To get it out of the way, let me just say that it's impossible for me to like her because our politics are as far from each other on the spectrum as they could possibly be. Sarah Palin wants to teach Creationism in school, teach abstinence only education and kill the polar bears by drilling for oil in Alaska. OK, that last one is a bit extreme, but we don't need to put anymore holes up there. She is pro-life and all about small government: a small government that keeps their hands out of your purse, but has no problem tapping your phone or reading your e-mail.
That aside, I still think Palin was a terrible choice. Sure, it seems perfect, and when I first heard about it I got a little worried. She is a young intelligent woman and mother of a soldier going to Iraq and a young special needs child. The last point shouldn't matter, but in reality it will help her get sympathy votes from other parents or people that work with special needs kids. But as I learned more about her, the more desperate the pick seemed.
First, the obvious point, her pregnant daughter. Bristol Palin is now five months pregnant at the age of 17. For such a huge proponent of abstinence-only education, this is a pretty huge blow. How can you promote this idea when it doesn't even work for your own kid?
Second, her experience. One of the major attacks on Obama from the McCain campaign is how he's inexperienced. Then they pull up a woman whose only political experience is as the mayor of a 6,000-person town in Alaska and as the governor of Alaska for a grand total of a year and a half. Oh yeah, and she's totally ready to be commander and chief because she was the head of the Alaskan National Guard. Oh yeah, and she has foriegn policy experience because she is from Alaska, which is sorta near Russia...and Canada for that matter.
But she also wanted Alaska to secede from the Union. That doesn't seem very American.
Finally -- and this is not a joke on McCain by any means -- there is a chance that McCain could die during his presidency. We have to face that, he's an old man and it's definitely possible. The last thing I want is to see him fall ill and have the crazy conservative from Alaska take over Washington. I just can't let that happen.
So why did the Republican's pick Palin? To solidify the conservative Republican base and hopefully draw some miffed Hillary supporters/girl-power feminists over to the right. Seems logical. But with scandals flying left and right in the days after the VP pick, the GOP is forced play defense and make people keep their faith in this campaign. They start building up her "resume," and hope that American's will forget about the little things that have been flying around the blogosphere recently.
Jay Rosen on his PressThink blog had some pretty good ideas on how the McCain campaign should be moving forward after this pick:
Journalists watching all this keep saying to themselves: wait until she gets out on the campaign trail. Wait until she sits for those interviews with experienced reporters and faces a real press conference.
- Strategy: double down on defiance by never letting her answer questions, except from friendly media figures who have joined your narrative; like Cheney with Fox. No meet the press at all. No interviews of Palin with the DC media elite— at all. De-legitimate the ask. Break with all “access” expectations. Use surrogates and spokesmen, let them get mauled, then whip up resentment at their mistreatment. Answer questions at town halls and call that adequate enough.
Now here is the scary part. While all the Democrats are sitting over here laughing and saying "What was he thinking?" Republican National Convention seems to be hanging on her every last word. Sure, she had a good speech, delivery-wise, but I don't see how you can sit there and listen to what she says and say "Man, I can't wait until she gets to Washington!" But they were. They were cheering and chanting and holding signs with slogans like "Palin Power" and "Hockey Moms 4 Palin." They were bent over with laughter when Palin made this little joke: "You know what the difference is between a hockey mom and a pitbull? Lipstick."
What bothered me most about her speech was the fact that it was essentially an Obama bash-fest. Tell me what you're going to do, not what is wrong with Obama. But it's what the RNC wanted to hear. They ate it up.
But did the rest of the voters? I don't think so. It even seems like it's helped Obama raise a record-breaking $10 million in one day.
To bring this crazy rant to a close, I think McCain would have been much better off if he had gone more moderate. I believe the conservative base of the Republican party was going to go for McCain no matter what and the amount of women they would "steal" from Clinton is not significant enough to make a difference. As my buddy Chris said a long time ago, a pick like Joe Lieberman would have made for a formidable ticket. So strong that I even would have had to look harder at who I wanted to support. I think it would draw a lot of independents to the Republican side, which could be the difference in the election. But I guess McCain had other ideas.
There's no way to predict what will happen come November, but as far as I can tell Palin might be a "Hail Mary" that falls innocently to the ground in the endzone. Especially after seeing McCain's less than inspirational acceptance speech while writing this.
Everyone at the RNC sure seems excited, but is America?