The following words accurately describe John McCain's pick of Sarah Palin as his running mate. Bold. Daring. Exciting. Manipulative. Calculated. Opportunistic. Pandering. Cynical. Hypocritical. Reckless. And a little desperate.
As well as a self aggrandizing slap in the face of the American people.
I was not as surprised as most that the Repub veep choice was a woman rather than Romney, Lieberman or company. Obviously McCain would be in an electoral pickle if his ticket was yet another couple of white males going up against the marvelously historical Barack Obama movement. McCain badly needed to shake things up by resorting to the identity politics conservatives condemn when it is convenient to do so. Choosing a black was too obvious (and one wonders where he would have found one), so a woman was eminently logical.
It is certain attributes of the woman McCain picked that poses difficulties for him and especially the nation. The Senator from Arizona is of a sufficient age that there is a very real statistical chance he will not make it through his first term--he could keel over a week after the inauguration. The constitutional requirement for the VP to be ready from the getgo to step into the Oval Office is correspondingly even higher than normal. McCain and his campaign have been trashing Obama for being too little known by the public, too young, too inexperienced especially in foreign affairs, too politically opportunistic, and too lacking in judgment for Americans to elect him president in 2004, if ever. McCain, as typical of conservative Republicans, claims to be a patriot of principle who always puts his country ahead of his own.
We now know that he and his campaign were just kidding. There are a number of GOP woman who are suitable vice-presidential material in terms of qualifications and familiarity with the body politic. But none of them suited McCain's electoral purposes in the last few weeks of his looming defeat if he does not pull off something big. The Sarah Palin who could be president next year if McCain has a really good year in 2008 and a really bad one in 2009 is in no way close to being the best qualified selection for vice president. She is a Clarence Thomas chosen for ulterior motives.
Palin is younger than Obama. She is no more experienced than he, If anything, the governor is much less knowledgeable in foreign matters. And McCain has callously stuck Americans with vetting a virtual unknown as potential Presidential material in just two months. It is an outrageous act, one that the press et al. have failed to sufficiently censure.
So much for the McCain argument that he is the candidate of considered judgment. In contrast Obama prudently chose as his campaign compadre a long-term, well-known, highly-respected Senator steeped in foreign policy who, although not all that exciting, can readily step into the President's shoes if the need arises. It was a sound judgment call. McCain has shown that he still has the adrenaline-stoked, high-risk mentality of a fighter pilot. That's a positive when you are responsible for yourself during combat, but not when you are in charge of an entire nation.
That the anti-corruption Palin is currently under investigation for a potential ethical violation that might lead to who knows what--remember Spiro Agnew--emphasizes how McCain is psychologically and literally gambling his campaign and the future of the country. Ergo, a McCain-Palin administration is likely to exhibit the let's try it and see what happens attitude of the Bush II-Cheney administration. That can't be good.
And forever blown out of the water is the McCain campaign's charge that Obama is too young, inexperienced, and little known (a potential misstep that has some smiles-frozen-on-their-faces Republican operatives wondering how JM could expediently toss this key theme overboard). In contrast to Palin, Obama has been on the national stage since 04, and he has been running for President since 1904 it seems. He holds a national office. Obama's level of experience is, by the way, eerily similar to another fellow from Illinois who had the chutzpah to run for President. That person also served in the state legislature, and he served for just one term in the House of Representative in Congress, declining to run for a second term after he notoriously proclaimed that God did not side with America in an controversial optional war of occupation the nation was engaged in at the time.
After returning to Illinois the chastened politician returned to his career as a lawyer. Although nationally celebrated for his rhetorical skills in debates, when he ran for the White House he was denounced for lacking the experience and judgment to lead the nation at a time of growing crisis. The person being discussed was a Republican. His name? Abraham Lincoln. McCain has been doubly hypocritical in going after Obama concerning his experience not only because it is comparable to past successful presidents, but because he spun around and selected a similarly untested running mate.
Why McCain is being so cynical and opportunistic as he risks committing a Dan Quayle moment is not hard to sort out. The selection of the gun adoring, abortion hating Palin appears to pull off the calculated trick of reinforcing and electrifying the evangelical base while pandering to the less socially conservative female vote, including picking off some nonliberal Hillary supporters--a move made patent by Palin's gratuitous appeal to the latter's supporters when she accepted McCain's offer to join the campaign. And the historical and exciting nature of the Obama-Biden campaign is reduced with a surprise move that diverted attention from the Democratic effort just as their convention closed in triumph. Throwing the Obama people off their game with a bolt from the blue action that wiped out the Dems pre 9/29 preparations and left struggling to catch up was standard tactics. But that's electoral tactics, not wise governance.
Palin does fits McCain's theme of being a maverick reformer, something he really seems to admire her for. In exchange for these advantages JM is telling America to gamble on a politician they know even less about than he does. To be blunt about it, McCain clearly cares at least as much about himself as he does the country he has dumped this roll of the dice on.
This is not a new revelation. The GOP nominee, for example, has long been accusing Obama of making a politically convenient and popular vote against the Iraq surge, while claiming that his vote for the offensive was as wise, principled and patriotic as it was unpopular. What McCain has not admitted is that he knew full well he had to support the surge if he had any hope of winning the Republican nomination.
I am not claiming that the graduate of Chicago politics Obama is as pristine as the driven snow, while the war hero McCain is political evil incarnate. What McCain has done is to wreck any claim he has to being a man of principled judgment who cares more about the American nation and people than does his opponent. If anything Obama now enjoys an edge on these matters.