US election diary

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The Independent US

Obama's starry night

Barack Obama was on lucrative, if dangerous, ground last night – having dinner at Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills and a big dollar reception and concert at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, where he was due to be serenaded by Barbra Streisand and Ben Harper. Hollywood donors are in a state about the polls and opening their wallets as a result. The Greystone dinner was for about 280 people paying $28,500 (£16,000) per person. Tickets for a separate reception went for $2,500 and the event was expected to attract about 900 people. The party was set to raise as much as $9m, shattering single-day fund-raising records for Mr Obama. In normal times having Streisand at a Hollywood fundraiser would be something to celebrate. She is an ardent Hillary Clinton fan and it is surely a sign that the raw wounds of the primary season have healed.

But danger lurks here, too. The McCain campaign is pouncing on Mr Obama for consorting with Hollywood celebrities while the economy is in meltdown. Expect a McCain attack ad any minute.

Beyond the pale

The political world is agog with the report that Sarah Palin furnished her governor's mansion with a tanning bed. Who would blame her in the near-permanent dark of Alaska's winters? A spokesman assured the public that she paid for the bed herself. The tanning industry is thrilled: "In locations like Alaska, indoor tanning can help guard against wintertime depression," said Dan Humiston, head of the Indoor Tanning Association and coincidentally a Republican candidate for Congress. He praised Palin for "standing up to dermatologists and other members of the sun scare industry who are trying to frighten Americans away from UV light".

Rewriting history...

John McCain does not even know how to send an email, but his economic adviser is telling us that he created the BlackBerry. Douglas Holtz-Eakin was asked what Mr McCain did in his years chairing the Senate commerce committee. "He did this," the adviser replied, holding up his BlackBerry. "Telecommunications... comes through the commerce committee so you're looking at the miracle [he] helped create."

Rewriting history pt II

Peggy Noonan has certainly changed her tune. The conservative columnist was caught on a live mic during the Republican convention trashing the Alaska governor. "The most qualified? No! I think they went for this, excuse me, bullshit about narratives. It's over!" she unintentionally broadcast to the nation. Now, the former speechwriter to Ronald Reagan believes the Palin saga has been "catastrophic" – for Barack Obama. "The media could get videotape of Palin saying, 'We should invade Mars and it will be easy because Mars is hidden inside my hair!'" writes Noonan. It wouldn't make any difference, she reckons, because by now, Mrs Palin is "bulletproof".

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