A round-up of this morning's must read-stories.
PARTY'S PLANS UNSETTLED; MCCAIN VISITS GULF
(Patrick Healy and Adam Nagourney)
Senator John McCain and his advisers decided on Sunday to halt all but the most essential activities for the Republican National Convention on Monday, sacrificing a major televised platform for his political message as Mr. McCain seeks to project a forceful response to the threat of Hurricane Gustav. With the storm expected to hit the Gulf Coast on Monday, Mr. McCain and his team spoke by phone on Sunday morning and, one participant said, quickly decided that there was no choice but to cancel much of the first day of the convention. McCain advisers said the programming for the rest of the four-day convention would be determined on a day-to-day basis, and many questions remained open, such as whether Mr. McCain, of Arizona, and his running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, would appear here to accept their party’s nominations, or would appear by video from the Gulf Coast.
THE HURRICANE IN QUESTION IS STILL CALLED KATRINA
(Dan Balz, Washington Post)
Now a storm called Gustav threatens to remind voters of perhaps the signal event that helped turn them against the GOP -- the Bush administration's botched response to the devastating 2005 storm. What neither McCain nor the party can tolerate now is anything that smacks of insensitivity or incompetence in the face of another potential natural disaster. As he told NBC anchor Brian Williams on Sunday, the opening of the convention "has got to be Americans helping Americans. America first." Gustav has disrupted McCain's convention, but the storm also presents the candidate with an opportunity to show that he would be a different kind of president than Bush. His decisions to fly to Mississippi on Sunday for a pre-storm assessment and then to radically redraw the agenda for the convention's opening night until it is clear what might happen with the storm send a message that some top Republicans believe will serve him well in the campaign ahead against Obama.
OBAMA TO ENLIST SUPPORTERS FOR GUSTAV AID
(Jeff Zeleny, New York Times)
Senator Barack Obama said Sunday that his campaign would mobilize its giant e-mail list of supporters – to volunteer or send contributions – as soon as the impact of Hurricane Gustav becomes known in the Gulf Coast. “We can activate an e-mail list of a couple million people who want to give back,” Mr. Obama told reporters after leaving services at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Lima. “I think we can get tons of volunteers to travel down there if it becomes necessary.” Mr. Obama has made no plans to travel to the Gulf Coast, saying he does not want to get in the way of emergency efforts there, but he has spoken by telephone to Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin.
JOHN, DON'T GO
(Paul Krugman, New York Times)
Let’s hope that Mr. McCain doesn’t jet into the disaster area in Gustav’s aftermath. The candidate’s presence wouldn’t do anything to help the area recover. It would, however, tie up air traffic and disrupt relief efforts, just as Mr. Bush did when he flew into New Orleans to congratulate Brownie on the work he was doing. Remember the firefighters who volunteered to help Katrina’s victims, only to find that their first job was to stand next to Mr. Bush while the cameras rolled? To be fair, Republican plans to deal with Gustav by turning their convention into a “service event,” perhaps a telethon to raise funds for victims, are a good idea. So is the Obama campaign’s plan to mobilize its e-mail list to send aid and volunteers. But personal, voluntary aid is no substitute for an effective public response to disaster. What we really need is a government that works, because it’s run by people who understand that sometimes government is the solution, after all. And that seems to be something undreamed of in either Mr. Bush’s or Mr. McCain’s philosophy.
PALIN ELECTRIFIES CONSERVATIVE BASE
(Jonathan Martin, Politico)
The selection of Sarah Palin as John McCain’s running mate has electrified conservative activists, providing a boost of energy to the GOP nominee-in-waiting from a key constituency that previously had been lukewarm — at best — about him. By tapping the anti-abortion and pro-gun Alaska governor just ahead of his convention, which is set to start here Monday, McCain hasn’t just won approval from a skeptical Republican base — he’s ignited a wave of elation and emotion that has led some grass-roots activists to weep with joy. Serious questions remain about McCain’s pick — exactly how much he knows about her and her positions, past and present, on key issues. But for the worker bee core of the party that is essential to any Republican victory, there are no doubts.
MORE: GOP Rallies in Support of McCain, Poll Shows (Jackie Calmes and Meghan Thee, New York Times) \
Just four years ago, at the Republican convention in New York, Mr. McCain, of Arizona, was far less popular than Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, of New York, a poll of party delegates showed. But after besting Mr. Giuliani and other rivals in the primary season this year, Mr. McCain enters this year’s convention with the enthusiastic support of nearly 9 in 10 delegates, according to a poll of Republican delegates by The New York Times and CBS News. Just 8 percent have reservations about him, the poll shows.
NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY
(Michael Kinsley, Slate)
The important point about Palin's lack of experience isn't about Palin. It's about McCain. And the question is not how his choice of Palin might complicate his ability to use the "experience" issue, or whether he will have to drop experience as an issue. It's not even about the proper role of experience as an issue. In fact, it's not about experience at all. It's about honesty. The question should be whether McCain—and all the other Republicans who have been going on for months about Obama's dangerous lack of foreign policy experience—ever meant a word of it. And the answer is apparently not. Many conservative pundits woke up this very morning fully prepared to harp on Obama's alleged lack of experience for months more. Now they face the choice of either executing a Communist-style U-turn ("Experience? Feh! Who needs it?") or trying to keep a straight face while touting the importance of having been mayor of a town of 9,000 if you later find yourself president of a nation of 300 million.
SHE'S PALIN BY COMPARISON
(John Podhoretz, Commentary)
Palin will be a failed pick if her conduct between now and November 4 reveals that she does not have the judgment to be a heartbeat away; that her comportment is not what we would wish of our leaders; and that she does not seem large enough for the office. A great many things will go into determining all of those things, as they are right now with Barack Obama — and, incidentally, John McCain, who has every qualification for the presidency one could imagine except that he hasn’t won an election for it yet. The effort to pre-determine her unfitness is not only a losing proposition; there is something fundamentally foolish, about it. Even un-American, in the sense that it suggests rule by wonk rather than popular fiat. Ask Bill Clinton, who tried his best to make the case against Barack Obama and then stood on stage on Wednesday night explaining to America that people were saying about Barack Obama just what they had said about him, Bill Clinton, 16 years ago. That is what interesting elections do. They up-end expectations.
SARAH PALIN REPRESENTS MCCAIN'S NEW FOCUS ON REFORM
(Robin Abcarian and Peter Wallsten, Los Angeles Times)
With his selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate, John McCain is giving his campaign a political makeover: Rather than selling himself as a war hero with national security credentials, he is donning the mantle of the reformer. The new approach borrows a page from the playbook of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who late in the Democratic primary campaign framed herself as a hero of the struggling middle class. McCain, like the New York senator, has apparently decided that being the candidate of experience is not the formula for beating Barack Obama. The 44-year-old Palin, with her union-member husband, her staunch conservatism on social issues and her limited foreign policy resume, personifies the new McCain theme. Republicans conceded Sunday that her presence on the ticket undercuts McCain's argument that Democratic rival Obama lacks the experience to lead in a time of war. But the surprising pick reflects an acknowledgment by McCain that the old strategy needed fixing at a time when economic woes have overshadowed the foreign policy issues that were once seen as the Arizona senator's greatest strength.
DEMOCRATS SAY PALIN INITIALLY BACKED BRIDGE
(Karl Vick and Paul Kane, Washington Post)
Democrats accused Gov. Sarah Palin (R) on Sunday of misrepresenting her role in scuttling a controversial bridge project to a remote island in southeast Alaska. On Friday, the day she was introduced as Sen. John McCain's running mate, Palin touted her opposition to a bridge originally championed by Alaska's most prominent officials as an example of her fiscal conservatism and reformist credentials. "I told Congress, 'Thanks but no thanks on that Bridge to Nowhere,' " Palin told a crowd in Dayton, Ohio. But prominent Alaska Democrats said Palin supported the bridge while campaigning for governor and reversed course only after vocal opposition from fiscal conservatives in Washington, including McCain. "She was the only candidate who was saying, 'We're going to build that bridge,' " said former governor Tony Knowles (D), who lost to Palin in the 2006 general election. "She's taking a position now which certainly wasn't what it was when she was campaigning."
MCCAIN OFFERS VOTERS CONTRADICTIONS, CONUNDRUMS
(Albert R. Hunt, Bloomberg News)
Republicans are gathering in St. Paul, Minnesota, this week to nominate their greatest hero since Dwight D. Eisenhower, and the least-popular nominee with the party faithful since well before Ike. There is little about John Sidney McCain III that is conventional, so why should this convention be any different? McCain has performed brave acts as a U.S. Navy pilot, prisoner of war and legislative risk-taker that the current president and even the hero of modern Republicanism, Ronald Reagan, just talked about. Yet his party's conservative base despises the Arizona Republican for offenses ranging from championing campaign- finance reform to his fight against George W. Bush for the presidential nomination eight years ago -- it was the Bush forces that did the sleazy stuff -- to his penchant for forming alliances with Democrats. Unlike most politicians, he can't be easily categorized.
BIDEN, OBAMA A COMFORTABLE FIT ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL
(Shailagh Murray, Washington Post)
Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. was warming up a crowd at a town hall meeting Sunday morning when a woman shouted, "You are gorgeous!" "I haven't heard that in a long, long, long time," responded Barack Obama's new running mate. "And hanging around this lean, young-looking guy is making me feel pretty old, you know what I mean?" The audience cracked up, and so did Obama. When it was his turn to speak, a woman called out for Biden and Obama quipped, "See, she thinks you're gorgeous, too, Joe." Obama picked Biden as his running mate in part because his colleague from Delaware brings foreign policy heft and a working-class Catholic pedigree to the Democratic ticket. But as the two barnstormed through the Rust Belt on their first campaign swing together over the holiday weekend, it was clear that they also possessed a more elusive political quality: chemistry.
(David Remnick, New Yorker)
The Democratic Convention last week in Denver was not the “pig-rooting, horse-snorting, band-playing, voice-screaming medieval get-together” of Mailer’s yesteryear. But, no matter how frictionless the stagecraft and Hellenic the actual stage, the sense of historic moment in Denver was far more profound than it was in Los Angeles forty-eight years ago. The nominee, Barack Obama, and the would-be-but-not-quite nominee, Hillary Clinton, did battle with central taboos of Presidential politics: Obama, of course, is the first African-American to capture a major-party nomination; Clinton is the first woman to contend seriously for the Presidency, winning a primary even on the day she lost the big prize. Obama’s nomination and Clinton’s near-miss are, in their way, belated fulfillments of the promises of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848, and the Nineteenth Amendment. No banality of cable-news commentary—not even the mad bickering among the anchors on MSNBC—could eclipse the meaning and the emotion of their prolonged race, the Party’s dramatic reconciliation, and Obama’s fiercely eloquent acceptance speech.
A CLINTONITE IN DENVER
(Howard Wolfson, Washington Post)
For many of us who were part of the Clinton campaign, Sen. Barack Obama's appeal was something we understood only in the abstract -- data in polls, faces at a televised rally.Most of us never heard him speak in person. At work 14 hours a day in the war room, we focused on his perceived faults and deficiencies. Our time was spent sharpening and advancing arguments. Skepticism was critical to our efforts. Insulated from Obamamania, I met few Obama supporters and distanced myself from the ones I knew. I lived this way for 18 months... Then came Thursday night at Invesco Field. During the campaign, we scoffed at events like this, mostly because we were not capable of producing them. A cross section of voters waited for hours to enter the stadium and take their seats. As one friend put it, it looked more like an American convention than the convention of any particular political party... No one in recent history had attempted this kind of a political conversation with 75,000 people. Barack Obama pulled it off. For 18 months, I listened to Obama on television, sometimes intently, often just barely -- background noise to a running series of conference calls and meetings and e-mails. In person, my attention undivided, I saw something of what so many others had seen for so long.
JOE BIDEN'S MYTHICAL BLUE-COLLAR ROOTS
(Steve Chapman, Chicago Tribune)
The legend of Joe Biden, born in a welding shop, dies hard with political reporters, who find it easier to romanticize a gritty, hardscrabble childhood than a conventionally comfortable one. The facts are there for anyone who wants to look at them. When Joe Biden Sr. died in 2002, his obituary in the News-Journal of Wilmington reported that when he married in 1941, "he was working as a sales representative for Amoco Oil Co. in Harrisburg." It went on, "Biden also was an executive in a Boston-based company that supplied waterproof sealant for U.S. merchant marine ships built during World War II. After the war, he co-owned an airport and crop-dusting service on Long Island." Upon moving his family to Delaware, the News-Journal said, Biden "worked in the state first as a sales manager for auto dealerships and later in real-estate condominium sales." Executive, co-owner and manager? Those titles identify the jobholder as solidly middle class, if not better. They fall in the category of white-collar occupations, not blue-collar. And Biden Sr. clearly knew the difference. In his book, "Promises to Keep," Biden writes that his father was "the most elegantly dressed, perfectly manicured, perfectly tailored car sales manager Wilmington, Del., had ever seen."