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Initial Thoughts on Sarah Palin

Well, I have to hand it to McCain:  He surprised me.  I didn't think he was capable of doing something so unexpected.  That said, I'm not sure it's a good choice.  Why?

1)  He has essentially given away the experience issue.  As the oldest man every to run for a first term in the White House (Today is is 72nd birthday) McCain had to take special care with his VP choice.  Whoever it was had to meet the same test he's been claiming that Obama fails to pass, namely that this person is ready to assume the duties of President on day one.  Sarah Palin has been governor of Alaska for less than two years.  Prior to that she was mayor of the town of Wasilla and chair of the Alaska State Oil and Gas Conservation Commission for two years.  Her resume is thinner by far than Barack Obama's.  If he's not ready, neither is she.  Or perhaps more to the point, since clearly McCain is making the claim with this pick that she IS ready:  If she's got the experience necessary to be President, then Barack Obama certainly does.

2) This is a pick that some Republicans claim is intended to make the GOP ticket more attractive to Hillary Clinton supporters.  I'm not convinced that it does that.  Yes, Palin is a woman, but to suggest that Clinton's supporters liked her simply because she was a woman is, frankly, insulting.  Hillary's supporters were drawn to the Clinton campaign by the Senator's years of experience, her life story, her strength, her strong support for health care reform, environmental reform, and a woman's right to choose.  Clinton's supporters want to see progressive judges appointed to the Supreme Court. They want to see an end to the war in Iraq.  Sarah Palin doesn't agree with any of those positions.  Apart from her gender, she has nothing in common with Hillary Clinton, and I believe Clinton's supporters, even those who were disinclined to support Obama before the convention, will recognize that.

3) Even veteran GOP operatives know very little about this woman.  And in fact a simple Google search of her name brings up an August 1 news story, which indicates that she's under investigation for firing her ex-brother-in-law from Alaska's state police force.  She could be a risky choice.

4)  Finally, unlike Tim Pawlenty, who could have made Minnesota competitive for the GOP, or former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who could have helped in Michigan, where he grew up, and New Hampshire, which borders MA, Palin can't really help in any of the battleground states.  Alaska is solidly Republican and already leans heavily to the GOP.  Now this same argument could be made against Obama's choice of Joe Biden, but I think Biden brings much more to the table than she does.

All of that said, I'll be interested to see how this plays out over the next several days.  And I'd be very interested in hearing your opinions on the matter.  So please share!

Comments

( 48 comments — Leave a comment )
crinkledpaper
Aug. 29th, 2008 04:31 pm (UTC)
I can't resist commenting on political things...

I've been investigating her a bit, and it seems like her only positive attribute is she doesn't like special interest groups or the government wasting money on ridiculous things (like the previous governor purchased a jet with taxpayer's money and she sold it to give money back).
But honestly, John McCain should have been a lot smarter. It's blatantly obvious that he picked a woman because of his failed conception of Hilary's appeal to voters. I'm watching his speech now and he's just said "On the anniversary of Women's Suffrage" and it was essentially a *winkwink* moment.
Most people I've spoken to think McCain is the most likely to need his VP, so he should have taken someone just as strong as himself, someone with a lot of experience and positive attributes besides their gender going for them.

Hopefully her speech will reveal something about herself besides the fact that she's a mother of five.
davidbcoe
Aug. 29th, 2008 05:49 pm (UTC)
Her speech: Clearly she's an intelligent, capable politician. I don't particularly like her speaking style or the sound of her voice, but that's just me. She'll certain liven up the campaign. But I think that this choice reveals a fairly superficial interpretation of what undecided women voters are looking for. Thanks for commenting!
scbutler
Aug. 29th, 2008 04:38 pm (UTC)
I'm guessing there will also be some major blowback over McCain's blatant pandering for women's votes with this selection. As you point out, she has no other qualification at all.
wldhrsjen3
Aug. 29th, 2008 04:42 pm (UTC)
No other qualification at all?

Er, that doesn't sound quite fair. :)
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wldhrsjen3
Aug. 29th, 2008 04:40 pm (UTC)
I think she's a fascinating choice. Nice to see another strong woman, and a fresh face. I know there is a whiff of scandal, but until I know the whole story (er, as unlikely as that is) I'll reserve judgment. Frankly, I like her. I wish she were pro-choice, but still. I like her. (shrugs) Not that it will change the way I plan to vote, but it does make the election a heck of a lot more interesting. :D
davidbcoe
Aug. 29th, 2008 05:52 pm (UTC)
"Not that it will change the way I plan to vote, but it does make the election a heck of a lot more interesting."

Well, I'm glad to hear that it won't change your vote. I have to agree with you that things are going to get very interesting.
shsilver
Aug. 29th, 2008 04:41 pm (UTC)
Apparently some pundits were claiming Alaska could be in play.

And the firing of her ex-brother-in-law may have been in part due to his tasering his 11 year old stepson. Even if it the firing was irregular, I'm not sure that she'll lose a lot of sympathy for it.
davidbcoe
Aug. 29th, 2008 05:55 pm (UTC)
Alaska in play? You're joking right?

I've heard nothing about the tasering. I read that the brother-in-law was involved in a custody battle with her sister and Palin fired one of her subordinates for not being willing to fire the brother-in-law -- basically much the same story that Jeri offers below. In which case, it could be a story.
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jer_bear711
Aug. 29th, 2008 04:45 pm (UTC)
Great analysis, as always!

She seems problematic for all of these reasons, and more. The Dems can tie her to Big Oil, because she was on the AK Oil & Gas Commission. She opposes adding polar bears to the Endangered Species List. She can't even remotely be passed off as a moderate, forward-thinking person.

On the "Trooper-gate" scandal, allegedly she fired the Public Safety Commissioner for not firing her BIL. So it's worse than it looks on the surface--she might have put her personal interests before the public good, highly reminiscent of Bush cronyism.

Just a couple shallow style points:

1) A young, vibrant pretty woman makes him look old by comparison. And kind of lecherous. The photo of them together on johnmccain.com looks like an ad for a bad new sitcom.

2) Speaking of his website, it's a disaster when viewed in Firefox. The sidebar is at the top, and you have to scroll way down to get to the splash image.

Which might be a good thing, considering Point #1.
davidbcoe
Aug. 29th, 2008 05:58 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Jeri. I agree on all points. It does strengthen the big oil connections, and if McCain changes positions on drilling in ANWR to bring himself in line with her views, that's yet another flip-flop.

But I REALLY agree on the matter of the visuals. She looks VERY young next to him (and he very old next to her). And (I'm reluctant to write this, but I will anyway) go back and watch the CNN video of her remarks in Dayton. Remember when Biden was announced and Obama listened to Joe's speech. He sat in the background on a stool to listen. McCain hovers right at her shoulder, as if waiting for her to mess up. And then, right in the middle, follow McCain's eyes. I swear he's checking her out. Made my stomach heave.
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lindajdunn
Aug. 29th, 2008 06:09 pm (UTC)
I note that Spiro Agnew was also light on credentials when Nixon tagged him for the VP pick.

IMHO, McCain would NOT have picked her if Hillary had been the VP pick because he wouldn't have had a prayer of picking up any additional votes by choosing a woman.
davidbcoe
Aug. 29th, 2008 06:37 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I noticed that, too, Linda. I'm not sure the Agnew comparison is one that Republicans are going to like.... :)

I also agree with your second point. This is a reactive pick. Obama opened the door for this by not choosing Hillary. But I can think of several Republican women who would have been more formidable choices (Rice and Hutchinson, to name two).
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kmarkhoover
Aug. 29th, 2008 07:49 pm (UTC)
It's a condescending pick, imo, and goes to show you how the GOP doesn't get it. Never have. Never will. They actually think that just by putting a woman on the ticket she will draw votes from women.

It's really desperate. A Hail Mary pass. And it was made at the last minute, they didn't even have "McCain/Palin" placards printed up.
davidbcoe
Aug. 29th, 2008 08:07 pm (UTC)
I agree with the Hail Mary imagery, Mark. Makes you wonder what they saw in their internal polling during the Democratic convention. This smacks of desperation.
carolf
Aug. 29th, 2008 08:38 pm (UTC)
Am I the only one who this passing thought:

By picking such a young, attractive woman as his running mate, is he liable to add fuel to the fire about his (lack of) fidelity to his first wife? And the "trophiness" of his current wife.

Mind you, I hate the whole "let's get the family involved" tactics of politics, later -- particularly when they include the children. But, others seem to think it fair game.
davidbcoe
Aug. 29th, 2008 09:15 pm (UTC)
I don't think it helps him on that front either, Carol. I really would love to know what the McCain Campaign thought the upside of this pick would be. The disadvantages seem pretty clear.
faithhunter
Aug. 29th, 2008 09:53 pm (UTC)
TIC
Come on David. What *is* your problem. She has a uterus. And, oh yeah -- she has boobs too. And an attitude. And she clearly has experience using all that. What else did the old guy need? What else does any old guy need?
Faith
((For those who don't know me, let me state that this is
*spoken totally tongue in cheek* and that I am totaly apolitical, meaning that I find fault with all politicians and parties. And...Please don't email me with info about what else old guys need. Ick))
davidbcoe
Aug. 29th, 2008 10:48 pm (UTC)
Re: TIC
Thanks for the comment, Faith. I think we're in for a lot of late night TV humor along these lines.
hedwig_snowy
Aug. 30th, 2008 01:43 am (UTC)
Palin is certainly a "toss the dice" choice. About a month ago McCain was asked what would be the first reason that he considered in choosing a running mate. He said that their ability to take over as President was the top priority. He's been pushing hard on the experience vs change argument. He needed someone to pull in a battleground state. He needed someone to fill in the holes in his resume on economics. The selection does nothing for any of those.

The positives are that the base will overlook all the past problems right? All is forgiven? They'll go door-to-door and donate and come out in huge numbers because of...a VP pick. Yeah, that's like us counting on the youth vote. It's possible and this isn't like any other election in my lifetime in that regard, but I wouldn't bet the house on it.

So, McCain must have thought he was 4th and 1, bottom of the 9th, two outs, 0-2 count, 2 seconds left, 1 down, and Shaq on the free throw line...he rolled the dice. Let's wish them snake eyes and put them out of their misery. (It's metaphor friday!)

Waiting for the split screen next week of all the happy, hung over convention goers on one side and people driving through waist-high water on the Gulf Coast. Not wishing for it, but it would be a apt picture for "Eight is enough".
davidbcoe
Aug. 30th, 2008 04:14 am (UTC)
I agree that this seems a desperate move. I'd love to know what the GOP internal polls look like. There was a story on Talkingpointsmemo.com today indicating that the GOP is about to start a big new media buy in a bunch of traditionally red states. I think they're in trouble.
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markwise
Sep. 1st, 2008 06:45 am (UTC)
I found the selection of Sara Palin to be an interesting and skillful counter to Obama. You have to keep in mind that:

a) While Mrs. Palin is unexperienced in Foreign Policy and as such the GOP cannot really raise that talking point, neither can the Democrats because Obama has even less than she does. So that point becomes mute.

b) If the unfortunate occurance happens that she has to asume the role of President from McCain, she could presumably choose a new VP that has a strong Foreign Policy history such as Obama did with Joeseph Biden. This could lessen the impact of her inexperience.

I think it could draw young male and female voters to McCain since there will be a lot of young men who are attracted to her physically (yes men are pigs) and Sara has the brains to attact the women mentally. She has a lot of appeal as the "next door neighbor soccer mom who is alot like the women in my book club" persona. She will be able to identify with them and talk to them on their level. Her youngest son has Down's Symdrome and could be a champion of the disabled, and not to mention Pro-life.

I believe it was Hillary Clinton who best summed up how this election will be decided when she asked if her followers were following her because of her gender or her policies. I think a lot of her support was because of her gender and they will vote for McCain/Palin to get a woman in the Whitehouse. In addition, a lot of Clinton supporters have been recorded as intending to vote for McCain as a protest to Obama, so this could solidify their choice.

Overall, great choice and I look forward to having the first woman Vice President! :-)
davidbcoe
Sep. 1st, 2008 03:00 pm (UTC)
I think you may well be right that she'll have appeal to a lot of people, particularly conservative women. But how you can possibly say that she has more foreign policy experience than Obama is beyond me. Has she been a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee? No. Has she been to Iran or Iraq? No. When Obama was elected to the US Senate she was still mayor of Wasilla (pop. 8,000). It may be a good pick politically, but it shows that McCain's concerns about Obama's "experience" are entirely political and expedient.
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crazywritergirl
Sep. 1st, 2008 03:21 pm (UTC)
What was McCain thinking? Or was he?

This isn't a movie where you bring in the rookie player at the bottom of the ninth and they take the team on to victory. The fact that McCain chose this lady over all the other highly qualified females in the Republican party proves he shouldn't be president. This is an insult, a "throw the chicks a bone and they'll be happy" stunt. I'm rarely offended by these political bozos, but McCain has hit a nerve with this one.

I've waited my entire life for a female president and with a bad stroke of luck it might be her??? That makes me cringe. I don't expect the president to completely reflect my values, but this lady ain't even close. The only thing we have in common is gun ownership and being female. So? That hardly makes me want to run down to the ballot box and pull that Republican lever. Even the Republicans in her own state say she's not ready for this, that she wasn't even ready for the governor's mansion. When your own party questions your decision, that's not a good sign.

If anything, this just pushed me over the edge. Now I will be touting the Obama-Biden ticket at every opportunity.
davidbcoe
Sep. 1st, 2008 05:51 pm (UTC)
I think that's going to be the reaction of a lot of women, Jana, including Hillary herself.

Also, here's a comment I just posted replying to a response to my BOW Award entry. Seems relevant here, too: "Turns out she lied to us all in that first address she gave on Friday. Remember the moment when she claimed to have told Congress "Thanks, but no thanks" for funding for the Bridge To Nowhere? Not true as it turns out. She was after the funds well into 2007 and complained about it when the funds were cut. www.crooksandliars.com is all over it. Also turns out that the rift between her and disgraced Senator Ted Stevens also has been exaggerated. As late as July '08 she was praising him as a great public servant and such. She may be a fresh face, but she was vetted in a hurry and I think it's going to come back to haunt McCain and company."
crazywritergirl
Sep. 1st, 2008 06:09 pm (UTC)
I just have to wonder why she agreed to this. I know, her big break and all that. More media exposure for Alaska, etc. A chance to champion her causes, etc. It would be a hard offer to turn down. Sometimes you just have to step back from the abyss and go "no way." Deep down she has to know she's not qualified. Most likely she listened to all the spin McCain's people were throwing at her. Worse yet, maybe she does believe she's truly qualified. Oy!

All that nonsense about spending "four years at the foot of the master" is just that. What if one morning she wakes up and finds that John has shuffled off this mortal coil and she's the leader of one of the most powerful nations on this planet? I, for one, wouldn't want that kind of responsibility, not if I hadn't been adequately prepared. If I had been, I'd like to think I'd do a tolerably good job not mucking things up, but that's always a 50-50 proposition for those who do have experience in Washington and on the world stage. Newbies are shark bait, both at home and overseas.

I would hold her in far higher regard if she'd said, "You know, John, thanks for the offer, but get back to me in a few years. Now how about a moose burger for the road?"
davidbcoe
Sep. 1st, 2008 06:39 pm (UTC)
Maybe they made her an offer she couldn't refuse. Maybe they cut the head off a moose and put it in her bed (those antlers are a bitch...).

Seriously, good questions all. Thing is, even Quayle, who was a national joke from the beginning and had much less going for him than Palin does (she, at least, seems very bright, articulate, etc.) remained a Presidential contender for a couple of cycles after being VP. Win or lose, this makes her one of the favorites for the 2012 nomination.
( 48 comments — Leave a comment )

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