CBS's 60 Minutes led Sunday night with a taped interview with the Democratic ticket and in the piece Steve Kroft, who couldn't resist labeling Sarah Palin as a “conservative” while never tagging Joe Biden, presumed as fact that Palin “has less experience” than Obama and cued up Obama to agree with his own campaign's rhetoric about how Palin undermines McCain's experience argument:
Does the fact that he chose as his Vice President someone who has less experience than you take that weapon out of his arsenal?
On Sunday's NBC Nightly News, Brian Williams pursued the same media narrative as he pressed McCain about how as “a 72-year-old cancer survivor” he chose “a not yet one full term Governor of Alaska. Is she the best person to be literally a heartbeat away from the presidency, Senator?” McCain rejected the premise and, without even knowing it, countered Kroft:
She's been in elected office longer than Senator Obama. She's been the chief executive of the state that supplies 20 percent of America's energy, she has balanced budgets. She's had executive experience as Governor, as Mayor, as a city council member and PTA. So she was in elected office when Senator Obama was still a quote “community organizer.”
Williams, however, remained unconvinced: “But you know the question, Senator, given the field, given all that we know, is she the best person to be a heartbeat away from the presidency?”
Palin was first elected to the Wasilla city council in 1992 and has held statewide office since 2003 (chair of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission before becoming Governor in December of 2006). Obama assumed his state senate seat in 1997 and, though a U.S. Senator since 2005, he soon after launched his presidential run and has hardly been working as a Senator.
Bottom line: As traditionally measured for politicians, neither has all that much experience, especially compared to McCain or Biden, and while whose life experience makes them better-qualified to become the #2 or #1 can be debated, it was ridiculous for Kroft to assert as a fact that Palin “has less experience” than Obama, especially since he's going for the top spot.
Kroft also, as noted above, never applied an ideological label to either Obama or Biden, but didn't hesitate with Palin:
Senator McCain tried to steal the Democrats' thunder by announcing that Alaska's conservative first-term Governor, 44-year-old Sarah Palin, would be his running mate.
Kroft set up the lead piece, the only one that was not a re-run, on the Sunday, August 31 60 Minutes, by proclaiming Obama had succeeded in all his goals in Denver:
Senator Obama went into the Democratic convention locked in a dead heat with Republican rival John McCain, and needed to do three things: Introduce his running mate, Joe Biden, to the country; draw sharp distinctions between himself and his Republican opponent; and unify a Democratic Party badly split by a bruising primary campaign against Hillary Clinton. By most accounts, he accomplished all three. He attracted 84,000 people to Invesco Field in Denver, and another 40 million to their television sets all across America. More Americans saw the speech than watched the opening ceremony of the Olympics.
From near the top of the interview taped Friday in Pittburgh:
KROFT: Senator McCain tried to steal the Democrats' thunder by announcing that Alaska's conservative first-term Governor, 44-year-old Sarah Palin, would be his running mate, a move widely seen as an attempt to try and siphon disaffected supporters of Senator Clinton and blue-collar voters in battleground states where Obama has been the weakest. A few hours after the announcement, Senators Obama and Biden seemed as surprised as everyone else.
What do you think of Senator McCain's vice presidential choice?
OBAMA: She seems to have a compelling life story. Obviously, she's a fine mother and an up-and-coming public servant. My sense is that she subscribes to John McCain's agenda.
KROFT: Does the fact that he chose as his Vice President someone who has less experience than you take that weapon out of his arsenal?
OBAMA: Well, you know, I think that's a good question to address to Senator McCain. Of course, the issue of experience is going to be relevant. And if I were running against me, that's something that I would try to make an issue of as well, particularly if I had been in Washington as long as John McCain has.
KROFT: She's a lifelong member of the NRA. She's a hunter. Her husband's a member of the United Steel Worker union, blue- collar guy. Got a son on the way to Iraq. It seems like just the kind of person who would appeal to voters in states that you absolutely have to win and they have to win.
CBSNews.com online version of the story.
From the second half of the NBC interview, taped in St. Louis and which began which questions about changes to the GOP convention because of Hurricane Gustav, as aired on the Sunday, August 31 NBC Nightly News:
BRIAN WILLIAMS: You've heard the commentators I know, and by repeating it I mean no disrespect, a 72-year-old cancer survivor picks a not yet one full term Governor of Alaska. Is she the best person to be literally a heartbeat away from the presidency, Senator?
JOHN McCAIN: Well, let me just point out, facts are funny things. She's been in elected office longer than Senator Obama. She's been the chief executive of the state that supplies 20 percent of America's energy, she has balanced budgets. She's had executive experience as Governor, as mayor, as a city council member and PTA. So she was in elected office when Senator Obama was still a quote "community organizer." He's never had one day of executive experience. I think it's almost ludicrous to compare her experience in elected office and as a leader of one of the most important states in America, certainly the largest, and compare her experience with his. It's no contest.
WILLIAMS: But you know the question, Senator, given the field, given all that we know, is she the best person to be a heartbeat away from the presidency?
McCAIN: Oh, sure. In every way. In every way that I know of. She has experience. She's been an executive. She knows how to balance budgets. She knows how towns and cities work. And in all due respect to every American, I think the example that she has set of home and family and service and putting our country first, I think, frankly it inspires me.
WILLIAMS: It's been reported in today's papers, without diminishing Governor Palin, you really wanted Joe Lieberman and some conservative state chairs threatened a floor fight over that?
McCAIN: I have no knowledge of that. Look, the close relationship I have with my beloved friend Joe Lieberman. The last words he said before I made the selection, he said “John, I want you to do what is best for this country and I'll be at your side.” And I was very touched by that.