Flashback: Four years ago
Four years ago (8/29/2008), I wrote the following as a reaction to the pick of Sarah Palin as John McCain’s running mate:
Following the premise of Head of State, McCain chooses Sarah Palin as his running mate, undercutting his own arguments for his own selection, but (possibly) opening new doors for the party’s future.
In the movie “Head of State”, in an unseen event, the Republican Presidential and Vice Presidential nominees planes collide, leaving an open ticket for party leaders to fill. A self-interested Machiavellian party leader recognizes his party is doomed in the upcoming election, so instead attempts to increase his own chances four years later. He chooses a populist, inexperienced, young, brash black man from DC (an alderman), played by Chris Rock.
Here in 2008, in the real world and the United States of America, McCain and his party are in trouble, seeing awful polling numbers in states they are traditionally strong in, losing House and Senate seats across the nation. They have suffered from a rash of scandals and retirements, creating openings for Democrats to gain seats that should not be in play.
As far as the Presidential Maps go, looking state by state, it looks very strong for Obama, with the Democratic ticket currently lined up for 260 or so electoral votes with likely victories putting Obama well over the needed 270. I’m hoping for the number to approach or exceed 310 electoral votes, with 5+ seats gained in the Senate and a large number of seats gained in the House, giving Democrats a firm majority.
This is a very disturbing picture for Republicans, and certainly hasn’t been helped by some of the gaffes of the McCain campaign and the rabid energy surrounding the Obama campaign. Given this scenario the Republicans have two places to preserve their party, maintain filibuster strength in the Senate and then use the remaining 60ish days of the 08 campaign to rebuild and re-energize their own party for the midterms and 2012 where President Obama will face a tough re-election bid unless he manages some major legislative successes over the next 2 years.
Putting a young(ish), vibrant, charismatic and (perceived) wholesome woman candidate on the ticket with their standard stogy whiteguy nominee allows them to bring in some new blood to their voting pool and costs the party nothing tangible. McCain will age out with this election as Bob Dole did in 1996, Palin will return to the essentially disconnected state of Alaska, potentially to return some years down the line as a Congresswoman or Senator, or potentially to serve as Governor until she retires from politics.
Maybe I’m wrong, but it seems pretty clear to me this was a high risk pick if the intent is to win in November, but a high yield pick if the target is farther down the road. The strength of Democrats among women, who are an increasing voting demographic, is a frightful proposition for Republicans, who are also losing ground rapidly among younger voters(<45), another rapidly growing voting block. This choice seems to attempt to stifle some of that slide, and provide a “rose colored glasses” look back at a loosing election in a really nice fashion, women will remember the Republicans had the woman nominee, and could potentially, after the fact, frame her and the party as victims of sexism, real or created from thin air (found between Karl Rove’s ears), and further create interest and support for a 2012 challenge or a 2010 midterm flip of the House/Senate.</p>
Even today, Geraldine Ferraro’s campaign is referenced by mid to low info voters with theories of all flavors, blaming male sexism, blaming female vs female distrust, blaming her attitude/mannerisms, nothing based in fact mind you…but these theories shapes the perceptions of voters even today – the Republicans are banking that Palin will have similar effects in the future to their benefit.
It helps control the media narrative, giving them another reason to rub salt in the empty stories about obama/clinton disunity and the “puma’s” anger and distrust of Obama.
It gives Biden a challenge in the VP debate, something none of the male VP potentials had any chance of doing. Not because she is more capable, qualified or intelligent – but because he will be in danger of being painted as being abusive, overbearing, etc.
Make no mistake, Biden is far and away stronger than her on foreign policy – a subject in which he is a world renown expert and she has zero experience. He has 30 years of experience where she has 1.5 years as Governor of a small state and a term as mayor of a small town with some Big Oil experience to give her just a touch of that Bush White House flavor.
Her complete lack of experience, and no prior demonstration of wisdom or national leadership, undercuts McCains arguments against Obama. An arguement repeated and furthered following Palin’s announcement by Senator Mike Dewine’s son while warming up the crowd for the big rally at the Nutter Center. Clearly the campaign does not plan to abandon those themes, dismissing the duplicity.
She reinforces big oil’s pleas to drill, drill drill, something House and Senate Republican Candidates are banking on heavily around the nation. Otherwise providing little fodder for the undercard campaigns in either direction – unless the scandal involving her brother-in-law breaks into something real and shows a lack of ethics from a candidate/Governor who’s reputation is based on sweeping ethic reform and “taking on the corrupt Alaskan GOP establishment”, where Senator Stevens, his son and longtime house member Don Young find themselves in hot water today.
I’m not concerned about November, I’m confident that Senator Obama will be President Obama in late January, 2009. I am concerned that this is another example of GOP strategists outflanking Democratic counterparts, though in fairness, I wouldn’t change Obama’s VP pick, convention speech, etc…my only changes would be to strengthen the 50 state strategy and do more to deepen the benches of Democrats in all areas of the country.
The VP has one major responsibility, possibly a greater burden than the President takes on. They must take over the Country in a moments notice in the wake tragedy of epic proportions and be the leader we need; to ensure our liberty, security and prosperity continue. Gov Palin is not ready for that responsibility.
Was Chris Rock unavailable? Co-star Bernie Mac passed away recently, RIP.
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