Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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August 29, 2008
By: Charles Homans

THE PALIN PICK...Howdy folks--I'm a new editor here at the Monthly, and as someone who lived in and reported on Alaska for the entirety of Sarah Palin's tenure as governor (until a couple months ago), I feel like I should jump in here. I'm less quick than Steve to dismiss McCain's pick--the Palin choice does have a gimmicky quality to it, but Obama supporters should still be concerned. I'll get to why in a minute. First, a little history:

Palin was elected governor in 2006 in what was, for Alaska, an epochal election. The previous August, a bribery scandal in the Republican-dominated state legislature (which has since ensnared Sen. Ted Stevens, who was indicted on related charges in July) had dealt a serious blow to the state's Republican establishment, which had more or less run Alaskan politics since the '60s. Palin was uniquely positioned to take advantage of that--she had been a persona non grata with many party leaders since two years earlier, when she blew the whistle on the state Republican Party chairman for a conflict of interest when both of them were on the state Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (Ben Stevens, Ted Stevens's son and the former president of the state Senate, once personally called Palin to tell her she was a "Pollyanna" for her concerns over his ethics). Running as an insurgent in the Republican primary, she walloped Frank Murkowski, the incumbent and previously a two-decade veteran of the U.S. Senate (Murkowksi has so far remained clear of the corruption probe--Alaskans mostly just didn't like the guy). Her election is credited by both reformist Republicans and Democrats in Alaska with opening the door for new political blood in a state that badly needs it. It's unlikely that either Ted Stevens or Rep. Don Young, both of whom are fighting for their lives in this year's elections after holding office for the majority of Alaska's statehood, would be doing so if Palin hadn't won.

In short, Palin can legitimately claim the maverick reformist credentials that McCain himself has long since lost. Her pro-life record helps McCain with the Republican base, her gender might lure away a few Hillary bitter-enders, and her youth goes a little way towards compensating one of McCain's major weaknesses. Palin also manages the Obama-esque feat of commanding a great deal of popularity among people who don't really know what she stands for--Dave Dittman, an Anchorage-based pollster, who has done a lot of polling and thinking about this, pointed out to me several months ago that Palin was maintaining a 85 percent approval rating among Alaskan voters even when her policies (particularly a natural gas line deal that has been a signature ambition of her administration) polled far short of that, and even when voters had trouble accurately describing her political leanings. She also pretty much guarantees a McCain victory in her home state, where Obama has been polling astoundingly well (Alaska hasn't gone for a Democrat since Lyndon Johnson).

On the other side of the balance sheet, Palin's been in the governor's office less than two years, and her only executive experience before that was her stint as mayor of a small town (coming from Alaska--where one-party dominance and a massive oil economy eventually make it hard for even the most upright Republican politician to stay clean--this probably isn't a bad thing). A short resume isn't a great target for Obama, but it also robs McCain of what's been a pretty key talking point for him so far. Back home, Palin's entangled in an investigation into a controversial firing incident, which has nicked the otherwise unassailable approval ratings she's maintained since she took office. Still, it's not much compared to the spectacular corruption Alaskans are used to by now, and it doesn't seem likely to gain much more traction that Obama's real estate troubles.

Obama's best bet is probably to play up Palin's conventionally conservative ideology, which is often masked by her considerable charisma--it doesn't seem terribly likely to me that voters who are disgruntled over what they see as the misogynistic underpinnings of Obama's victory will go en masse for a pro-life candidate. Other than that, there aren't a lot of handholds here at the outset.

That said, it's a risky move for McCain to go with someone so totally un-tested in national politics when the race is still arguably Obama's to lose--the vice presidential debates should be fun to watch. Alaska is also a pretty idiosyncratic state, politics-wise--what worked for Palin there won't necessarily transfer to the country as a whole. Palin is coming in with a more solid array of positives than most of McCain's alternatives, but they don't seem to have anywhere to go but down.

Charles Homans 12:41 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (78)

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Comments

Maybe it's just my browser (FF), but this post has a lot of formatting problems, particularly with apostrophes...

Posted by: J on August 29, 2008 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

Could someone edit the formatting on this post? In place of apostrophe marks, there's this ’ thing, at least when viewed in Firefox. Makes things more difficult to read.

Posted by: Chris on August 29, 2008 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

Interesting...but could you try not pasting directly from Word? The special characters display really weirdly in the browser.

Posted by: M on August 29, 2008 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

watching all the young well dressed men in the background shouting "U-S-A!" while she described how her son was on his way to Iraq. irony?

now, if Bob Barr will only choose a cartoon character as a running mate, the trifecta of weirdness will be won.

Posted by: andyvillager on August 29, 2008 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK


Yeah, the apostrophes look ridiculous. Not a good way to introduce yourself as editor.

Posted by: winner on August 29, 2008 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

Will she favor off shore drilling to lower gas prices or to pay annual stipends to citizens of nearby residents?

Ditto the formatting problem.

Posted by: Danp on August 29, 2008 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

An editor with McCain like command of the computer. Amazing.

I guess the Obama people ought to just give up and go home. Governor Palin has changed everything.

Posted by: Ron Byers on August 29, 2008 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

Aw, c'mon, cut Tailhook Johnny McSame a little slack, will ya? Palin was the best he could get to join his ticket.

Other better qualified candidates got scared off after Obama's acceptance speech last night. Add in the the specter of Hillary Clinton's successfully urging her supporters to join her in helping Obama and those better qualified additions to the ticket decided to sit this one out. Why expend the time, energy, money and reputation to join the forlorn hope McSame has assembled to pursue the Oval Office only to get branded as losers?

Posted by: PrahaPartizan on August 29, 2008 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

Americans are easlily fooled, and this pick might fool some of them into voting for McDodo. Those that do should plan on their children being drafted and sent to an endless war somewhere overseas.

Posted by: Brojo on August 29, 2008 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

I was planning on voting for Obama, but now I don't know...
For an older woman, she's hot! She has the sexy librarian with a bun look down. She is definitely sha-wing worthy.

Posted by: Jim on August 29, 2008 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

I won't rebut your commentary, but note the Alice-through-the-Lookingglass-mushroom-induced shrikage that you've had to embrace to see anything redeeming in this pick.

The central pillar or the Republican claim to the White House the past eight years has been keeping America safe from terrorism. Palin axes that claim so profoundly that I have yet to see anyone even recognize the obliteration.

This is as bad a self-inflicted wound as I have ever seen a candidate deliver. McCain can still get elected because we live in a country that voted for George W. Bush twice, but in terms of message and fitness for governance this choice exposes McCain as unfit for duty in the extreme.

Posted by: Phantom on August 29, 2008 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

Formatting looks fine for me in IE. Maybe it's been fixed.

Anyway, I think this was a very useful guest post to augment the usual Benen greatness.

Posted by: TG Chicago on August 29, 2008 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder if part of the thought was -- and I know this will sound incredibly male-chauvinist, but please understand it's what I'm suggesting might be in McCain's mind, no my own -- that Palin neutralizes Biden somewhat because he will be unwilling to go after her tooth-and-claw like he would have a more experienced and/or male opponent.

Posted by: Glenn on August 29, 2008 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

Charles,

Thanks for the background info. I have one question which I've not seen addressed in any of the profiles that I've read so far: what type of a speaker is she? Can she command a crowd?

Tks.

Posted by: Gary Godfrey on August 29, 2008 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

Fresh from "Gambling911":

Oddsmakers Likely to go Bonkers Over McCain Choice of Sarah Palin

Posted by: MsMuddled on August 29, 2008 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

I don't understand the "youth" benefit. It's not like you can average the two candidates together; it simply means that if the septegenerian candiate doesn't survive his term, a very young (and less experienced) VP takes on the role of President.

Posted by: Matin on August 29, 2008 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

Could someone edit the formatting on this post? In place of apostrophe marks, there's this ’ thing, at least when viewed in Firefox. Makes things more difficult to read.

I have Firefox on a G4 iMac, and it reads just fine.

In other news, Barack Obama just won the 2008 presidential election.

Posted by: Ken on August 29, 2008 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

So Alaska's 3 EVs, which we likely weren't going to get anyway and haven't gone Democratic in forty years, are one of the reasons why we should be concerned? I can live with that.

Posted by: jibeaux on August 29, 2008 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

McCain can still get elected because we live in a country that voted for George W. Bush twice


...er, once.

Posted by: ColoZ on August 29, 2008 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

Interesting choice, but the commentary seems to be mixed on this. So, let's see what the imagination brings to this:

1. Does she have any Rovian connections? It would seem odd to me that McSame would toe the Rove line on every issue to this point and then side step on the first "big" decision. Her narrative making the rounds is that she is a more reliable maverick than the trademarked one, having served up some party officials to investigations. The question I see arising from that is: in a party that values loyalty above all else as the Rovian GOP does, can the party establishment and the party $$$ get behind Palin without holding something back? I don't think so.

2. My feeling for some time now is that the VP pick will determine what the GOP does. Palin's "not ready to lead" target on her back means she will have to show clear skills in judgment, which seem to be problematic when she gets someone fired [yes, it is under investigation] because that man was divorcing her sister in the frequently ugly fashion. So, my prediction is that the GOP is NOT going to run either McSame or Palin in November, but a Manchurian candidate who will be sprung on the electorate in October complete with the full blessing of Rove and Cheney.

3. Remember, Palin has no detectable Rovian ties and has bucked the party. Cheney, W, Rove and the rest of the cabal can tolerate NO REAL INVESTIGATION of their activities for the last eight years, which means no Obama presidency, which will be forced by the blogosphere to dig even if the DLC lets it go. It also means no one on the GOP side can be selected who is off the reservation [Palin, McSame has been co-opted] because the political point scoring is too easy when Rove meets the bus.

4. It is not out of the realm of possibilities that the election is delayed ( = cancelled) for "national security" concerns, which will be stage managed by Rovian operatives. The event will probably not be instigated by Rove's crew, but given the world volatility, I'm sure someone will do something stupid to give Rove a reason. The delay will last as long as it takes to keep everyone out of jail, which may be a very long time.

Posted by: rugger0 on August 29, 2008 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

I don't see a single formatting problem either, and I'm using Firefox. So either that was a fluke, or it got fixed.

Anyway, it is interesting to see another perspective on this. I'm not particularly confident that the analysis is spot-on, however. Particularly that bit about her youth compensating for McCain's age; I think it is more likely to exacerbate that issue than compensate for it.

But, we'll see. I'm still betting that McCain et. al. will end up going the Giuliani route: the more people get to know him and his team, the less they'll like what they see.

Posted by: Shade Tail on August 29, 2008 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

John McCain is a very desperate man who just made a very desperate decision with his Palin pick.

Hopefully, voters won't be dumb enough to fall for McCain's stunt and it will blow up in his face.

Go Obama/Biden.

Posted by: JK on August 29, 2008 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

I was planning on voting for Obama, but now I don't know...
For an older woman, she's hot! She has the sexy librarian with a bun look down. She is definitely sha-wing worthy.
Posted by: Jim

Take it somewhere else, you sexist asshole.

Posted by: Ken on August 29, 2008 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

Who wants the county librarian to be the next VP?

If she was miss Alaska, they must not have flown any contestants from California or even Valla Halla.

Posted by: gregor on August 29, 2008 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

Given that McCain's strongest attacks were inexperience and celebrity, having an inexperienced beauty queen on the ticket is going to give him nothing to fight with. Or at least if he does keep that attack line, he's going to look like a fool and a hypocrite.

The best face that they can put on it, is the "maverick" line. They're going to talk about McCain's former voting record (prior to Bush) and Palin's own "go get 'em" style she's (kind of) known for.

Expect the Republicans to start trying to own the idea of change, in order to attack what they see as Obama's biggest strengths. The ads are going to shift that way, while Obama's ads are going to go on the attack.

That's probably not an entirely stupid tactic for them to take; turn the campaign message to positive while Obama goes on negative. It's risky, partially because Obama really doesn't have to run a negative campaign to point out McCain's flaws.

Regardless, the Republicans around me are saying "It's like McCain's begging us to vote for Obama!"

This isn't going to work for McCain in the long run.

Posted by: Paul F on August 29, 2008 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

Holy cow! You guys are pretty nasty on this poor guy. Cut him some slack, eh?

When Steve started posting here, he had the weirdness, too. Learning curve anyone??

Just as an FYI, whenever I write anything for my blog, I write it in Word, then plug it into Notepad before putting it into an HTML page. Notepad will erase any weird characters that Word creates.

Charles, thank you for this insightful post!

Posted by: MsJoanne on August 29, 2008 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

In short, Palin can legitimately claim the maverick reformist credentials that McCain himself has long since lost.

But this is exactly the problem; he hasn't lost them in the eyes of the low-information voters he's courting. It seems to me that Palin shores up the ticket where McCain was having the least trouble in the first place (people still think he's a "maverick," and the drill-first voters weren't exactly hesitating over their choice). She may reassure anti-choice voters, but McCain was already their candidate, albeit not enthusiastically. Pro-choice voters, on the other hand, had been pretty effectively tricked into thinking McCain was a moderate on that issue; this can only make McCain's position clearer. I also wouldn't dismiss the gift of her inexperience for Obama; he can't argue that it's a problem for her, but he can sure argue that it shows McCain only takes positions out of political expediency, and that his pick of someone who would help govern rather than help win the election shows greater judgment and maturity.

I'm not dismissing her; I see the logic of the choice. But it seems to pale in comparison with its potential for disaster.

Not that I'm complaining.

Posted by: professordarkheart on August 29, 2008 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

Can you imagine the VP debate between her and Joe Biden??? Talk about a massacre!

Posted by: MichMan on August 29, 2008 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

I really don't mean to be rude, but this analysis is really weak tea. Do you really think Obama had a serious chance of winning Alaska, regardless of how's he currently polling? And if so, couldn't you also then say, 'McCain's gotta pick an Alaskan to shore up his Alaska vote?'

And Palin's a Republican reformer in a one party state run by Republicans? She gets points for doing the obvious, i.e., not being corrupt? That's 'mavericky?' WTF?

Her pro-life record helps McCain with the Republican base? The only way I could conceivably make sense of that statement is if you meant that it would increase excitement and get them to the polls. If so, then say that. I don't think the pro-life vote was in serious jeopardy of going to Obama.

Her gender might lure away a few Hillary bitter-enders? Yes, all 2,000 (and I'm being generous) of them.

Her youth goes a little way towards compensating one of McCain's major weaknesses. Or no way. I can't see how someone looks at the Presidential candidate and then looks at the VP candidate and says, he's old, but she's young. What's the VP gonna do, tell McCain what 'the kids are listening to these days?' I can't imagine the visual where the old man comes off looking good by hanging out with a younger person.

Posted by: Tim on August 29, 2008 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

She's certainly no Dick Cheney.

Posted by: MsMuddled on August 29, 2008 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

Instead of the substance of your post, I'm going to get all cranky about the formatting.

Actually, thanks for the insight. It's helpful to know as much as we can here about an unknown.

Posted by: JeffPDX on August 29, 2008 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

Trouble!

Tucker Bounds was just saying that 'even' democrats have called to say what an amazing pick this is.

Has John McCain, in his play for the woman vote, thrust the age factor into the election? If sexism was the dominant theme of the primary season, what does her selection say?

Her selection puts pressure on Obama from the campaign standpoint - there are things he can not say, but being one heartbeat away - not even having a stated opinion of foreign affairs could be detrimental.

By the way, it was reported John McCain had a minor heart attack recently. Just saying.

Posted by: ThatGuy on August 29, 2008 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK
Palin also manages the Obama-esque feat of commanding a great deal of popularity among people who don't really know what she stands for

Huh wha? The only reason I knew about this woman was because Steve ran a post at CR about various scandals in Alaska shortly before he moved over here.

--Dave Dittman, an Anchorage-based pollster, who has done a lot of polling and thinking about this, pointed out to me several months ago that Palin was maintaining a 85 percent approval rating among Alaskan voters

Oh stop. You're saying her popularity in Alaska can be equated with Obama's national popularity. That makes as much sense as thinking Hillary is basically the same as a pro-life Fundy female.

Man, I'm trying to get used to this and I'm glad Steve is still writing somewhere but there are times when I really, really miss The CR.

Posted by: The Answer is Orange on August 29, 2008 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

This is a huge mistake by Mccain. The Mccain campaign has been relentless in framing Barack Obama as a inexperienced celebrity. How can he use either of those descriptions now when his VP pick and possible President/Commander in Chief is a 44 year old former beauty queen governor for less than two years in a state with a population of only 650,000. This will put thoughts in peoples minds that Mccain has poor judgement and whether he has what it takes to be responsible for leading the United States. I am positive that Palin is not ready.

Posted by: Tiredofgreed on August 29, 2008 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

"Obama's best bet is probably to play up Palin's conventionally conservative ideology,..."

Repeating my comment from a previous thread--

If we complain about Palin's lack of experience (which we don't really care about anyway), then the right is going to scream that we're applying a double-standard. They'll be correct.

Actually, our best bet is to play up the double-standard applied by McCain by picking a person who has one ounce of experience for every pound of experience that Obama has.

We don't care about Palin's lack of experience. We care about the double-standard applied here (we already know that the media will be complicit). It's okay if you're a Republican? Not this time.

Shout it from the roof tops. It's the double-standard, stupid.

Posted by: Chris on August 29, 2008 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

Forgot a bit of snark.

Noticing how she was whisked in on a contributor's corporate jet in great secrecy in the dark, it seems she's ready for her first overseas tour of the "stable" Iraq that McSame talks about.

Posted by: rugger0 on August 29, 2008 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK


I fear too, that this is not as bad a pick as it first seems to lots of people (like, many of our commenters, who are more hopeful and impulsive than canny.) Critics can say that Palin has "some real experience as an executive" versus the legislative-only (?) ticket of BO-Joe. It will be hard to criticize her for "lack of experience" due to that and Obama's own vulnerability. Many women will be attracted to the idea, especially if they were on the fence before. We can only hope that it looks like the pandering it is to enough voters, and that enough voters (take note Hillary supporters) McCain-Palin would suppress abortion rights strongly given what they say they believe.

Almost transparently, this has Rove-bullet's "fingerprints all over it" - the cynical pandering move, done as a political stunt. McCain clearly shows as a prick (metaphorically at least.)

Go BO-Joe!

Posted by: Neil B on August 29, 2008 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

Phantom said:
The central pillar or the Republican claim to the White House the past eight years has been keeping America safe from terrorism. Palin axes that claim so profoundly that I have yet to see anyone even recognize the obliteration.

Are you kidding? Palin can proudly declare that she has kept the people of Alaska safe from terrorist attacks for the two years she's been governor and before that as mayor of Woebegone or wherever it was, her mere presence kept terrorists from even thinking of trying anything there.

The question is, will the Republican party establishment accept an anti-corruption crusader who goes after Republicans? I would think they'd prefer even a doctor who performs abortions over that.

Posted by: SteveT on August 29, 2008 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

Joe Biden might be inhibited at 'attacking a woman' -- but Hillary can.

Posted by: Prup (aka Jim Benton) on August 29, 2008 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

Not buying the the holding out Hillarites.


Older women don't care to be subsituted with younger women, especially beauty queens.

Posted by: amy on August 29, 2008 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

Sarah Palin: Another shiny object McCain hopes will distract everyone from focusing on him.

I think that regardless of what the media does, McCain wins ... if, sorry big IF, they see Sarah Palin as red meat. But if they track back the source of meat (McCain), it will turn into a disaster for him.

Palin could be President of the United States in less than six months! She has a child that will be less than a year old if she should take office.

What advice can she give to McCain? How will she know who to believe, who to trust?

Some are saying that she appeals as a populist, but what I saw, especially with her children, was a Red Neck. Some of my friends are red necks, I love 'em, but I don't want them making decisions at the top of the US government.

Geeze, the population is less than the city of Seattle. They give money to every citizen every year. The biggest issues appear to be how to divide up the natural resources. How does this inform politician as to the needs of the US and the world?

Posted by: tomj on August 29, 2008 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe Palin will get mad when McCain hits on her and then expose his corruption. I don't know what the consequences will be but I'm glad this whole race has lightened up a little bit. McCain's a joke, but he's an old joke.

Thanks for the inside info Charles. BTW, can you get someone to fix the comments section's ability to remember personal info?

That's Just What I Said

Posted by: Dale on August 29, 2008 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

Speaking of formatting, if you use FF platypus to clean up the page, ctrl + to improve the typesize and autohotkey to fill in your personal info, this is not such a badly designed site.

That's Just What I Said

Posted by: Dale on August 29, 2008 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

Games Set and Match for Obama. Pandering is an old GOP trick. The democrats have had a women VP candidate 20 years ago and have has serious qualified contenders in all level of government including Hillary. The Republicans decide to hail mary with this one when the stakes are SO high. If McCain as so much as coughs between now and November with the new number 2 in the on deck circle you can be sure a few people dedicated to GOP with think again.

Posted by: muffler on August 29, 2008 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

I love that people still believe that Republicans care about looking contradictory. I'll bet we continue to see ads about Obama and the experience question. Why would they pull them? Who's going to question them on it?

Posted by: inthewoods on August 29, 2008 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

Paul Mirengoff of Powerline posted this earlier:

"I'm very disappointed that John McCain would put someone as inexperienced and lacking in foreign policy and national security background as Sarah Palin a heartbeat away from the presidency."

I think the concern of inexperience highlighted by the Mccain campaign will destroy this choice. It makes Mccain look like a fool.

Posted by: Tiredofgreed on August 29, 2008 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

Hillary needs to say one thing: "While I am glad to see the Republicans take a step forward from their abysmal record of helping women to succeed in politics, it is an insult to all of the women who supported me to suggest that they care less about women's issues, families' economic struggles, and the world we leave our children than they do about seeing someone who shares their anatomy in the house next door to the White House."

The election's over.

Posted by: professordarkheart on August 29, 2008 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

She's certainly no Dick Cheney.
Posted by: MsMuddled

LOL. Or maybe in her heart she is.

That's Just What I Said

Posted by: Dale on August 29, 2008 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

Palin is a very shrewd choice for McCain. Look at the conservative checkboxes she hits: Pro-life, pro-drilling, pro-religion (creationist, even), pro-family, pro-war (with a son in Iraq). She also has a Reagan-esque record of neutering government oversight of private corporations. She plays extremely well to the republican base.

Yet look at the centrist/moderate checkboxes she hits: Woman. Pro-gay rights (not gay marriage, but she personally signed a gay-rights law). A record as a reformer (note that she sank some of Ted Stevens' pork barrel projects).

In short, she has *everything* McCain could want in a vice presidential pick, *except* experience.

Don't underestimate this woman. I don't know how sharp she is, but if there's a brain in that pretty head she could be trouble for the Democratic ticket.

Still, I want to see a debate where Joe Biden makes her cry. Am I bad for wanting to see that? :)

Posted by: Remus Shepherd on August 29, 2008 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

"In short, Palin can legitimately claim the maverick reformist credentials that McCain himself has long since lost."

Not exactly true when you are in the middle of an abuse of power allegation for firing someone who wouldn't terminate your sister's ex husband after a nasty divorce battle.

Posted by: exhuming mccarthy on August 29, 2008 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

Charles, very good post. Thanks for jumping in. Please enlighten us more on the workings of Alaskan politics.

Can Obama and Biden match McCain and Palin in the area of political reform? We all acknowledge that corruption has seeped deeply into Washington politics. There is power and money to be gained by making a muddled mess of the game as it is played. McCain tells the story of his investigating corruption among some of his Congressional colleagues but just how much did he really kick ass and take names? When he was working on campaign finance reform he refused to publicly name any senators guilty of the quid pro quo. It is easy to attack earmarks without really bearing down on some of the rotten characters behind them. And some of McCain's relationships with some of the heavy hitters in Arizona who are influencing public land use decisions there with his help seem to add some questions to McCain's description of himself as a reformer.

Just how far would either McCain or Obama go to clean up Washington? And just how much are the voters concerned about corruption at this time when so many other issues are screaming for attention?

Posted by: lou on August 29, 2008 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

How dare any of you criticize McCain's choice of VP. He spent 5 years in a Vietnamese prison camp.

Posted by: JeffPDX on August 29, 2008 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

She's certainly no Dick Cheney.

I don't think Dick Cheney is planning on cleaning out his desk at the White House (or his underground bunker) once Bush leaves. Don't you know he has a lifetime self-appointment as supreme governing entity independent of all governmental branches?

Posted by: charles on August 29, 2008 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

One possible issue for the hi tech community in this country is that Palin has some leanings toward creationism being taught as science in public schools.

Remembering that both Obama and Biden have run campaigns that had as an adversary a woman of much greater capability, experience and following than the Governor of an 'exotic' state such as AK--their campaigns do not to need to run scared, just run smart.

Posted by: Bill H. on August 29, 2008 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

She is under investigation for a calling for the firing of her former brother-in-law after he divorced her sister.

That's all I need to know. She's obviously far too inexperienced and emotional to be President.

Posted by: doubtful on August 29, 2008 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

Dale

Good point about the corruption.

Maybe the GOP establishment's vested interest in keeping and staying outta jail and keeping Palin in Alaska will outweigh their desire to retain the whitehouse.

Posted by: TCG on August 29, 2008 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

Her husband works for an oil company. Her state has deep connections to oil interests.

She will never endorse any plan that reduces oil drilling, or any plan that supports alternative energy development.

We've had 8 years of Oilmen in the White House. With McCain/Palin, the line of oil influence will continue.

Posted by: JWK on August 29, 2008 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

give McCain this: he has cut the legs off of the attention Obama's speech would have gotten. So Sarah has done her job today.

its all downhill from here.

An unknown, untested 44-year old less than 2-years removed from being a small-town mayor and with no foreign affairs experience is going to scare the hell out of many who wonder whether Grampa Simpson will live for 4 more years.

For everyone else, she will - like all VP nominees great and small - fade into the background as the debate heats up between the headliners. She doesn't magically erase from history the Bush-McCain hug photo, or change McCain's 90% pro-Bush voting record. She is such the anti-Hillary and anti-feminist (anti-choice, beauty pageants) that she will offend as many of Hillary's Hold Outs as she will attract. And now you have a ticket comprised of one known bad speaker and one speaker with absolutely no experience on this kind of stage.

maybe we should ask if she favors making massive governmental transfers to every citizen, like Alaska enjoys, a national program? Free tuition like Alaska has a national program? Sounds very un-Norquist if you ask me.

Posted by: zeitgeist on August 29, 2008 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks for jumping in to provide some background. Still seems peg-the-meters desperate and irresponsible.

Posted by: beep52 on August 29, 2008 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

This is truly a Rovian pick. I can understand wanting to go after the ever-shrinking number of Hillary supporters who wouldn't vote for Obama, but the ethics investigation makes this a non-starter. What were they thinking?

Oh, of course, Karl Rove never thinks ethics problems matter.

Posted by: Molly Weasley on August 29, 2008 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

I think McCain picked her because she's the embodiment of his favourite song: Abba's "Dancing Queen".

Posted by: exlibra on August 29, 2008 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

In short, Palin can legitimately claim the maverick reformist credentials that McCain himself has long since lost.

I was just looking at a political ad she made with Ted Stevens after his indictment. She also has her own scandal problems. Doesn't sound like a maverick reformer to me.

Posted by: Jose Padilla on August 29, 2008 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

I can see the VP debate now:

Biden: I know Hillary Clinton, and you're no Hillary Clinton.

Posted by: nerd on August 29, 2008 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

In an interview just a month ago, she dissed the job, saying it didnt seem productive.

In fact, she said she didnt know what the vice president does.

Larry Kudlow of CNBCs Kudlow & Co. asked her about the possibility of becoming McCain's ticket mate.
Palin replied: As for that VP talk all the time, Ill tell you, I still cant answer that question until somebody answers for me what is it exactly that the VP does every day? Im used to being very productive and working real hard in an administration. We want to make sure that that VP slot would be a fruitful type of position, especially for Alaskans and for the things that were trying to accomplish up here for the rest of the U.S.

(http://search.politico.com/results.cfm?subject=United+States), before I can even start addressing that question.

She doesn't even know what the VP does?

Posted by: markg8 on August 29, 2008 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

This covered the ground I looked into except that she appears to have been important in the resignation of the corrupt GOP Attorney General of Alaska.

It won't surprise me if the conservatives howl over her because she's a wild card that they cannot be certain they can control.

Look for sharp criticism from the right.

At 72, the possibility of Palin becoming president isn't particularly unlikely and it strikes me as a rerun of William McKinley in 1900. Teddy Roosevelt lent integrity to a GOP in desperate need of a good healthy dose of it but he was never meant to actually REPLACE the president!!! Heavens no! What a disaster that was!

I'm rather tickled by Palin and think that McCain has won this round. (That's one in a row!) That said, Palin will not be popular with the GOP establishment and it isn't worth suffering a potential 8 years through his reign just to see what trouble she might make for her own party so I don't know whether this is a Pyrrhic victory for him.


Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on August 29, 2008 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

Mark8 (@ 3:11) asks:
"She doesn't even know what the VP does?"

Right now, nobody knows what the vice-president does, and that's exactly how Snarley McFaceShooter wants it.

Posted by: BuzzMon on August 29, 2008 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

McCain has already won one battle: the majority of articles and blogs today have not been about Obama's speech, nor have they been about McCain's birthday. They have been about Gov. Palin. And, in all honesty, having her one heartbeat from the Oval Office does not seem as irresponsible as having Sen. Obama ZERO heartbeats away. She has held executive office, and he has only legislated a little, when he deigned to actually cast a vote.

Posted by: MKS on August 29, 2008 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

With the greatest respect Charles, the problem is you're looking at a national candidate from a regional perspective.

Palin has great ratings amongst an electorate who've seen her in action, observed her policies and viewed her a primary player.

In the national election, none of this works for her. She's on the undercard, policy formulation has already been set in stone and articulated, she cannot influence, she can only advocate.

Now she might be a brilliant advocate, but her lack of profile and experience - once you take her out of the Alaskan context - will become painfuly clear.

Her greatest virtue for McCain would appear to be that she's not Mitt Romney. This is a VP pick based on cutting your nose to spite your face.

Posted by: Rapid Eddie on August 29, 2008 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

Amy and others have it right. This seems like a desperate play for Hillary supporters, but it is utterly tone-deaf and misses the mark so clearly that you have to wonder what is going through McCain's head. Hillary has substance and gravitas and a history of fighting for women's (and other) issues. This choice reeks of tokenism. A 44 yr old former beauty queen, a former sportscaster, mayor of town of 7K just 2 years ago, no experience on the national scene, no foreign policy experience or even opinions that I'm aware of. No offense but U of Idaho journalistm does not equal Yale Law. And she's strongly socially conservative, strongly pro-life. And she isn't even a baby boomer. Unless she has a hidden history of fighting for women's issues, I don't see the slightest appeal to former Hillary supporters.

Posted by: lewp on August 29, 2008 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

I'm an Alaskan. I know Palin. She is a winner. Strategically, McCain could not have made a better choice. When America gets to know her, they will wonder why she is not at the top of the ticket...someday...in the mean time, I hope she pushes for as many VP debates as possible - she steals the show in that venue. This will change the race as much as Clinton's focus on the economy vs Bush 1. She is the best representative women could have. This is not a political hail mary, but a shrewd and wise choice for VP. It fundamentally changes the nature of this race, and makes a Obama's call for 'change' look superficial and weak.

Posted by: Rich on August 29, 2008 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

Strategically, McCain could not have made a better choice.

I disagree - what's good for Alaska doesn't translate to what's good for America. Snowe, Rice, Hutchinson, Fiorina, Dole, Whitman: there are at least a half-dozen Republican women with better credentials and experience, and that's just rattling them off the top of my head.

McCain would've been far better off begging, crying, whining and ultimately bribing or threatening Dr. Rice to be VP - that might've won the election for the Republicans.

Orange!

Somebody screwed up bad.

Posted by: GuyFromOhio on August 29, 2008 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

MKS:

Obama was there for his votes, McSame has been working in his day job less than a guy with the stroke (Johnson of SD). I don't think you want to go trolling there.

Add to that the lies about the support for the troops and how many vet organizations like him, keating, bigamy with Cindy, footsie [politically, anyway] with Ms Iseman. Fun fact: McSame was one of the key players in the USS Forrestal fire, and the only one transferred for cause. Hmmmmm.

POW, POW, POW is all you have, and Wes Clark pointed out the obvious already

Posted by: rugger0 on August 29, 2008 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

She looks so much like Tina Fey. 30 Rock has just been handed comedy gold.

Posted by: Dandy on August 29, 2008 at 6:52 PM | PERMALINK

This pick says a lot about John McCain and it ain't good. It is downright laughable that the conservatives are propping Palin up as ready to be VP and even ready to be president if the old dude suddenly expires. Cmon she was mayor of Wasilla a town of 6000, govenor for 18 months of a state that has about half the people in my county in Florida. This smells more of a publicity stunt than a serious vetting of a qualified candidate for president.

Posted by: Mike on August 29, 2008 at 9:56 PM | PERMALINK

I think Mrs Palin will do well. To many in middle America she is the girl next door.

Posted by: Rod on August 29, 2008 at 9:57 PM | PERMALINK

Talking of Joe Biden vs. Palin, Joe was put on the ticket to attack John Mccain, not the VP nominee. On a tangent, anyone else wondering why Joe(Biden)in 2008 is pulling a Joe (Lieberman) in 2000 and running for VP and his Senate seat as well??

Posted by: Dumass on August 29, 2008 at 10:34 PM | PERMALINK

Are you fucking kidding me?

Palin is already on record lying about her firings in Alaska. This pick is a huge signal that McCain knows he can't win, and is just going to give the nation the middle finger the rest of the way out.

This woman is in no-sense ready for national office, had she not been in a state that is 3000 miles from civilization, that is run like a third-world banana republic she would not even have been electable there.

As a born-again Chirstian and long time Hillary supporter I can tell you right off that even as a pander this selection was offensive. There are far more qualified women in the republican party.

She should decline the nomination and step down.

The RNC has truly become the laughing stock of the world.

The smart pick on the Republican side was Tom Ridge. I can't imagine how anyone in the media can take this choice seriously, or a candidate who would do such a thing. We've all been through eight years where the emperor had no clothes, and the press commented on his wonderful fashion sense.

Let's just do us all a favor. Call off the Republican convention and just concede the election to Obama. Even as a gross spectacle I refuse to watch or pay attention to anything at all that comes from the republicans or the right wing.

If anyone from the right attempts to get in my face about anything ever again I am just going to say Bush/Palin and walk away.

Palin? Really? Palin?

Someone needs to go smack around those guys in the smokey rooms on the republican side. It's bad enough they were going to lose, but do they need to put themselves through total humiliation.

And frankly if you are a feminist or a female news pundit and you think you need to get behind Palin for solidarity reasons after the endless denigration the very very smart and competent Hillary has taken these last 9 months, you are AN ASS. Seriously, Andrea Mitchell, is looking like a total as trying to claim the press can't be hard on her. Please.

McCain isn't half the candidate Bush Sr was, and Palin isn't one one-hundreth of Dan Quayle. Yeah that's right Dan Quayle.

And please Dobson and people who claim to lead Christians? This is your pick? Are you fucking kidding me? I am cursing at you and I am a born again Christian. Clearly you don't represent anyone but yourself.

Posted by: patience on August 30, 2008 at 1:02 AM | PERMALINK

I am just so f-ing sick of this country's voters. They approve of a pol whose policies they don't know. And the unknown policies are policies the voters don't like.

Let me guess. They'd really enjoy having a beer with her. As the saying goes, we get the government we deserve.

Posted by: gex on August 30, 2008 at 9:07 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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