Friday, August 29, 2008

On Obama's speech and Palin

First, Obama's speech was amazing. He hit every point. He talked about the broader direction for the country, tapped into the higher calling he sees for the next 4-8 years, added in some specifics so people understand what "change" means, and popped McCain numerous times with easily the best lines of the campaign. It was wonderful. The game is ON now! The gloves are off, and Obama showed that he's ready for a fight. Sweet!! He made the best case possible, and left Republicans speechless. Their response was awful, and that leaves the Democrats with the advantage coming out of the convention, which leads me to...

Second, it seems that John McCain has tapped Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. This is a bold, yet stupid choice for McCain. It's obvious that they are going with 2 things here: 1) shore up the conservative base (she's quite conservative, used to support Pat Buchanan...shudder) and 2) try to appeal to the Hillary holdouts by choosing a womyn. On the first, he's successful, but it comes at a cost of undermining support from independents. They have to hope that the GOP base will be larger than the Dem base + new first-time Obama supporters. On the second, I think this is a terrible idea. Basically, they're saying, "Pick McCain: his running mate has a vagina!" Her position on social issues that were terribly important to Hillary (that she talks about in her DNC speech) is at odds with the very womyn they're trying to sway. I think former Hillary voters will see through this pandering and will find insulting the idea that just picking a womyn, regardless of her positions on the issues, would be enough to sway them...Then again, Rachel Maddow seems to think that some of them are "post-rational." Any womyn that this would reach were already gonna vote for McCain before he made his pick. I doubt very seriously that choosing Palin will bring in new votes.

This choice comes with way too many risks. First, she's only been governor of Alaska (a state on the other side of Canada) for a year and a half. This means, of course, that she's got NO foreign policy experience, which is a huge negative for someone who would be a heartbeat away from the Presidency. Second, she's under investigation in her state for using her influence to fire an ex-brother-in-law, which will be difficult for the McCain campaign's attempts to brand her properly. Third, there is not enough time for the GOP to brand her before opponents and media will brand her. Finally, she is younger and less experienced than Obama, which undercuts McCain's argument that Obama isn't ready to lead (the only argument, by the way, that was gaining any traction). This dovetails nicely with Bill Clinton's argument that Obama's selection of Joe Biden shows good judgment.

We'll have to see how the rollout goes, but once the newness wears off, I think the McCain campaign will find out quickly that choosing her has only short term benefits and no long-term ones, particularly in terms of governance.

Update: Andrew Sullivan has been talking about this a bit, and he concludes that this isn't really a serious pick, particularly compared to Biden. He includes a couple comments he's received. My favorite is this one: "McCain's penchant for beauty queens is, um, subtle." (Get it? She was a former beauty queen! She finished second in the Miss Alaska beauty pageant, according to Wikipedia.)

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