First - this is a very political post. Buyer Beware. And for the record, this is a copy and paste of sorts from an email exchange with Alan and CK, as well as an facebook rant from a couple days ago, so with that out of the way, let's get to it...
Not surprisingly, the blogosphere has been abuzz with talk of the political after John McCain’s shocking decision to dub the mooseburger eatin’ VPILF "reformer" as his running mate for the election turned Soap Opera that is the 2008 political season.
Whether you agree with team red or not, the bulk of the conversation has been in agreement: Genius. At least, strategically speaking. We’ve heard the run down, conservative-as-can-be, card-carrying lifetime NRA member, mother of 5 including 1 special needs child and 1 about to ship off to Iraq, husband in the union, former beauty queen and high school super-athlete, dubbed Sarah Barracuda.
This is a strategic blunder of the highest order, and one that may destroy John McCain’s chance to become our next President. No question from the moment the choice was leaked, Palin would rile up the conservative base and add the first shot of energy into a McCain campaign that’s relied solely on attack ads and the daily news spin cycle to remain anywhere close.
But more to the point of why this was the wrong choice.
The one effective line of argument against Barack Obama was the question of experience. The McCain argument against Obama is basically that he’s an empty suit that will put the entire country in danger in these perilous times, as evidenced by the ad below.
But by putting Palin next in line for the presidency, he ruined the entire argument. They may charge otherwise, or make the absurd argument that she’s more experienced than Obama, but that argument rings true mostly with ideologues and 4th graders.
And you can see the issue already in his surrogates now. They're forced to say things like - "Alaska is the closest part of our continent to Russia, so it’s not as if she doesn’t understand what’s at stake here," (Cindy McCain and fox news) which is obviously ridiculous, or "[she] took on Ted Stevens, if she can take him on then she take on the Russians" (Lindsey Graham) which exposes the fact that she was the director of good ol' Ted's 527 group, or, possibly the most absurd, she's the commander and chief of the Alaska National Guard (although she doesn't have any say, nor is she even briefed, on foreign deployment).
So, Obama puts us at risk, but Palin doesn't? It puts himself and all of his surrogates in a terrible position, and one that will have journalists throwing their own words back at them throughout the remainder of the campaign. Also, it's put the age issue front and center (which actually had the most affect on polling over both race and gender).
But that’s not the most damning piece of this. John McCain threw his “Country First” brand out the igloo window by making a pick clearly marked more by politics and nothing to do with governing or keeping the country safe from the very same scary world that McCain presented.
One time. That’s it. That and one five-minute phone call was the entire extent of the McCain – Palin relationship before the pick was made. And apparently that is enough for John McCain to believe that she has the leadership skills to run this country during two wars, a feistier Russia, and an Iranian threat that caused the recent fear mongering ad from the McCain camp. One time.
Is he merely playing politics or is he choosing a qualified candidate to lead our country in the very real possibility that something happens to this 72 year-old, 2-time cancer survivor. The bulk of her political experience is derived from her time as the mayor of the town of Wasilla, Alaska and its 6,000 residents. 6,000. During that time she ran up a 20 million dollar debt, more than $3,000 per resident, because she wanted to build an ice rink. Literally. And one that brought the raising of city sales taxes and cost the city millions extra because of the mishandling of the land buy and ensuing lawsuits. And yes, then she became Governor of Alaska’s 600,000 people. That’s less than 1/3 the size of my hometown Dallas, TX.
And while there, in March of last year she had this to say about Iraq:
“Alaska Business Monthly: We've lost a lot of Alaska's military members to the war in Iraq. How do you feel about sending more troops into battle, as President Bush is suggesting?
Palin: I've been so focused on state government, I haven't really focused much on the war in Iraq. I heard on the news about the new deployments, and while I support our president, Condoleezza Rice and the administration, I want to know that we have an exit plan in place; I want assurances that we are doing all we can to keep our troops safe. Every life lost is such a tragedy. I am very, very proud of the troops we have in Alaska, those fighting overseas for our freedoms, and the families here who are making so many sacrifices.”
Haven’t really focused on it? The centerpiece of McCain’s foreign policy, this surge, and you haven’t focused on it? And while she hasn’t taken much of an interest in Iraq, we’re supposed to trust her to face down Ahmadinejad in Iran, chase Bin laden into Pakistan, lead our military in Afghanistan, negotiate and back down Putin in Russia, and defend Israel and referee conflicts with Palestine. Yeah, thanks, but no thanks.
That’s the fundamental problem with McCain’s choice for VP, but add that to her ethics investigation, misrepresentation of her involvement in the bridge to nowhere (for it before she was against it?), her disbelief of both evolution and man-made global warming and her vetoes of wind power and clean coal projects in Alaska. Put that against her raising money for the politicians she portends to be against and firing employees of the city of Wasilla when she didn’t get her way, like the librarian who didn’t bend to Sarah’s call to ban books.
And maybe if McCain did more vetting, he may have found her husband’s registration with the Alaska Independence Party from 1995-2002, whose dinner plate issue is the secession from the United States.
Now obviously, he didn’t pick someone he knew was ready to lead because he didn’t know her at all. So why pick her? It could be charged that in his contempt for Barack Obama and obsession with winning at any cost, it was more important for him to score political points. It can be said that he did the very thing he charges Obama with doing by putting his ambition in front of the country’s need for real leadership on the cynical notion that women are so dumb and politically unaware that they were voting for Hillary merely because of a chromosome rather than her stance on the issues. And this, this is the most offensive thing of all.
No question, Palin is a likeable figure and it’s good to see a woman on any ticket. But the biggest problem with the pick isn’t about Palin. It is clearly more reflective of the McCain temperament rather than any kind of that good judgment he’s attempted to sell. And in this time in our country, with huge economic hurdles to cross and foreign policy issues to tackle, the country will likely see this choice for what it is, a transparent ploy for a few votes, a meme that has the potential to destroy every bit of the brand McCain and his Rove protégés have worked to build into his country first imagery. And frankly, Obama is just too good of a politician to be defeated by these kinds of tactics.
Well, helpfully none of you take too much offense. I tend to get a little worked up by these sorts of things. Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.
*Post updated to reflect that NY Times is now reporting that only Sarah's husband, Todd, was a member of the AIP. It's unclear to what extent Sarah is related to the party.