What Conservatives Ignored
With Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) pick of Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) as his vice presidential running mate, excitement and anticipation were running high for the Republican National Convention, which wrapped up yesterday. Hurricane Gustav stormed into the Gulf Coast, however, disrupting the GOP's plans. The McCain campaign tried to act aggressively and decisively, sending McCain and Palin to Missisippi for a hurricane briefing. All of this action was supposed to show that the policies in a McCain administration would be different than those of the Bush administration. But what was most evident during the convention was how similar the two men's policies were. Superficially, convention organizers tried to put distance between the two men. According to an analysis by The Progress Report, Bush's name was mentioned just once during the entire convention; Cheney was never mentioned. But substantively, no new ideas or solutions for the country's current problems were put forth. Even on national security, which was a prominent topic, conservatives refused to engage in any introspection. They referenced Guantanamo Bay once, Osama bin Laden once, and never uttered Afghanistan or the name of former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
THE ECONOMY: The American public views the struggling economy as the most important issue facing the country. But as AFP observed, "The economy may be the number one issue in the White House race, but the Republican National Convention has yet to dwell on the troubles of Americans trying to make ends meet." On Wednesday, CNBC said its reporters were "darned to find much at all" about the economy in the convention speeches. In fact, housing was mentioned just once and the term "middle-class" was used only twice. Rep. Adam Putnam (R-FL) claimed that Palin explained McCain's "economic message" in her address, but when CNBC asked him "in your words, what is that economic message," Putnam couldn't put forward any specifics. McCain did mention the economy several times in his acceptance speech last night, declaring, "I know some of you have been left behind in the changing economy and it often seems your government hasn't even noticed. ... That's going to change on my watch." However, his prescriptions would continue Bushonomics. McCain has repeatedly expressed pride in Bush's failed economic policies. In April, he told Bloomberg TV, "You could make an argument that there's been great progress economically" during the Bush administration. During a January primary debate, McCain claimed that Americans "overall are better off" than they were eight years ago.
HEALTH CARE: At a town hall event last month, McCain declared, "There is a health care crisis in America. We would be, if it were not for the energy crisis, we'd be talking a lot more about health care issues." But despite skyrocketing health care costs and millions of uninsured and underinsured Americans, nearly every prominent speaker at the Republican National Convention ignored this crisis. Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK), Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR), Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R-NY), and Sen. Fred Thompson (R-TN) never addressed health care. Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) only discussed "health insurance" in passing. On Tuesday, Huckabee, a long-time advocate of wellness and fitness, "said his health care remarks were cut for time restrictions." McCain devoted just one sentence to the topic, giving no specifics: "My health care plan will make it easier for more Americans to find and keep good health care insurance." But McCain believes that Americans would be better off finding health care on their own, in the private market. As Center for American Progress Action Fund Senior Fellow Elizabeth Edwards has noted, this system would bar more Americans from receiving coverage. "A recent study showed that nearly nine out of every ten people seeking individual coverage on the private insurance market never got it," wrote Edwards. "People who have had cancer are denied coverage and those who get cancer run the risk of simply being dropped by their insurer for any excuse that can be found."
GLOBAL WARMING: Hurricane Gustav threatened to overtake coverage of the GOP convention. Recognizing the potential destruction and severity of the crisis, the McCain campaign made sure to address the crisis by changing the theme of the first day to "service." However, after that first day, the hurricane was rarely mentioned again. Republicans never said "Katrina" and the word "hurricane" was actually used only seven times in convention speeches. Republicans also ignored the obvious link between global warming and the increasing intensity of storms: the terms "global warming" and "climate change" were each mentioned just once. A new study published in the journal Nature this week found that "the strongest of hurricanes and typhoons have become even stronger over the past two and a half decades." James Elsner, a professor of geography at Florida State University and lead author of the paper, said that the findings indicated "a climate signal." Despite McCain's claims that he believes global warming is real, the GOP platform -- which McCain has promised to run on -- is loaded with caveats about the uncertainty of science and the need to 'resist no-growth radicalism' in taking on climate change." Palin has said she doesn't believe that global warming is man-made, a position with which the majority of the American public disagrees.
ADMINISTRATION -- WOODWARD BOOK SAYS BUSH SPIED ON IRAQI PRIME MINISTER: According to a new book by investigative journalist Bob Woodward, "The Bush administration has conducted an extensive spying operation on [Iraqi] Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, his staff and others in the Iraqi government." "We know everything he says," explained one of the sources in "The War Within: A Secret White House History, 2006-2008," which is scheduled to be released on Monday. In the book, Woodward also "portrays an administration riven by dissension, either unwilling or slow to confront the deterioration of its strategy in
The U.S. unemployment rate rose to a five-year high of 6.1 percent in August, "heightening the risk that the economic slowdown will worsen." "Payrolls fell by 84,000 in August, and revisions added another 58,000 to job losses for the prior two months," while "the number of U.S. workers filing new claims for jobless benefits jumped by 15,000 last week."
Pentagon leaders have "recommended to President Bush that the United States make no further troop reductions in Iraq this year." The plan "calls for extending a pause in drawdowns until late January or early February" when up to 7,500 troops will be redeployed to Afghanistan.
In August, high energy and food prices led consumers to shop at retail stores in high numbers, "leaving department stores and other sectors struggling." "Demand for necessities helped chains such as retail giant Wal-Mart Stores Inc. perform above expectations."
Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-NY) "has earned more than $75,000 in rental income from a villa he has owned in the Dominican Republic since 1988, but never reported it on his federal or state tax returns." Rangel will "most likely file amendments to his tax returns for the years in question," pay back taxes in New York City and state but "will probably have no federal tax liability."
"Aid to poor nations has slumped even as higher food and energy prices and slowing global economic growth have made such assistance more urgent," the UN reported. Aid dropped 8.4 percent last year, and though the Group of 8 nations in 2005 pledged $25 billion to Africa by 2010, "just $4 billion has actually been delivered."
And finally: MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell was almost buried by balloons on the floor of the RNC last night. Host Keith Olbermann advised her to "flee," and ended her segment saying she had been "reporting from the political equivalent of a Chuck E. Cheese, apparently."