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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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