The "real" Sarah Palin
We were all over the Palin pick yesterday, with posts from Creature, Libby, JKP, JTD, and Creature and me, and our reaction was essentially this: what a pathetic pick. As Creature put it, McCain "laid a big fat egg."
Surely that's clear. Right? Well, not necessarily.
I was listening to Buffalo sports radio -- call me pathetic, if you must (I much prefer Toronto sports radio) -- on my way home from work yesterday afternoon. The two hosts, one of whom stressed that he wasn't terribly fond of the Republican Party, were talking about Palin. How attractive she is. How "real" she is. How so unlike Hillary she is. How many bases she covers for McCain. What a great pick she is. And I thought, this is exactly how the pick is being received by much of the American electorate, the low-information electorate, the electorate without much of a clue.
It is hardly surprising that some men would find Palin more desirable, in many ways, than Hillary. After all, Palin isn't, or at least doesn't seem to be, much of a threat to their chauvinistic masculinity. She's quite attractive. Back in 1984, she was Miss Wasilla, then Miss Alaska runner-up. She's athletic and sports-minded, once a TV sports reporter in Anchorage. She's a self-defined "hockey mom." And she's socially conservative, extremely so. So, to some men, she's perfect. Sure, she's gone on to become quite successful in the political arena, but it's not like she dominates the men around her, or at least doesn't seem to. Where Hillary is a threat, what with her determination and drive, Palin, simply put, is "real." And it helps that she's from a place a long, long way from Washington and doesn't seem like a politician. So what if she has next to no experience and isn't at all ready for the national stage, let alone the presidency?
No wonder Buffalo jocks like her, eh? They were quick to attack Obama for his campaign's "lack of experience" criticism of Palin, but of course Obama does have significant political experience and has spent the past year and a half running for president. He has proven himself, and he has put his judgement on the line. What has Palin ever done?
Well, it doesn't matter. McCain made a cynical pick. He is hoping to attract women, including disaffected Hillary supporters, simply by having a woman with him on the ticket. He is hoping to balance his old age with youth (and complete and utter inexperience). He is hoping to counter Obama's case for change by linking his maverick myth to an outsider, a reformer, one with no ties to Washington. And he is hoping to capitalize on making what is being seen by some as an exciting pick. He's old, cranky, and senile, but just look at that hot hockey mom next to him!
Yes, a pathetic pick by a pathetic man.
And it helps that she's such an unknown -- including to the guys on Buffalo sports radio, who are just happy she's attractive and not like Hillary. As "a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds: Most Americans say they've never heard of her." She's made a good first impression to many (and McCain got a pretty big donation bounce from the pick), but it's all surface appearance at this point. Whether Americans really want her to be so close to the presidency is another matter entirely.
Make sure to check out Ann Friedman at The American Prospect: "McCain's Sexist VP Pick." The Palin pick is "Republican tokenism and pandering at its worst."
Key passage: "Palin is not a woman who has a record of representing women's interests. She is beloved by extremely right-wing conservatives for her anti-choice record (fittingly, she's a member of the faux-feminist anti-choice group Feminists for Life). Palin supports federal anti-gay marriage legislation. She believes schools should teach creationism. Alaska is currently considering spending more on abstinence-only sex education. And when it comes to a slew of other issues of importance to women, such as equal pay, she's not on the record."
We'll see how McCain-Palin does in the polls once women (and the men who care about such issues as equal pay and the right to choose) learn more about her.
Charlie Black, top McCain advisor: "[Sarah Palin is] going to learn national security at the foot of the master for the next four years, and most doctors think that he'll be around at least that long."
Steve Benen, deconstructing Black (and the Palin pick itself) to shreds:
First, it's not an especially good idea for top McCain aides to joke about whether McCain is going to survive four years in office.
Second, it's not an especially good idea to describe McCain as "the master" on national security, given that he's embarrassingly confused about national security and foreign policy for quite some time.
Third, it's not an especially good idea to concede, on the record, that the Vice President during two wars will need on the job training.
And fourth, John McCain's top strategist has effectively told the New York Times that the Republican nominee for V.P. won't be ready on Day One, but that's fine, because McCain will probably live until 2013. Seriously. That's his argument.
And what a pathetic, and laughable, argument it is.
I'm often critical of Le Politico, but at least they had the good sense to report this: "John McCain was aiming to make history with his pick of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, and historians say he succeeded. Presidential scholars say she appears to be the least experienced, least credentialed person to join a major-party ticket in the modern era."
And, what's more -- if I may offer yet more praise -- they put "He's desperate" at the top of the list of six things the Palin pick "tells us about McCain":
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 -- and too close for comfort in several states, such as Indiana and Montana, that the GOP usually wins pretty easily in presidential races. On top of that, voters seem very inclined to elect Democrats in general this election -- and very sick of the Bush years.
McCain could easily lose in an electoral landslide. That is the private view of Democrats and Republicans alike.
McCain had to do something, anything. However, [i]n one swift stroke, McCain demolished what had been one of his main arguments against Obama."
Finally, here's yet more evidence that Krazy Bill Kristol is an idiot: "Let Palin Be Palin Why the left is scared to death of McCain's running mate."
Really? Scared to death? Come on. (With all due respect to Palin, she's an embarrassing pick.)
The first paragraph is especially idiotic: "A spectre is haunting the liberal elites of New York and Washington -- the spectre of a young, attractive, unapologetic conservatism, rising out of the American countryside, free of the taint (fair or unfair) of the Bush administration and the recent Republican Congress, able to invigorate a McCain administration and to govern beyond it."
But of course, as you all know, Krazy Kristol occupies a world that is not our own, a world where this sort of bullshit -- seriously, this is what passes for political analysis in Kristol's world -- is taken seriously.
Read our posts linked at the top of this post for a refutation of the Krazy Kristolian view.
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