TPM News

Sarah Palin's war on the media continues?

The woman who once called on the press to "quit makin' things up" took it a step further yesterday by allegedly banning four members of the media from a book event in Wasilla, Alaska.

On a four-person "banned list" -- yes, that term was actually used by police -- were a blogger, a videographer, a local radio host, and another person who hasn't been identified. TPMmuckraker reached two of the four by phone in Alaska this morning. Here's what happened.

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Some new numbers by Public Policy Polling (D) have some bad news and good news for former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN), if he decides to run for governor in 2010: Even the state's most Republican Congressional district, which is represented by Michele Bachmann, doesn't actually like him -- but they'd still vote for him against a Democrat.

Coleman's favorable rating here is only 41%, with a 42% unfavorable rating and a margin of error of ±3.7%. However, in gubernatorial general election match-ups Coleman leads Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak by 49%-36%, and he leads former Sen. Mark Dayton by 50%-36%.

Intuitively, you would think that Coleman might benefit from a certain "we was robbed" mentality with the party base, after his disputed re-election defeat by Democrat Al Franken. But in a district that John McCain carried by 53%-45%, and which also views its fiery conservative Congresswoman quite favorably, Norm's ratings are pretty lackluster.

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In November, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi passed a health care bill by almost the slimmest of margins. The final vote was 220-215. One Republican--Rep. Joseph Cao (R-LA)--voted with 219 Democrats to pass the bill.

Pelosi probably could have forced a wider victory, but freed up vulnerable members to vote against the bill for political reasons. Next year, though, her caucus will be faced with a fairly different, less progressive bill--something modeled on the Senate's health care package--and she'll likely have to draw on a marginally different coalition of members.

On the left, Pelosi could lose some progressives, miffed about the demise of the public option, and unhappy with the abortion language in both bills. On that score, she could lose a number of resolutely pro-choice Democrats. Cautioning that the abortion language in the conference report hasn't been finalized yet, and that nobody's committed to vote one way or another, one keyed in aide said members like Reps. Diana DeGette (D-CO), Jane Harman (D-CA), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Louise Slaughter (D-NY), and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) have grave concerns about both the House and Senate bills' abortion provisions.

Of course, with 218 members needed to pass a bill, and 219 Democrats voting 'aye' the first time around, Pelosi faces a nearly zero-sum game. If she encounters defections from her progressive wing, she'll have to make up those votes among conservative-voting freshmen, sophomore, and Blue Dog members, who opposed the House bill the first time around.

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Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) is still warning against the presence of "death panels" in the health care legislation. However, on close examination the definition of "death panels" has changed radically.

Bachmann appeared on Glenn Beck's radio show, and told guest host Chris Baker: "Also, we're just reading this morning, Chris, that Harry Reid slipped in a provision that made it virtually impossible to repeal part of this legislation. And it's the part dealing with the Medicare Advisory Board -- what many people have labeled the death panels -- because these unelected bureaucracies will decide what we can and can't get in future health insurance policy. That's why they're called death panels."

Um, no, that's not why they're called death panels -- or at least, not why they were originally called death panels. As Sarah Palin first laid out the idea when she coined the term, "death panels" refers to a group of government bureaucrats who would allegedly would stand in judgment of individuals' worthiness of receiving health care. Specifically, they would kill Palin's Down syndrome baby by cutting off his access to medical treatment. (Palin was in fact referencing a speech by Bachmann, who was referencing Betsy McCaughey, who was in turn taking Ezekiel Emanuel seriously out of context.)

But now, "death panel" refers to a government body that would regulate insurance policies and the range of treatments that would have mandated coverage. Talk about moving the goalposts!

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), the man in charge of getting Republicans elected to the Senate next year, said yesterday that right-wing members of his party eager to enforce conservative purity need to "yield to reality" if they want to win seats in 2010.

In a Reuters story about the Delaware Senate race, where Cornyn and the NRSC are backing Rep. Mike Castle in his run for Vice President Biden's old Senate seat, Cornyn says that moderates like Castle are what the party needs to win in areas where the Democrats are strong. That flies in the face of the conservative-or-nothing strategy pushed by the Club For Growth and others in states like Florida and Pennsylvania.

Cornyn told Reuters:

Folks on the right, and frankly I'm one of them in terms of voting record, have to yield to the world as it is and not necessarily how they wish it would be.

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