Monday, September 1, 2008

Week of 09/01/2008

McCain’s Gamble
– by David Matthews 2

At the start of the 2008 Presidential Election season, as states were having their orgy of primaries and caucuses, pundits and pontificators were talking about the distinct possibility that we could end up with either a black man or a woman becoming President of the United States. Oh they couldn’t stop talking about how WONDERFUL it would be that either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton could very well be the next President!

And when it became clear that Barack Obama was going to become the official nominee, many women voters felt pissed-off and betrayed, especially when Obama didn’t pick Hillary to be his running mate.

Well, if all turns out the way John McCain wants it to, it will once again be a race between the first black man and the first woman… although not for the same job.

Senator McCain has tapped Alaska’s governor, Sarah Palin, for the #2 slot on the GOP ticket, bypassing diehard GOP potentials like Mitt Romney, who spent his week serving as the official GOP heckler at the Democrats’ political mega-infomercial. She will be the first female running mate on the GOP ticket since their party was formed from the ruins of the Whig Party in 1854.

Big news, right? McCain thinks that he has pulled off a real coup here.

It certainly seemed to take the wind out of any kind of post-convention bump that Obama may have generated with his memorable acceptance speech. Instead of people gushing about the kind of message Obama made, they are asking just who the hell Governor Palin is and why she would be the “perfect choice” to be just a heart attack away from being the next President.

And if you think about it… at McCain’s age and with his medical history, that sort of worry is not just a remote possibility.

There are two trains of thought going on with McCain’s pick of an otherwise political unknown for his #2 slot.

The first is that Palin is, obviously, a woman. And a very photogenic one at that! McCain has been trying to covet the die-hard feminist extremist voters that were behind Hillary’s failed campaign, since the liberals have been screaming from day one that no Democrat can win in November without them. Add a woman to his ticket and the others will just come RUNNING over to his side.

The second train of thought is that Sarah Palin was picked to appease the extremists in the GOP. The conservatives and neo-conservatives have been very uncomfortable with the fact that McCain was tapped by the voters in the primaries and caucuses. They really wanted someone like Romney, or Mike Huckabee, or even Thug Rudy Giuliani. They’d even support a rotting log if they could put in on the ballot. Anybody BUT McCain!

And Sarah Palin is as ultra-conservative as you can get! Die-hard gun supporter. Die-hard Big Oil supporter. Die-hard anti-abortion supporter. Die-hard theocracy supporter. You can’t get any more red-meat red-state Republican without digging up that drunken fascist Joe McCarthy. She is every neo-conservative’s dream date!

Perfect choice, right?

Not really.

Okay, first of all, this woman has even LESS experience in government than Obama. Her tenure as that state’s governor is only two years old, and she won it because she ousted a scandal-ridden incumbent in the primary. McCain’s choice of Palin effectively eliminates any and ALL complaints the Republicans could ever make about Obama’s inexperience.

Obama at least can turn to Joe Biden for advice, and should anything happen to him, which would be unlikely, then Biden would have enough experience with Washington to fumble and bumble his way through. Plus, Biden has the desire to lead the nation since he has been an also-ran on more than one occasion. But it is even MORE likely that something tragic could happen to McCain while in office, and then that would leave us with someone who has more experience being a mother than being a leader. McCain may be willing to risk that, but would the GOP? And, for that matter, would the VOTERS?

As for placating the conservatives and neo-conservatives, bringing in Sarah Palin is a risky gamble, because while it WILL satisfy the 30% of Americans that still support and adore George W. Bush and his Imperium, he also needs to make sure that mainstream America will support it too, and they really aren’t too keen on a neo-conservative in the White House.

Let’s not forget that the Republicans were removed from power in the Congress in 2006 because of a long train of excesses, abuses, indictments, convictions, and out-and-out overall ineptitude. Even those conservatives that were not involved with the ongoing scandals and outright embarrassments were purged in the 2006 Mid-Term Elections. Remember Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania? He wasn’t indicted or convicted or even inferred to be connected to anything scandalous or embarrassing, but the simple fact that he was a conservative Republican in 2006 was enough for him to be voted out of office.

And then there’s this little recent nugget of truth: if the American people really believed that an extreme conservative or neo-conservative mentality is right for the White House, why did they vote for John McCain in the primaries and caucuses? Why didn’t they vote for someone like Mike Huckabee, who has even more experience as governor than Palin, and whose extreme conservative beliefs are a matter of public record?

Remember, the trend in Presidential elections is to pander to the extremes during the primaries and caucuses, and then pander to the mainstream in the general election. McCain is essentially doing this in reverse, pandering to the mainstream first and then going extreme in the general election.

Finally we get to the main argument… the big selling point for putting Sarah Palin in the running-mate spot. The belief that bringing in a woman will pander to the bitter supporters of Hillary Clinton and take them away from Barack Obama in the general election. And of that, I have a really simple question to ask…

Is John McCain REALLY that clueless when it comes to gauging women voters?

Seriously. Is he THAT dense?

Let’s get brutally honest here… the fanatical supporters of Hillary Clinton are not that way because she has a uterus. They are fanatical supporters of Clinton because she has a uterus AND because she supports liberal issues!

Clinton is pro-choice. Palin is anti-abortion. That difference, above everything else, will be the #1 killer of that argument. You can convince an anti-abortion supporter to side with a pro-choice candidate, but you really have a much harder time trying to convince a pro-choice supporter to side with an anti-abortion candidate.

Listen, when you’re dealing with a cult mentality born of a narcissistic personality such as those of the Clintons, substitutions simply will not suffice. And that is precisely what John McCain is trying to offer up with Sarah Palin. He is trying to sell her to the feminists as a substitute for Hillary, and that simply will not do.

Unfortunately for McCain, it appears that the buzz over his choice is already wearing thin. Plenty of people are already wondering if McCain made the right decision. To some extent this is good because it means that now they’re looking at what she has done and what she would bring to the campaign other than a pretty face. But for her sake, she had better have something more than just that.

Being Vice President of the United States can play many roles. In the case of an inexperienced leader, the VP serves as a seasoned advisor and mentor. For some, the VP role is sort of an understudy, preparing them for their eventual run as the successor. But in some rare instances, the VP selection is seen as a form of insurance… a way to make sure that they are not removed from office for fear that their successor would be an even worse option.

I would dare suspect that Sarah Palin was selected for the later reason. I just hope that the voters would not be willing to take McCain up on his gamble.

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