McCain Picks Sarah Palin as VP… Analysis

Palin has landed? If so, it looks like I was right about McCain’s strategy in VP picks. It only remains to be seen whether or not Obama’s failure to anticipate, or at least pro-actively counter, this move will cost him in the way I expect.

When it comes to message, Palin ironically seems to undercut virtually every major line of criticism the McCain camp has so-far employed against Obama. Palin was a former beauty-pageant contestant: surely the crown jewel of the “vapid celebrity” image. Palin has little political experience (undercutting McCain’s claims of similar worries about Obama) and an abuse-of-power scandal under her belt (playing into the “3rd term for Bush” narrative). But the sort of people who buy into these sorts of character narratives are notoriously immune to hypocrisy, and even if they weren’t, what really McCain needs more than anything else is something that will shake up the race big time and keep the “bitter Hillary supporters” narrative in play. Palin fits the bill.

While Palin isn’t actually the first woman to be a Vice-Presidential nominee, that actually matters far less than the possibility that she could be the first woman to become Vice-President, and with her on the ticket, some measure of Obama’s uniquely historic appeal of a “first” is definitively blunted.

Like I said previously: this is a savvy move, and one that Obama’s camp had every opportunity to strangle in the crib. Either they don’t think it will play out in McCain’s favor, or they think that Biden will have some advantage that I’ve yet to see myself. Palin is also as right-wing as they come on social issues, completing McCain’s own retreat from his former life as a maverick and near-independent.

17 Responses to McCain Picks Sarah Palin as VP… Analysis

  1. ubuntucat says:

    Obama just lost the election.

  2. Bad says:

    Nah… I wouldn’t go that far. I think it will seriously pump up McCain’s bid though, and make things much tougher on Obama.

  3. CP says:

    Obama just won the election. Any woman whose IQ is greater than her age isn’t going to fall for this and “come over.” I see Palin as only possibly cementing the convinced – and she’s certainly not ready for prime time if McCain were to die in ofice. Even Pat Buchanan implued that. Plus, her political history is dirtier than a coal mine. The sound you hear? That’s Obama and Biden saying “thank you.”

  4. Brutus says:

    It’s a little early to judge how effective McCain’s choice of Palin is, and there is still lots of time between now and the election to scrutinize her more closely. It’s certainly an interesting choice, but I suspect Palin will bring as much baggage and criticism to the ticket as any value in placating those hellbent on a female VP whether Democratic or Republican.

  5. With all the many qualified people in the Republican Party, is this really the best McCain could do here? The answer is a resounding no. Yes, she’s a smart woman who has been successful at everything she’s done so far. But this does NOT qualify her for the second highest office in the land.

    Ask yourself: if she had been running in the Republican primary, would you have even considered voting for her? Even for a second? The answer is surely no. So that said, how can you be comfortable with her a heartbeat away from the presidency? Some day, perhaps, she might make a fine president. Maybe. But not today.

    The argument against her lack of experience seems to be “how much experience does Obama have?” But this is entirely irrelevant. I have no intention of voting for Obama. Obama’s lack of experience is why I would never vote for him, and Palin’s lack of experience is why I now feel a little less comfortable voting for McCain.

    McCain’s experience vs. Obama’s utter lack of it is what McCain had going for him. With another, equally experienced running mate, he might have buried Obama with this issue. But not now.

    I’ll still vote for McCain, but I’ll be praying nightly he lives another eight years.


  6. stella says:

    McCAin choosing Palin felt like a kick in the gut to me–after the Democrats have done ALL the heavy lifting to prepare the electorate for a female head of the nation, the Repubs just swoop in and place a woman in the spotlight of their convention. It’s a cynical move, typical of that party.

  7. Terry says:

    This is kind of an interesting contrast to Canada.

    I have no idea who would succeed our Prime Minister if he was to die in office. Traditionally, it would fall to the Deputy Prime Minister, who is an appointment by the PM out of his party’s elected caucus. However, Deputy Prime Minister isn’t a constitutionally mandated position. In fact, all cabinet posts and positions are unofficial and created and organized at the whim of the current administration.

    The current Prime Minister did away with the job of Deputy Prime Minister, so either they have a plan for succession, or the acting Prime Minister would be selected by simple majority caucus vote.

    Either way, I’m not particularly worried about it, which is a contrast to the US politics, where the Vice President is considered the heir apparent, and the line of succession is spelled out.

  8. Pat says:

    Hi MoR,
    I think the characterization of Obama’s experience as “utter lack of it” is fairly silly. While he certainly does not have as much experience as McCain does, he was a state senator from 1997-2004 and a US senator from 2005-2008. This is more experience than Lincoln had when he became president (Illionois state representative from 1835-1843, US representative from 1847-1849, which is to say, 8 years at the state leval compared with Obama’s 8 and 2 at the national level compared with Obama’s 4). Though perhaps you can qualify what you mean by “utter lack of experience” and then we might agree.

  9. “Utter” may have been a little extreme. “Significant lack of experience” might have been better. But in any event the point of my comment was my dissatisfaction with Palin, and how the “what about Obama’s lack of experience” argument from her supporters is ridiculous. I read a comment on another blog to the effect that she was qualified to be Commander in Chief, because she was Commander in Chief of the Alaska National Guard. Please.

    I’m still voting for McCain, but I’ll be hoping he’s having regular physicals every two weeks or so.


  10. Pat says:

    Well, “significant lack of experience” is not very different and still ignores that Obama’s experience is comparable to that of many successful former US presidents. I mentioned Lincoln above since he was one of the greatest US presidents and had about the same amount of experience that Obama has, but Lincoln is certainly not the only one. For comparison,

    FDR office before 1933:
    1911-1913: NY state senator
    1913-1920: Assistant Secretary of the Navy
    1929-1932: NY governor

    (i.e. 14 years vs Obama’s 12)

    Theodore Roosevelt office before 1901:
    1881- 1884: NY state Assemblyman
    1897-1898: Assistant Secretary of the Navy
    1899-1900: Ny Governor
    1901-1901: Vice-president for 6 months before President McKinley died

    (8 years)

    Reagan office before 1980:
    California governor, 1967-1974

    (8 years)

    Clinton office before 1992:
    1976-1978 : Arkansas attorney general
    1978-1980, 1982-1992: Arkansas Gov

    (14 years)

    Of course, not all elected positions are equal, so ‘number of years’ is a crude comparison. But, for all the importance that “experience” has taken on in this election, I have seen mostly hyperbolic characterizations of Obama’s experience and little objective comparison with previous presidents other than perhaps JFK, and what kind of experience appears to have been necessary in the past.

  11. Pat, you’re really missing the point of my comment, which was that those who try to defend Palin’s lack of experience by a pointing out Obama’s lack of experience are making a poor argument. This was about Palin, not Obama.

    For the record, Obama IS too inexperienced for the job, especially compared to McCain. But on the other hand, one would have thought that someone with McCain’s experience would have known better than to pick a running mate like Palin. His choice already seems to be blowing up in his face.


  12. Pat says:

    MoR, you are using really weaselly language – you don’t get to rail on Obama’s lack of experience, which you did several times in your post, and then say it’s inappropriate to argue against that characterization because you also talked about Sarah Palin’s experience compared to Obama, and that was your “point”. If you make a bad argument, it’s appropriate for me to point out that it’s bad, period. And even in your latest post, you are still stating that Obama doesn’t have enough experience, though I have yet to see you give any kind of discussion beyond making this claim repeatedly. But even the complaint that you are talking about Palin and not Obama is disingenuous – the main reason Palin’s experience has generated so much discussion recently is that one of McCain’s main campaign points was that Obama is not experienced enough. This was even a major point of your post. So I think the issue of Obama’s experience is clearly directly related to Palin’s experience, and my comments would be appropriate in a blog posting titled “McCain Picks Sarah Palin as VP… analysis” even without your post. I think Obama has enough experience that it is not a gamble to put him in the White House, and I backed this up with comparisons to other presidents. If you think those comparisons are superficial and miss important aspects of Obama’s history, I am interested in hearing what you have to say, since I will probably learn something in that case. But discussions of whether or not I am justified in arguing with you are evasive and boring.

  13. Bad says:

    As far as I’m concerned, lack of experience in the sense that McCain has some is probably a positive thing. I don’t think we’ve ever had a President who failed because they lacked enough time as this or that political position. It’s judgment and demonstrated skills to organize and motivate people that matter, and I don’t think there’s any clear distinction by which McCain, Obama, Palin, or Biden have much over each other on.

    For me, the issue in these cases is all about the issues that McCain raised rather than any objective judgment of too much/too little experience. Their whole message was that both Presidents and VPs equally have to be ready to serve from day one, and that Obama wasn’t up to snuff due to an insufficient time in elected office. In fact, many RNC surrogates said the same about Tim Kaine when he looked to be a likely Obama pick: and he has a far longer resume than Palin (including being the only one with VP-like experience, in his previous role as Vice-Governor of Virginia! :) ).

    Picking Palin was basically an admission from the McCain camp that they had been full of it: that it was just posturing, not principle.

  14. Thus spake Pat:

    MoR, you are using really weaselly language – you don’t get to rail on Obama’s lack of experience, which you did several times in your post, and then say it’s inappropriate to argue against that characterization because you also talked about Sarah Palin’s experience compared to Obama, and that was your “point”.

    If anyone is being disingenuous, it is you. You seem to be deliberately misconstruing my original post, for reasons which frankly elude me. The inappropriateness of defending Palin’s lack of experience by simply stating that Obama, too, is inexperienced was EXACTLY the point of my original post. Why you have such a hard time understanding this also quite frankly eludes me, especially since we actually seem to agree on Palin. You seem to be picking an argument just for its own sake.

    My comment about Obama was tangential to this overall point. I find it rather ironic that here I am, a McCain supporter, taking a swipe at my own candidate’s choice of VP, and you’re giving me a hard time about it.

    Your comparisons of Obama to presidents of the past are meaningless, since Obama is not running against Lincoln, Roosevelt, et. al. Last time I checked, he was running against John McCain, a man who has infinitely more experience in federal government than Obama.

    Of course, that may not be enough of a reason for you to vote for McCain, to which I say: fair enough. But as far as the experience issue goes, it’s just a matter of simple math.

    But in any event, please re-read my original comment, and try to grasp the point I was actually making. I don’t appreciate having my words misconstrued, and I certainly don’t appreciate being called disingenuous.


  15. Oh, and another thing: the clearest proof that you’re missing my point–badly–is that even if I were to completely and unconditionally concede your points about Obama’s experience, that would in no way change the point that I was making in my original post about Palin’s lack of experience.

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