Game Changer: Sarah Palin

Alaska Governor, Sarah Palin

I was at home sick yesterday and watched in astonishment as John McCain picked first-term Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska as his running mate. I listened to her speech and I was impressed. I found Sarah Palin refreshing in the political world for her brashness, for her blue-collar roots, and for what she has accomplished in her short political career. As I was watching her speak, my mouth dropped repeatedly and I quickly came to the conclusion that Barack Obama would soon rue the day he did not pick Hillary Clinton as his running mate.

I am a lifelong Democrat and I am a Hillary Clinton supporter. But I was never as excited about Hillary's campaign as I am by what Sarah Palin represents. But I was quickly dismayed as the predictable talking heads and surrogates lined up to either denounce Sarah Palin or to extol her virtues depending on the network editorial philosophy or what side of the aisle the surrogate represented.

You see, I have been disgusted with our two-party system for some time. In the HBO mini-series John Adams, our nation's second President warned of the dangers of our new country dividing itself across a line of ideology created by a two-party system. Never has the United States been more divided. We're either residents of a red state or a blue state. We're either a liberal or right-wing zealot. We're either an atheist or a bastion of orthodoxy spouting fire and brimstone. We're either pro-life or against it. We're either a war monger or a pacifist.

Well it's not that f*cking black and white. It is possible to be a social liberal and a fiscal conservative. It's possible to be a fiscal liberal, a social liberal, and to be an isolationist. It's possilbe to be pro-Israel, pro-military, pro-choice, and pro-environment. And it's possible to change or evolve where we stand on the liberal-conservative continuum as we grow older and the balance of power in the world and the economy changes over time.

Our nation's polarization does not have to be this way. The truth of the matter is that life is complicated, and world issues continually force us to reexamine our choices and make decisions based on the context of the day. It is so easy for Barack Obama to say that he never supported the Iraq War. Well you know what? I never supported the Iraq War either, but as much as I have always disliked President Bush, in the days following 9/11 I was out for blood, I wanted retribution, and I was standing together with all my fellow Americans as one. Yes, we were a mob and yes, perhaps we acted too quickly without finding out all the information we could. Fine. But after New York and Pennsylvania and the Pentagon were punched in the face by that bully down the street, the rest of the American family wasn't going to stand for it and we were going to march over to that bully's house and kick his ass. That's what brothers and sisters do. That's what any member of the family will do when another family member is attacked. That we were lied to and manipulated by our President and his senior advisers is not our fault. It's his. And yes, we beat up the wrong bully. We have to live with that and ask for forgiveness and try to learn from our mistake. But it's really disingenuous on the part of Barack Obama to say he never voted for the Iraq War when he was not in the Senate and not in a position to vote for or against the war. Because if he were in the Senate on 9/11 and he didn't vote for the war, his electorate would have voted him out of office.

I believe that John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin is a "Hail Mary" pass. I believe that John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin is an attempt to reach out to disaffected Hillary Clinton supporters. But I also believe that John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin is a daring and inspired choice made by someone who truly wants change and an end to business as usual in Washington.

Let's face it, John McCain, if elected, is a one-term President. There's a strong possibility that this two-time cancer survivor may become incapacitated while in office. Whoever John McCain picked as his running mate would have to be ready to take over the job as President of the United States with potentially little warning. John McCain knows this. So what does John McCain want for this country?

John McCain is a war hero. We all know that. No one can question his love for the United States, or his heroism--which I will admit is being used way too much by his campaign. Being a war hero does not qualify you for the highest office in the land. But what does he want for this country that he loves? Could it be that what John McCain wants is to end the lip service of bipartisanship by picking a running mate that broke down party lines in her own state, who fought corruption, who cleaned house so that government could stop wasting time and start taking care of the issues important to the people and to the nation?

There are many issues that Sarah Palin supports that scare me. I'll be the first to admit it. But there is so much more in this woman to admire that I'm excited about the chance to shake up our government and start dealing with issues rather than dealing with the same old result of politicians being politicians and securing their own reelections.

Here's what I know about Sarah Palin:
1. She took on and fought the good ole boy network in Alaska. She took down an incumbent governor of the same party in the primary, she got a corrupt attorney general fired. She got a corrupt US Senator out of office.

2. She reaches across both aisles and puts democrats and independents in high positions in her government.

3. She understands Energy Policy like no other in Washington as Alaska is an Energy State even bigger than Texas.

4. She does not cave to the oil interests in Alaska and taxed them at a greater rate so she could return $1200 in gas taxes per person to the people of Alaska.

5. Russia borders Alaska across the very narrow Bering Strait--it's only 53 miles wide. How ignorant of foreign policy can she be? In addition, her oldest son has enlisted in the army and will be deployed to Iraq.

6. She comes from a blue-collar family, the daughter of teachers, the wife of a fisherman and union member.

Some of the criticisms that have been thrown at her include:
1. She's not experienced, she was mayor of a town of 9,000 people, less than 1/20th the size of Obama's State Senate District. So? She's run a city, she's run a State for two years. She has more executive experience than Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and John McCain combined.

2. Alaska is inconsequential with less than a million inhabitants. So? Alaska makes up a land area 1/5 as large as the entire Lower 48. Governor Palin is responsible for all that takes place within that huge landmass's borders--earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, roads subject to huge extremes in temperature and upheaval due to the annual freezing and thawing of the permafrost layer, and cities and towns so inaccessible that they can only be reached by air. Not to mention a world-renowned tourism industry, and the governance of more National Parks Land than in all of the rest of the United States combined.

3. Sarah Palin is a staunch right-to-lifer, she would abolish Roe vs. Wade and ban abortion even in the case of rape and incest. Well, the Supreme Court would probably have something to say about that. Roe v. Wade is a landmark decision. Congress would not pass such a law, although certain legislators might try. BUT, knowing that her youngest child would have Down's syndrome, she and her husband brought that child into the world anyway. This is a woman with convictions she believes in and who will not sacrifice them to take the easy way out--if that is not the definition of leadership, I don't know what is.

What I want out of my elected leaders in Washington is simply to lead this nation. To address the issues of the day instead of hiding their heads in the sand. I want my leaders to be honorable men and women with strong morals, values--even if they differ from my own, and integrity. I want my elected leaders to listen, to care, to anticipate, and to be responsive. And I want them to be honest.

I think Sarah Palin has the potential to be the leader we have been craving for, and that's what has me so excited. I believe Sarah Palin, if elected to the office of Vice President, would be in a strong position to help end the partisan gridlock and corruption and ineffectiveness in Washington. I really believe that's what John McCain wants. He's been saying it for over a decade. Why wouldn't it be true? His selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate just reinforces that idea.

I don't know yet who I'm going to vote for. But I'm not going to vote against someone because of:
1) What the talking heads on television tell me to think.
2) Because my choice of candidate didn't win the nomination.
3) There are issues the candidate supports that I don't agree with.

First and foremost, I want change in Washington. I want an end to partisan bickering. I want an end to gridlock. I want our government focused on what it needs to do to take care of the issues mentioned in the preamble of our constitution:
We the people, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity do ordain and establish this constitution for the United States of America.
And that's for all Americans--the poor, the middle class, and the rich. Because at the end of the day, we are all in this nation together. For those of us who are still striving to make our version of the American Dream a reality we want a government that will support us and help us. And for those of us who have made our version of the American Dream a reality, we don't want our government involved in taking any part of it away.

John McCain and Sarah Palin might very well be the no-nonsense ticket we've all been waiting for to shake up Washington at last.

Thanks for reading.

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Maritzia said...

I can't understand how anyone who supports Hillary could possibly support Palin. She's anti-choice (I don't care what choices she made in her personal life, that was her choice, but I can't stand by while she tries to force her choice on other women), anti-environment, pro-big oil companies (so she taxed them at a slightly higher rate, they're still making record profits), pro-gun. She's pretty much anti-everything Hillary Clinton stands for.

As for being a governor for 18 months near a foreign country, Bush had more than that and look at the mess he made of things. And prior to that she was the mayor of a very small town. Her legislative experience is almost nil.

As for change in Washington? She's a neocon on the far right of almost every issue. Do you honestly think she'll want to meet in the middle on any issue?

Oh, yes, the Supreme Court will protect Roe v. Wade. Except that she and McCain would appoint the next 3 Justices who will be along the lines of Scalia and Thomas. You can kiss Supreme Court protection out the window.

August 30, 2008 3:49 PM
Matthew S. Urdan said...

Maritzia--No offense is intended, but maybe you can't understand how I can be excited about what Palin represents for change (versus support for her I didn't promise) because after one day of learning all you can about her, you are only rehashing the democratic party's surrogates' talking points.

If you can't admire her personal story, than you won't understand. As for being near a foreign country, I didn't say she understood foreign policy, I asked how ignorant could she be? As for change in Washington, if she will reach across party lines and end gridlock and fight corruption, she has already demonstrated more than any of the Senators in this election have promised to take on, and as for the Supreme Court, any justice nominated will have to be approved by the Senate. As long as the Democrats control the Senate, I don't care who McCain/Palin will nominate. If you're honest with yourself, you'll know they'll have no choice but to nominate a moderate. Roe V. Wade is not going anywhere.

And if McCain wins, let him have a chance to shake up Washington for four years. That means Hillary gets elected in 2012. It's an ideal scenario for Hillary supporters. Not only does it make Hillary's presidency possible, it even paves the way for real change by shaking up the establishment that were it Hillary's administration to begin with, would proceed at a much slower pace.

August 30, 2008 3:58 PM
tashabud said...

You know what I like about you, Matt, is that you always employ fair judgments when critiquing or commenting on important issues or anything, for that matter. I like you more now that you're cheering on my candidates. Lol.

I really liked what you've written, therefore, I'll be buzzing and digging it. Thank you for this excellent post. It will certainly be helpful for the McCain/Palin campaign.

August 30, 2008 4:01 PM
Matthew S. Urdan said...

Tasha--thanks! I think for the most part Americans have forgotten how to think for themselves. For so many of the most important issues, we rely on the talking heads and newspaper columnists to tell us what to believe. But as bloggers, we are independent. We are thinkers. I'd like to think that we have the ability to listen to what is being said and by whom and discern the differences and distinctions between truth, lies, flaws in logic, exaggeration and spin.

If you're fair-minded, if you're not a puppet to someone else's agenda which only serves that person's best interests and not your own, then you will listen to what is being said with your own ears, see with your own eyes, and form your own allegiances with your own gut and heart and head.

As an individual with any integrity and intelligence, forming your own reasoned opinions is the only road to take.


August 30, 2008 4:12 PM
Anonymous said...

matt... I've never posted to a blog before, but I really felt compelled to do so now because of your refreshing candid assessment. Thanks... I'm a democrat too and I was also surprised by Palin. I don't agree with her social stances on things but I am very impressed with her record in such a short time. It won't make me vote for the 2nd part of a ticket, but it sincerely does give me pause to consider. I can only wonder how those on the fence might go with a second look at that ticket. She might not bring in the Hilary vote, but she sure has energized the base which is more scary.

August 30, 2008 4:32 PM
tashabud said...

I buzzed you. Here's the link:**

I hope I did it right.

August 30, 2008 4:33 PM
Matthew S. Urdan said...

Thanks Anonymous!

The thing that has me paused to consider is the very real possibility that John McCain may not be able to finish out his term and that Palin would ascend to the Presidency. Who do I want as my chief executive? Someone that has proven to fight corruption and choose leadership positions on both sides of the aisle and to get work done? Or someone who has demonstrated he can give great speeches? Really, Obama has not accomplished anything more.

If Obama chose Hillary as his running mate it would have been a no brainer. But because he chose a Washington isider--albeit with a great family and personal story, the American People already soundly rejected Joe Biden in the Presidential Primaries--it makes me question how out of touch Obama really is despite his great speeches.

Sarah Palin is a hockey mom. A union member. Daughter of teachers. Wife of a fisherman. She is not out of touch, even if she is, er, well, out there. You still have to admire what she has accomplished in Alaska, and that gives me serious pause.


August 30, 2008 4:40 PM
Jena Isle said...

Hi Matt, very well said. I admire your independent views. You have a mind of your own and you say what is in your mind - boldly. You also express your thoughts so clearly and well you've got me convinced to your "side".

I have seen this topic several times as I surfed but it's only now that I have continued reading till the last sentence. Way to go and thanks for sharing.

August 30, 2008 8:28 PM
Jeff said...

Hi Matt,

As usual, we are in slight disagreement. I wonder about Sarah Palin's selection. It comes across to me as almost entirely political in nature. From what I've read, they've met on one occasion only. Is that enough for John McCain to make such an important decision? No, this decision came from someplace else. Where? I don't know.

With all of that said, I agree strongly with everything else in this very well written post.

Have a good one...

August 30, 2008 9:50 PM
The BoBo said...

Matt - a very thorough and most excellent discussion. Like I said over at my place, I never had any intentions to vote for McCain. I had a write-in ready. However, after learning who he picked as his VP, I've done a complete turnaround. I learned of Palin about 3 months ago and really checked her out. I really didn't think McCain would choose her because she is so conservative and because she's a risky choice. My mouth dropped to the floor when I heard it. I too believe McCain is a one-term President - which opens the door to a Palin-Clinton race in 2012 - I think that would be great for this country.

August 30, 2008 10:25 PM
VH said...

Great post. Sarah Palin is an outsider and a whistle blower and that will scare some in power; I constantly hear Americans complain about the lobbyists and all the insider scheming that goes on in Washington. Well, here is someone with enough fortitude and courage to take on some of the cronyism that exists in our government.
BTW, I've stumbleuponed your post. Good work.

August 30, 2008 10:35 PM
Grandy said...

Matt~ I'm very excited about the direction this election is bound to take now. I wasn't really looking forward to the political speeches and jabs at eachother. Now things are going to get a lot more intereswting.

August 30, 2008 11:38 PM
S. A. Hart said...

Great post! In years past, I've heard people express the view that they are also tired of the "two-party system". However, none of these people were willing to vote for a candidate who was in another party, even if that person shared their ideology, as they were concerned about "throwing their vote away." I wish it were different. We can learn from other countries who have successful political process, even when they have a wider choice of political parties to govern their nation.

August 31, 2008 4:41 AM
Karen said...

I thoroughly enjoyed your post. It is refreshing to see someone who might be able to make a difference for our country.

August 31, 2008 9:00 AM
Matthew S. Urdan said...

Jena--thanks for your kind words. I'm pretty sure there are others out there with independent views. Unfortunately, it's not always easy to express them. Normally if you're not with the "A" or "B" crowd you're going to take some heat. I wish more people were willing to take the heat.

"Life isn't tried, it is merely survived if you're standing outside the fire."--Garth Brooks.

Jeff--John McCain met Sarah Palin back in February. And while he haven't been "aware" of her, the Republican Party definitely has. There are numerous interviews Palin has done since February where all the talking heads ask her about her prospects as John McCain's running mate. Do a search on Youtube and you'll find them. Don't believe everything reported in the press after a day or two.

And you're absolutely right, her selection is completely political. And if it's about shaking up Washington and doing the right thing all the better, right?

Thanks for your compliments.

BoBo--I can't think of anything better for this country than the selection of Sarah Palin and a Palin-Clinton election in 2012. It's time that we stopped running our country based on the politics of fear--we are the home of the brave, aren't we? And started running our country on the politics of issues and what we want for our nation. I admire Palin and Clinton for articulating those positions clearly. If it takes a woman and historical events to make our country turn around, well that's par for the course with the U.S., isn't it?

VH--I couldn't agree with you any more. Thanks for the kind words and the stumble.

Grandy--It's so important to actually discuss the issues that affect us every day rather than being told what affects us every day. There is no doubt, Sarah Palin is one of us who will not talk down to us. I might disagree with her philosophical positions, but I certainly admire her outsider, corruption fighting, waste-eliminating and tax-cutting persona.

S.A.--Agreed. I will probably vote for McCain/Palin unless something really unexpected pops up between now and November. But I don't see it as a wasted vote or a vote against my party. Americans especially have very short term memories. If it can't be covered in a 30 minute sitcom with two commercial breaks they can't sit still for it. I think Obama is the wrong guy. Maybe not forever, but at this time. Hillary would have been a much better choice on so many levels. However, if McCain wins the White House in November, Hillary can run again in 4 years and be an even stronger candidate than she was this time around. And with Palin breaking down the barriers should she win the Vice-Presidency, Hillary will have a much easier time establishing her administration in four years.

Ultimately, I believe Hillary can do far more for this country than Obama, McCain, Palin and the next four years of McCain/Palin might only be a marginal improvement on Bush. But if Washington gets cleaned up a little, the stage is set for a much stronger Hillary Clinton Presidency. And that is GOOD for the United States, and for the world.

Karen--thank you for taking the time to say that.

All, I really appreciate your comments! It's nice to see new faces commenting here on MTMD!

Have an awesome holiday weekend, and God keep you and yours safe from Gustav and Hannah.

August 31, 2008 10:02 AM
tashabud said...

Thanks for your response. I, on the other hand, have to apologize to you because the link address I gave you for the buzz at yahoo doesn't work. Nevertheless, I buzzed you. I just don't know where to get the correct link address than where I took the first one.

August 31, 2008 12:27 PM
Matt said...

Matt, as most of the commentors before me have said, Great Post! As for my views, I was feeling very fearful of what will happen in this country no matter whether Obama or McCain is elected in November. That view has now changed, at least a little. While I certainly understand the left's opinions of her coming out of nowhere, and no experience, etc., how can they not realize that they are enthralled with a man who not only has the same lack of any experience but he also has very questionable associations in is past, while Palin has shown character and the willingness to stand up to corruption at the highest levels she has been involved in thus far. Let Obama say that! It's a shame that people don't see that the only reason they are so adoring of him is because he is a charismatic speaker. So far that's all we know about him. But let's not forget some of the other charismatic speakers throughout history who were pure evil (NOT saying that Obama is, I'm just pointing out the dangers of blindly following someone based on their ability to draw you into their speeches). I know I will take a lot of heat for that statement, but it is the honest truth. He has his followers believing he can walk on water, and he actually has the gall to campaign in foreign countries; who's vote is he really after?

As for McCain, I never have liked him in a political sense. I don't agree with much he has done and tried to do in Washington, so I am not thrilled about the possibility of him running our country either. At least with Palin, even though she would have to learn on the job, and quickly, at least she has demonstrated the kind of character and no-nonsense down-to-earth work ethic most people say they want. Now it's time to put your money where your mouth is, America. Do you really want someone who will reach across party lines and start the very long process of ending the status quo in Washington, or do you want a socialist wannabe with a career Washington insider running the country?

August 31, 2008 2:26 PM
Matthew S. Urdan said...

Hey Matt--Thanks for your comments! I totally get the Hitler reference. I've said that about great speeches in previous posts--in your own blog I think, in the comments section. Hitler got Germany behind him because he was able to excite the masses. To me, that's what the DNC closing night address was...Hitler speaking before the masses in Germany. I'm not saying Obama is Hitler or that he's about to engage in eugenics and genocide. It's just that everyone is falling for him and no one is questioning or really vetting him on the issues. In Hillary's campaign, she tried. But Hillary never came off as likable during her campaign as she did during the convention.

Secondly, the MSNBC panel--Rachel Maddow et al. were DANCING in their seats and singing while Stevie Wonder was performing. Pat Buchanan was wearing Blues Brothers shades. IS this journalism? I get that the convention is a party, but our news reporters and analysts don't dance with glee in their seats. To me, the whole stadium feel for Obama's speech was a carefully orchestrated media spectacle with the news media a full partner in participation in an attempt to crown Obama President.

I BELIEVE THAT IS WRONG! And if I end up voting for McCain / Palin, it's a protest of that kind of circus as much as anything else.

Meanwhile, Palin fights corruption, is plain spoken, she's a Washington outsider and completely in touch with who the middle class are. She has honor and integrity, she picks the best people to work for her--republican, democrat, and independent. Why wouldn't anyone want her on the ticket? Don't we want all these things from our leaders? Shouldn't we expect these things from our leaders?

I don't know what has happened to the American People, but by God, much is lacking in our sports and celebrity obsessed culture.

August 31, 2008 8:28 PM
Shelia said...

Hi Matt!

I hope that you're feeling better. I have far more to say than I feel like writing. But I did read your post and whether I agree or disagree with some of your points, this article is thorough, to the point and voices a lot of what most of us are thinking.

Have a good holiday - get some rest. I am.

September 01, 2008 5:09 AM
Matthew S. Urdan said...

Shelia--thanks for the comments....I'm sorry James Blake didn't win, but it looks like he lost to a good friend.

Off topic--regarding Palin/my current post....I'm just on the fence right now and want to know more. There are so many issues and concerns that I have, least of which being that the American People already rejected Joe Biden in the democratic primaries but he was chosen to fill a political need for experience. McCain chose Palin to fill a political need--to shore up his conservative base, which he did brilliantly, and to appeal to disaffected Clinton supporters.

What disturbs me is all the game playing on both sides, and what disturbs me most is that this country remains polarized. Bush did nothing about his promise to unite this country. This country unites when we get attacked by a terrorist, a foreign country, or when Michael Phelps or May/Walsh win a gold medal. Why can't our political leaders do that?

No matter what ideologies you have, whether or not you're a liberal, conservative or a moderate or you are different on different issues, I think most of us want a country that is united.

If we were united, like the Chinese were united to pull off the Beijing Olympics and present a positive face to the world--even though it was marred by issues and rights violations--I think we could solve our dependence on foreign oil, I think we could provide our own disaster relief, figure out the best way to address reconstruction after hurricanes, mudslides, fires and floods and earthquakes, etc, etc, etc. The American People have long been the world's innovators, but we have lost that edge as we continue to pit the haves vs. the have nots, the red states vs. the blue states, the north vs. the south and continue a politics of fear.

For better or for worse, the only candidate that has any experience reaching across the aisle is John McCain, and the only candidate that has any experience including those of the opposite party is Sarah Palin. That there's a chance of trying to end business as usual and that there's a chance to end our broken two-party political system in Washington were McCain/Palin elected excites me. McCain and Palin don't excite me, other than as agents of that change, because I believe Americans want an end to the gridlock and want real work to get done.

I would love to discuss this further with you. This discussion is so healthy for Americans. But unfortunately, few welcome the discussion and immediately go on the defensive--like both the democratic and republican surrogates speaking for the candidates, and like the talking heads of MSNBC and Fox News.

September 01, 2008 11:20 AM
GumbyTheCat said...

Excellent and well-reasoned post. I'm sure we'll all find out everything we need to know about her in order to make an informed voting decision. This is a race in which the veep choices will be an important factor in people's votes.

September 01, 2008 4:23 PM
Rachel said...

Sorry Matt, but I just don't think you are digging deep enough into this or asking the right questions here.

The fact that they (McCain) even chose her is insulting to women, they think we just want a vagina on the ticket and don't care who it belongs to? Think again. Gimme a break. I am not interested in her running this county. Out nation has a much more diverse constituency than her narrow belief system allows.

If this was on the other side (Democrats) Republicans would be tearing her apart! From the moment they announced her all I've heard is public hypocrisy and it's making me SICK.

I'm sure she's a lovely woman that has many church-going friends, I'm sure she throws a mean pot-luck. Her husband is probably a great guy, and does a great job supporting his family off the salary he makes working at a big oil company.

Talk about living in la-la land: A pregnant teenage daughter? Well, the abstinence theory didn't work. Hmmm, seems she can't even keep her own household under control. Oh wait, she wouldn't let her daughter take birth control, that's right.

Her character: Everyone is praising her that she had an infant with down's syndrome, lovely, she had it. Now who's gonna raise it? As VP (even Governor) she certainly will not have time to raise an infant, let alone one with special needs. Nannys, other family members, etc. will be raising that baby. I'm not one to tell someone how to handle their family, and I am certainly femininst enough to support working mothers, but this is again an issue of HYPOSCRISY: If she were really the woman she claims to be, a conservative Christian with "family values", maybe she'd put her own ambitions aside and show a little devotion to taking care of her kid herself?

What bothers me is public willingness to just blindly follow the newsbites and the short blurbs, to just accept what they are told and not question this. I mean, the fact that CNN and the news programs even mention her high school nickname shows how little there is to even say about her politically.

In the end, honestly, I think she is irrelevant. But it's the way the public is eating it all up that scares me. All I am saying is, please, ask the right questions. Hold people accountable to what they say vs. how they actually live.

September 01, 2008 7:00 PM
Rachel Fox said...

I don't want to be the cynic but don't a lot of them say 'an end to business as usual in Washington' until they get there?

September 02, 2008 6:02 AM
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