I applaud John McCain’s choice of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his vice president nominee. In many ways this choice was far more impressive than Barack Obama’s selection of Joe Biden. Better yet, the McCain selection will make the general election campaign far more interesting and competitive.
I say this on the basis of looking at contradictions that the choices raised. Here we have Obama proclaiming endlessly that he was running against the politics of the past, but then he picks an extremely long term senator that is clearly a member of the status quo establishment. Moreover, Obama has kept boasting that he does not take money from lobbyists, but Biden has taken plenty. And then there is the claim of great judgment by Obama for his opposition to the Iraq war, but Biden played an important role as a Democrat in supporting the Bush war.
Palin is a much, much better match with McCain. One relatively small contradiction is that she favors more drilling for oil in Alaska’s pristine areas, while McCain has opposed that. But beyond that Palin brings something to the game that none of the other three principals does: She is the only one with real executive experience. And in comparison to the other three she has far more solid accomplishments fighting political corruption. Indeed, while Obama talks a good game, Palin is the only one that showed the courage to personally go after high level corrupt politicians – even better, she did this against office holders in her own party. I am impressed. Finally, the whole narrative about the Obamas pulling themselves up from nothing to achieve great things is matched by the Palin story.
During the Democratic convention there was endless talk by the bloviating pundits about their sadness that women have not made it to the top of the political pyramid, even as they kept blabbering about how terrific Hillary Clinton performed. Now McCain puts a woman in exactly the position that so many Democrats wanted Hillary to be in, with a chance to make it to the White House – a very good chance if all the talk about McCain serving just one term (or dying in office) has any chance of happening.
In sum, the selection of Biden was a betrayal to some very important positions and claims of Obama. In contrast, except for one relatively minor position, the selection of Palin was in sync with McCain’s political philosophy and positions. The more leftist, progressive side of the Democratic Party has no reason to be thrilled with Biden (who voted for a bankruptcy law that screwed middle class people). But the most conservative wing of the Republican Party has plenty of reason to be thrilled with the Palin selection.
Though Palin may not be sufficient to draw very many women Democrats to vote for the McCain ticket, it may be just as important because it cause many women Democrats to not vote for the Obama ticket. But like most conventional thinkers you are waiting for me to rebut the criticism that Palin has no foreign policy experience. Excuse me, but we have had a few presidents that were governors – think Carter and Clinton – who also had no particular foreign policy experience. So Democrats ought to be cautious in making this criticism of Palin. If McCain wins, she would have ample time and opportunity to become smart about foreign policy. And, oh yes, also remember a former governor Reagan that did pretty well when it came to foreign policy. Enough said.
[Contact Joel S. Hirschhorn through www.delusionaldemocracy.com.]