Tuesday, September 02, 2008

My Friends, Meet My New Friend Sarah Palin

Billboard in the Twin Cities on 494 and 77.

So about Sarah Palin. The consensus among most of my politically conscious friends is that she was a last-choice, last-minute pick designed to upset the media love-fest created by Obama's Kennedy-esque speech the night before. As Washington Monthly's Steve Benen pointed out today, "The McCain campaign did not conduct an FBI background check, did not talk to Republican officials in Alaska, and didn't even talk to Palin's next-door neighbors."

Not that she's a bad Republican. She may have evolved into a Party star eventually without being picked as a running mate. But I think Ross Douthat, author of Grand New Party: How Republicans Can Win the Working Class and Save the American Dream got it right when he said in New York Magazine that McCain "brought her out onto the national stage four or eight years too early."

Sure, one could argue that no political record (mayor of a town of 6,700 doesn't count; does two years as governor of a state just over a tenth the size of Minnesota?) is a good political record in these times. But Dan Quayle looked like a sound choice compared to her. If you're a Republican, you're calling her a breath of fresh air and proof that McCain is still a maverick. If you're a Democrat, you're calling her a desperate choice, a last resort, and proof that McCain will try anything because he thinks he's losing. If you're impartial, you're probably wondering what the hell McCain was thinking: there had to be a better choice.

Or are we all wrong? Maybe she isn't a Republican Geraldine Ferraro. Maybe, as Douthat says, she's "a potential bridge between movement conservatism and the American middle."

If Joe Biden doesn't come out all Al Gore on Palin during debates, I think she may crumble under the new-found pressure of being in the national -- no, international spotlight -- and come across as the novice she is. Regardless, if I were the McCain camp, I'd keep the untested Palin as far from inquisitive Democrats as possible.

And, if I were in the McCain campaign, I'd be seriously worried about the old man losing his temper or train of thought in a debate with Obama. This is not the Goldwater-esque Arizona Republican everyone loved from eight-twelve years ago. This is a man who, mortified by the sands falling through the hourglass, is doing everything he can to leave more of a legacy than that quaint quasi-liberal McCain-Feingold folly.

Modern Republicans, if not conservatives, are positively immune to hypocrisy (evidence the Swift Boat attack from supporters of a guy who went AWOL), so no amount of Palin's 17-year-old daughter is pregnant news will sway them. The strongest forces the Democrats can rely on this election are evangelical apathy, general conservative balkanization, and Obama-fever.

But still, Obama supporters should be jubilant if they really think Palin is that poor a choice; they're not though. Liberals worry that McCain's wacky decision is just crazy enough that it might work.

I've heard some say that Obama fans are under-counted because of the preponderance of young people who use mobile phones in lieu of landlines (pollsters can't easily track their opinions) -- I hope that's true. Because whether you're an old-school conservative or a typical liberal, McCain-Palin is the last thing this country needs after eight years of GWB.

Need some ammo to use for your McCain-supporting friends? Try John Heilemann's article "Is John McCain Bob Dole?" in the April 13 issue of New York Magazine.

[As a side note, Alaska -- if the wikipedia is to be believed -- has 3 million lakes. Minnesota's license plates boast 10,000 lakes, and even though it's actually closer to 15,000, I'm still disappointed.]



Blogger neonprimetime said...

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7:59 PM  

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