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Fri

12

Sep

2008

Why McCain Picked Palin
Friday, 12 September 2008 00:17
by Stephen P. Pizzo

It's a question bothering at least as many Republicans as Democrats this morning. Why did John McCain pick an untested, first-term governor of Alaska for the second highest office in the land?

The answer is in the numbers. McCain's handlers had hoped they could sidestep the Republican Party's narrow-minded evangelical base by trying to attract independent voters and disaffected moderates in both parties. If successful, they thought, they could once and for all free the GOP from the grip of the mercurial, easily offended, mean-spirited, anti-choice forces of the evangelical right.

But they figured wrong. Dead wrong.

By last week polls showed that moderates were not moving their way. In fact many were either moving toward Obama or remaining on the sidelines waiting for lightening to strike.

Obama's selection of elder statesman, Joe Biden, as his running mate moved more of those undecided voters into the Obama camp.

That left McCain with his three short-listers; Romney, Louisiana Gov. Jindal and Lieberman.

By last week it was clear that Romney would not do. Sure he was strong on Republican economic issues, anti-choice, tax cuts and cutting the size of government. But he was a Mormon, and (though it's ever-so politically incorrect to say it out loud) almost no one likes Mormons, except of course other Mormons. And that's never more true than among the GOP's mainstream Christian and Christian evangelical base, who tend to consider Mormons in the same "going to Hell" category as Scientologists.  So choosing Romney would not do.

Jindal's problem was he was simply the wrong color. He wasn't white, but then again he wasn't an African-American either. He was "something else." Conservative voters don't cotton much to "furiners" of any stripe, even if they were born here. It wasn't so much color, because they don't like the French either, and few in the world can out-Caucasian the French, except maybe the Germans.

So choosing Jindal would not garner McCain any brownie points (pun intended)  from black voters, and certainly very few from the Republican base. So Jindal was out.

Joe Lieberman was a horse of an entirely different color. Lieberman and McCain had done a man-bonding thing during the months they worked together on campaign finance reforms. The two had one thing in common -- but it was a big thing to them; few in their own parties liked or trusted either of them. So, like two high school nerd outcasts, they formed their own club in which they were the only members.

But GOP higher ups and lower downs were unanimous -- if McCain chose Lieberman as his running mate the floor of the GOP convention would look less like Woodstock and more like Chicago 1968. So lonesome Joe was lonesome, once again.

With just a week to go McCain had not found a running mate capable of attracting the moderates and independents he required to displace the GOP's narrow, almost Talibanish, Christian evangelicals.

The self-described "maverick"of his party was in a real pickle. And when John McCain finds himself in a pickle, he shoots from hip. McCain and his closest handlers determined that, since there was virtually no chance he could win enough moderates back to the party to swing the deal, he had to go put out fresh bait for the GOP's good old reliable evangelical sheep.

But to do that he had to find the right shepherd for them to follow.  He also hoped to capitalize on disaffection within Democratic ranks over what some liberal women voters saw as Hillary's mistreatment during the primaries.

Those two points, when triangulated, led straight to Sarah Palin, an evangelical Christian who wants to outlaw all abortions, has five kids of her own, a manly-man husband who shoots large animals and burns gasoline in pursuit of snowmobile glory and on top of all that she was a 40-something woman -- the Hillary voter's demographic.

Those were pretty much all her qualifications, but they were enough for John McCain. 

His calculation that Palin would energize biblically lobotomized evangelical Christians was a no-brainer for the no-brainers:

"Fortunately, Bristol is following her mother and father's example of choosing life in the midst of a difficult situation," (evangelical leader) Tony Perkins said. "We are committed to praying for Bristol and her husband-to-be and the entire Palin family as they walk through a very private matter in the eyes of the public." (Full)

But on the other front -- attracting disaffected female Hillary voters -- not so good.

"(Palin and Hillary) are ideological opposites," said Kim Spotts, a 52-year-old nurse, explaining why she supported Clinton but would not be swayed by Palin. She said she would vote instead for Obama..."I would not vote for her (Palin) under any circumstance. ... I really dislike her strong, conservative religious views," said Clinton-turned-Obama supporter Barbara Patchen, a 47-year-old homemaker, as she walked her dog in a park. (Full)

Then there's all the gestational craziness that followed McCain's announcement by about 2 nanoseconds.

  • - Palin had a baby with Downs Syndrome four months earlier...or did she?
  • - Was the baby really that of her unmarried 15-year old daughter?
  • - A day later: No the baby was not Bristol's baby.
  • - A day later: But yes, Bristol herself is pregnant. (A flesh and blood threat to evangelicals who have staked their entire solution for changing millions of years of young human sexual activity with one word: abstinence.)
With the GOP convention looming just hours away, McCain supporters tried to turn Palin's lemons into evangelical lemonade.
  • - Palin did not end her pregnancy when she learned she was carrying a Downs Syndrome fetus. In other words, she "chose life."
  • - Palin's unmarried, child-daughter, was also going to go through with her pregnancy. They (the family) again, chose life.
But what did all this say about the Palin family's commitment to the holy cause of promoting abstinence if they couldn't even succeed with their own daughter?

Those in favor of comprehensive sex education were also quick to note that Palin's daughter's pregnancy was the logical outcome of years of disinformation pumped into their kid's heads by the religious right about methods of birth control, particularly their teachings that "condoms really don't work."

So, kids pumped full of such nonsense have been left with a clear choice; if,. despite their best efforts to resist,  their hormones suddenly send them hurtling towards coitus, don't bother stopping to ask their partner use protect, because it doesn't work anyway. Because those who say they know what God wants, says so."

Old timers and clear-thinkers in the GOP were, and remain, stunned by McCain's choice. At a time when the economy is heading for the kind of trouble not seen in nearly a century, and the world order is coming apart at the seams, McCain picked a No. 2 whose only serious executive experience is her one year as governor of Alaska.


I almost feel sorry for Sarah Palin. I say almost because she could have said "no." but instead leap at the opportunity. Can you imagine what this poor woman is going to go through in the next 60 days.

- She has an infant, special needs child, plus four more kids at home.  Make your own judgments about that, and I admit, if it were Palin's husband instead of her, no one would be asking this question. But I don't know any mothers who would return to work three days after giving birth to a severely handicapped baby. The fact that Palin did exactly that will speak volumes to all those home-schooling evangelical moms McCain figured would applaud this choice. The right's "family values"theme seems at odds with such behavior. Fair? Unfair? Doesn't matter when it comes to the religious right.

- The office of vice president is more than a full-time job. It's more like two and half full-time jobs, which again puts in question Palin's pro-family bone fides. One handicapped infant, and four other minors at home, including an unmarried pregnant child in crisis. ... hmmmm. Instead of tending to these twin family crisis' Sarah has decided dive head first into the maelstrom of presidential politics. Hmmm. where can we find that in Family Values Handbook?

- Then comes the two months of hand to hand combat facing ahead of her.  Can you imagine how many hours of each day Sahara Palin will spend being pumped full of all data she lacks for this task; which nations hate other nations, which nations are currently at one another's throats and why, and which ones are likely to be at each other's throats and why. Then come her courses on national and international finance, at a time when even seasoned economists admit they have few clues to what's wrong or how to fix what's wrong.

She's going to need all that schooling, because she will have to debate Joe Biden on national television. One misstep, one dumb answer or clueless moment and McCain is toast. Imagine the pressure on the former mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, population around 6000.

I guess we could look at all that and have admiration for a woman who would be willing to run such a thankless and merciless gauntlet. And, under different circumstances, I would too. But John McCain is 72 years old. He's had several bouts with cancer and, while he's dodged those bullets, there's no guarantee his run of luck will last four more years.

If the worst happens that former mayor of tiny Wasilla (Sicily Alaska by another name) would find herself running the most powerful nation on earth, but  at a time when our power has been squandered on the wrong wars in the wrong places at the wrong times. And our economy has been gutted by fiscal policies only Charles Keating could love.

Republicans claim that Palin has more executive experience than Barack Obama, which is true, but only if you narrow the definition of "executive experience" down to Palin's time running her local PTA and school board, her tenure of mayor of a tiny rural hamlet and her one year -- tumultuous -- year as governor of a state awash in oil money.  Then you have to discount entirely Obama's stellar academic record, his years in the trenches of depressed South Chicago, his remarkable rise to US Senator and his breathtaking rise as his party's nominee for president of the United States.

Republicans have done their best to beef up Palin's foreign policy resume, noting that "she's governor of the state virtually next door to Russia." Well, I live about 8 miles as the crow flies form Francis Ford Coppola's Sonoma County estate. So, if that's the new qualification standard, I ought to head straight to Hollywood, Google map in hand, and demand a movie deal.

Then there's the little matter of whether McCain's choice for VP of the United States of America even wants to be part of the United States of America:

Palin Member of Alaskan Separatist Group

Palin was a member of the Alaskan Independence party (AIP) before becoming an elected Republican official, and recorded a video message for the AIP convention this year. The party's chief goal is securing Alaska a vote on seceding from the US, a goal that AIP leaders believe the state was denied before it became part of the US almost 50 years ago.

Yet it is the AIP's motto, "Alaska First, Alaska Always", that may cause the most trouble for McCain. The Republican's campaign slogan this year is "Country First".

At the convention where Palin's video was played, the AIP vice-chairman, George Clark, told the audience that she was an AIP member before getting her first political post as mayor of the small town of Wasilla, Alaska.

"But you get along to go along — she eventually joined the Republican party, where she had all kinds of problems with their ethics, and well, I won't go into that," Clark said. "She also had about an 80% approval rating, and is pretty well sympathetic to her former membership."

Palin suggested in a July interview with CNBC news that she would insist on making Alaskan issues a high priority before agreeing to serve as a vice-presidential candidate. "We want to make sure that that VP slot would be a fruitful type of position, especially for Alaskans, and for the things we're trying to accomplish up here for the rest of the US, before I can even start addressing that question," she said. (Full)

Now, having said all that, I am not about to predict that McCain is going to lose in November because of his choice of a laughably unqualified running mate. After all, in a similar attempt to appear "with it" George H. Bush picked Dan Quayle -- a man who makes sonny boy, George W. Bush, look and sound like a Rhodes Scholar -- and he still won the presidency.  

Because we are still a nation of halves; half of us are interested in being at the point of the spear, pushing the social envelope into the 21st century, continuing mankind's always difficult march towards an more and more  inclusive, humane and caring social order.

And the other half -- who want to circle the wagons against change, just like their religious counterparts in the Muslim world. Despite all the obvious reasons she's not in the least bit qualified to be America's co-pilot (or, god forbid, pilot,) Sarah Palin is precisely their kind of candidate.
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BJD said:

0
...
Good article....this is superb!
 
September 11, 2008
Votes: +0

JimmyinD.C. said:

0
what the heck?
"Jindal's problem was he was simply the wrong color. He wasn't white, but then again he wasn't an African-American either. He was "something else." Conservative voters don't cotton much to "furiners" of any stripe, even if they were born here. It wasn't so much color, because they don't like the French either, and few in the world can out-Caucasian the French, except maybe the Germans.

So choosing Jindal would not garner McCain any brownie points (pun intended) from black voters, and certainly very few from the Republican base. So Jindal was out."


This is evidence of willful ignorance on your part.

1) Jindal couldn't connect with white voters??

HE WAS ELECTED BY VERY CONSERVATIVE WHITE VOTERS AND WHITE MODERATES.

If he could be elected in Louisiana of all places, then he could be elected anywhere. And this business about Americans not liking the French....they'll vote for a half Kenyan with the middle name of Hussein, they'll vote for Bobby Jindal.

2) Jindal wouldn't get the black vote---Um that's almost a given if you are a Republican. They normally vote in the high 80's and upper 90's for the Democrat. No one in the Republican party is worrying over whether or not they'll get a substantial portion of the African American vote.

The Truth of the matter is that Bobby Jindal is a rising star in the GOP, they are saving him for 2012 or 2016.



 
September 11, 2008
Votes: +0

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