Monthly Archives: August 2008
o be fair, this is hardly the first time a presidential candidate has elevated electoral considerations above experience in choosing a potential vice president. Mondale did so when he chose Ferraro. An even better example is George H.W. Bush’s choice of Dan Quayle in 1988. That selection, like McCain’s, was designed partly to placate restive Republican conservatives. Those are not persuasive precedents. In one respect, McCain is in even less of a position to gamble than were Mondale and Bush. His age makes it especially important that his running mate be prepared to assume the presidency at a moment’s notice.
Palin might surprise us. Unlike Quayle at his unveiling, she was eloquent and self-assured at Friday’s event in Dayton, Ohio. She may prove to be a quick study in national security affairs, though it’s hard to imagine her piecing together a foreign policy portfolio comparable to Joe Biden’s by Nov. 4. Let’s be honest: The learning curve that confronts Palin is the steepest facing a vice presidential candidate in recent memory. That McCain was willing to take this gamble may not be a sign of desperation, but it gives a new and unsettling meaning to his claim to be a maverick.
Watch it all. I kept thinking of what happened three years ago and those involved in terms of the Shakespeare quote posted below. The collateral damage from one of these major storms is hard fully to describe, and can only be partly understood by those who have lived through them–KSH.
How poor are they that have not patience! What wound did ever heal but by degrees?
–William Shakespeare, Othello
“The question is,” Mr. [Ed] Rogers continued, “what does it do to the argument that Obama’s not ready?”
The question is particularly acute for Mr. McCain, who turned 72 on Friday and would be the oldest person elected to a first term as president if he won in November. His campaign now needs to convince the public that it can imagine in the Oval Office a candidate who has spent just two years as governor of a state with a quarter of the population of Brooklyn.
But Ms. Palin, 44, brings clear assets to the ticket. The “gun-packing, hockey-playing woman,” as the Republican strategist Karl Rove described her, instantly bolstered Mr. McCain’s wobbly conservative base, which rejoiced over the selection of an anti-abortion evangelical Christian.
Her reputation as a reformer who took on her state party over corruption and wasteful spending could reinforce Mr. McCain’s own maverick appeal.
Her personal narrative as a working mother raising five children, including an infant with Down syndrome, with a husband who belongs to a union, might prove attractive to working-class voters in swing states who have been suspicious of Mr. Obama. And her presence on the ticket will allow Republicans to argue that Mr. Obama would not be the only one to break barriers if elected.
“He’s chosen a Washington outsider who will be an ally for him in shaking up the way things are done,” said Ron Nehring, chairman of the California Republican Party. “This is someone with solid conservative credentials but solid credentials as a reformer. And it’s clear after watching today’s event, no one is going to push Sarah Palin around ”” not Barack Obama and not Joe Biden,” the Democratic vice-presidential candidate.
In picking a running mate without deep experience but who would make history, Mr. McCain chose someone who in some ways resembles Mr. Obama. At the same time, by choosing Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware as his running mate, Mr. Obama tapped a longtime Washington hand with even more time in the Senate than Mr. McCain. Just as it might be harder for Mr. McCain to attack his opponent over his level of experience, it might be tougher for Mr. Obama to paint his rival as a creature of the capital.
Inexperience. Palin has been governor for about two minutes. Thanks to McCain’s decision, Palin could be commander-in-chief next year. That may strike people as a reckless choice; it strikes me that way. And McCain’s age raised the stakes on this issue.
As a political matter, it undercuts the case against Obama. Conservatives are pointing out that it is tricky for the Obama campaign to raise the issue of her inexperience given his own, and note that the presidency matters more than the vice-presidency. But that gets things backward. To the extent the experience, qualifications, and national-security arguments are taken off the table, Obama wins.
And it’s not just foreign policy. Palin has no experience dealing with national domestic issues, either. (On the other hand, as Kate O’Beirne just told me, we know that Palin will be ready for that 3 a.m. phone call: She’ll already be up with her baby.)
7. Obama’s “change” mantra and sermons on Washington insiders are suddenly null and void due to both VP picks: McCain went for an outsider, Obama went for the classical Uber-insider.
8. As any one who has met her can attest, Palin has a charismatic presence and winning personality that could help whittle away at Obamania.
9. Much of the arsenal of the left-twing critique of the last eight hate-Bush years is starting to evaporate. Both McCain and Palin have or will have sons in Iraq; both are not easily identified as hard-core insensitive Republicans; McCain’s eroding maverick status is rejuvenated with this running-mate pick.
10. Let us hope that energy now becomes the key issue. Given Obama’s sorta sorta not references to gas, nuclear, and coal ”” and not much about drilling, McCain-Palin can really hit hard on natural gas, oil, nuclear, and coal as the perfect U.S.-dominated, at-home transition to alternative fuels that save the treasury and our national security ”” all much more appealing than Obama’s quixotic windmill and solar-panel melodramas.
For today, the timing and choice were inspired; now we await how Gov. Palin fares when the “new,” “transcendent” ”” and vicious ”” leftwing political attacks come.
Selecting Palin may prove to be a brilliant political stroke for McCain. Like him, she’s an independent who bucked her party establishment and has worked with liberal Democrats. She’s an ethics-reforming outsider who will help blunt Barack Obama’s claim to be the candidate of change in Washington.
Like McCain, Palin doesn’t mind using government to dictate individuals’ personal choices. She staunchly opposes abortion and same-sex marriage, which will help energize the religious Republican base.
But as governor, she has downplayed those hot-button social issues. Soft-pedaling her convictions in those areas may help her appeal to women disillusioned by Hillary Clinton’s absence from the Democratic ticket.
Palin’s husband is a blue-collar union worker, which may help the ticket appeal to economically anxious Americans who have lost ground after eight years of George Bush.
Palin is comfortable around guns and snowmachines and fishing boats. She has a son in the military, soon to be deployed to Iraq. Those nontraditional female credentials help communicate the toughness that Republicans want to project in their campaign. Her youth and good looks are a handy complement to McCain, who is the oldest first-time presidential candidate in U.S. history.
McCain’s choice of Palin was somewhat surprising because she most definitely is not a standard-issue Republican. She worked with liberal Democrats in the Legislature to pass a multi-billion-dollar tax increase on Alaska’s oil industry. She went back to Democrats again to win approval of her natural gas pipeline deal, which bypasses Alaska’s major oil companies in favor of a Canadian company.
McCain’s choice seemed to stun the country and took Alaska completely by surprise. Palin had been mentioned in the list of potential vice president picks, but got serious attention mostly on Internet blogs.
Hardly anyone in Alaska even knew Palin was out of the state. Unnoticed, the governor flew to Flagstaff, Ariz., Wednesday night and met with McCain Thursday, according to a McCain campaign spokesman. Later, she flew to Ohio and was checked into a hotel under a false name. Rumors that Palin would be the pick began to leak early Friday morning, and national news media began to scramble to describe and define her.
Looking on the scene as Palin joined McCain, New York Times blogger Katharine Q. Seelye wrote: “Mrs. Palin comes out, striding confidently to uplifting trumpets, with her family in tow. She looks a little like Tina Fey,” a television actress known for performances on “Saturday Night Live” and the comedy “30 Rock.”
Washington Post blogger Chris Cillizza called her “the most unknown vice presidential pick in modern political history.”
“It is the honor of my life to represent you as your governor, and over the next two months I will continue to do so. As the mother of five, I know how to multitask, and I will continue to promote the path of reform that we set out on together in the state of Alaska.
“It is a great privilege to be John McCain’s running mate and to be considered by the American people for the vice presidency. This honor is a testament to the reforms and progress we have made together in Alaska. Now is the time to take that spirit of reform to Washington.”
Around Anchorage and the state, people watched 24-hour news channels, switched the dials on their radios and hit refresh on their computers to keep abreast of the national buzz.
Nearly everyone had an opinion.
Some praised Palin’s ability as an effective leader, a popular governor who fought big oil and finally made progress on a gas pipeline project. Others said she doesn’t have the needed experience or knowledge on national issues, particularly foreign policy and the economy.
Outside Costco in East Anchorage, Dr. Thomas Green and his wife, Irene, loaded groceries into the back of a pickup. “We are very happy with Governor Palin,” said Green, who also happened to be the military doctor who examined Palin’s son, Track, now 19, for his entrance into the Army last year.
“She may help sway Hillary’s lady folk,” he said. “And, this stuff about being inexperienced, they can’t knock Sarah that way, not from the Obama campaign.”
Several spaces away from him in the parking lot, Mike Bonito was getting out of a truck on his way into the store. Bonito is brother-in-law to Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich, who on Tuesday won the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate.
“It’s going to be great for Alaska,” he said of the Palin pick. “If she does get in there, I’m sure she’s going to be pushing for a lot of issues that are really important for us Alaskans.”
Sarah Palin was a hockey mom, small-town mayor and rising young Republican star in Alaska in 2003 when she ran afoul of her party’s establishment as a whistleblower and was cast into the political wilderness.
But she came charging back as an ethics crusader to win the governor’s office in 2006 (including a landslide primary victory over incumbent Republican governor Frank Murkowski) and has remained one of the most popular local politicians in America even as she continued to take on such powerful figures as the oil companies and the leaders of her own state party.
Palin, 44, has been the Joan of Arc of Alaska politics, marching into battle against long odds on such big local issues as oil taxes and construction of a natural gas pipeline only to see her opposition crumble. Days after her 2006 primary victory, an FBI investigation into political corruption involving the oil industry and Republican legislators burst into view with surprise raids of legislative offices. Criminal indictments and convictions followed, often just in time for the headlines to help her win another contest in Juneau.
Though fearless in choosing the outsider’s path in politics, she remains relatively untested as a campaigner, a politician and as a governor who has held office less than two years. And even as she drew increasing attention nationally as a potential vice presidential nominee in recent months, she has come under withering criticism at home from business-minded Republicans who consider her a misguided populist and an intellectual lightweight.
From his campaign bus in western Pennsylvania, Senator Barack Obama called Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska late Friday afternoon, offering his congratulations on her selection to the Republican ticket. In a conversation that lasted several minutes, aides said, Mr. Obama told her that she would be a terrific candidate and he looked forward to seeing her on the campaign trail.
“He also wished her good luck, but not too much luck,” said Robert Gibbs, a senior strategist to Mr. Obama.
Apparently, her denominational affiliation is Assemblies of God, which is Pentecostal (as was John Ashcroft). This is from an recent Alaska Assemblies of God newsletter:
Superintendent Ted Boatsman, who was Palin’s junior high pastor at Wasilla Assembly of God, along with Pastor Mike Rose of Juneau Christian Center, where Palin presently attends church when in Juneau, laid hands on the Governor and led the Council in prayer.
Would that make her the first Pentecostal to be on any major party ticket?….