), community organizers are the people assisting Americans hit by the housing crisis and the sputtering economy:

Palin and Giuliani got a good laugh from a friendly crowd, but a lot of Americans won't be in on the joke.

Fact-Checking Sarah Palin

| Thu Sep. 4, 2008 4:20 PM EDT

Listening to Palin's speech, I was a little awed by how far she stretched, or outright obliterated, truths about herself and Obama. One example: "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." Did she forget that she ran both her mayoral and gubernatorial campaigns on being different from the incumbent? Here's a nice summary of other untruths Palin broadcast to the nation last night. For the convention crowd, Palin's speech may have been a "home run," but from a fact-checker's perspective, it was a strikeout.

Maybe It's Not Sexist, But Let's Leave It Alone Anyway

| Thu Sep. 4, 2008 3:43 PM EDT

I don't disagree with Stephanie often, but I guess there's always a first time, and I really don't think it's any of our business how long Sarah Palin chose to take off after giving birth. Who knows what the circumstances were? Whether she was able to bring the baby to the office? What other reasons there might have been for why she felt compelled to do what she did? Can't we hold more than one idea in our heads at the same time: Disagree with Palin's choices in politics (including the ironic choice to deny women a choice... but I digress), without taking issue with her decisions as a person? Can't we fight for every woman's and every man's right to family leave (and flex time, and job-sharing, and the whole work-life agenda that dropped out of the national discourse sometime in the 80s thanks in large part to GOP culture warriors--but I digress again) without worrying that one very prominent working mother's choices will undercut our whole argument? (If our argument is that weak, we have other problems.) For an example of how to do all this better, let's see how France's Minister of Justice works it out--as a single mom, no less.

Oh, and while we're at it: When Emily Bazelon and Dahlia Lithwick wonder, in their otherwise excellent Slate piece: "Is it passing judgment to observe that for most mothers, a pregnant teenager is a sign of parenting gone awry?" all I can say is, um, my first assumption would be birth control gone awry. I know it's not going to happen, but I really, really wish we'd just focus on stuff like Palin's global-warming denialism.

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Calm Down

| Thu Sep. 4, 2008 2:34 PM EDT

CALM DOWN....For what it's worth, can I once again plead with everyone to settle down? Since her initial introduction on the national stage last Friday, Sarah Palin has given two prepared speeches. That. Is. It. Two speeches.

Look: maybe she'll turn out to be the second coming of Ronald Reagan. Who knows? But can we at least wait maybe two or three weeks before we declare that liberals everywhere should be quaking in their boots over the resurgent power of culture war politics with a pretty face? Come on, folks.

It's Not Sexist To Talk About Palin As A Parent

| Thu Sep. 4, 2008 2:22 PM EDT

Last night during the GOP convention, Rudy Giuliani suggested that the media interest in Sarah Palin's family soap opera was the product of blatant sexism. It's a compelling argument because women in politics are indeed subject to the old double-standards. But in this case, I think Palin's family dynamics are a legitimate issue. Her parenthood reflects on what Republicans kept harping on last night: character. How Palin has conducted herself as a parent speaks volumes about what kind of a human being she is. It's also a fair line of inquiry for someone thin on experience who wants to be a heartbeat away from the presidency--and one not reserved for women.

Earlier in the campaign, pundits questioned John Edwards' decision to run for president when his wife was suffering from cancer. Lots of voters found it disturbing, and the issue only died after Elizabeth Edwards herself insisted forcefully that it had been her choice to continue the campaign. Likewise, it's not sexist to wonder why Palin couldn't be bothered to take even a few days off work to get to know the new, premature special needs baby that she didn't abort. Even most men these days take a little time off to meet their newborns. It's not like she was going to get fired.

More telling about Palin, though, is how she has handled her 17-year-old daughter's pregnancy. Palin has said that her family is simply dealing with the types of challenges faced by millions of other families. But in times of crisis, most families tend to close ranks, to create a protective bubble around their vulnerable children. What to make the "hockey mom" who instead turned her daughter's troubles into tabloid fare? Unlike Elizabeth Edwards, Bristol Palin is not old enough for informed consent; her mother hasn't said whether she had a say in all this. But I suspect that if a man had chosen to jump into the national spotlight at the expense of his child like this, the family-values crowd might have eaten him alive. Instead, conservatives are swooning, and those of us who aren't are just sexist.

Peggy Noonan's Chutzpah

| Thu Sep. 4, 2008 2:07 PM EDT

I know I'm late to the party on this one, but in all the excitement about Peggy Noonan's off-mic dissing (which she has now clarified--uh-huh), did anyone point out the pot-calling-kettle factor? This is the woman whose speeches helped make Ronald Reagan snickering about "political bullshit about narratives." Then again, it was kind of Chutzpah Night in St. Paul. Could you believe Rudy "Small Town Boy" Giuliani?

Market Update

| Thu Sep. 4, 2008 1:43 PM EDT

MARKET UPDATE....The stock market dropped 250 points this morning following last night's speech from Sarah Palin. Obviously Wall Street is terrified, even though the lying liberal media is doing its best to pretend the causes lie elsewhere. Just sayin'.