The Palin factor: An Independent's lament
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin greets supporters in O'Fallon, Mo., but how many such supporters will she bring to John McCain. Meg's dissection. (AP)
John McCain, a man who once could do no wrong in the eyes of this blogger, continues to disappoint me.
With his out-of-nowhere pick of Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin to be his running mate, its clear that McCain has decided to rewrite his message to America. Instead of marketing McCain as the calm voice of experience, his campaign is bringing back the image of the maverick who will bring change to Washington. The soundness of reasoning behind and consequences of such a shift in tone are fodder for another discussion, but the Palin pick itself makes me seriously question McCains judgment.
I was already concerned by the rumors that McCain had crossed Pawlenty and Ridge off the short list and was heavily considering Joe Lieberman, but I was baffled when Team McCain, faced with the possibility of an RNC floor fight that would make Braveheart look like the Puppy Bowl, dumped Lieberman in favor of a candidate whose major experience consists of not-quite two years as the governor of a state whose entire population is less than that of many major U.S. cities. McCain and his supporters are painfully aware of the implications of his age. He knew how important it was for him, more so than his rival, to pick a candidate that is actually ready to be president. Is choosing Sarah Palin to be that candidate really John McCains idea of putting country first?
Heres what weve learned about Sarah Palin since Friday:
1. Prior to offering her a spot on the ticket, McCain had only met Palin once, which means that I am more familiar with the delivery personnel at Fresh Direct than McCain is with his VP pick.
2. Palin is carrying a Pandoras Box of potential bad press: Shes said that she supports an exit-strategy to bring troops home from Iraq; she is currently under investigation for possibly abusing the power of her office; she was once a member of the Alaska Independence Party; she stated earlier this yearthis may be my favorite that she doesnt really know what the vice president does; her underage, unwed daughter is pregnant. Heck of a job, Johnny.
There are some positive aspects to the pick that Democrats should not underestimate. Energy is Palins sweet spot, so McCain now has a straight shot at sewing up that part of the debate. Also, she is ridiculously cool. Sarah Palin is a gun-totin, flute-playin beauty queen who gave a 30-minute speech at an energy conference while in labor.
Finally, Palin is an evangelical home run: A Protestant, anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage member of the NRA who wants comprehensive sex education taken out of the curriculum and creationism put in. Sure, Palin polls extremely well with evangelicals. She has, to be sure, electrified the base in the past few days, but heres what I want to know:
How many members of the base were going to cast their vote for Obama? What, exactly, does Palin actually bring to this ticket?
Lets get very clear on this: McCain did not pick Palin because she is the right person for the job. Sarah Palin is a gimmick. McCain knows that the unpopular Republican party is an albatross around his neck and he knows that both he and Obama need Independents in order to win this election. The pick of Sarah Palin is directed at Independent women like me who come from working class backgrounds. See, gals, shes just like us!
McCain is gambling that Ill be taken by Palins story and will find the possibility of putting a woman in office too tempting to pass up. Indeed, in her introductory speech, Palin name-checked Hillary Clinton (to a chorus of boos from the room a risky game if there ever was one) and told the women of America that we had one final shot at breaking through that glass ceiling.
Nice try. You, Gov. Palin, are no Hillary Clinton.