Palio-Stupidity

As my esteemed co-blogger already pointed out, this morning John McCain officially named Sarah Palin, governor of Alaska, to be his nominee for Vice-President.

My quick-hit thoughts, followed by one more developed one.

  • Pro – she is an interesting, outside-the-box pick, likely to reinforce McCain’s long-since undeserved reputation of mavericky goodness.
  • Con – she has zero national exposure.  I mean, none whatsoever.  Has she even once appeared, apart from maybe during the Alaska primary, as a McCain surrogate?  If you wanted to pick a new, fresh, small-state conservative Republican governor, why not Jindal?  He has gotten a lot of good press and face time on the Sunday morning news shows lately.
  • Pro – she’s a woman, and since the McCain campaign clearly thinks that it has the chance to make inroads among Hilary supporters, or at least to force Obama to play defense on that flank, it serves as another salvo in that battle.  Plus, it says ‘we’ve got your history right here!’ to anyone tempted to vote for Obama purely on the basis of electing someone who’s not a white man to office, if such people actually exist.
  • Con – she is already under investigation in a strange ethics complaint about her campaign to get a state trooper, her sister’s ex-husband, fired.  I’m sure more details will be emerging about this story in the next few days.
  • Pro/Con – the VP debate is going to be very interesting.  Firstly, there is the expectations game.  We pretty much know what we’re going to get from Biden: solid arguments, three or four memorable zingers, and at least one jaw-droppingly stupid gaffe.  No idea what to expect from Palin.  I’ll be interested to see her speak next week in Minneapolis.  Secondly, it will be very interesting to see the conservative noise machine try and play the feminist victim if Biden goes after her at all.  To my mind, the question of the VP debate has gone from ‘who will win?’ to ‘can Biden manage to hit back without beating up on the poor little girl?’
  • Con – she has no national experience, no foreign policy experience, and no military experience, apart from being the commander-in-chief of the Alaska National Guard (actual motto: “Defending America From The Axis Of Walruses Since 1959!”) and the mother of a National Guardsman.  She sort-of completely and entirely negates the McCain campaign’s ‘experience’ rationale.

And here’s the one that deserves a little more development.  It seems self-evident to me that the ‘experienced hand’ line is one of McCain’s stronger plays in this election.  Experience does matter, although I certainly agree with Obama, from last night, who argued that McCain’s experience has led to a crystallization of his thought patterns in archaic forms, which cannot appropriately comprehend and respond to the threats of the 21st century.

By putting someone with two years of experience as governor of the least-populated state in the country, McCain has really undercut the logic of this argument.  As Steven Benen pointed out, it feels like a gimmick:

McCain used to bill himself as the credible, serious grown-up candidate. That’s an exceedingly difficult pitch to make now. When looking for a running mate, Barack Obama looked to someone who could help make him a better president. When looking for a running mate, John McCain looked to someone who could help him look like a better candidate.

Indeed, today’s announcement seems to be largely based on two considerations: 1) who might help peel off some disaffected Clinton supporters; and 2) what might help undercut coverage of Obama’s big speech in Denver. These aren’t the considerations of a national leader; they’re the considerations of a political hack.

Ross Douthat, in his inimitably ill-thought-out, hackish way, brings up the likely right-wing response to this charge:

Read this once, and it sounds persuasive. Read it twice, though, and it starts to boomerang. Yes, Joe Biden has more experience than Sarah Palin. But there’s a not-implausible case to be made that Sarah Palin has more experience than … Barack Obama! (As Jeff Goldberg notes, she has more executive experience than Obama, McCain and Biden combined.) It’s possible that adding Palin to the ticket will take away McCain’s ability to attack Obama’s inexperience. But it’s also quite possible that any conversation that ends up happening about whether Sarah Palin is ready to be Vice President after ten years in local government and two years in statewide office can only end up hurting the Obama campaign – by raising, indirectly, the Democratic ticket’s biggest liability.

I think I’m beginning to see why Ross shut down comments on his site.  It’s really hard to say stupid things when people are constantly telling you how stupid you are, and boy, oh boy, is this stupid.

Well, not stupid, exactly – just incredibly poorly considered.  It is certainly true that, according to John McCain, Barack Obama’s inexperience is his biggest liability.  But the Barack Obama campaign would wholeheartedly disagree.  They will say that, if anything, Obama’s fairly short life in Washington allows him to see things in a new, different way than is possible for someone who has spent almost 30 years there, something that is desperately needed to, for lack of a better word, change the way this country is heading.

Further, they will argue, good judgement, to type Obama has shown time after time, is much more important.  You can always get experience, but if you have terrible ideas, and lack the flexibility to change them when circumstances dictate, what good is it that you’ve managed to have the same, wrong ideas for 30 years?

So, it’s the McCain campaign that specifically wants to make this a campaign about number of years spent in Washington.  Obama never tried to counter that he had more experience, as narrowly-defined.  Instead, he argues that his opinions and ideas are better, and that he has enough experience to do the job.  But, as Clemons pointed out above, McCain’s pick of Palin shows a decided lack of seriousness in his opinions about the state of the nation.  If it’s true, as McCain says, that the times are too dangerous to elect some neophyte with a few good ideas, then what are we to make of the fact that a 72 year old with a history of health problems just put just such a person in a position to be one heartbeat away from the presidency?

So the Obama campaign is clearly within its rights and rationale to say something like ‘we don’t think that years spent in Washington is an overwhelmingtly important reason to vote for or against someone.  But John McCain claims that he does – and he just brought onto his ticket someone with zero years whatsoever!  There are really only two possible explanations – either he doesn’t believe what he says when he attacks me, or he doesn’t think it’s that important that the Vice President be qualified to become President.  Which one is it, John?’

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9 Responses to Palio-Stupidity

  1. If John McCain was looking for someone out of the box why in god’s name didn’t he consider Congresswoman Heather Wilson of New Mexico? She is an Air Force Academy Graduate, has government experience in state, local, national, and above all, she has national security experience. She has not always voted on the side of George W. Bush all of the time. She is intelligent, Conservative, Pleasant personality, Well liked, A great executor. New Mexico is an energy state as well as the state of Alaska.

  2. Ron Calugar says:

    This article, appropriately entitled “Damn Lefties,” attempts to “Con” us with three Palin cons.

    (1) She “has zero national exposure”– Yesterday Palin became a national household word, and a highly respected one. Within the next 65 days even your pet will know who Sarah Palin is.

    (2) She is “under investigation in a strange ethics complaint about her campaign to get a state trooper…fired”– Strange complaint indeed. And who launched these “strange” accusations? Andrew Halcro who lost to Palin in 2006. Talk about serving your own interests.

    The fact is, Palin ordered the investigation herself as a way to demonstrate to her constituents that there was no connection between trouper Mike Wooten, former brother-in-law, accused of drunk driving, illegal hunting, tasering an eleven year old and threatening to kill the governor’s father, and the firing of Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan who is accused of not filling trooper vacancies effectively.

    (3) She has “no national experience, no foreign policy experience, and no military experience”– Obama, Biden and McCain himself all have “national experience,” though Obama’s consists only of a few days in the senate and a few months flitting around the country in a campaign jet. And what does “politicians with national experience” get us…higher taxes, wasteful government and political corruption. It is about time we are blessed with a politician who has successfully rooted out and prosecuted corruption including even in her party. This is the kind of executive experience we need in Washington and it is Obama and Biden who have none of it.

  3. javavoodoo says:

    Palin is also a former Miss Congeniality. Apparently McSame has a thing for beauty pageant types since he cheated on his first wife with Cindy, another pageant girl.

    http://javavoodoo.wordpress.com

  4. Steve Jensen says:

    Its simple really:

    1. She’s the only one of the three that has signed into law a bill

    2. She’s the only one of the three that has vetoed a bill

    3. She is one of the only two that have not only gone against the opposing party, but her own party.

    4. She’s the only one of the three that has approved budget (not including the family one). I count at least 7 w/ two being for the state.

    5. She’s the only one that has actually put into laws taxes directed at special interests

    6. She is the only Governor of Alaska to actually get the Pipeline they have been arguing about for the last 30 years passed and approved that will allow open bidding for the LNG from all companies not just the three that want to build there own.

    7. She’s the only one who had the Moxie to tell her legislature that they don’t get to spend the unexpected taxes and to send them back to the real owners the people of her state.

    OK she doesn’t have military experience, who cares if McCain dies I’m sure she’ll have a really, really good Secretary of Defense to discuss options with (Petreus?)
    She’ll have a really, really good Secretary of Treasury (Romney?) And I would expect that Huckabee, Rove, Juliani and a whole slew of others will be there to help her learn and make the right decisions.

    Obama starts out sustantially behind the eight ball as he’ll have to learn HOW to the the previous challenges as President from day one.

  5. […] Palio-Stupidity As my esteemed co-blogger already pointed out, this morning John McCain officially named Sarah Palin, governor of […] […]

  6. LD says:

    Biden is nothing more than an insider to washington sameo sameo. Palin is a breath of fresh air reformer.
    As for experience, Let’s evaluate this:
    Palin 2 years State Executive experience…Obama none
    Palin 2 years Chief of the state’s National Guard…Obama none
    Palin Mayor of city….Obama never in charge of anything.
    Palin advocated reform and won in economy, energy and taxes….Obama never
    Palin ran commercial business….Obama never
    While Palin successfully ran a State Obama campaigned for president.
    While Palin worked in Alaska….Obama the insider worked in Washington D.C.
    Obama claims she’s the same old thing while he picked the same old thing as a running mate. Obama should be ashamed of himself for thinking the American public is stupid and that we don’t see through him. Obama is not for a woman rising to the top because she is not a man.

  7. M S Sefton says:

    I must say that Ron Calugar, Steve Jensen & LD have said it all…
    Fantastic facts, comparisons and all so true. She’s just what this country needs and McCain made a great choice. Seems to me that she doesn’t need a teleprompter, either. It’s going to be fun to see the debates. Obama will stutter and stammer if he doesn’t get his instant messaging… Biden (sleaze) will probably put his foot in his mouth or degrade Palin and she won’t stand for it. The first thing out of Biden’s mouth when introduced at the Democratic convention was ” This is my wife and she’s drop-dead gorgeous!” What class.
    Some people say that McCain just met Palin. We can all just imagine the scrutiny her political history, personal life, eloquence, intelligence & temperament came under. She was under a microscope for months and didn’t even want the job unless she could actually work and not just be a figurehead. Obama is nothing more than a ‘talking head’ for Chicago and will continue to be affiliated with all that have ‘groomed’ him for office. Is the White House big enough for his ego? I don’t think so.
    Waiting for the debates….

  8. […] You Really, Really Hate Me! Wow, I’m really not sure what got me this kind of love, but my post about Sarah Palin from a few days back managed to get picked for WordPress’s “Blog of […]

  9. […] Thoughts (OR A Matter of Perspective) As Dave pointed out, his post on Sarah Palin has illicited lots of traffic, and some very interesting […]

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