Friday, August 29, 2008

Curiouser and Curiouser. . .

So John McCain picks Alaska Governor Sarah Palin for his #2. To be "a heartbeat away". Talk about bold. Talk about a gamble.

Sarah Palin’s experience as an elected official is, well, thin. She served two terms on the Wasilla (pop. 8,000) City Council and then served as the town's mayor, a part-time job. She’s been governor of the state for less than two years. She has zero experience in national and international affairs. She is three years younger than Barack Obama.

Okay, the experience argument is out the window, on both sides. Which is fine by me. I don’t think “experience” is worth a hill of beans. Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld were the two most experienced people in the previous administration, by a country mile. And Abraham Lincoln was the least experienced president in our history.

So I don’t hold Palin’s lack of experience against her, but I’m curious why McCain would forfeit that argument against Obama. I guess the McCain camp has determined that their primary argument (“he’s not ready”) is not doing the trick, since he has just named as his VP someone with far less experience than the Democratic nominee.

I listened to Palin’s speech today. She invoked Hillary Clinton and Geraldine Ferraro, and talked about Clinton’s “18 million cracks” in the glass ceiling, and said that the women of this nation are not finished yet, “and we can shatter that glass ceiling once and for all.” A clear plea to disaffected Clinton supporters.

But do you really think that women (and men) who supported Clinton will jump aboard the McCain/Palin ticket, just because Palin is a woman?

If that is true, it is very, very sad.

Palin and Clinton agree about very little. For example, Palin has called herself, “100% pro-life”, and would appoint Supreme Court Justices who would further erode a woman’s right to choose. Way to “shatter that glass ceiling,” girlfriend.

An aside: In high school, Palin was the head of her school’s “Fellowship of Christian Athletes”. Which makes me wonder, who was the head of the school’s “Fellowship of Heathen Athletes”?

Anyway. According to recent polling (yeah, I know, but…) 27% of former Clinton delegates plan to vote for the McCain this November. And that poll was taken before Palin was named to the ticket. McCain is betting that adding a woman to the ticket (regardless of her policy positions) will solidify that support and will draw even more Clinton supporters.

That simply baffles me.

Listen, I’m not saying that there aren’t plenty of good reasons to support McCain. If you’re a conservative (man or woman), he’s a very attractive candidate. But if you’re a conservative, you wouldn’t be supporting Clinton. And if you were supporting Clinton, why were you supporting Clinton? Hopefully, the fact that she has a uterus was not the primary reason for your support.

The thing is, our next president will probably appoint two, maybe three Supreme Court Justices. The next president will be gone in four or eight years, but that president will leave a legacy on the nation’s highest court for a generation.

This gamble on Palin may be a stroke of genius on McCain’s part. But only if a significant number of voters will put their votes on a ticket simply because there’s a woman on it, regardless of her policy positions and how they affect the rights of women.

24 comments:

Libby Hellmann said...

For about a minute this morning, I thought it was an inspired choice. Then I started thinking. Do the McCain people really think women who supported Clinton (like me) are going to be duped into voting for a conservative, gun-toting, pro-lifer who's been governor only 18 months? Ahem, boys... what Kool-Aid have you been drinking?

On the other hand, I do admire anyone who can raise 5 children and be governor of the state at the same time. Assuming she doesn't screw up, she definitely has a political future.

Wouldn't it be interesting to see her run against Hillary?

Rob in Denver said...

Sean wrote:
"... And that poll was taken before Palin was named to the ticket. ..."

And it was also taken just before the start of the DNC. Quite a lot has happened between that poll and Palin's announcement.

Sean also wrote:
"... But do you really think that women (and men) who supported Clinton will jump aboard the McCain/Palin ticket, just because Palin is a woman? ..."

I think the majority of Clinton supporters who've been leaning McCain were probably already in the tank for McCain and simply looking for an excuse... which makes the pick irrelevant.

Sean Chercover said...

I agree with you, Rob.

Libby - It would be interesting. Although to make it a fair contest, I'd rather see a conservative woman with a little more ... uh, how do I say this ... let's say a conservative woman who I think would give Clinton a greater intellectual challenge.

Because, unless Palin has been "hiding her [intellectual] light under a bushel" I don't think she'd give Clinton a lot of trouble.

Of course, I'm just judging based on the video clips and interviews I could find online. Which is hardly fair.

And neither am I.

Sara Paretsky said...

oh, please, my jaw a nd neck are aching from stress. Please tell me the sisters are not so stupid and short-sighted to elect a nother woman-hating right-wing nutball to a position of total power over how they make reproductive choices. Justice Kennedy has already said the 14th amendment doesn't apply to pregnant women, only to their fetuses. The Bush administration has just issued an edict equating contraception to abortifacients. We can't elect someone who w ill keep that executive order in place a nother 4 years. But--40 percent of young womn t hink mccain is pro-choice and --now my arms, neck and back are aching.

Lesa said...

I'm with Sara on this one. I think it's an insult to our intelligence to think putting just any woman on the ticket will make women vote for McCain.

My best friend's father said it best, years ago, when he said to her, I don't understand why any woman would ever vote Republican.

Kevin Guilfoile said...

This seems like a huge miscalculation on McCain's part, which has me worried. Palin might turn out to be hugely likable and maybe that will translate to votes. Presidential elections are impressionistic and if Sarah Palin makes people feel good on some intuitive level then it might work. She also might energize the conservative base, which could help McCain. But to expect she would energize his base AND convince moderate Democrats to vote Republican seems like insanity.

Polls weren't invented yesterday. McCain seems to think he's tapping into some disaffected zeitgiest, but if putting a woman on the ticket just for the sake of it made a candidate more electable, than it would have been done more than once in the last 30 years, and not by the guy who lost in one of the worst landslides in history. To the extent that some Hillary supporters are still pissed (and I suspect some of that polling reflects a cathartic airing of grievances, and not the way most of them will actually vote) they are pissed because they thought the most qualified person for the job was a woman and she lost once again. (I disagree, but it's a position I have empathy with.) I can't imagine that putting a woman (however likable, perhaps) on the ticket in a cynical ploy for their support will move them in any numbers. There are plenty of more qualified Republican women (a fact even Palin admitted just last week) that McCain could have chosen if he were serious.

November is a long way away. And I suspect that when both tickets are weighed in two months, the Democratic one will seem heftier. Especially after Obama counters by declaring that he's going to make Clinton Attorney General or Secretary of State.

Then again, I am very, very bad at predicting these sorts of things.

Barbara D'Amato said...

Cold, cynical, scary.

Maryann Mercer said...

I think what bothers me the most is that it seems to have been a decision based on misguided counsel,something we've seen too much of in the past eight years. I haven't talked to my GOP sister, but I doubt she'll change her mind and vote for McCain simply because there's a woman on the ticket. My gut reaction is that this might alienate a few more moderate Republicans who would have stuck with McCain if perhaps Mitt Romney was the choice.Touting Palin's 'political experience' without going into details just opens the way for someone to ponder whether running a small town is comparable to being a heartbeat away from dealing with the stress of getting this country up and running. Her NRA and pro-life stances have the potential to polarize her appeal, not broaden it.
Time will tell. It will be interesting to see how she compares as a speaker to Joe Biden and Hillary...we all know what a charming voice can accomplish. That makes it even more important to get out the vote in November.

Pete said...

If those polls are correct, then a significant portion of Hillary's supporters backed her not because of her political beliefs, but just because of who she is. In which case she had just as much, if not more, of a "cult of personality" behind her than Obama does, and yet it's Obama's followers who are dismissed as having drank the Kool-Aid.

Bob said...

Sara Paretsky: "a nother woman-hating right-wing nutball to a position of total power..."

Wow! Who's the nutball?

Nancy Edwards said...

Don't you think that if Hillary had won the nomination, in the same spirit McCain would have put an African-American on the ticket? Perhaps Alan Keyes...

Sara said...

I just finished reading "Big City, Bad Blood," and it blew me away. I loved it, and it is definitely near the top of my personal "favorites" list.

Eager to learn more about the author of this great book and to find out if he has any forthcoming releases, I came to this site today to get the scoop. The last thing I expected - or wanted - to read on my computer screen was MORE analysis of the election - especially analysis with which I disagree and which makes me feel slightly condescended to.

Now, when I see the new book, instead of thinking, "Hey, he's that guy who wrote that fantastic book," I'll be thinking, "Ugh, he's that guy who doesn't respect conservative women."

It's probably unfair of me to make such a conclusion based on this post. And, it's probably unfair of me not to purchase the book for that reason. Guess I'm not a fair person, either.

Michael Dymmoch said...

Sara said "it's probably unfair of me not to purchase the book" [based on her reaction to Sean's politics]. Isn't that like cutting off your nose to spite your face? Wagner was an asshole, but he wrote beautiful music (he's also been dead a long time), so should we not listen to his music? Sir Isaac Newton was a religious wing nut so should we throw out his calculus and laws of gravitation? Linus Pauling was a brilliant scientist even though he went a little overboard on vitamin C. Can't we appreciate great work and agree to disagree on the rest?

I hope people aren't stupid enough to vote for McCain just because his running mate's a woman, but someone voted Bush in for a second term.

Michael Dymmoch said...

Sara said, "it's probably unfair of me not to purchase the book" [based on her reaction to Sean's politics]. Isn't that like cutting off your nose to spite your face? Wagner was an asshole, but he wrote beautiful music (he's also been dead a long time), so should we not listen to his music? Sir Isaac Newton was a religious wing nut so should we throw out his calculus and laws of gravitation? Linus Pauling was a brilliant scientist even though he went a little overboard on vitamin C. Can't we appreciate great work and agree to disagree on the rest?

I hope people aren't stupid enough to vote for McCain just because his running mate's a woman, but someone voted Bush in for a second term.

Sean Chercover said...

Sara - glad you enjoyed the book, and sorry to hear that you've decided not to give Trigger City a try.

But allow me to suggest that perhaps you have inferred more about my political beliefs than is actually contained in my post.

I certainly don't think that I disrespect conservative women (or men). Here is a quote from my post:

Listen, I’m not saying that there aren’t plenty of good reasons to support McCain. If you’re a conservative (man or woman), he’s a very attractive candidate. But if you’re a conservative, you wouldn’t be supporting Clinton.

The point of my post was that I am baffled that someone who supported Clinton would then turn around and support the McCain ticket because he chose a woman to be his running mate. Governor Palin and Senator Clinton agree on almost nothing. But in Palin's speech, she called out to women who supported Clinton to "shatter that glass ceiling" once and for all.

As if policy had nothing to do with where you place your vote.

And that to me, is condescending to all women.

Sara said...

Michael - thanks for the reply and much-needed reality check. I'm not sure I agree that Newton was a "religious wing nut," but the laws of physics seem to have no care one way or the other. In a similar vein, I suspect that ultimately I will not be able to resist the next installment of Ray Dudgeon's adventures despite any real or imputed political leanings of the author.

Sean - thanks for the reply. I clearly was not appropriately focused in my earlier post. You were speaking about Clinton fans switching over to McCain because of the Palin pick. That would indeed boggle the mind, since the two are as different as night and day in their positions - which you stated. However, I would like to add that - as a conservative - I was not excited about the McCain ticket until he added Palin. Not because she's a woman, but because she's a conservative. McCain is not actually terribly conservative, and has been very disappointing to those of us who are. The Palin selection helps "energize the base," as they say. Not because of her sex, but because of her positions. I think McCain chose her because of those positions, and I will be disappointed if her sex was the only reason she was selected. You're correct, that would be condescending to all women.

Spanish Inquisitor said...

Just to bring a breath of stale air here, I think I'll be a pig and condescend.

Get her in the bathing suit she wore at the Miss Alaska contest, and allow her to have a go at what she'd do for world peace, and I might actually vote for her (of course, while holding my nose, since I'll have to vote for McCain too, but hey, sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do) ;)

guyot said...

At first I thought there is no way the McCain camp could be so stupid as to think simply choosing a mate with a vagina would sway voters... but after hearing people from the party, as well as their cheerleaders at Fox News, I am in awe of their ignorance.

And as to the whole thing about "Sara's" comment, and the "Should we not listen to Wagner..." argument.

I guess I'm in the minority, but I enjoy my right to not buy a book (or see a movie, or listen to music, etc) done by someone I think is an asshole, regardless of how talented they are.

I think that is one of the lamest arguments ever - that artists or "geniuses" get free passes because of their talent.

There are several authors I know personally who are very talented writers. But I don't buy their work because I don't like them. That's my right. And I don't care if it doesn't fall into someone else's view of political correctness.

Susan said...

I can't believe that any woman would vote for a man who has such little regard for human life. Not only does Mr. Obama support abortion on demand, late-term abortion, partial-birth abortion and every other abortion known to (wo)man, he once opposed a law that said if a fetus were aborted and somehow lived, it would then be recognized under the law as a person with rights. Mr. Obama opposed that, believing instead that the baby -- now alive outside of the mother's womb -- should then deliberately be killed by the doctors. If that doesn't turn your stomach, then I don't know what kind of person you are. I don't think a whole lot of Mr. McCain either. He's too old and I think he might be unstable. And Ms. Palin is no more qualified for the presidency than Mr. Obama. Not great choices this time around, I'm sorry to say.

Louisa said...

It always makes me sad when any woman places so little value on her own life that she would have fetal life take precedence over it. Right now, as Sara pointed out, the Supreme Court has said that the pregnant woman's health doesn't matter, that the fetus takes precedence over her health and life if she wants to terminate her pregnancy in a way forbidden by the "partial-birth" abortion ban. The only time a female has full rights in this scenario is when she is a fetus. Once she is born and becomes a person, she is instantly a second-class citizen. Women who think that's a good thing are truly objects of pity.

Lesa said...

And, here's the transcript from today when the mike was still on when Peggy Noonan and Mike Murphy were interviewed by Chuck Todd of NBC. So, this is what the Republicans really think of the choice of Palin.

Transcript of hot-mike snafu with Peggy Noonan, Chuck Todd, Mike Murphy;

Noonan: [Can't hear since Todd (who is still on air) is talking over her]

Murphy: Um, you know, because, I come out of the blue swing state governor world. Engler, Whitman, Tommy Thompson, Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush, I mean, and these guys, this is all how you win a Texas race, just run it up, and it's not gonna work.

Noonan: It's Over.

Murphy: Still, McCain can give a version of the Lieberman speech and do himself some good.

Todd: ".. insulting to Kay Baily Hutchinson..."

Noonan: Saw Kay this morning.

Todd: She's never looked comfortable up there..

Murphy: Oh, fuck that.

Todd: I mean, is she really the most qualified woman they can obtain?

Noonan: The most qualified? No. I think they went for this, excuse me, political bullshit about narratives...[couldn't hear the end of it]

Todd: Yeah, but what's a narrative?

Murphy: I totally agree.

Noonan: Every time Republicans do that, because that's not where they live and it's not what they're good at, they blow it.

Murphy: You know what's the worst thing about it, the greatest of McCain is no cynicism, and..

Murphy and Todd together: This is cynical.

Todd: And as you called it, gimmicky.

Sean Chercover said...

Uh-oh, again...

http://apnews.myway.com/article/20080903/D92VHQP05.html

Sean Chercover said...

Should've posted it as a link...

Palin: Iraq war is a task that is from God

the Bag Lady said...

OMG - Palin's stand on the pipeline and the Iraq war scares the crap outta me!
Make me wonder what else God has been whispering in her ear.

As a Canadian, I don't feel qualified to take part in your discussions regarding your election, but I know that it will affect my own country. Especially the pipeline from Alaska, which will go practically through my living room, right beside the rest of those pipelines that are now starting to fail.....