Saturday, August 30, 2008

McCain's Machinations: His Palin Problem

Every presidential nominee, including McCain, believes that an essential criterion for picking a VP is that the candidate must be ready, if necessary, to assume the presidency from day one on, thus ruling out on the job training. McCain has also argued that Obama is not ready to be president because of his lack of experience, especially on foreign policy.

But he apparently thinks that Palin is ready, despite her lack of experience, especially in matters of foreign policy, which is essentially zilch, non-existent, zero minus one. What is wrong with this thinking?

As Michael Kinsley said today in Slate, it raises a fundamental question about McCain's honesty, since apparently when he was making such a ruckus over Obama's lack of experience, he did not mean a word of it.

If Palin is qualified on foreign affairs, then Obama must be stupendously overqualified for the job, since he has served on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has recently been in Iraq and the Middle East, and has met numerous heads of state and other high-ranking officials.

But protest the defenders, Palin has been involved in small business, mayor of a town of 9,000, and governor of a thinly-populated state for about 20 months.

Recently she said she needs to know "what it is exactly that the VP does every day," has never been to Iraq, or thought much about it, what with being so busy with state government and all, and allegedly does not know what "the plan" is (McCain's, Bush's, anybody's?) to exit from Iraq. In the light of this, defenders conclude that she is more qualified by experience to be president than is Obama.

She herself said that having little experience may be an advantage enabling you to take a fresh look at things. Thus she turns the experience argument upside down and suggests that inexperience is a qualification.

The next move is for Republicans to change the subject in the face of this transparent farce and say that McCain has the experience and thus the Republicans win the experience argument! Heaven help us if this tortured logic and these desperate maneuvers convince anyone to vote for her on the basis that she is qualified by her lack of experience and by McCain's being full of it.

It is becoming more apparent every day that Palin is an extreme right-winger on many subjects.
For Palin's views, see:

Hillary supporters are then invited by Palin to vote for Palin. She apparently thinks as a woman she can be a stand in for other women for Hillary Clinton, tempting Biden to say to her (but I hope he will resist though I wish he could):

"Look, I know Hillary Clinton. She is a friend of mine. and Governor, you are no Hillary Clinton."

1 comment:

Sammie Rae Stevens said...

Ken makes some great points, but the larger context is missing—and he’s way too nice. John "still-wanna-be-called-a-maverick-despite-my-support-of-W" McCain wanted to shake things up with his VP pick, especially after the Dem’s A+ convention. Neither Mitt nor Tim could help him accomplish that, so he wanted, as Bill Kristol recommended last week, a “Joe of his own” ( But alas, the weirdly sought-after Lieberman would not satisfy the Christian right and Republican conservatives, so that choice was doomed.

That left the desperate option—pick a woman, any woman. It is insulting to women of both parties to suggest that Sarah Palin is the most qualified Republican woman to be on the ticket with McCain. I personally have seen no analysis of why Republican women with real experience for national office were passed over (too old? don’t look good enough in fatigues? don’t hunt?).

This idea that there’s a cadre of women, insulted by the media’s treatment of Hillary Clinton, who are ready to totally ditch their interests and vote for McCain and his girl-VP is nothing more than media fiction. Oh, sure, the media can cough up a female person here and there to validate their story, but that doesn’t make them right (for an as-usual great critique of the media’s coverage of the campaign, see Frank Rich’s latest, Sheesh, how much history does it take to show that VP candidates do not make-or-break a ticket?

Nonetheless, given media fiction, it is imperative that Obama and Biden find women surrogates to take on Palin. Still, I have to disagree with Ken when he says he hopes Biden doesn’t use the obvious line: "Look, I know Hillary Clinton. She is a friend of mine, and Governor, you are no Hillary Clinton." I totally disagree. It’s time for Democrats to stop being wusses and to go for it—history is (now) on our side.