As the media formerly known as Mainstream and some people who should know better get their breath back after the stunning pick of Sarah Palin, there is now emerging two pernicious memes that John McCain
A) did something reckless and
B) revealed “desperation” by this choice.
Both allegations are demonstrably wrong.
Any fair comparison between Mrs. Palin and Mr. Obama will lead to the conclusion that they have very comparable experience in government. For instance, yes Alaska is a “small” state but Mrs. Palin was in charge of the whole package while Mr. Obama has always served as one member among many and has NEVER attained a leadership role.
There is a highly plausible ying to every yang in this argument. Both campaigns would best spend their time on other topics. For instance the McCain-Palin campaign should focus like a laser on Mr. Obama’s almost total lack of accomplishment. “Experience” aside, what meaningful work has Mr. Obama done in his 10 plus years of elective office?
Charging Mr. McCain with recklessness is elitist humbug. It betrays the true mindset of commentators such as Mort Kondracke who operate under the dubious notion that in order to be “qualified” one must come up through “the system” and be properly vetted by the experts. Experts such as Mort Kondracke of course.
I’ve never believed that Mr. Obama was unqualified because he has only X years in office. Rather he is not qualified because of his extremist positions, actions, and associations. The argument can readily be made that extended service in the U.S. Senate should DISQUALIFY rather than qualify. For two examples see Byrd, Robert and Stevens, Ted.
However it is the second charge that I find more annoying because it betrays a lack of political savvy on the part of people who fashion themselves as so in the know and above all us little people.
The usually reliable Politico has a much linked to (left wing outlets like Yahoo are all over it) piece that alleges that Mr. McCain’s choice of Mrs. Palin “reveals” six things about the Arizona Senator.
Let’s look at their six points:
- “He’s desperate. Let’s stop pretending this race is as close as national polling suggests. The truth is McCain is essentially tied or trailing in every swing state that matters.”This is tripe. The race is razor close right now with Mr. Obama currently enjoying a medium sized bounce out of his convention of less than 10 points.
- “He’s willing to gamble — bigtime.”Ok. Whatever. Big time politics involves a lot of risks. Just ask FDR, JFK, RWR and GWB.
- “He’s worried about the political implications of his age.”Um…so to distract people from his age he picked a person who’s AGE would immediately be contrasted with his?
- “He’s not worried about the actuarial implications of his age.”So let’s sort this out. He’s worried about his age but he’s not WORRIED about his age. This is just silly squared. No candidate makes a choice based on “Gee I might die”. We all think we’re immortal until “later”. A great example of this is FDR’s desire to put the half-baked Henry Wallace on the ticket in 1944.
- “He’s worried about his conservative base.”Stop the presses!
- “At the end of the day, McCain is still McCain.”Stop the presses again!
It appears that they really just wanted to write a column about how “desperate” Mr. McCain is but tried to obscure their true aim by padding it out to SIX POINTS(!) with observations such as “McCain is still McCain”.
The facts are very simple. This election is tight. Very tight. It could go either way. The selections of BOTH Mr. Biden and Mrs. Palin reflect that reality. Ponder this: If Barack Obama felt confident of his chances would he have chosen Joe “Foot in Mouth” Biden? Does choosing Mr. Biden prove Mr. Obama is “desperate”?
The choice of Mrs. Palin was based on several important considerations, none of them named Desperation.
First, she is a dynamite individual who holds core conservative principals while also possessing the courage and moral clarity to identify and oppose wrong where she finds it irrespective of who it offends. Mrs. Palin is the rare conservative who can appeal to the base without turning off the non-base. She is Ronald Wilson Reagan reborn and reupholstered.
Second, the media meme notwithstanding, she has a record which indicates she is easily qualified to hold the highest office. She is intelligent, serious about public service, honest and hard working. She has shown she can deal with complex issues and make decisions that show leadership and independent thinking. What other qualifications does a president need?
To reiterate, what disqualifies Mr. Obama are his cockamamie ideas, total lack of any accomplishment as an elected official, and his highly questionable judgment in his choice of friends.
Third, Mrs. Palin is adored by the “base”. The problem Mr. McCain had with his base was not whether they would ultimately support him, but whether they would pull out all the stops and enthusiastically go the extra mile for him. With this choice John McCain has endeared himself to the base in a way that previously seemed impossible. In non-landslide elections a fired up base can be the difference between winning and losing.
Fourth, Mrs. Palin gives life to a campaign lacking in excitement and freshness. Her selection gives Mr. McCain his best chance to peel off moderate women who resent the treatment of Hillary Clinton. At the same time it pushes back against the feeling that the Democratic ticket has the corner on newness and innovation while the Republicans are a bunch of grumpy old white men.
Finally, Mrs. Palin is assuredly NOT what the Obama brain trust was expecting. Their reaction ranged from befuddlement to anger to condescension. While this may seem a minor issue, ANY advantage gained, even one of limited duration, is not to be taken lightly.
As a last word let me state the obvious that there is SOME downside to the choice just as there would have been to ANY choice. The biggest potential problem I believe is if she blunders in her acceptance speech. It could confirm for doubters that she is not up to the role. I have been polling a number of women I know who I consider swing voters. The reaction is mixed with some thinking it is great and some calling it “cheesy” etc.
Time will tell. That’s why we have elections.