Pontifications

Pontifications


Picking Palin: McCain’s Folly, or “crazy like a fox”?

posted by David Gibson

John McCain has certainly revived his maverick label by picking–or plucking from obscurity–freshman Alaska governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. (WaPo coverage here, and NYT coverage here.) Like every candidate, there are pluses and minuses with her.
On the plus side, Christian conservatives (as God-o-Meter knows and shows), are going to be delighted. She is a self-described “hockey mom” who is pro-life and a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association. She is a moose-hunting mother of five, her latest–born just last April–has Down syndrome, and she never considered the option of abortion. She has bucked the scandal-plagued GOP establishment in Alaska, and has shown a mild green streak without really undermining her state’s interests in mining and Big Oil. She is against taxes (except, apparently, when it came to building stuff in her own town), and against gay marriage. Check, check, check.
She is a sweetheart, a 44-year-old fresh face who is as far outside the Beltway as you can possibly get without being Russian. And she is so attractive the Obama camp will have to be careful not to look like they’re bullying her, or patronizing her.
And those things are also major downsides in the general election. Will someone like Palin really pull in those supposedly disaffected Hillary supporters? Not likely, not after Bill’s show-stopping speech.
Moreover, how can the McCain camp work the “inexperienced” wedge against Obama when Sarah Palin will be a heartbeat away from an Oval Office that would be occupied by John McCain, who would be the oldest man ever elected president? She has less than two years as governor, and before that the sum total of her governing experience was as mayor of Wasilla, a town of less than 7,000.
If Obama has been painted as little more than a good-looking Esquire cover guy, how about Palin, a former beauty queen who was runner-up in 1984 as Miss Alaska? Some will think McCain picked his daughter, others his third wife. (What is it with Republicans and beauty pageants, anyway?) Palin is sharper than Dan Quayle, but still…
Imagine the Biden-Palin VP debate. Voters want change, but they also want ballast. And they want someone who can step in. Sure, Palin is a wonderful mom. But she is the mother of FIVE, and the last a special needs infant born just FOUR MONTHS ago. She’ll have to have Mary Poppins and a couple Super Nannys with 911 on speed-dial if she hopes to fill the 24/7 job as Vice-President.
Her environmental cred may not stretch too far, either. Check out the dissection by the HuffPost’s Chris Kelly of her Polar Bear record and her January NYTimes op-ed in which she said all was well with the big critters. Now that the polar bears are actually swimming across hundreds of miles of open water looking for receding ice floes, you can imagine the video in the camapign ads to come.
And while she has a reputation as a whistle-blower on ethics, she is also under investigation for a firing and other machinations related to penalties against her estranged ex-brother-in-law, a state trooper. Add to that the fact that the dominant Republican Party in Alaska is a cesspool of scandals and indictments, and Palin’s odor of sanctity may not endure.
So what does the choice of Palin say to all those “new” evangelicals? Will her fresh face attract them? Or will she come across as the old religious right in a new guise?
Palin could prove to be McCain’s salvation, and a necessary gamble given his own weaknesses. (Funny, McCain’s people were saying the other day that the choice of Biden pointed up Obama’s weaknesses, and did not compensate for them…) But the audacity (nice word) of his choice could also smack of desperation.
My sense is that the positives balance out the negatives, and McCain can’t afford a “wash” in terms of gains and losses. Palin will reassure the Religious Right, and surely draw in those voters, especially Christian “soccer moms,” who see her as “one of us,” only with a hockey stick. But with all voters growing in their suspicion of the use of religion in politics, as shown by the latest Pew poll, Palin’s best weapon may be firing blanks.
PS: I wasn’t sure, but it’s pronounced PAY-lin. We’ll all know that soon enough.
(Cross-posted with Progressive Revival)



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Comments read comments(15)
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Charles Cosimano

posted August 29, 2008 at 3:46 pm


It will probably be the thing that get’s McCain elected. One gets the sense that Obama people are in a temporary panic over it.
Personally, from what I have seen, I can’t stand her, two minutes of her voice sent me running to the mute button and that hair should be shaved off and replaced with a whig, plus the obvious question of the intelligence of anyone who not only has five children but is willing to encourage one of them to go get shot at.
So if McCain gets elected the gods are getting extra sacrifices for his continued good health.



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WeTheSheeple

posted August 29, 2008 at 4:46 pm


McSame may as well concede now and get it over with. What a STUPID pick; good for the Dems though. Bye-bye McSame.



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Mom of 2

posted August 29, 2008 at 8:22 pm


Hard to argue for FAMILY VALUES when you are willing to leave your newborn in order to take on a 24/7 campaign and 24/7 job.



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Honey's Mom

posted August 29, 2008 at 9:47 pm


McSame and the Annie Oakley of Alaska. What a joke! Of all the intelligent, experienced, capable women in the republican party, he picks Palin? No really, when is the real VP going to be announced? All I can say is she’d better negotiate the same salary Cheney is getting up front; her new boss doesn’t believe in equal pay for equal work.



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Bill

posted August 29, 2008 at 10:19 pm


Comments about how Governor Palin having five children and, therefore, not being able to be vice-president are about as sexist as it gets. The McSame comments are silly. If they were ever clever it was a while back. Try to get a new line. I think she seems to have a lot of things going for her. She does not have a lot of experience but she seems much tougher than people think and her credits as a reformer are impressive.



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Ann

posted August 29, 2008 at 10:29 pm


A governor makes more real decisions in a week than a Senator does in a whole term.
I am thrilled with this choice.



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Little Bear

posted August 29, 2008 at 10:41 pm


I believe in giving all the candidates (Democratic and Republican) a fair chance to show their abilities on the campaign trail. Palin has already managed to care for her children while serving as a governor–
and she will be a poster candidate for the NRA—not a bad position to be in. Give them all a chance to show their skills and abilities. Then we can judge.



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Emilie

posted August 29, 2008 at 11:20 pm


Agree completely with the last three posters (Bill, Ann, Little Bear) that we ought to give this very interesting woman a chance to be heard and considered.
I’m really put off by the personal attacks from some of the posters — especially the ones that suggest she is a “bad Mom” for desiring to go into public service. Should Hillary or Nancy Pelosi have stayed out of politics because they were mothers? This line of attack against Palin is contemptible and doesn’t speak well for the “progressive revival” that is the title of this blog.



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Chuck

posted August 29, 2008 at 11:31 pm


McCain is crazy. How can you point at Obama’s inexperience when this woman has HALF what Obama does in the federal government. She won’t pull in many of Hillary’s supporters as they will see the choice of a inexperienced pretty face as a slap to their tough-talking-many-years in Washington candidate (if you include her years as First Lady when she was in on many, if not all, domestic and foreign policy decisions…like it or not). McCain chose her and announced her when he did as a way to steal headlines from the Dems. Bad idea. The only way a woman would have worked is if McCain had chosen one with many years in Washington so he could continue his assertion that Obama was too inexperienced to be President. Instead, he has negated that argument entirely, and made his own statement of using ‘being ready to be President’ as a criteria for VP choice to be a lie. McCain has done a great job making a choice that will not only NOT help him win votes, but will be the choice that leads directly to an Obama administration. Congratulations Obaba, you don’t deserve to be President, but McCain has handed it to you a silver platter.
(OK, don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against this woman, but taking everything that has gone on in this campaign, she simply will not increase McCain’s vote haul…watch for the first polls following this announcement – I guarantee McCain’s numbers will fall.)



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Catherine

posted August 30, 2008 at 10:27 am


Obama is sharper than Dan Quayle too, but….
Palin potentially is going from flying a Piper Cub to a 747, but Obama has never even been in the cockpit, and he is running for chief pilot. There is no substitute for taking sole responsibility for decisions that effect the lives of others: executive experience.
McCain harped on experience, but Obama harped against Washington then chose a party hack for a VP.
So, crazy like a fox. I am one of those Hillary voters. I would not vote for a conservative woman, but many of my peers think it is past time for the DNC to be taught a sharp lesson about hijacking the nomination. I will vote for Obama, but won’t cry too much if he loses.



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Phyllis

posted August 30, 2008 at 11:01 am


Best scenario:
2008 winners: McCain/Palin
2012 contest: H. Clinton v. Palin



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Emelie

posted August 31, 2008 at 2:42 am


Phyllis: “2012 contest: H. Clinton v. Palin”
THAT is absolutely brilliant!! I don’t think I’ve seen that anywhere on the internet. Another great reason to elect McCain-Palin. No way that McCain can serve a second term … and Hillary is odds-on favorite to be the 2012 Dem. nominee if Obama-Biden go down in flames.
I wonder if the ladies at PUMA have thought of this? Great stuff, Phyllis!!



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AML

posted August 31, 2008 at 3:06 pm


Chuck: How can you point at Obama’s inexperience when this woman has HALF what Obama does in the federal government.
Hard to understand this sentence, but I think you meant “when this woman does”, and that is totally false.
The Senate in which Obama participates has been in session 140 DAYS since he was elected, and he has been absent a great deal of the time, voting “present” on many of the votes. He did the same in his state Senate.
Gov. Palin has been responsible for a very large and energy-important state (20% of US energy comes from Alaska), bringing about REAL change, while Obama has made speeches and chaired a committee. It is hard for him to point to any real accomplishment.
Oh, but he is good-looking, seems to be a nice man with an attractive family, and he says hopeful things (although his tax and spending proposals scare me to death). And his success in rising so far is a positive and shows us that the supposed racism of this country is a myth.
Sexism is perhaps more intractable.



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Piletre

posted September 3, 2008 at 1:24 pm


Frankly, I don’t care if Palin has a dozen children. What really has me worried is that she doesn’t know diddly about foreign policy.. and in her own words, “What does a VP do?”
Palin is now holed up in seclusion with McCain’s “staff” and is being given a crash course in foreign policy.
She isn’t allowed to answer any reporters’ questions because she doesn’t know the answers.
The speech that she reads off of the monitors tonight at the convention will be words written by “staff”, which are being re-done to relate to being female. (The speech had been written in advance and was for a male figure.)
She will probably be given a standing ovation for reading words/opinions written by others who actually KNOW what they are talking about.
No one’s family is perfect, but the person running for Vice President of the United States should at least have a clue what the job entails.
As for McCain, he’s a man who has a firey, uncontrollable temper. Any man who calls his wife the “C” word and a trollop is a jerk; especially in public and in front of reporters. If you haven’t heard about it, google “McCain, Cindy, ‘C’ word, trollop”.



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baboo

posted September 3, 2008 at 3:29 pm


If i had been the mom of a pregnant unmarried daughter, I think I would have thought twice before accepting the bid to be a running mate knowing I was throwing my child under the media train. Has not been Obama and his campaign.. Actually he has behaved more honorably than anyone. I am sure Palin has good reasons.. just saying don’t think i could have done that to my kid.



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