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The counterintuitive logic of a Palin selection

August 30, 2008

Why McCain’s decision to select Sarah Palin is not completely mad

McCain’s decision to pick Sarah Palin is a very poor and irresponsible decision. To quote Mark Halperin, ‘McCain has failed the ultimate test that any presidential candidate must face in picking a running mate: selecting someone who is unambiguously qualified to be president’. Putting someone who has two years in executive office, and who supported Pat Buchanan, in a position where she could be a heartbeat from the Presidency was putting party before country. Choosing her over hundreds of better qualified candidates from both sexes smacks of tokenism.

It also is a slap in the face for the moderate Republicans and independents who supported McCain. In retrospect the idea of selecting Joe Lieberman was always going to be problematic, although it was handled badly. However, if Tom Ridge, Rudy Giuliani and the pro-life Lindsay Graham are all too controversial for the Republican base, then there is a big question mark as to the GOP’s future, especially since there will never be another time when such a gesture is needed. If McCain is pandering with his selection of Palin, and has pandered on immigration, tax cuts and other issues, can he really move to the centre once in office?

Indeed, I came close to closing all my betting positions on John McCain and taking what profits I have. However, there is one way in which it might benefit McCain, by bringing into focus Obama’s inexperience. If it is clear that putting an inexperienced, haughty, paleo-conservative on the bottom of the Republican ticket is stupid, then it logically must also be true that having a very similar (though slightly better) politician on the top of the Democratic ticket is even more ludicrous. Indeed, many historians have argued that Caligua’s plans to make his horse Incitatus was a way of mocking the Senate, rather than simply insanity.

This ‘politics as performance art’ strategy might seem rather obscure, but the Obama campaign would simply undermine their own case if they tried to run a ‘3am’ strategy against Palin. Although the campaign has now shied away from doing it, immediately after Palin was announced there were indications that they were falling into the trap. Instead, their best course of action is both to use this to question McCain’s judgement, but also to use this a cover for a campaign that focuses on the economy. Of course, McCain still has a very good chance at victory and he is clearly the better candidate, but this is more Incitatus than even Dan Quayle or Geraldine Ferraro.

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One comment

  1. Finally a woman with Conservative values, an executives resume, integrity and someone we can trust to be a heartbeat from the Presidency. This is what we quietly wished for and a private dance in my office was in order. WOW! We should be very proud of this honorable selection for Vice-President of the United States.

    1. Steps on the story of Obama’s speech (and convention), and possibly the bounce coming from them, and wipes them off the news cycle. The Sunday news shows will be all-Palin, all of the time.

    2. Sends Republicans into their convention on a huge head of steam.

    3. Wipes out the image of McCain as the crotchety elder and brings back that of the fly-boy and gambler, which is much more appealing, and the genuine person.

    4. Revs up the base AND excites independents, which no one else in the party, or perhaps in the world, could have accomplished.

    5. Puts youth, change, and history on both of the tickets.

    6. May detach some young people, especially women.

    7. May attach some women pissed off about Hillary.

    8. As a pro-life super-achiever, puts feminists in a tizzy.

    9. Revives some of the double-edged nature of the Democratic primary, which featured a black vs. a female trail-blazer, and put both sides on notice on sensitivity issues. Democrats used to raising charges of racism against Obama’s critics may face charges of sexism and/or condescension if they try to diss her.

    10. Steps on Obama’s claims to have been a reformer, as he reformed nothing (much less the corrupt mare’s nest of Chicago arrangements), while she was a dragon-slayer up in Alaska.

    11. As a mother of five, one a Down Syndrome baby, helps her side take on the Democrats on abortion extremism and the Born Alive bill.

    12. Reignites the deep and unhealed stresses inside the Democrats, some of whom will now wonder more loudly than ever why they didn ‘t pick Hillary.

    13. Counters Michelle in a way Cindy couldn’t.

    14. Counter-intuitively, makes the issue of Obama’s light resume more potent than ever. Her lack of experience is no more than his is. And he’s–to use a term from Alaska, and the Iditarod–their lead dog.

    Who cares what the “moderates” think, it’s about get back to GOP roots not supporting RINOs.



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