Look at them, trying to put out the fire. Posted by: Bryan Pick
on Friday, August 29, 2008
It’s hard not to notice the contrasts. Even before Obama picked Biden, Republicans were begging Obama to choose him. When Biden was selected, there were already several parallel narratives showing that he was, among other things, more exercised about a McCain candidacy than an Obama candidacy. And it was plain as day that his comparatively long experience in the Senate – extremely long, actually – would be unflattering beside Obama’s. Biden has eight times as much experience as the man at the top of his ticket. Woof. And so Republicans simply derided the choice, chattered a bit about what it means about Obama – all conspicuously at odds with his carefully-built narrative – and moved on.
Then, on the day after Obama’s self-consciously historic acceptance speech, John McCain announced that he had selected Sarah Palin to be his running mate.
Whoosh. The air went right out of the Democrats’ lungs. When it started to come back, in little gasps, it was full of concern. They spent the rest of the day trying to wave their hands at what is readily apparent:
She’s a woman. You know, on the ticket. So? So? Women won’t vote for her! Ignore all the women who are saying otherwise. Give them a little credit: they think like we do. This is just a crass attempt at playing identity politics. Democrats wouldn’t know anything about that, would they?
She’s been a far more able agent of change in the last few years in Alaska than Obama has been from the United States Senate. It would be fair to say she’s kicked some ass. She’s untested on the national level! Very little experience, you see.
She has more executive experience than the entire Democratic ticket combined. Which isn’t that hard, admittedly... But that’s in Alaska! Yes, Alaska, between Canada and Russia. Alaska, a third the size of the continental United States, lots of fossil fuels, tough guys on fishing boats. The state Obama’s been spending money in, hoping for an upset. That Alaska.
You still don’t understand. Somebody with that little experience, only a heartbeat away from the presidency? Oh come on. (Hat tip to Xrlq:) "We can't have a woefully underqualified person one heartbeat away from the Presidency! We need a woefully underqualified person to be President right away!!"
Don’t you see, she’s more of the same from the Republicans! You’ve been saying that repeatedly. But she sure tore into a lot of Republicans in her own state, and when they went down for corruption, the rank-and-file GOP sure were glad to have their maverick. She’s in cahoots with Big Oil! You could have fooled them.
With her background and bearing, she combines the best of the South, the Mountain West and the Midwest. She’ll secure the segments of the base that have been wary of McCain and still appeal to moderates in the crucial Rust Belt battleground. In a season in which conservatives have been openly talking about voting against Obama (and maybe not even doing that much) rather than for McCain, she’s a breath of fresh air.
And this is an absolutely key point: when Biden was picked, millions of Democrats were either thinking or openly talking about who they would have rather had as the VP nominee. Today, you’re seeing none of that from Republicans. With the kind of audacity McCain displayed, conservatives all over are applauding the fact that he neither went with the “safe picks” (like Pawlenty or Romney) nor gave away the farm with the Lieberman Option. She seems, in immediate retrospect, like an obvious choice, and that’s reflecting very well on McCain himself. People on both sides of the partisan divide are seeing him in a new light: to opponents as perhaps more dangerous than they had expected, and to allies as a candidate to get energized about. He finally exists in the media independently of his opponent, which translates into initiative.
The McCain campaign just stole a lot of wind from Obama’s sails, at a time when Obama’s looking for a bump to crow about. Jon pointed out at The Next Right that the news cycle has been entirely captured by McCain-Palin. Purely anecdotally, I’m seeing a lot of increased interest in his campaign in itself, rather than only as it relates to Obama’s, and yes, a lot of that is coming from women. This is a game-changer, and don’t let anyone (never mind the transparently panicked Democrats) tell you otherwise.
Lovely. An Alaska state trooper running around DWI, tasing children and demonstrating his "authority" before all. If the left can defend this loser who has clearly abused his power, this libertarian will never again consider an ACLU protest about anything - Denver cop abuse or whatever.
It’s not exactly true that conservatives are all defending McCain on this. Have you visited NRO or the Volokh Conspiracy in the last day or so? They’re all crying tokenism. I agree with you against them on this, but it’s best to acknowledge the full story. Some conservatives, including some pretty influential ones, are very disappointed. I’m not sure he could have chosen anyone who is, all things considered, a better choice. The only competitor might have been Pawlenty, but he has some of the same negatives without her positives. He wouldn’t have been called a tokenist pick because he’s a white man, but he also wouldn’t have taken the wind out of Obama’s momentum, and that’s a significant enough achievement to favor her over him given that they’re similar enough otherwise.
They’re mixed over at Volokh’s place; David Post is the notably negative one. Dale Carpenter appears to be coming around.
At NRO, they’re definitely more positive than negative. From what I recall, Frum was down on her and so was Ponnuru, and everyone else was at least cautiously optimistic. (I haven’t read it all, but I’ve seen some items on Memeorandum and browsed a bit.)
What I haven’t seen, save for one or two people in all my reading, is conservatives/Republicans/righties saying who would have been a better pick.
Bryan, that’s exactly right. They don’t have a better pick in mind, other than Pawlenty, who really isn’t much more experienced than Palin and otherwise is a lot like her. That suggests pure sexism. Or perhaps it’s just bias against Alaska, which is a cultural thing.