Friday, August 29, 2008

Ruminations on the VP Pick

There's talk all over the internet already about the McCain's pick for vice president. For those of you who don't know, the choice by McCain this morning was Sarah Palin of Alaska. Check out her page on wikipedia. It's actually interesting. She's young, 44. She has a thin resume for a VP candidate. Governor of a Alaska, population 800,000 for about a year, mayor of a town of 8000 people before that. No one knows too much about her.

Why in the world again would McCain choose Palin as VP when there were other better candidates? It's hard to make sense of it.

But to get a sense of how ridiculous our political environment is, you'll find the folks at the liberal websites trashing her, but even more inexplicably the folks at the republican blogs praising this pick like it was going to win McCain the presidency.

Substantively, the main problem with this pick is that how can someone this unknown and this new, this fresh really be ready to be President? Isn't that the most important requirement? Can they step in if something happens to the president?

Now, those folks on the republican side keep saying that she's at least as experienced as Obama. Really? I agree with Andrew Sullivan is this how little Republicans think of Barack Obama? If so, they are badly underestimating him. More likely, they have no idea what Obama has done in his life.

But even if it were true, he's basically contradicting his own criticisms against Obama. If one of the criteria for VP is that you want someone who is willing to take the role of the president if the worst happens, does McCain really think Palin is ready to lead? If so, than Obama surely is ready to lead.

It doesn't make sense politically to make this sort of gamble.

But to be honest, nothing feels right to me about McCain's campaign, and this pick really typifies it.

I've read that McCain started the campaign hoping to run as a Maverick turning his plane into another incarnation of the straight talk express. But the problem is that in today's political environment, its hard to run for president like this. The press gets too much access to you, and your liable to say something stupid. Even more damaging, nobody was paying attention unless he said something stupid because Obama was getting so much of the attention.

So, he changed. He decided to play to win, which makes sense, but not to win on his terms, but on the Republican party's terms, in a way reminiscent of Bush Jr.

McCain used the month of August to sling mud at Obama, stupidly comparing him to Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. Or taking his commments out of context to make Obama look completely oblivious to our national security threats, playing on our fears. He streamlined his message, staying consistently and annoyingly on message, never deviating. Limiting the press's access to him. McCain the maverick was becoming McCain the good soldier. And his message was annoyingly simple: Tough on foreign policy, tough on foreign policy, tough on foreign policy, and his constant references to his time as a POW.

And then this pick comes out of nowhere.

So, in one fell swoop, McCain's trying to find someone who can appeal to his conservative religious base, enhance his image as a maverick willing to take on the system, draw Hillary supporters who feel slighted by Obama, find someone outside of Washington who is young and full of energy to match Obama's appeal, maybe win him some states in the west, and be someone enough out of the box to shake his campaign up.

The problem is that if you're trying to be all things to all people you just end up being nothing to nobody.

I'm afraid this is where McCain's campaign is heading. By November, you may see much of his base dispirited and hopeless, many staying home. No way, Hillary supporters look at Palin and see a kindred spirit. If anything, this pick drives them back to Obama. And his best argument against Obama has just been harpooned by himself.

Is Obama ready to lead McCain may ask? Is McCain? If these are the ways he'll continue to make his decisions going forward, I'm not sure I would trust McCain to run this country.


One of the smartest articles I've read defending the Palin pick is here.

However, in this article it also says:
"I realize, of course, that she’s totally unqualified to be President at this point in time. If McCain were to die in February 2009, I hope Palin would have the good sense to appoint someone who is more ready to be President to be her Vice President, on the understanding that she would then resign and be appointed Vice President by her successor."

One of his points is that one justification for the Palin pick (beyond the obvious political reasons) was to use the VP as a presidential training position.

This seems awfully close to how communist regimes select olympians. Handpick children at an early age to train them for bigger things later.

Shouldn't these kind of positions be earned? Palin quite simply hasn't earned this pick.

In the words of James Fallows "In Palin's case, this seems to be a choice that looks forward to Election Day, and not one day beyond that."


sara said...

This base doesn't seem to be dispirited...

The Turley Times said...


They aren't dispirited yet. Look at the message board comments. They like her because she's ultra-conservative and because she's a woman.

That's it.

Give it some time, the base will eventually realize how bad this pick was.