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.


3rd Way said...

Her pick solidifies McCain's conservative support, but does it repel some of his centrist support? Only time will tell.

This election keeps getting more and more interesting.

Seth Zlotocha said...

I think an honest appraisal calls it a wash.

Taking that issue off the table works for me. I don't think it'll work for Camp McCain -- they needed it there.

Overall, my impression is the Palin will have a favorable week; the real test of jumping from less than two years on a less-than-prominent state stage to the center of prime time will come once the honeymoon is over, Sept. 8 - Nov. 4. Fresh-faced presidential candidates have the luxury of easing into the spotlight by announcing 18+ months before the general; fresh-faced vice presidential candidates aren't so fortunate.

Seth Zlotocha said...


another opportunity for an historic "first."

If it doesn't look like pandering. As Ramesh Ponnuru pointed out today: "Can anyone say with a straight face that Palin would have gotten picked if she were a man?"

Anonymous said...

Anyone that has hired people can tell that she has a determination that most people lack. She appears to be the type that studies hard to know what to do.

I think she has more going for her then Pelosi. She won't be a disappointment.

Jim C. said...

About opposing that Bridge to Nowhere?

Not so much.

Dad29 said...

It's the "change" thing that McCain's playing here.

Now he will make even clearer his distance from GWBush (after the amenities at the Convention) and take out the "McBush" stuff cluttering the landscape.

She will be a VERY big asset there--especially when one compares her to Biden and the Chicago Machine guy.

Craig Nolen said...

Dead on Professor. I like the pick. It's a high risk, high reward situation. I believe that Palin has the skills necessary to help McCain seal the deal.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, let's see. Mayor of a small town of 9,000, govenor for 20+ months, second place in Miss Alaska beauty pageant (well, McCain does like his beauties, doesn't he), can shoot a gun, ride a snowmobile, likes to cook moose stew, has five kids, is Pro-Life, pro-gun! Sounds like a solid pick for a vice president! Wow, could be a heart beat away from the presidency if McCain/Palin win in November.

What the hell is McCain thinking? Oh wait, that's right--HE DOESN'T THINK! Any of you right wingers SERIOUSLY think Palin is a GOOD CHOICE must be drinking that koolaid.

God help this country is the Republicans win in November.

Anonymous said...

What about "TrooperGate"? If Palin actually tried to get her former brother-in-law fired and because his supervisor wouldn't fire him, got fired himself, what does this say about Palin's ethics and judgment? There are far too many questions/concerns about Palin for Republicans to actually feel comfortable with her as a vp. And I can't help but think this is simply a stunt McCain pulled to try to get Clinton supporters to vote for him. Women are not that stupid.

Jim C. said...

I do like Sarah Pallin. The pictures of her fishing are both tough and glamorous. How many could pull that off? She comes across as a great mom and, like Obama and Biden, presents a very admirable role model for building strong families. She seems like somebody one could debate sharply and still admire -- something I very rarely feel about such hard-right social conservatives.

But I think her choice ultimately speaks very poorly for McCain and tells me that he would continue Bush's tradition of poor, wasteful governance.

Karl Rove (who would have thought?), says it best:

"I think [Obama's] going to make an intensely political choice, not a governing choice," Rove said. "He's going to view this through the prism of a candidate, not through the prism of president; that is to say, he's going to pick somebody that he thinks will on the margin help him in a state like Indiana or Missouri or Virginia. He's not going to be thinking big and broad about the responsibilities of president."

Rove singled out Virginia governor Tim Kaine, also a Face The Nation guest, as an example of such a pick.

"With all due respect again to Governor Kaine, he's been a governor for three years, he's been able but undistinguished," Rove said. "I don't think people could really name a big, important thing that he's done. He was mayor of the 105th largest city in America."

Jim C. said...

Oh --- and I love that her hubby's a union guy! Maybe that means we'll see a reduction in union bashing on the right, at least through November.

Dad29 said...

Anony 6:30:

Who is running for President?

And who for Vice-President?

Put another way, are YOU voting for the Vice-Presidential nominee?

I'm not.

Anonymous said...

We can afford a Vice President who needs some on-the-job training. We don't have the luxury with regard to the President.

Anonymous said...

anon 6:30

Pro-life and pro second amendment...sounds like a solid pick to me.

Anonymous said...

anon 6:30

Clinton, Edwards...and when his wife has cancer.

Anonymous said...

dad29: Sorry, but it is a package deal. One heartbeat away from the presidency! Sorry, but Palin is just not vice presidential material. I don't care how freakin' glamorous she is fishing!

Dad29 said...

Sorry, but Obama is just not presidential material.

NOW your statement reads with a ring of truth.

3rd Way said...

McCain's father and grandfather were both dead from heart attacks before they were McCain's age. There is a distinct possibility McCain won't be able to finish his first term. America isn't going to put their trust partially into the hands of an untested new comer from a state with a population smaller than Milwaukee.

From the latest Rasmussen poll:
On the critical question, "With Palin As Vice-Presidential Nominee, Are You More Or Less Likely To Vote For McCain,"... among the critical undecideds, the Palin pick made only 6 percent more likely to vote for McCain; and it made 31 percent less likely to vote for him. 49 percent said it would have no impact, and 15 percent remained unsure. More to the point: among undecideds, 59 percent said Palin was unready to be president. Only 6 percent said she was.

McCain can no longer catch Obama, Obama will only lose if he stumbles. Judging by his performance on Thursday it doesn't look like he is going to stumble, he is starting to hit his stride.

Anonymous said...

Sen. McCain takes after his 96-year old mother.

Rick Esenberg said...

3rd Way

You are apparently quoting Sullivan who reports something about the Rasmussen poll that Rasmussen does not. Presumably, he pays for Rasmussen's detail and has seen cross tabs that Rasmussen didn't release to the public. Still, I'd like to see the numbers because what Sullivan claims is a tad hard to reconcile with other numbers that Rasmussen did release.

My own feeling is that whatever impact Palin has will depend on how she does as the campaign unfolds. If she shines on the stump and in the debate with Biden, no one will care about how many people live in Alaska or the fact that she has been its governor for one year less than Barack Obama has been in the United States Senate.

3rd Way said...

This election has always been about the middle. Convincing the undecided middle that Sarah Palin is ready to step in as our president is going to be a tough sell.

The Rasmussen data Sullivan mentions proves that.

She could dazzle and win over some of the middle, but I don't see many independents warming up to someone that supports creationist education.

Anonymous said...

She's "Annie Get Your Gun," and will be the first woman President of the US in the next decade.

Harry Truman was just a haberdasher and a Missouri machine politician, and was kept out of the loop until FDR assumed room temperature.

The experience thing is overblown. What has the Big O done? Worked as a staffer in community organization and perpetually run for office since then.

Rick Esenberg said...


Since Rasmussen hasn't reported the findings that Sullivan cites, I can't say what they prove other than to note that, if he has them right, they are inconsistent with Gallup and findings that Rasmussen did report about Palin's appeal to independents. In any event, I think its too early to say how she will affect the ticket. We need to see how she does.