A presidential election campaign that is shaping up as one for the ages is bound to have a fair amount of hyperbole that goes along with it. But every once in awhile, it goes so over the top that you feel like you’ve entered a parallel universe. Fellow Blogcritics.org commentator, Dave Nalle, in a piece published earlier on Friday, said that John McCain’s pick of Alaska Govenor Sarah Palin as his running mate “may be the most politically significant decision of the new millennium.” He was serious.
Granted, the new millennium is only 7 ½ years old at this point so it’s not that expansive of a proclamation. And while the decision may be historic, the average person can tick off a list of far more significant decisions without breaking a sweat. How about George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq? How about the decision to try and win that war on the cheap with an undermanned military? How about declaring “Mission Accomplished” over five years and four thousand or so deaths ago? How about the dual decisions of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to run for president? How about the decisions of all those who voted for both Clinton and Obama? Is it really necessary to go on?
Nalle, mixing the Kool-Aid for a radical right-wing base of the Republican Party that is still jittery over the nomination of McCain as that party’s stander bearer, puts one big huge smiley face on what may actually be the most bizarre political decision since Bush nominated Harriet Meiers for the Supreme Court.
Simply saying Palin is an innovative governor doesn’t make her so. Indeed, it would be hard to qualify for that moniker with less than two years on the job. Calling her a maverick doesn’t make her one, either. Saying she’s an opponent of big business doesn’t make her one unless and until the oil companies she supports cease to qualify as either big or a business.
Nalle and the Republican base may need to convince themselves that McCain just hit a home run, but it would hardly surprise me if they have plenty of night sweats between now and November. The real truth is that in trying to separate himself from Bush, McCain unwittingly tightened the ties. Palin may be a strange and unexpected choice, but so too was Bush’s decision to put Michael Brown in charge of FEMA and we all remember how well that one worked out.
Palin, like dozens of others like her, may have been able to pass the litany of checks that the Bush administration used in hiring U.S. attorneys, but that doesn’t immediately qualify her for the only role that a vice president must occupy—the ability to step in for the boss if needed. Whatever criticism one wants to make of Obama’s resume, it is light years ahead of Palin’s. It was almost laughable to hear a McCain spokesman tout her executive experience as a plus when referring to her stint as mayor of a 9,000 resident Alaskan town. If I recall correctly, wasn’t the mayor of the town in “Northern Exposure” also the bartender? Or was that the police chief? Never mind.
Palin might have the ability to ensure that there is enough salt in the spreaders to keep the roads free of ice, but the first time she’s forced to take a good look at the U.S. budget, she’s likely to wet herself. There’s a reason that even colleges have certain requirements before you can take higher level classes. There is such a thing as actually being prepared.
Given the thinness of Palin’s resume and her total lack of national profile, it really would be fascinating to get inside the mind of the man who wants to be president to really understand why he feels she’s more qualified than any of the other handful of candidates considered and then rejected. If it’s really just a case of zagging when he was supposed to zig, that’s one thing. But if there was any deeper thought than that than McCain has underscored in bright red ink the biggest lingering question most have about him, his judgment.
McCain has essentially admitted that this whole economy thing isn’t his strong suit. Fine, then pick someone with a real economic experience. Even if there are only 1000 or so arch conservatives that meet that requirement, it would be hard to believe that Palin would rank any higher than about 400th on that list. If McCain feels that he needs someone who better exemplifies the kind of family values that Republicans like to think are important, then Palin ends up higher on the list, but there are plenty of Republican hockey moms that can pass that test as well.
In fact, other than appealing to that oft-neglected group of hockey moms, it’s hard to figure exactly what appeal she brings to the Republican ticket unless the thought is that she’d bring disappointed Clinton supporters over to McCain’s side of the road. Yea, that’s it, Clinton supporters are frustrated with Obama because he’s not conservative enough.
All this is good news to those who’d rather see Obama in the White House anyway. About the only thing that Obama and Joe Biden have to guard against is getting too cocky. While Palin is an unknown quantity, given that she has at least some measure of accomplishment, however modest it might be, it is likely that she possesses some ability that shouldn’t be taken lightly. But in choosing Palin, McCain has essentially given Obama a free pass on any further criticisms of his experience, allowing Obama and his designated pit bull Biden even more freedom to go on the attack.
It’s interesting that Nalle in his commentary thinks that McCain’s choice of Palin has now silenced the doubters. If it has, it’s only because they are too shocked and too bewildered to speak .