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Posted by on Aug 29, 2008 in Politics | 34 comments

Reflections on the Palin Pick

Unconventional, and surprising.

As I wrote recently, I think this a year (and perhaps an age) for big-name, national-celebrity politics. Look at who ran for both parties in the primaries. For the most part they were all big names: Hillary, Obama, Edwards, Biden, Richardson, McCain, Giuliani, Romney, Thompson, etc…Huckabee and perhaps Dodd were the major exceptions. Which is why I thought Obama would go with Biden or perhaps Bayh, not Kaine or Sebelius, and why I thought McCain would go with Romney or Giuliani, not Palin or Pawlenty or Jindal.

It is a time for seriousness, for that overused word gravitas. And hasn’t McCain’s entire campaign been built around gravitas and the contrast with Obama’s youth and rawness? It’s the experience, but experience full of gravitas, from the military to the Senate. It’s the alleged character, but one that is allegedly serious. McCain’s very argument for himself is that he is up to task of being president, that he can step right in and lead. Obama, true, doesn’t have extensive experience, but he has obviously emerged over the past couple of years as a big-name, national-celebrity (in a good way) figure. And, of course, he has proven that he has both the judgment and many of the necessary skills to lead — and he now has the full endorsement of the likes of Bill and Hillary, John Kerry, and Al Gore.

But what now of Palin? She pales in comparison to Biden. She was mayor of a small town, Wasilla, before winning the governorship in 2006. She is something of a reformer, yes, but her experience is minimal — and certainly not national. So why her? To balance the ticket in terms of age and sex? Sure. To appeal to Hillary supporters, those still disaffected even after the convention? Sure. Because she’s an outsider with no ties to Washington, and because she can make a “change” argument of her own? Sure. Because she knows a thing or two about energy? Sure. Because she’s relatively attractive? Sure.

But so what? Does anyone really think she’s ready — with just two years in Juneau — for the national stage, let alone to step up and be president, if necessary? It’s like she’s another Dan Quayle (or Geraldine Ferraro) — less-awkward, perhaps, but with even less experience. Obama, Biden, and the Democrats will have to be careful not to seem condescending — Biden in particular when they debate — but what she brings to the ticket is outweighed overwhelmingly by what she lacks.

This pick utterly destroys McCain’s experience argument. And it also destroys his gravitas argument. Sure, it’ll be pointed out that he’s the presidential candidate, not her, but she’s on the ticket now as his first “presidential” decision, and, if they win elected, she’ll be right there, next in line for the top job.

With all due respect to Gov. Palin, this is a terrible and pathetic pick. (Which gives us reason to rejoice.)

(Cross-posted from The Reaction.)

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  • Excellent post.

    She was a better pick than Lieberman, and that’s the only good thing I can think to say about it.

  • jchem


    A number of people are jumping on the argument about her experience (or lack therof) and saying that she’s not ready to be president should something happen to McCain. Fair enough. But let me ask the question to you and everyone else: What does it actually take to be President of the U.S? And given your criteria, how do either McCain or Obama fit it?

  • Silhouette

    Again, you’re ignoring the fact that people aren’t thinking sanely this election. They’re seeking to “make history” at the expense of everything that’s truly important: like the war or the economy.

    If you want proof of this insane thinking, just look at who won the democratic nomination: a greenhorn over a seasoned and much-loved veteran of the Whitehouse. In these troubled times that’s like putting a gun in your mouth for the win in November. And that is insanity. Just after the convention I marvelled at interviews with longtime Obama supporters who said (with a smile I kid you not) how “even if Obama loses, this will still be a historical campaign” !!!

    So that’s it. The cat’s out of the bag. Obamabots were fully willing to sacrafice our bid at a win just to see Obama stand under confetti yesterday.

    So don’t look for sanity to prevail with regards to Palin. That’s why McSame picked her. He knows the knucklheads he has to rein in aren’t thinking issues, they’re thinking “make history”. Period.

    So he chose Palin. And you know what? Watch the polls. It will work.

  • So he chose Palin. And you know what? Watch the polls. It will work.

    You just really want to vote for Hillary in 2012. You’re so transparent. It’s kinda fun.

  • jchem,
    As Senators they’ve actually made decisions that affect our country’s foreign policy. They’ve gone overseas, they’ve met with foreign leaders. This is important for the presidency because that’s where the office has the most latitude.

  • GrimCat

    As far as her experience, it could be argued that she has more relevant experience than Obama. However, I would have preferred Romney.

  • jwest


    I’m going to assume from the wording of your article that there are no women in the immediate vicinity where you are writing.

    If, by chance, there is a woman close by and she is reading ……… DUCK!

    Not only are democrats going to loose votes, a lot of liberal guys are going to need stitches.

  • Silhouette

    Majority of blacks voted “black” this year. Majority of women will vote “woman” this year. When the election is over they’ll take their chances with what happens next…

    That is how majority voters will vote. Not necessarily you or I.

    And don’t forget, in this country, majority rules..

    If Hillary was on the ticket we’d still have a chance. Now we don’t. It’s just that simple.

  • GrimCat,
    By that argument she has more experience than McCain. So maybe she should be at the top of the ticket?

  • CitizenKang

    I apologize in advance, but truly, my very first thought on learning of the pick was:

    What, was Dan Quayle busy?


    On reflection I think the pick is perfect for exactly the sort of voter McCain has to pick up.

    And you may interpret that statement as you will.

  • Manchester2

    As I said before, this is a solid choice. Did you watch her acceptance speech? She’s articulate and a talented public speaker. Besides, the same arguments made in favor of Sen. Obama (“not a lot of experience, but good judgment, etc.”) can be trotted out to defend Gov. Palin. The difference – and it’s a big one – is that Obama wants to be POTUS, not Veep. As for McCain-Palin’s fortunes, I can hear the constituencies lining up. Large families? Check. Pro-life? Check. Military? Check. Conservative women who are career minded? Check. Small government fiscal tight-wads? Check. Gun and outdoors types? Check. There has got to be major hand wringing in the Obama-Biden camp today.

    • joep

      Your right–this pick was meant to appeal to the Republican base–that 25% of the population that still believes that W is a good president. Independants and Democrats–I dont’ think so.

  • Besides, the same arguments made in favor of Sen. Obama (“not a lot of experience, but good judgment, etc.”) can be trotted out to defend Gov. Palin. The difference – and it’s a big one – is that Obama wants to be POTUS, not Veep

    Obama has experience making decisions on the national and international stage. He’s run a very successful national campaign. Palin was the gov. of a really small state that is like no other in the United States. Remember, they don’t pay taxes there, they get money each year from oil revenue.

    So seriously, what judgment has she even demonstrated?

  • Silhouette

    Yes, and the plethora of posts here today confirms that “serious hand wringing”..

    Meanwhile I can hear the counter to any argument offered against Palin by Obama’s camp:

    “What? It seems like the Obama people really have something against women..first they unfairly criticize Hillary, then they don’t even consider her, and her 18 million voters, for VP ticket consideration….now they’re attacking our woman candidate…I think democrats are anti-woman”.

    And that will reflect the race card Obama played EVERY SINGLE TIME any legitimate criticism came his way. And like him, nothing the dems do or say can make a dent in Palin because of the gender card..

    Time to reap what you’ve sewn Obamabots. Oh what a bitter harvest it will be..

  • And that will reflect the race card Obama played EVERY SINGLE TIME any legitimate criticism came his way.

    You can’t even come up with one concrete example of that. But I’ll be here waiting for you to try.

  • pacatrue

    I’ve been saying it in other comments, but I’ll try it here as well. Palin has a lot of positive personal characteristics that will appeal to many Americans, just as Obama does, though they are very different stories. (Indeed, with both people, both would have been personally admired by many more until it became obligatory to hate them due to party affiliation. I have a feeling that Palin has a good 20% less support from Dems today than she did yesterday without having changed at all.)

    That said, there are some flaws that can quickly be brought up, such as voting against polar bears and consistently for oil in a supposed new era of alternative energies and when 20% of American children have cuddly polar bear stuffed animals somewhere in their room.

    The proof will be in the pudding here. Can she hang with Biden in a debate? Can she seem thoroughly knowledgeable and prepared on a large range of national issues that she’s never had to deal with as a governor? Obama and McCain have had over a year to prep for this. She’s had one day to get up to speed? Not saying she can’t; just pointing out it’s tough.

    Anecdotally, I just got off the phone with my father who I believe has voted Republican down the line probably since birth, who shocked me by saying he and step-mom were contemplating going for Obama, as they viewed McCain as a screw up, but at least the step-mom was elated by the pick of Palin and has immediately moved firmly back into the McCain camp. If she was the target politically for this choice, it worked.

  • Kathryn

    Sillhoutte, newsflash, not all women “love” Hillary. I know plenty that were incredibly eager for someone other than a Bush or Clinton in the White House. If nothing else, we will be spared that this term.

  • Silhouette

    Yes, we are all incredibly eager for someone other than who brought our economy to the strongest it’s been in US history.

    I mean, that goes without saying.


    people like Kathyrn vote…

  • pacatrue

    Newsflash: Hillary wasn’t ever President.

  • Ricorun

    I think it’s going to be very interesting to see how this pick is going to pan out. Palin definitely does bring some distinct positives to McCain’s campaign. But there are also significant down sides. As far as I can tell social conservatives are truly delighted. But they were going to vote for McCain anyway (begrudgingly perhaps, but they were). I can see where women would be excited on first blush, but I wonder how many of those, other than the ones who were going to vote for McCain already, will feel about her once they get familiar with her positions. From what little I know, her biggest claim to fame is ethics reform, and has done well in her short time in Juneau cleaning up the political cesspool there. Then again, she has that abuse of power investigation hanging over her head. I understand she’s cooperating fully, and doesn’t think it will go anywhere, but that’s no guarantee.

    Finally, I have no idea what kind of campaigner she’s likely to be (I didn’t hear her speech this morning). If she turns out to be a loose cannon, or a gaffe machine, or if they get her talking about creationism or something, she could sink McCain fast.

  • Leonidas

    Palin is a candidate who has enacted change, not merely talked about it. She has actual achievements in ethics reforwm and curbing wasteful spending. The Obama-Biden ticket lacks this.

  • Silhouette

    “Newsflash: Hillary wasn’t ever President.”


    What’s funny is that is coming from someone who might likely would’ve backed the continuous accusation all throughout the Clinton administration that Hillary was indeed the sitting president then; people’s main objection to her in fact back in the day. She had every bit to do with Bill’s success and everyone knew it then.

    Odd, how convenience provides a different description… : )

  • Leonidas,
    Turns out she lied about not supporting that “bridge to nowhere.” Woops!

  • pacatrue

    What’s funny, silhouette, is how you make judgments about people you’ve never met due to your love of conspiracies. The first political rally I ever attended was Clinton-Gore 1992. I voted for Clinton both times and do not regret the decision. He was a fine President from my point of view. The fact that Clinton did a nice job does not stop me from also worrying with Kathryn when a nation of 300 million people was showing evidence of not being able to choose a single citizen who didn’t have Bush or Clinton as their last name. Such an oligarchy is very dangerous to democracy in our nation. And, for the record, I would have voted for Hillary Clinton if she had beat out Obama. She likely would have been a fine President as well, just not my top pick. (Obama was not my top pick either. I was wavering.)

  • pacatrue

    I should add that I think your comment’s the first time I’ve ever been considered a political conservative in my life. So I’m pretty stoked to get my moderate credentials beefed up again.

  • Silhouette

    Pacatrue. Please delineate how the Clintons, either one, were “dangerous” to society.

    Is it that they cared about the poor? Created 22 million new jobs? Brought our nation to the best economy ever and produced a SURPLUS budget?

    If that’s dangerous, then bring it on …I have a taste for that type of danger….lol…

    So neither Clinton nor Obama was your top pick. Who was it then? Ron Paul?

    I think this thread is about the democratic vs republican VP picks…but hey, the subjects do tend to wander a bit..

  • Davebo

    It’s a bit ironic choosing the governor of Americas number 1 welfare state.

    Alaskans receive more federal dollars per capita than any other state. And Alaska get’s 90% of the oil and mineral royalties from federal land while every other state only gets 50%.

    And she’s already hinting that she’ll use the position to provide even more wilderness welfare.

    We want to make sure that that VP slot would be a fruitful type of position, especially for Alaskans and for the things that we’re trying to accomplish up here

    IOKIYAAR strikes again.

  • pacatrue

    Nothing about the Clinton Presidency was dangerous. A democracy which has devolved so much that last name and fame is as important as both experience AND judgment is dangerous. It was no affront to FDR to pass an amendment after him limiting the Presidency to two terms. Having a single person in control of a nation for term after term has inherent drawbacks. It’s why we don’t vote for benevolent kings. New blood, new ideas are generally good. But of course this is only one factor, which is why I would have voted for Clinton II if she had been the nominee. (And, to answer your question, I was seriously considering Richardson and would have given Biden a closer look if he had still been around by the time my state came along (in addition to Obama and Clinton).)

  • DLS

    McCain surprised everyone and made a great choice. This is already shown to be so by the prompt dirtbag-to-hyperventilatory reaction by the childish play-pen crowd.

    They leap to “inexperienced,” even though she, the #2 Republican, has more experience that matters than Obama, the #1 Democrat. You’re chumps; try again!

    What will come next is the lack of support for her as an accomplished female, a true pioneer; she’ll be attacked in the most vulgar manner just as Thomas, a black pioneer in this country was similarly attacked, for being traitors against the PC and Democratic Party goose-stepping plantation. If you thought the sometimes vulgar and disgusting attacks (including frequent sexist attacks) on Clinton by the Obama people wanting her out of the way were bad, just wait; we’re seeing rumblings on the Left, in society’s lower GI tract, already threatening much worse sewage to come against McCain’s Vice President.

    Add to that the jealousy over McCain and his VP stealing the show from Obama and his lurid Britney-Spears-style political-tainment extravaganza last night and the clear threat seen by the few on the left with their heads not still up their asses that with this choice, McCain and the GOP have surprised everyone by indicating they are far from dead, after all, and there may be a contest this year, after all.

    The Obama people so often are children (as some of the writers on this site have demonstrated, including Stickings frequently). What was one of the problem with the Clinton voters? Entitlement when it came to the nomination. The Obama children (whom we saw to great, though in ways embarrassing, effect last night) are no different. Bush’s adminstration is weak and discredited; McCain has been weak; everything pointed to Democratic victory provided the Dems would not be overconfident. But McCain and the GOP have changed that. So much of the initial stupid as well as childish (and already threatening hateful) reaction by the Left is due to that same sense of childish, conceited entitlement — they have expected to win this election this year, and now they’re starting to throw a tantrum because it’s not guaranteed.

    Way to go, McCain. He chose a VP that puts life back into the GOP this year as well as in to his campaign (and the convention, if the GOP is smart), and also puts Obama *** FOURTH *** among the four executive candidates when it comes to qualifications.

  • Silhouette

    Bbbbbut….but he’s The Chosen One!

    How could he possibly lose?

    Answer: Palin.

    Hillary Clinton 2012. I’m on photoshop messing with campaign signs already..

    No sense in not getting a jump on the inevitable..

  • kritt11

    DLS- If you favor small government, how can you be happy that the governor of the state that receives the most federal funds is the VP pick?

    I can’t deal with her views on creationism, environmentalism and abortion.

  • Leonidas

    kritt11, 2 questions.

    Do you judge the qualities of a candidate by those of their state?

    Do you think Alaska is just an average state comparable to all others as if there were no differences in geography, natural reasources, government owned lands, endangered species, physical seperation from the 49 other states, and the fact that it is the only State that borders 2 foreign nations?

  • SteveK

    McCain surprised everyone and made a great choice. This is already shown to be so by the prompt dirtbag-to-hyperventilatory reaction by the childish play-pen crowd.

    You’re a real class act ‘Mr. -167’… a real class act.

  • Kathryn

    Sillhoutte, regarding your “newsflash-people like Kathryn vote” if you are f_cking implying I am going to vote for McCain because he lost it and picked some know-nothing beauty queen you are beyond la-la land.

    I don’t know what your sick twisted little game is. If it is to get people to support Hillary, you utterly and completely failed. I was trying to be polite, find some common ground by giving Hilary some sincere praise, but the fact that she attracts people like you makes her look far worse in my eyes than she did before.

    Since you are really Karl Rove I guess you succeeded to some extent, I would probably vote for a Bush in 2012 rather than a Clinton, but if you think I am voting for a Republican this term you are out of your mind.

    P.S. Newsflash- Sillhouette, want to know the thing that I really hate about the Clintons? The fact that Bill’s total inability to keep it zipped and Hillary’s enabling of it led directly to W’s Presidency. If God forbid, Hillary somehow managed to get to the White House, her term would be followed by James Dobson’s. Boy, women would be in great shape then.

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