Saturday, August 30, 2008


That's right, folks. I was dead. I had stumbled, squeaked, started up, quit, started again, then...pfffffttt...nothing. But, I'm back. At least for now.

I'm back because I'm upset. Senator McCain's choice for his running mate is not first a political issue for me, it angers me as an American. Let's break it down, shall we?

Sarah Palin will enter the race with a high school basketball championship, a victory in the Wasilla, Alaska Beauty Contest, a University of Idaho journalism degree, a one-year-old passport, two terms as the mayor of a village, and 20 months on the job as the governor of the fourth smallest and arguably least typical state in the country. I know what you just did. I did it too. You just thought, "I could have done that." Okay, maybe most of us couldn't have, but it's not a huge leap. Yeah, yeah, the beauty contest thing would be an absolute impossibility for some of us.

What's the big deal? Don't we want someone in the White House that's a lot like us? No! Not me. I want someone very, very different from me! Someone much better than me should occupy the most important chair in the world. Palin is probably a pretty impressive person, but she doesn't get in the same arena with the people running for this office. Dan Quayle was an impressive nominee next to this.

So why am I mad? Because John McCain gave such little thought to the well-being of his country when he made this decision. A colleague who may prefer to remain anonymous gave me a boost on this analysis. Currently, there is about a 50/50 chance that 72-year-old McCain will be elected the oldest president in our history at the beginning of his term. I'm no medical doctor, but add his multiple bouts with cancer into the mix and he couldn't have more than a 50 percent chance of surviving his first administration. Charlie Black, one of McCain's top advisers, said that "most doctors think that he will be around at least that long." Most? There are some doctors who think otherwise? Perhaps we should get a second opinion. Let me finish crunching the numbers. This means that there is a 25-30 percent chance Sarah Palin will be President of the United States. Soon. Black goes on to say Palin is "going to learn national security at the foot of the master for the next four years." So, she's going to be taking the train home to Wilmington, Delaware to Joe Biden's house each night? No, seriously. Seriously? What if she doesn't have four years to study? They don't have a GED for president, do they?

Are you kidding me? This is scary. We could have a president in a matter of months who has no demonstrable knowledge of world affairs, no national security experience whatsoever, no experience with broad domestic policies or economic issues, but who has shot a moose.

Let's ignore for the moment that Palin is a strident culture warrior on life issues, a supporter of mandated creationism in public schools, and does not believe human activity is the cause for global warming, this is just a terrible management decision. One that was so bad, everyone (Republicans included) was in stunned silence at first. Of course the GOP has fallen in line, what else are they going to do?

Is John McCain's judgment that bad, or does he just have no regard for us (his country) at all?

Pundits say that at the very least it nullifies the experience argument, since Obama is inexperienced too. Again, are you kidding me? Pay attention to this one, because this is the analysis you'll only get here.

Even if you believe that Senator Obama's Ivy League degrees, Harvard Law Review, years as a community organizer, multiple terms as an Illinois state senator from Chicago, and four years as a U.S. Senator still leave his resume thin, consider that he has served for nearly two years as the CEO of the largest and arguably most disciplined and successful grassroots campaign in our history winning support of tens of millions of voters along the way. He went on to pass the experience test when world leader after world leader parroted his ideas, and nearly a quarter of a million people came out to hear him speak in Germany. He passed the experience test when dozens of decorated generals publicly endorsed him and supported his views on national security, and when economic experts across the country in academia and political administrations certified his economic plans as sound. He passed all those tests, then in his first real presidential decision he selected a running mate whose experience far surpasses John McCain's.

Sarah Palin does not meet the experience test and she was not vetted by election, she was appointed. I'm sure she is a great person. People testify to her plain-spokenness and her maverick style. She's a member of the NRA for gosh sakes. I'm sure she's a hoot. A spitfire. A veritable ring-tailed tooter. She's a pistol, for sure. Unfortunately, we're not auditioning for Annie Get Your Gun. This is the real deal. And it's important, damn it.

Someone may be tempted to make gender bias my issue. Sorry. I have two beautiful daughters, and I desperately hope for a woman president. No sexism here, latent or otherwise.

This is about judgment. John McCain has failed this test so miserably, he deserves disqualification on this ground alone.

I guess there is one positive thing to come from the Palin selection. Once again, in this country, we can believe that anyone can be president. And I mean, anyone.


middleclasstool said...

I honestly can't decide if it's a brilliant strategy or a colossally stupid one. I keep going back and forth. It's transparent pandering, of course, but what cheeses me off is not so much that it's pandering, because there are tons of more qualified and skilled Republican women he could have pandered with. Problem is that none of them are as hard-line conservative, which he needs, or as young and attractive, which he also needs. I'm guessing he didn't vet her because she was his only choice.

And as a short-term strategy, it worked. Obama gave the most historic speech related to the cause of civil rights in 45 years, and it got second mention on the next day's evening news. He should have ridden that wave for a week, but McCain undercut its momentum in less than 24 hours. That's smart campaigning.

Long-term, I don't know how this could work, though. PUMA has been shown to be a Republican dirty-tricks operation, so the press isn't reporting about it very much, and honestly pissed off Democratic women that I've encountered in life and online have taken one look at Palin and said, and I quote, "Ick." And interestingly, the reason I hear probably more than her policies is how insultingly transparent a maneuver she is, as you point out.

Not to mention that he's undercut his major "experience" talking point and has given Obama major fire for his "judgment over experience" talking point.

It's a tremendous gamble, especially since she's currently embroiled in a minor ethics scandal while trying to make the case that she's a reformer, but it's a gamble that seems to have excited some Republicans, I think because they get to have their young person too and she's a hardliner, and if/when McCain dies they're back in business.

We'll see how it shakes out. VP candidates historically mean next to nothing to voters, but she could change that.

Jeff said...

See, this is why you remain my hero. Well said. If this decision was McCain's, and I believe it was his alone, his party operatives must be one pissed off bunch. Which brings to mind Karl Rove. I believe that he sold his soul to the Devil, but it was an easy sell. This is how I imagine the conversation went.

Satan: Listen, Karl, I won't lie to you. Hell is not a nice place, but then, what place is? Look, here's the deal, you sell me your soul, I give you a nice pitchfork; real sharp; all you have to do is stick poor wretches with it, and be as mean as you want to be for all eternity.

Rove: What's the catch?

The Coreman said...

I can't say I disagree with you, reach. But I did want to point out the colossal irony of both candidates VP picks. You've already address McCain and the "lack of experience" argument. What about the flip side?

Obama said this in his convention speech on Thursday:

Washington's been talking about our oil addiction for the last thirty years, and John McCain has been there for twenty-six of them. In that time, he's said no to higher fuel-efficiency standards for cars, no to investments in renewable energy, no to renewable fuels. And today, we import triple the amount of oil as the day that Senator McCain took office.

I don't know what Biden has been doing to improve the energy and oil situation in our country. I know he has never voted to lower taxes on oil or oil exploration, and he's consistently voted against drilling in ANWR. The fact is, he's been in the Senate almost 10 years longer than McCain, and has been even less help to our energy crisis.

Biden is a Washington insider who has been a big wheel in a do-nothing Congress, which has a far lower approval rate than even our highly unpopular president.

Yet Obama has tapped him as the best possible person to take over the White House should something terrible happen.

Seems like both candidates have summarily disqualified themselves to make their favorite attacks on each other.

nathan said...

Apart from your post, Brett, this MetaFilter post may be the best take I've seen, so I won't attempt to improve on it:

"I am seriously dumbfounded that they would have been this stupid.

Don’t get me wrong, on a PR level this is masterful for McCain. He’s killed all the momentum and press coverage about Obama’s amazing speech last night. So I really am amazed they think that one shot at gaining the press advantage was worth the most unbelievably inept VP pick I could have possibly imagined.

Forget even among fields of conservatives in general: is anyone from the McCain camp going to make a convincing case that Palin is remotely close to the most qualified woman in the GOP to be a heartbeat away from taking over a guy who turns 72 today and has a history of cancer? She has been governor- for 18 months- of a state with a population smaller than Obama’s state senate district in Illinois. Her previous office was the mayor of an Alaskan town with a population smaller than 3,000 people. At the very minimum, Obama has sat in on foreign policy sessions and dealt with national and international issues on the floor of the U.S. Senate. Palin has no foreign policy experience. This is literally one step above giving the slot to the winner of a game show.

So in what I can only perceive as a complete fit of insanity, McCain has decided to destroy with one pick the three talking points he had as an advantage over Obama:

Experience: She has none. Palin is utterly unqualified to be president of the U.S. Senate, let alone the country should anything befall McCain.

Celebrity: She’s a former beauty pageant winner who’s done multiple cover shoots for fashion and culture magazines and her claim to fame is being the subject of an article titled “America’s Hottest Governor.” There will be more talk about how she’s attractive than her actual policy credentials. Her gender, in light of her utter political weakness, will be seen blatantly- and rightly- as the novelty McCain picked it for. There is no clearer a celebrity pick for McCain than this one.

Moderate Female Voters: Putting aside for a moment that she's outrageously anti-choice, if McCain truly believes that what really appeals to middle-age working-class white women is a younger, prettier, but amazingly less-qualified woman getting the promotion that Hillary Clinton didn’t, then I can’t really reflect any greater how utterly deaf to the interests of women the Republican Party is.

Jesus tap-dancing Christ. If McCain wanted a former beauty queen with no experience and a criminal investigation on her record I don’t know why he didn’t just pick his own wife."

Stephanie said...

Well said, Reacher. (And good to have you back, even temporarily!)

A couple other posts on the topic that you might be interested to read...

middleclasstool said...

You might be interested in this take on her terms as mayor and governor. If half of this stuff is true, she's a pretty horrible politician.

My favorite part was when she asked a librarian how to ban books.

Torka said...

Awesome, awesome take. As a middle-class white woman I am insulted beyond belief by the nomination of Sarah Palin as potential VP. I love the bit about how this isn't an audition for Annie Get Your Gun.

You rock.

But, ya know, I can kinda see the logic from a Republican point of view. First off, they scare us to death with their lies about what that awful dark-skinned guy (with a middle name of "Hussain", O the horror!) is going to do. Then they weasel a naive, probably corrupt and utterly unqualified woman into the White House through the back door.

Oh, sure, we'll have to put up with a few more years of abysmal government, maybe a few additional scandals and more gaffes galore... but, hey, no matter how bad she is, it's a fair bet she can't be much worse than the current administration.

And they figure when it's all finally over, we'll be leaping at the chance to go back to the good old days when rich white guys ran everything. Makes the risk seem worthwhile, at least if you happen to be one of those rich white guys.

See? It all makes perfect sense when you look at it from the right angle.