FPF: Week Ending September 7
This week on Front Page Flash: The Republicans get their turn in the spotlight, New Orleans escapes Hurricane Gustav fury, Thai PM clings to power, and a bus driver goes 'round and 'round...Brooklyn. Plus, election update!
Republican National Convention [CNN]
It was the Republicans’ turn to dominate our newspapers and TVs this week, and they got the hype machine in full gear over Labor Day Weekend with John McCain’s unexpected choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for vice president (the first woman on a Republican presidential ticket). George Bush’s scheduled appearance in Minneapolis was reduced to a televised addressed from the White House due to his attention on Hurricane Gustav (see below), and many commentators noted the party’s relief that the unpopular president was pushed to the periphery. All the other Republican big guns came to bat for McCain (e.g., Fred Thompson, Mitt Romney, and Rudy Guiliani, whose “speech” was more like a Barack Obama roast), but the focus was on the “little-known” Palin, who used her time on the podium to introduce herself as a “hockey mom,” criticize Obama for being elitist, promise an aggressive oil policy to include more drilling, and snap back at the media for laying into her all week. Last night, McCain delivered his acceptance speech to decidedly less rapture, casting himself as an outsider not afraid to defy his own party and promising to end "partisan rancor" in Washington. He also sought to claim Obama's change motif for himself with lines like, "Let me just offer an advance warning to the old, big-spending, do-nothing, me-first-country-second crowd: Change is coming." Watch the speech here.
In Light of State of Emergency, Thailand Demonstrators Push On [LAT]
Just a few days ago, members of Thailand's PAD opposition group stormed the prime minister's compound and took up positions inside in an attempt to shut down the government and overthrow PM Samak Sundaravej. Along with blaming him for a worsening economy and mismanagement of an Islamic Insurgency, the group also claims that he is a crony of deposed, allegedly corrupt, ex-Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra. The PAD protesters have won significant support within major cities such as Bangkok, and earlier this week the protests turned violent as plain-clothed policemen tried to disburse crowds. Amid a state of emergency, Samak was expected to step down during a press conference on Monday. Instead he did the opposite and said the government won't be disbanded. A referendum on his term in office and the parliament is being contemplated for October.
Hurricane Gustav Spares New Orleans [NYT]
Despite fears that Hurricane Gustav would develop into the "storm of the century," it diminished to a category-two hurricane by the time it hit land and spared New Orleans the Katrina-style whooping many were fearing. This time, however, the government wasn't willing to risk another disaster and successfully evacuated over two million residents from the city prior to Monday's storm. Although Gustav did send some water above still-in-construction levee walls, no major damage was sustained by New Orleans. Instead, Gustav battered the Baton Rouge area, crippling local utility companies and shutting down the power grid across New Orleans and other nearby areas. With Bush missing the RNC to deal with the situation, the government sought to prove that they learned their lesson from Katrina and would be able to prevent a humanitarian disaster in the event of another killer storm heading for New Orleans.
Water Cooler Story: School Bus plus Kids Missing for 5+ Hours [NY Post]
For some reason, a school bus driver thought it made a lot of sense to drive his school bus full of first-graders and kindergarteners around Brooklyn for five hours before dropping them off at school. The mothers and school were, as you could guess, none too pleased. I heart NYC.
Election Update: McCain’s unexpected veep pick sent the media into a frenzy, and boy, did they find red meat: Palin’s 17-year-old daughter is pregnant out of wedlock! And Palin is uber-pro life! And now her daughter is keeping the baby and marrying the father! Palin fought back against incessant attacks on her parenting ability and suggestions that McCain didn’t properly vet her with one of the big quotables of the convention: “I’m not a member of the permanent political establishment. And I’ve learned quickly, these past few days, that if you’re not a member in good standing of the Washington elite, then some in the media consider a candidate unqualified for that reason alone.” The tet-a-tet between Palin and the media will surely continue…