I guess you should always go with your gut. I knew when I made the Romney pick this morning that the early reports were probably true–that John McCain was going to choose Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. I didn’t see this coming until this morning. During an early Veepstake Monday: The Inside Line, in March, I gave her a 12-1. and then in May I had her at a distant 20-1, until I found out that she’d just given birth to a son with Down’s Syndrome. Then she dropped off the charts. That’s a burden and it’s a burden you have to endure–not while managing a state and campaigning for Vice President.
My first thought this morning when my publisher reminded me that I had to make a Veep pick before McCain rolled out his choice at what he said would be noon and I started seeing Sarah Palin’s name floated as the pick was that this was an obfuscating trial balloon. For too many reasons, it made almost no sense.
But to paraphrase the great H.L. Mencken, no one ever lost money underestimating the intelligence of the 2008 John McCain Presidential Campaign. The big chief of the film crew following us, Mike, talked to his wife shortly after 9:00 AM MST, and it was all but official. But it wasn’t official yet, and the crew wanted to know more information about who Sarah Palin was, so I called up her Wikipedia page.
Say what you will about Wikipedia. It isn’t the first-stop for hard, factual data, but if you’re looking for the viability of a rumor, Wikipedia is a good place to begin. I was listening to a radio show early last year, at a time when I was working at home and kept my TV on MSNBC or CNN with the sound turned down while my radio was going. Portland’s Rick Emerson broke in with, “…Whoa, we don’t have any confirmation on this yet, and it isn’t on CNN, MSNBC, or any of the major news networks, but there are reports that Anna Nicole Smith has just died.” I immediately went to Wikipedia to Anna Nicole Smith’s entry and discovered “Anna Nicole Smith – November 28, 1967-February 8, 2007.”
In other words, if a canary dies in a coalmine, it’s going to be on Wikipedia even before the canary knows it.
I went to Sarah Palin’s Wikipedia page to see when she had been elected governor of Alaska (I thought it was 2004, but it was 2006). The last sentence in the entry was “Governor Palin is the 2008 GOP Vice Presidential nominee.”
Sarah Palin is a very intelligent and capable woman, but in any municipal, state, or national legislative body, you can swing a dead feline and connect with an intelligent and capable woman or man, but it doesn’t mean they’re ready to lead our country.
This was really a pick that was not only cynical to the core, but utterly insulting to women. I immediately thought of George H.W. Bush appointing Clarence Thomas to replace the irreplaceable Thurgood Marshall on the U.S. Supreme Court and then lamely offering that he wasn’t just the most qualified African-American for the job but the most qualified of any candidate on his list.
The Obama campaign was all over the pick immediately, indicating that she is a governor of one of the least-populous states in the union who has been in office barely over eighteen months, before which she was the mayor of a town with less than 9,000 residents.
This is true, but a lot of white voters like her. I won’t call that John McCain’s genius, but picking her might be his smartest accident. Not only is she a woman, but she’s a white woman, and a governor of a state that is 69.3% white among its mono-ancestral citizens. The idea that she’ll pick up any Hillary voters is a canard, but she’s a Creationist, and she’s all for killing live animals (which isn’t a bad thing necessarily–I’m all for eating most popularly-consumable animals), and she’ll drill for oil in your backyard and kill any polar bear that gets in the way, and any drop of semen that finds its way inside a vagina is a potential life worth defending. That’s a whole lot of Caucasian policy pornography.
And she certainly doesn’t have an awkward immigration problem on which she has to take a position, unless you count the occasional escaped Russian submarine.
The retarded spin on this pick is that she’s going to be a magnet for the disaffected Hillary voters. The PUMA crowd have already made it clear that they’re voting for John McCain. If they’re already that far off the reservation, Sarah Palin isn’t going to add anything.
But the flyover states are going to love her, especially when they see her with the lavishly-displayed taxidermy in her living room.
In this context, this is a smart choice for McCain. He’s already lost the African-American vote, except for Ron Christie, and he’s long-since left the pro-immigration camp.
In the broader picture, it’s insane. He has chosen a governor with barely nineteen months of executive experience. This is the craziest outsde-the-box choice since George W. Bush nominating Harriet Myers for Supreme Court Justice.
Anyway, I’ll give them their day in the sun. Richard Nixon’s choice of Spiro Agnew was called, by The Washington Post, “the most eccentric political appointment since Caligula named his horse a consul.” Richard Nixon, consider yourself vindicated.