Friday, August 29, 2008
... and the next Vice President of the United States
First - because it is about me - I called it (sort of) right here last December.
Second, I freely admit that there is an experience issue, but not as much as the Democrats are going to claim. Governors without experience in federal office become President (Clinton, Carter, Bush 43). More to the point, it's a hard case for the Dems to make because Obama is equally inexperienced. I understand the argument that his state senate district was a lot larger than the city that she served as Mayor. I appreciate the US Senators sometimes vote on foreign policy matters and Senators that serve long enough and are on the right committees may develop foreign policy expertise. But that doesn't describe Obama. On the other hand, she has the executive experience that Obama lacks. I think an honest appraisal calls it a wash. The GOP nominee for Vice President and the Democrat nominee for President have less experience than most people nominated for national office.
Third, the real question is whether she can play at this level. Her introduction today was smashing, but only time will tell. I can say that, for political junkies, she does not come out of nowhere. She has been seen as a rising GOP star for a few years now as my post in December reflects.
If she is up to it, she reinforces McCain's status as a maverick and foe of "special interests." She not only opposed "the bridge to nowhere," she stopped it. She is heterodox enough to suggest an independence of mind, but rock solid on almost all the issues that the GOP base cares about.
She also reinforces McCain's claim to be about change. It is a common mistake on the left to believe that conservatives love George W. Bush and believe that he has pursued conservative policies. Not so. We like him but he's disappointed us in a variety of ways. He did nothing to restrain spending. He took way too long to realize that his strategy in Iraq needed to change. He almost made a disastrous nomination to the Supreme Court. He seems blind to the weaknesses of his subordinates.
I think that history will be kinder to Bush than we expect, but he's not on the ballot this year. To say that McCain voted "with" Bush 90% of the time tells us nothing about how he differs with Bush on the matters that have gotten Bush into political hot water. We know that he won't tolerate the feeding frenzy that cost the GOP Congress. We know that he would not have mismanaged Iraq because he was the one who advocated for a change that is now widely acknowledged to have succeeded. My guess is that he would have been quicker to kick posterior on something like Katrina. For better or worse (and I think it's often worse), he's much more of an economic populist than Bush (and much less of one than Obama).
By picking someone who is acceptable to - actually almost certainly to be loved by - the base but who has no ties to DC or to the Bush administration, he reinforces that message.
Finally, she brings a bit of pizazz - a hint of the future and another opportunity for an historic "first."
It was, I think, a bold move. Biden will not hurt or help Obama. My guess is that Palin could help McCain, although if she is not ready, she could hurt him. I think she is going to prove to be more than ready. I like the pick.