Sanity Injection

Injecting a dose of sanity into your day’s news and current events.

The Palin pick: Analysis

Posted by sanityinjection on September 2, 2008

I must begin by giving credit where credit is due. On August 25, 4 days before John McCain chose Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate, poster “Ted” predicted the Palin pick in a comment on my analysis of Senator Obama’s pick of Joe Biden:

“…Palin pizzazz, the primacy of oil drilling and the ticked off women/Hillary voters, does now portend a McCain/Palin checkmate on the Dems.”

 Nice call, Ted. Here’s what I had to say about Palin at that time:

“I see her in the same light as Bobby Jindal – great potential as a future candidate, but still too green for the national stage. I think selecting Palin would undercut McCain’s primary argument about trusting in the wisdom of experience – the idea of Palin assuming the Presidency should anything happen to McCain doesn’t fill one with confidence. That’s why I doubt she’ll be the pick. But she would bring at least some executive experience as well as an “outsider” image that would enhance McCain’s “maverick” image. Not to mention the obvious appeal as a female candidate to the legions of Hillary supporters. Hmmm…maybe you are on to something, but I think it would be a pick that is made for political purposes rather than with an eye toward good government, a criticism I can’t make of Obama’s pick of Biden. McCain’s whole career (at least according to him) is about choosing good government over political considerations. So in that sense, picking Palin would be a violation of McCain’s whole philosophy of public service.”

Despite my comments, I must admit that when word began to leak out that Palin was the pick, I found myself excited by the prospect: Finally a Republican on the ticket who can’t be dismissed as just another rich white guy! As I read more about her, I saw that there was a lot about Palin I hadn’t known, and I began to see some of the upside that McCain undoubtedly saw in choosing her. Unlike many of his other potential choices, she appeared to have the potential to accomplish both of McCain’s goals for a running mate. First, he needed to shore up his conservative base and get them excited and energized. Palin is a pro-life, gun-toting budget hawk who has received enthusiastic praise from both the evangelist community and the Club for Growth. Second, he wants to appeal to independent voters. Palin’s non-traditional background for a politician, her attractive but down-to-earth image, and yes, her gender could potentially do that.

As I’ve been digesting the reax over the long weekend, it seems that the chattering classes are divided: Everyone seems to either love the pick or hate the pick. That underscores the point that Palin is a bold but risky pick. If she handles herself well, she makes McCain look like the guy whose judgment you can rely on because (as with the military surge in Iraq) he sees what others don’t. However, if she falters, it might genuinely scare voters who wonder about McCain’s age and history of cancer.

One point that I haven’t heard discussed very much is that the GOP is fielding an all-Western ticket. This is pretty rare, although if you count Texas as Western you could call the Bush-Cheney tickets all-Western. Until the later decades of the 20th century, the West simply didn’t have enough votes to support such a ticket. Now, however, we look at the map and see that in 2008 states like New Mexico, Nevada, and Colorado will decide the outcome of the election. Voters in these states are different from those in the east. For example, they may support alternative energy, but in the meantime they still need to be able to afford gas for their cars because they live at least half an hour from everything and don’t have subways and buses that go everywhere. They may want to preserve the environment, but not if it means more federal land takeovers in a region where the federal government already controls most of the land. Who is going to relate better to these voters – McCain and Palin, who live among them, or Obama and Biden, who live among the eastern elites? The Denver Post’s David Harsanyi says, “…in contrast to any national candidate in recent memory, Palin is the one that exudes the economic and cultural sensibilities of a geniune Western-style libertarian.” (http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2008/09/the_libertarian_case_for_palin.html)

At the very least, McCain’s surprise pick has succeeded in capturing the spotlight. No one is talking about Obama’s speech or the Democratic Convention anymore. The media and voters are focusing more closely on the GOP convention than they might otherwise have done, with Palin’s acceptance speech likely to draw much better viewing than the typical VP nominee’s speech.

Across the pond in Britain, the Telegraph’s John O’Sullivan says “Palin seems to be one of those extraordinary, ordinary people that America throws up at irregular intervals. She combines conservative views with highly unconventional drive and ability. Her appointment has injected real excitement into the Republican campaign.

(http://www.telegraph.co.uk/core/Content/displayPrintable.jhtml;jsessionid=YEMTQCJYFTWRTQFIQMFSFF4AVCBQ0IV0?xml=/opinion/2008/09/02/do0205.xml&site=15&page=0)

David Brooks in the New York Times actually has a pretty good take on Palin’s pros and cons:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/02/opinion/02brooks.html?ref=opinion

For myself, I guess I still feel I need to see and hear more of Palin before I can decide if this is a good or bad pick. Unlike a Joe Biden, who has years of public record, a lesser-known candidate deserves, I think, a chance to show what they are made of. Certainly Barack Obama has been getting that chance. Palin will have the opportunity to give the speech of her life before a friendly audience at the convention. Then she will have to prove she can go toe-to-toe with Joe Biden in the Vice-Presidential debate. I will reserve my full judgment until I see how she handles those challenges.

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5 Responses to “The Palin pick: Analysis”

  1. 4leslie said

    McCain, Obama and Biden have had their lives put through the microscope. We know very, very little about Palin.
    You’re content to put the future of the world in the hands of this person if she gives one good speech and holds her own in one debate?

  2. sanityinjection said

    4leslie – Your point is well taken. However, I am not among those who seem convinced that McCain is going to drop dead within the next four years. I’ve seen him up close and personal and he looks better and healthier now than he did a few years ago.

    What has Obama done other than give a couple of good speeches and debate performances? His tenure in the Senate isn’t much longer than Palin’s in the Governor’s office. Both are to a degree unknown quantities, yet he’s running for the top job. Obama’s argument is that voters should value his judgment over his lack of experience. Surely Palin should be weighed on the same scale.

  3. sanityinjection said

    Clive Crook over at Atlantic.com points out that at least some of the media seem peeved that they didn’t see the Palin pick coming:

    “I think part of the outrage one sees in much of the press and TV coverage of the Palin nomination is disappointed amour propre. We had not been talking about Palin; Palin had not occurred to us; therefore, by definition, Palin was not a worthy contender. Of course, it may turn out that she is not: knowing so little about her, we are not yet in a position to say. But it would do the press a world of good if she proves us wrong.”

    Crook agrees with me that it is on Palin’s shoulders whether she turns out to be a good or bad choice, and cites his wife and daughter as examples that Palin’s appeal to women should not be casually dismissed:

    http://clivecrook.theatlantic.com/archives/2008/09/the_palin_nomination.php

  4. jack snyder said

    She is McCain lite in high heels, and maybe he was thinking of her as wife number 3. I do not think he nor his team thought this thing thru. He knew the other candidates more than Palin. If vetted it was a walk thru rush job. McCain knows that he does not have to do much for the Christian Right – they will show up and vote for him like loyal troopers. It’s the Swing/Independent voters that worry the GOP about McCain/Palin wisdom, judgment, and experience.

  5. sanityinjection said

    Michelle Malkin reports that the liberal netroots are hard at work thinking up demeaning nicknames for Palin. However, some of them are actually pretty funny. I like “VPILF”, “Iditabroad”, and “Fertilla the Huntress” 🙂

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