I’m getting as tired of the all-Sarah-Palin-all-the-time coverage as anyone, but I still can’t get my mind around what we’re witnessing here. It feels like an episode of the Twilight Zone, as if John McCain is punking us all and then will reveal his true pick. I really want to pivot away from it, but it’s hard to. Especially after watching the coverage this morning on the Sunday talk shows. I try not to be prone to hyperbole, but other than the so-called coverage of the Democratic convention, this Sunday morning represented perhaps a new low in punditry. And I want to focus in on something specific.
I can’t resist. Where Sarah Palin was a government official for most of her career (really):
Am I in a bad dream? Or as Andrew Sullivan puts it well, “is this an episode of South Park?”
Sarah Palin is rapidly turning into a major blunder for McCain, and as such I don’t intend to focus much on her in the future, barring some major issue coming to the fore. But for those Hillary Clinton supporters who may be flirting with the GOP because of this pick, you may want to see what the GOP faithful really thinks of her (in case you forgot). Case in point, at a rally in Pennsylvania, Gov. Palin tries to pander to Hillary Clinton voters by complimenting her. The GOP response is less than enthused:
Not the response she was hoping for, I’m sure.
Cindy McCain is “offended” by Obama’s attacks on her husband’s wealth. Cindy, your husband has been attacking Obama as a traitor and celebrity for months.
Cry me a river.
From speaking with a couple voters inclined to give McCain the benefit of the doubt, the notion that really worries them is that McCain met Sarah Palin once before giving her the VP slot. This may be more powerful than first imagined.
So, repeat as often as possible: John McCain met her once.
McCain’s pick of the former mayor from a town of about 8000 was about as cynical a strategy as can be imagined in recent history. With Obama getting a nice bump out of his convention, McCain clearly saw the writing on the wall:
Let’s stop pretending this race is as close as national polling suggests. The truth is McCain is essentially tied or trailing in every swing state that matters — and too close for comfort in several states like Indiana and Montana the GOP usually wins pretty easily in presidential races. On top of that, voters seem very inclined to elect Democrats in general this election — and very sick of the Bush years.
McCain could easily lose in an electoral landslide. That is the private view of Democrats and Republicans alike.
McCain’s pick shows he is not pretending. Politicians, even “mavericks” like McCain, play it safe when they think they are winning — or see an easy path to winning. They roll the dice only when they know that the risks of conventionality are greater than the risks of boldness.
So he decided to throw the deep pass, hoping that picking Sarah Palin would open the door to women in general, and unhappy Hillary supporters in particular. Take a listen to her transparent pander to those voters at yesterday’s rally:
Oops, that’s Gov. Palin calling Hillary a whiner. Sorry about that. Anyway, at yesterday’s rally, she made a transparent play to Hillary voters, essentially saying, “thanks for all of the chips in the glass ceiling, but I’ll take it from here.“
Unfortunately for McCain and Palin, women are not as gullible as they seem to think they are:
…if the Obama camp engages in some smart, targeted politicking. It’s the Sarah Palin pick, and it might be the thing that pushes Florida into the Obama camp. Why? Follow my logic here, and you’ll see how simple it is.
In the 2000 Presidential election, Sarah Palin supported Pat Buchanan. Not Al Gore. Not George W. Bush, but Pat Buchanan:
Pat Buchanan brought his conservative message of a smaller government and an America First foreign policy to Fairbanks and Wasilla on Friday as he continued a campaign swing through Alaska. Buchanan’s strong message championing states rights resonated with the roughly 85 people gathered for an Interior Republican luncheon in Fairbanks. … Among those sporting Buchanan buttons were Wasilla Mayor Sarah Palin and state Sen. Jerry Ward, R-Anchorage.
Now, political junkies such as ourselves can imagine the messaging: “Sarah Palin apparently didn’t think George W. Bush was extreme enough,” etc, etc. But, really, do most people know enough about Buchanan and his platform in 2000? Not most people…except in one place:
The Washington Post takes on the decision to nominate Sarah Palin, and beyond liking her personal story, isn’t too impressed with either Palin or McCain:
But the most important question Mr. McCain should have asked himself about Ms. Palin was not whether she could help him win the presidency. It was whether she is qualified and prepared to serve as president should anything prevent him from doing so. This would have been true for any presidential nominee, and it was especially crucial that Mr. McCain — who turns 72 today — get this choice right. If he is elected, he will be the oldest man ever to serve a first term in the White House.
In this regard, count us among the puzzled and the skeptical. Not long ago, no less a Republican strategist than Karl Rove belittled Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine as a potential running mate for Barack Obama, noting that picking him would appear “intensely political” because Mr. Kaine’s experience consisted of only three years as governor preceded by the mayoralty of Richmond, which Mr. Rove called “not a big town.”
Using Mr. Rove’s criteria, Ms. Palin would not fare well. Her executive experience consists of less than two years as governor of her sparsely populated state, plus six years as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska (pop. 8,471). Absorbed in Alaska’s unique energy and natural resource issues, she has barely been heard from in the broader national debates over economic policy and health care. Above all, she has no record on foreign policy and national security — including terrorism, which Mr. McCain posits as the top challenge facing America and the world.
As the Post later notes, once the buzz wears off this choice and the scrutiny begins, this decision likely won’t be as good as they thought it would be while they were throwing back shots, trying to figure out how to counter Obama’s new found momentum.
Oh, and for must read, head over to Andrew Sullivan, who is in rare form.
Watching Cong. Debbie Wasserman Schultz on MSNBC right now, and it occurs to me that she (and other Obama surrogates) are framing the attacks on Palin in the wrong way. Yes, she’s inexperienced. Everyone knows that. But attacking her frontally on that a) feels mean, and b) allows Republicans to counter, “What about Obama?” (Not that I find that argument persuasive, but it hands them a talking point.)
I’ve been saying for months that the significance of a VP pick has less to do with who they are and what states they would carry, and more to do with what it says about the presidential candidate. And that’s exactly how Dems should be using Palin’s inexperience:
What John McCain has shown with this pick is that his talk of the importance of experience was obviously just a cynical campaign ploy. The same goes for his pick of Sarah Palin.