Sunday, August 31, 2008

What About the Other Veep Candidate?

[UPDATE: Bobby G. left this graphic in the comments, so I'll use it as long as he doesn't mind. Full size image here.]

For whatever it's worth, I've offered my opinion about Barack Obama's choice for a running mate, and about what he should have been looking for. I suppose it's only fair that I spend a bit of time dissecting John McCain's choice.

First off, I'm not one of those who imagine that this is some sort of temporary choice, or that McCain will dump Sarah Palin before the convention in hopes of finding a newer model. It's hard to imagine someone with McCain's ego admitting that he was wrong. They won't choose another candidate unless forced to.

As folks like Steve Benen have noted, Palin's colleagues in Alaska are less than enthused about her:

There's never been a politician from Alaska on the national stage before, so I kind of expected Alaskans and the Alaskan media to have a decidedly positive attitude about Sarah Palin joining the Republican ticket. It's not exactly turning out that way.

Those Who Know Her Best ...

You could collect quotes like that from any politician's political rivals, so let's look at a few facts, shall we? While she was mayor of Wasilla, the town she grew up in, Palin managed to lumber the town with a $20 million debt. That doesn't sound like much, unless you know how to do long division:

Palin, who portrays herself as a fiscal conservative, racked up nearly $20 million in long-term debt as mayor of the tiny town of Wasilla — that amounts to $3,000 per resident. She argues that the debt was needed to fund improvements.

Dems armed with Palin opposition

This is what fiscal conservatives do these days. Didn't Politico get the memo? Does Mrs. Palin handle the family checkbook? I sure hope not for their sake.

She also doesn't seem to be too clear on how the law should work. For instance, as Siun observes at FireDogLake:

According to the Alaska TV news station KTUU where Gov. Palin “appeared occasionally as a television sportscaster,” Palin was so determined to defeat a Clean Water ballot measure this summer that she broke the law to oppose it[.]

Sarah Palin: Maverick For Mining Interests

Of course, there's also that little problem with Palin having supposedly fired Alaska's director of public safety because he wouldn't help Palin's sister:

Democrats are zeroing in on an ongoing probe into Palin’s role in the firing of the state’s public safety director, who had reportedly refused to sack Palin’s estranged former brother-in-law.

Audiotapes released last month reveal that aides to the 44-year-old governor pressured Safety Director Walter Monegan to dismiss Trooper Mike Wooten, after Wooten allegedly threatened Palin’s father during a messy child custody fight with the governor’s sister Molly.

Monegan refused to do so and was fired on July 11 and replaced by an official who had previously been suspended for sexual harassment.

Dems armed with Palin opposition

Guest blogger Shannyn Moore made some observations about Palin's legal acumen at Progressive Alaska:

I’m all about killing and grilling moose. So is Sarah. But to the degree she will influence elections by spending $400,000 of state money to propagandize her position to shoot wolves and bears out of planes is bizarre. You would think Alaska has a ban on the importation of Viagra for all the fervor to chase animals with airplanes.

Shannyn Moore's Take on Gov. Palin's Judgement

So, massive public indebtdness, obliviousness to the need for the government to obey the law, and bad judgement on matters important to the health and future of her constituents - I suppose if you liked the last eight years you'll feel right at home with Sarah Palin.

As I noted earlier, McCain's support is already higher among his party's faithful than Obama's is with his. I think Palin's anti-abortion stance will tend to dissuade Democratic fence-sitters from crossing over. The swing vote will be mostly among independents. How they will view this choice I can only guess. She's certainly photogenic, which will be a plus no matter what she's saying. People judge others by their looks far more than most are willing to admit. Her regressive attitude about science and education, and the effect that attitude has on her thinking about things like abortion and medical research, probably won't matter as much as they should.

Plus, while she may be nice looking, it's also quite clear from her bio that she's a bulldog on the inside. Don't underestimate her. She can almost certainly deliver her simplistic message about how the world should be and have lots of people believe her simply because she does and because it conforms to their own prejudices. It won't matter if Obama or Biden could out-think her even when they're sedated. She's not going to be easy to defeat in a debate. Political debates aren't about ideas any more. They're about appearances. Or didn't you get the memo?

Over the last thirty years I've learned to never underestimate the stupidity of the average American voter. Even though the last few years should have been a wakeup call, I don't believe this election will be an exception. Far from being an irrational choice, Sarah Palin may do something that Vice Presidential candidates rarely do - help the ticket she's on.

UPDATE (Sep. 1): Biologist PZ Myers does a bit of dissection on Mrs. Palin over at Pharyngula. He sums her up thus:

See Question 2 above. Do we really want stupid people dictating what people should learn?

From The Horse's Mouth

I wrote that Palin's views on science and education were regressive. Myer's article does a good job of pointing out why.


Eli said...

Yeah, my fear is that all she needs to do is not get visibly intimidated or flustered, and it really won't matter what kind of inane gibberish she's spouting. All we'll hear from the media is how poised she looked.

Cujo359 said...

I'm afraid you're right. One of the more memorable political arguments of the Spring happened when someone thought they saw Hillary Clinton's cleavage. Gives you some idea how obsessed we are with looks and image in this country.

Anonymous said...

The Deadliest Catch -

The Bridge to Nowhere -

Cujo359 said...

Is that you, Bobby G? Good graphics, anyway.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, those are mine, LOL. Hope you are well.

Cujo359 said...

Just fine. I was about to put the deadliest catch one up as a graphic. Hope you don't mind. (If you do, I'll be happy to take it down).