August 30, 2008

How our leaders are chosen  

I'm still not sure what to make of Sarah Palin as McCain's VP choice. I've been worrying for some time that McCain could pick a woman to pick off some estranged Clinton supporters, but I'm not sure if Sarah Palin is a realistic Clinton surrogate for that crowd, even if they are still a little pissed. I see some obvious political benefits to picking her, both as a sop to conservatives and regarding as image that a lot of Americans will relate to and find compelling. But it also seems insane to select someone with so little experience to be a heartbeat away from the presidency.

And maybe you'll come back with the retorts we've all heard about her having as much experience as Obama or more executive experience than Obama, Biden, and McCain combined. But I don't think either of these statements is true. Have you read the post-mortems on the Democratic primary? If building and running perhaps the most improbable successful primary campaign in history doesn't count as executive experience, I don't know what does. Obama has demonstrated an astonishing ability to lead, to inspire, and to organize, and the fact that he's never held an elected executive office doesn't diminish that.

I also think it's odd to even make the comparison between a person the country has gotten to know over a year and a half and 18 million Americans voted for to a person the overwhelming majority of Americans had never heard of before one man decided to put her into a position of national prominence. Obviously if she actually becomes the Vice President, Americans will have voted for her, but to me the idea that they are somehow equally untested at this moment just feels naive.

MORE: Here's an article actually suggesting she would have to resign and appoint someone else to fill the position (a la Geena Davis?) if McCain were to die early in office. I don't know how that bizarre notion can be compatible with the idea that she's a reasonable choice, but that's where the article seems to end up.

barrett  {September 1, 2008}

I think it shows McCain wasn't serious about having a strong woman on the ticket. If he were, he could have gone with Kay Bailey Hutchinson or even Christine Todd Whitman. Whitman was hurt by her turn at the EPA, but I think she could have made a case that Bush done her wrong there. That would have given him a qualified VP and a sympathetic figure that helped distance himself from Bush.

Thank god he didn't think of it, and the only Whitman bandied about was Meg Whitman from eBay.

paul  {September 2, 2008}

i don't think christine todd whitman was ever a realistic choice because she is pro choice, and i think if mccain was going to pick someone who was pro choice he would have picked lieberman. mccain was in a tight spot with this pick... to change the game he needed someone who would appeal to the right, appeal to the middle, and recast him as a maverick. given those parameters, you can see why he picked palin. unfortunately for him, the people in the middle aren't going to be fooled into voting for someone that conservative just because she's a woman -- which seems to have been the plan.

as far as looking like a maverick, there's no question that he does. the problem there is that he may have gone a little too far by taking someone who wasn't even vetted.

i'm not convinced this was a political mistake yet, even if it's insane that he picked her without a serious vetting process. the choice is fraught with peril for obama and the democrats... obama's weakness is that he can come across as aloof and condescending, and picking someone charming who americans will relate to accentuates that contrast and sets up some serious problems if the obama camp react in the wrong way. (so far they have handled this extremely well, imho.) everything is going to depend on how much personality and charm she has, and whether it fools the american people. and before you say you have faith in the american people, i would refer you to exhibit 1 -- the 43rd president of the united states.

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