Friday, September 19, 2008

Political directions are off

This first published September 18, 2008 in the Henderson Home News, a Community Newspapers of Nevada publication.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the running mate of GOP presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, has captured the imaginations of millions of Americans for many different reasons. This is the land of capitalism, where a creative mind can capitalize on the Palin phenomena with very little effort.

So far we’ve seen the Sarah Palin dolls in different attire, the pit bull with lipstick T-shirts and every other imaginable gimmick.

The real question is: Will she ever become anything more than a novelty? Not to say that with any contempt or flare of sexism, but can she find a place in the minds of American voters?

The McCain campaign has kept her away from any open media opportunities where she could face multiple questions from more than one journalist. After her interview with ABC News anchor Charles Gibson last week, it’s becoming evident she is either unpolished or rather shallow.

This plays well with the hearts of middle America, because she is viewed more like the rest of us plain ol’ folk.

But how does that play with the voters? She has become everything the Republicans deplored about Barack Obama. She now carries the Rock Star label that Barack Obama carried during the Republican National Convention. She is younger than Barack Obama, too.

Just wait one minute. Who is running for president anyway, Palin or McCain? Other than the obvious, it is really hard to tell by media accounts, or rather the amount of media attention being given to Palin, overshadowing McCain.

The media will continue to fall all over themselves to get what they can’t have, and that is Sarah Palin over the pit barbecue spinning on a rotisserie of unfiltered questions. They will probably have to wait until the debates just like the rest of us to really get a look behind her fashionable eye wear and red lipstick.

There are many political tricksters in media-type sheepskin trying to unravel the Palin phenomenon, but only time will tell if anything sticks.

If this is anything like a high school homecoming election and not an election to the two highest offices in the free world, then Barack Obama should be very concerned.

Personally, I’m a bit concerned that Palin didn’t have a clue what the “Bush Doctrine” is and a bit more concerned she thinks that her ability to see Russia from a remote area of Alaska is international relations experience.

Americans need to take a long, hard look at these candidates, including the running mates. Wall Street is collapsing, not one brick at a time, but rather by entire buildings. The economy is in such a funk it is going to require some real leadership and vision. For this reason, we had better take a close look a our U.S. Congress, because that is where reform really begins. Without an agreeable Congress, the best of presidents can’t get a single bill passed.

So, whether Obama is a rock star or McCain is a great American war hero or Biden is ever mentioned or Palin is all lipstick and no pit bull, we are in need of some redirection in America.

Until then, I’m waiting for the debates.

Speaking of Congress, have you noticed the ads in the race for Congressional District 3 between Rep. Jon Porter and state Sen. Dina Titus? Personally, I like both Titus and Porter for various reasons. However, they both need to reconsider their ads.

Porter, for one, has this ad stating he personally helped build the solar generation project in Eldorado Valley. He makes it sound like he was out there shining the mirrors and negotiating the deal for the land. Then I see Titus referring to how she supported legislation for renewable energy.

We need to hear about how they’re going to bring change to the economy and how they will develop bipartisanship in a completely divided Congress.

Porter has to shed his Bush lapdog image, and I would suggest Titus get busy on the issues and not how she has a 30-year-old twang.

Last week I mentioned on my blog that Gov. Jim Gibbons — our politically challenged governor of Nevada — is going to host a seminar for governors-elect to prepare them for their new jobs.

No doubt the governor has plenty of experience to share with those newly elected governors. I imagined some of the seminar topics, so I created a possible top 10 list and posted it on the blog. Hopefully, the governor is only hosting and not providing the topics.

Tim O’Callaghan, co-publisher of the Home News, can be reached at 990-2656 or His regular column is at One Man's View.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Jon Ralston on Gibbons' seminar for new Govs.

Jon Ralston followed up today with his version of what Jim Gibbons might share with soon to be newly elected governors.

Ralston's Las Vegas SUN Column: Gibbons shares his secrets

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Gibbons' Top 10 topics for new governors

Flashed by Jon Ralston this morning and reported today by Brendan Riley of the Associated Press, Gov. Jim Gibbons the politically challenged governor of Nevada is going to host a seminar for governor elects to prepare them for their new jobs.

You can find Brendan Riley's story here.

No doubt the Gov. has plenty of experience to share with those newly elected governors. I can imagine some of the seminar topics so I've created a possible list. Hopefully the Governor is only hosting and not providing the outline of topics.

1) Whose words are they anyway? How to write your own speeches

2) Parking Garage Etiquette 101

3) How to dump a first lady in 10 days; barring she doesn't kick you out of the mansion first

4) 101 ways to text message on the public dime

5) Late night texting for dummies, uh Governors

6) How not to fleece rich widows

7) How to survive 23 percent approval ratings: Deny, deny, deny!

8) How to have fun after the party has left

9) Budget cutting basics; widows and orphans then education

10) Play dates for chief executives: kids school programs, rodeos and grocery shopping

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Experience is just the start

This first published September 4, 2008 in the Henderson Home News, a Community Newspapers of Nevada publication.

Many of us are still trying to figure out who Sarah Palin is and what experience she brings to Number One Observatory Circle. In case you’re wondering, Number One Observatory Circle is the official residence of the vice president authorized by Congress in 1974 and is on the campus of the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington D.C.

In 16 years of public service, she has ascended to vice presidential running mate to Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

She is the first woman Republican vice presidential running-mate and only the second woman in history.

The first question people have asked me is whether she is qualified to be vice president. The simple answer is yes. According to the Constitution, a person must be a native-born citizen, at least 35 years of age and a resident of the United States for at least 14 years. Therefore, she qualifies.

Probably because it’s a simple question with a simple answer, folks then ask the follow-up question: Does she have enough experience to be vice president? That is a bit trickier to answer, because it’s all very subjective. Every American may have a different opinion on what experience is necessary to be president. Notice, I say president, because the vice president could become president at a moment’s notice.

But is it really experience we are looking for? Take our own Gov. Jim Gibbons, for instance. He looks great on paper when it comes to experience. He is a geologist, a lawyer, a hydrologist, a pilot with a distinguished record and former congressman with 10 years in office. Yet he is the worst governor imaginable with no sense of good judgment.

The state could elect anyone as governor and, if he surrounded himself with good people, the right people, he could be the best governor ever.

Judgment is the key qualification that should be ferreted out of every candidate. There lies the challenge: for voters to determine judgment and character of those running.

Apparently, Palin has done a respectable job as governor of Alaska and mayor of a community half the size of Boulder City. A colleague pointed out that Oscar Goodman would have more experience if you compared populations. Alaska has a population of 675,000, which is half the population of Southern Nevada — if, indeed, Oscar were the mayor of all Southern Nevada, as he claims.

So what was Senator McCain thinking when he selected Governor Palin as his running mate? Talk radio black sheep and eccentric Michael Savage said McCain was trying to lose the election. Interesting, but not likely.
Is Palin the sacrificial lamb for the Republican National Committee? Couldn’t McCain convince Mitt Romney to run?

Perhaps the real strategy is to pull the Hillary Clinton feminists away from Obama — or at least give them a choice. Probably not, because Palin’s pro-life stance would be way too much, for even the most centrist feminist to embrace.

McCain’s choice of Palin did accomplish a couple things. One, it neutralized the experience debate and kept the prospect of a woman veep alive. However, who ever expected the first woman veep to be a Republican?

What do I think about Governor Palin’s children and their issues? Nothing. They mirror what’s happening in America. Although I find it disappointing that she knew about her daughter’s situation, and the governor still accepted the opportunity, thrusting her 17-year-old into the world media and into the jaws of savage beasts.

I find this disturbing, because of my own experience growing up in the governor’s mansion. It’s painful when your parents are criticized and even more painful when the media point out your own or even siblings’ shortcomings. Especially painful is the feeling of failing your parents’ expectations. It is one thing to experience it in the privacy of the family, and completely another to read it in the paper or see it on TV.

Unfortunately, we know more about the Palin children right now than we know about their mother. I’m sure in the coming days and weeks, we will all ferret out what’s important and what’s not.

Tim O’Callaghan, co-publisher of the Home News, can be reached at 990-2656 or He writes a regular column at