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Friday, August 29, 2008

McCain's choice - miscalculation?

On the tail of one of the most pivotal Democratic conventions and one of the most lauded speech from an official Democratic nominee (a speech that moved me to tears), the McCain camp moves in with a sleight of hand that is strategically sound, even if somewhat short-sighted. I'm, of course, talking about McCain's announcement that his VP choice is Alaska governor Sarah Palin.

Palin is a new face on the Republican landscape, a particularly pretty face at that. After all, she's a former Miss Alaska. And don't think I'm being sexist here. You better know McCain's camp took Palin's looks into consideration when canvassing for a possible GOP VP pick, esp. as the media has heretofore played up Obama's attractiveness as well as that of his young family. This pick puts some pulchritude in the McCain camp. Youth would also have been considered, given Palin's more youthful age of 44 compared to McCain's 72 years (as of today). But what is so cynically apparent to most of us is that McCain is going for the embittered PUMAs (Party Unity My Ass) still reeling from Clinton's loss.

Going back to strategy, pros and cons had to be weighed. On the pro side, Palin appeals to the values held so near and dear by the Republicans: anti-choice (or as they put it, pro-life), and not a hypocritical one one at that, having given birth to five children, the last of which is a Down's Syndrome baby born this past April; a life-long member of the NRA who loves to hunt; an anti-gay advocate, although she's provided equal benefits to same-sex couples (which might actually be on the con side for more of the ultra conservatives); a governor of nearly two years who seems to be running a fair administration, cutting the pork on both the Dem and Rep side (although there is an ethics glitch - see cons); a governor who also has an 80% popularity rating in her state; and let's be blatant here, she is a double-x'er, a female. And the question is whether that is a pro or con for the more traditionalist Republican (who may have a problem with a woman in power) as well as the disaffected PUMA Democrat.

Many of the pundits are saying that this seemingly smart choice may come back to bite McCain on his ass. If his affirmative-action pick is meant to draw in the still bitter Clinton voters who wanted to see a woman in the White House, he may be underestimating them. Women politicos are no more interchangeable than their male counterparts. Just having a vagina doesn't earn kudos with female voters. Palin simply doesn't measure up to Clinton's experience and record. And given that this camp has harped on Obama's lack of experience on a national sphere, the same can be same here; having executive experience in one state doesn't necessarily prepare you for possibly running a country, and let's face it, she would be one heartbeat away from the most powerful office in the Western world. Although some PUMAs may be lured in, others may see this for what it really is, pandering for their vote.

McCain also hasn't considered the rabid Mommy brigade (a lot of whom are republicans), who will look at Palin as not being a dedicated mother. After all, she has a disabled child, and her VP duties will definitely cut into mommy time.

There are other considerations disaffected Clinton voters will take note of, things that will be a knick in the Republican strategy. For one, Palin's pro stance on teaching creationism in the schools. Also, her anti-choice advocacy is not attractive to women who might have made a different choice than she has. And there's that little problem of an ethics investigation to look into the allegation that she had her brother-in-law fired from the state sheriff's office during the time when he was fighting for custody of his children against Palin's sister. This type of nepotism, or appearance thereof, just shows that she's like any other politico when it comes to power moves. Something rife in the current administration. Potential voters will ask themselves whether they want more of the same.

As the weeks to November wind up, McCain's move will play out in the press ad nauseum. Whether McCain has made a wise choice (or not) will be judged by popular opinion long before the final November tally answers that question.


Sharon Cullars Coffee Talk at 8/29/2008 02:15:00 PM Permanent Link     | | Home


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