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Quick Thoughts on Palin

[ 79 ] August 29, 2008 |

I’m supposed to be finishing my tenure file today and writing syllabi, but seeing as how my presence here as an Alaskan makes me undeservedly relevant for the next ten minutes, I’ll offer some a few local observations about Palin.

  • She’s likable and — for what little it’s actually worth to say this, given the political clown show this state has become — has been a decent governor. I don’t know how much this will actually matter to people in the lower and western 49, since “Alaska” has of late become synonymous with “corruption.”
  • Speaking of which, Palin’s being investigated for pressuring her Public Safety commissioner to fire her sister’s ex-husband, who is a state trooper; when the commissioner didn’t comply, she canned him. Or at least that’s how it appears, since no clear alternative reasons have been offered for his firing. Several of her staffers evidently made calls to the commissioner’s office, insisting that he get rid of the trooper in question; Palin’s husband — who, incidentally, resembles a B-list porn actor — is also alleged to have made calls to the same ends.
  • I don’t think this scandal (if we can call it that) will have much traction nationally, for the same reasons it doesn’t have much traction here. By most accounts Palin’s former brother-in-law was, to use a term of art, a douchebag — and though it looks like she might have abused her office, it’s not as if she was allowing oil executives to remodel her house. Unless we learn that Palin was threatening to have the commissioner’s scrotum turned into a dice bag, no one is going to be driven away from the ticket because of this.
  • The real strike against Palin is that she’s Bobby Jindal without the exorcisms. She’s fanatically anti-choice and believes my wife’s colleagues in the public school system should be teaching their kids to doubt the existence of dinosaurs. Which is of course why she’s with McCain right now in Ohio. She’s not going to yank any women from the Democrats; she’s there to mobilize the nutter base of the Republican party. But since the nutter base of the Republican party will be mobilized enough by the knowledge that Barack Obama drinks pureed fetus each morning before throwing himself prostrate to Mecca, I don’t see how Palin is going to accomplish anything more along these lines.
  • I know this won’t excite DJW, but she puts the lie to McCain’s support for alternative and renewable energy. Palin got a gas pipeline deal — which everyone knew would happen one way or another — but hasn’t departed from the Alaskan motif of sucking everything from the ground before the communists come to snatch our guns away and turn the entire state into a park. She’ll be a boon to the Drill Now/Drink America’ Milkshake sloganeering that McCain will continue to push until November.
  • Sarah Palin is profoundly, staggeringly ignorant about foreign policy. It’s impossible overstate this. When President McCain strokes out over some third-tier international crisis, the erstwhile Mayor of Wasilla will be responsible for bombing Iran, maintaining our century-long imperial project in Mesopotamia, and delivering the severed equine heads to Vladimir Putin’s bed. When it comes to foreign policy, this is one of the great throwaway VP picks in recent American history.

….for those who care to score these things, this is the funniest Powerline post ever….

Comments (79)

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  1. d says:

    You know, I thought I was in a troll-drawing slump lately. What a relief!

  2. Dr Zen says:

    Bloix, excellent!
    I think you very much underestimate how well “McCain picked a woman and Obama wouldn’t” will play and how little “she’s inexperienced” will if the media simply ignore it. Which they will. Try to remind yourselves that Obama’s foreign policy experience is zero too. But he’s not the VP pick. He’s the main man. “Senator McCain has all the experience we need. And he’s in great shape!”
    She’s a decent choice imo. A hardcore conservative and a goodlooking woman in one package. It’s not about whether she really has the chops. It’s about perception. They are not aiming for PUMAs. They are aiming for the soccer moms: the women who were shitscared about terror in 2004 and voted Bush to keep their kids safe. That won’t fly this time.
    Also, she’s a living rebuttal to the chickenhawk thing. Unlike Bush and Cheney, her child is going to serve in Iraq. And her husband is a working man, or can at least be sold that way.
    And yeah, she might be a Ferraro, but she can be sold as a consolation prize. “You don’t get a black prez, but you do get the first female VP.” A salve perhaps for some of the moderates who might not really want a black running the place, IYKWIM.
    She is not going to appeal to centrist intellectuals and Obamaniacs. But while you’re sneering at the fact she was only the mayor of a village, the press will lap her up and she’ll be muddying the waters a ton. McCain needs muddy waters. A straight fight between McCain/Pawlenty and Obama/Biden would almost be no contest (with the media’s help, it’s close). But if the media sells Palin’s strengths and downplays her negatives (which are as obvious as you point out), meh, who knows? Obama *should* win, but what a fucked-up point you guys are at that that’s still a “should” not a “will”.

  3. Marc says:

    Except the media is *not* ignoring her lack of experience and ethics problems. Those are just about the only things that show up in the online profiles of her. The press isn’t lapping it up; they’re quoting stunned anonymous GOP sources. Can we not make these things up out of whole cloth?
    Something about the 2002 and 2004 elections made some Democrats scared to death of the GOP. This isn’t clever; it’s nominating someone completely unfit for the office of President.

  4. Marc says:

    I’d add that claiming that Obama has no foreign policy experience is simply not true. We know Obama’s position on a host of foreign policy issues, ditto Biden and ditto McCain. Palin actually has zero record and zero experience.

  5. Matt Weiner says:

    Also, she’s a living rebuttal to the chickenhawk thing. Unlike Bush and Cheney, her child is going to serve in Iraq.
    Also true of McCain’s and Biden’s children, so this issue was off the table already.

  6. McKingford says:

    You know, I thought I was in a troll-drawing slump lately. What a relief!
    Before you give yourself too big a pat on the back, remember that they get McCainPoints for it now…

  7. Rockets Red Glare says:

    Biden is going to absolutely crush her. I don’t think I’ll even be able to watch.
    Ben | 08.29.08 – 3:29 pm
    exactamundo !!! we blew boogs !! and we are not even being sexist. that’s just the way it’s gonna be.

  8. gmack says:

    Biden doesn’t need to “crush” her. He needs to dismantle McCain, not Palin. I suspect the debate will be fine–most likely, she’ll be practiced well enough–and the outcome will sway not one vote (after all, to veep debates ever sway anyone?).
    Also, if I may play amateur political strategist for a moment: though it is true that she does not appear to have any qualifications for the position for which she has been nominated, were I Obama, that’s not what I would attack. I would simply attack her for what she is: a hard core right wing nutcase. She may be charismatic, an interesting person, and relatively uncorrupt, but her policies are fully consistent with the worst aspects of the Republican agenda. That’s what I’d focus on (which, I think, might have a reasonable chance of countering whatever appeal she might have to working class or suburban white women).

  9. gmack says:

    Oh, and as to whether Palin is a good pick for McCain: obviously, on the question of whether she would make a good vice president or president, we simply have no evidence on the matter. I will say that if she is good enough to be president, this is a pretty good argument for going back to the Athenian tradition of picking our leaders via lottery.
    As for whether this will play well with the electorate, or the media: I don’t really care. I don’t think veep picks matter very much for the general election.

  10. Malaclypse says:

    This isn’t clever; it’s nominating someone completely unfit for the office of President.
    Yep. I still remember how choosing Danny Quayle killed Bush back in 88. This country would never stand for an unqualified VP.

  11. mjd says:

    gmack is right. It’s becoming clear she’s not meant for PUMA’S but to shore up the guns and god crowd. Who, apparently, do know who she is and love her.

  12. Dan Nexon says:

    I’ve seen estimates that Quayle cost Bush a point or two.

  13. Not Politically Correct says:

    No one is going to even bring this up but don’t the odds of having a child born with Down’s Syndrome increase as you grow older, i.e. having your FIFTH child at the age of 43 – 44 ??
    and i bet no one is going to talk about selfishness or overpopulating the planet but rather oh isn’t she a great mom / loving wife / quite the fertile breeder blahblahblah.
    at least she hasn’t cranked out #19 like that nutter in ar-kansas ….

  14. irspariah says:

    John McCain’s campaign motto: “Stupidity got us into this mess, and stupidity will get us out!”

  15. jANE says:

    In America, you are allowed to have as many children as you want last I heard. How petty and shallow to point fingers and call somone you dont even know names like breeder and make fun of a family with a child that has Downs Syndrome. What is wrong with you? What business is it of yours why she had a baby later in life? There are plenty of kids born to women early in life that arent even wanted, I think its wondeful she has a good stable marriage and big family. Her kids all are loved and well provided for. So whats your point? Feel better that you can put her down for having a nice family and a baby with special needs?

  16. David says:

    Some previous thoughts on Vice Presidents from our dear Senator McCain:
    At the 1988 Republican National Convention in New Orleans, Louisiana, George H. W. Bush called on Quayle to be his running mate in the general election. Quayle was chosen to appeal to a younger generation of Americans and his good looks were praised by Senator John McCain, who said “I can’t believe a guy that handsome wouldn’t have some impact.”
    - from Wikipedia

  17. Marc says:

    I don’t particularly see how having kids qualifies you to have your finger on the big red button. Especially when you send out emails and sign them “God”.

  18. Marc says:

    from Politico:
    Her oldest son, Trick, turned 18 last year and enlisted in the Army on the sixth anniversary of 9/11. Palinis youngest child, Trig, was born in April and diagnosed with Downis Syndrome.
    As the Anchorage Daily News reported, Palin sent an email to friends and family at the time in which she said: i. . . Trig will be a joy. You will have to trust me on this.” The paper said Palin wrote the email in the voice of God and signed it, iTrigis Creator: Your Heavenly Father.i

  19. NBarnes says:

    I really think there’s a serious limit to how aggressively Biden can go after Palin in the debates. As others have said, Gore-v-Bush I was pretty one-sided, but the media graded Bush on a curve; about the only way he could have actually failed to get over the bar set for him is if he’d showed up drunk.

  20. MikeN says:

    About the cop/brother-in-law thing.
    I think it will have some resonance for two reasons.
    One, it’s personal- the attorney firings show that Americans don’t care too much about political abuse of office; they get much more worked up about private abuse.
    Two- sad to say, sexism. If this was a man helping his sister- well, a man’s got to step up for his womenfolk.
    But a woman?- a vicious harpy using political power to pursue some poor working guy just trying to get to see his kids.

  21. Glen Tomkins says:

    People can relate to petty
    The real enormities that BushCo has done, everything that goes with running a gulag, the voters are able to put at a distance because the administration can concoct a need to protect us from the supposed threat from “terrorists”. This is an infinitely useful threat for manipulating the electorate because, while it has had undeniable and palpable consequences (9/11), the exact nature of the “terrorist” threat is so vague and distant to most people, that they can easily be gulled into believing that the most horrific abuses have been strictly necessary to protect us from it.
    Messy divorces, on the other hand, are something that almost everyone knows about from a lot closer than six degrees of separation. Even if the abuses of official power involved “only” extend to firing a brother-in-law whose conduct may have merited the governor’s private ire (well, and also the official who wasn’t quick enough to go along with the firing), I think that people can relate very readily to the concept that perhaps the people involved in a messy divorce, and their family members, are not well-equipped to judge at all objectively who deserves any punishment, even one so much milder than the Abu Ghraib abuses as unlawful firing from a state job. There’s a reason we leave whatever punishment that abusive husbands might deserve to objective judges and juries, rather than letting families feud each other into bloody submission over these things. And bad as it would be to let families seak vengeance privately on those whom they imagine have wronged them, I think that people will readily perceive how much more dangerous it is to let public officials bring down the full weight of the state we entrust to their control to advance whatever private feuds might arise from their personal lives.

  22. McKingford says:

    I think MikeN hits on a couple of good points.
    The other reason it might resonate is this: since nobody knows *anything* about her, that’s one of the very few things they can learn about her right off the bat.
    And this is a reason why I think the Obama campaign would be making a mistake to wait a few days before trying to “define” her. At this point, she is essentially a blank slate – with both voters, but especially (and much more important) with the media. This is the time to create the narratives about her before she becomes known as Super-Corruption-Fighting-Hockey-AllStar-Mom.
    The other thing I think the Obama campaign really needs to hit on is that McCain picked her despite meeting her only once (!!!). As I’ve read another commenter point out, most people spend more time looking at a camera they are going to buy (my parents have spent the better part of 10 days shopping for a new countertop and stovetop). Now I understand why Obama might want to lay off the experience thing (and let it speak for itself), but regardless of how qualified someone might be for the VP position, I think most people would think the potential president should spend as much time interviewing him/her as a company does for a mid-level management position.

  23. Dr Zen says:

    Marc, upfront they say she’s inexperienced, but it’s not going to be the theme of this campaign. Obviously, the first reaction is “who?” but do you seriously expect three months of “she can’t cut it”? Not a chance.
    The GOP talking heads going “wtf” will pass when they start to get on message. She’ll be practically a genius given a month or so, once they “get to know her”. A couple of flattering profiles etc etc and you’ll be changing your tune.

  24. Marc says:

    Zen – the almost universal consensus, if you read the actual press, is stunned disbelief. This is playing precisely like the Quayle pick. She is getting hammered on ethics (it’s the topline item) and everyone is noting that she is a religious conservative. We’ll see pro-choice female Democrats stepping up and defining her.
    Choices like this never work out well because of the pressure-cooker environment of the presidential campaign. There are an enormous number of ways that she can stumble given the range of questions that she could be asked. She comes from a very Republican state and has never had the need to be cagey about her beliefs – the odds of extremist statements surfacing or being blurted out are very high. I think that we just saw the last glimmer of hope for McCain disappear. His strategy is also in tatters, and that dwarfs the impact of any vice presidential candidate.
    Rice or Hutchison would have been a problem. This is a gift.

  25. Fats Durston says:

    I don’t know whether I’m supposed to laugh with or at Fats Durston..or both.
    Next time I’ll be sure to type “/deadpan.” But then again, if I’d done that, jANE might not have provided another gem:
    OOOOH I MISS TYPED A WORD
    I take it back, jANE must be pretending ignorance just like me.

  26. djw says:

    Trick and Trig?

  27. jANE says:

    yep thats me ignorant as hell!
    just not stuck up like you!

  28. Ed Marshall says:

    yep thats me ignorant as hell!
    It’s moments like this that I really, really, question represential democracy :

  29. cer says:

    gmack is entirely right. I think everyone is getting distracted by Palin and it is blunting the attack on McCain. Biden needs to point out that Palin is pro-life, no exceptions except the life of the mother, and wants to teach creation in schools. And then move on to relentlessly attacking McCain. And not calling his running mate clean and articulate. Must avoid.

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