Friday, August 29, 2008

McCain and Unable

I should be glad John McCain picked Sarah Palin to be his running-mate.

I should be glad that in his first true test of leadership -- the one that inescapably sets the tone for what's to come and acts as a yardstick by which to measure his judgment -- he proved that he isn't fit to govern an Elks Lodge, much less the United States of America.

I should be glad that by choosing a self-proclaimed "hockey mom" -- a first-term governor of a state with an unimaginably low population density whose only former role in public service was as a city councilwoman and the mayor of a town of 8,000; a former beauty queen with no experience whatsoever in foreign affairs -- John McCain may have all but handed the election to Barack Obama.

I should be glad.

So why the hell am I so outraged?

Maybe it's because what John McCain just did -- the cynical gamble he's taken in a desperate effort to win the White House -- in fact gambles with the very future of this country. With the safety of its citizens and the lives of its soldiers. By attempting to pander to those Hillary Clinton supporters who may still feel snubbed and disillusioned by the outcome of the Democratic race, and by making a transparent grab for both the shock value that can only come from pure political theater and the chance to regain his "maverick" label, McCain has said something terrifying -- and telling.

He's said that he's perfectly willing to risk the United States -- a country that, as he's so fond of reminding us, has enemies that must be confronted; a country that's currently enmeshed in two wars -- to achieve his goal of getting elected.

Because don't think for a second that he truly believes Sarah Palin is ready to lead the free world should something render him unable to. No, what John McCain believes is that Sarah Palin can lead enough women to the polls to win him the presidency.

It's a thought that should make Americans sick to their stomachs: McCain is counting on Palin's charm and warmth, her admittedly sharp mind and fascinating backstory, to mesmerize voters and recast his campaign and his image in a bright new sheen of youth and vitality. He expects Sarah Palin to be the spark plug that fires up the media, who will surely have to admit that he's turning his back on the past and is ready to reshape and reclaim the Republican Party by making history. And yet at the end of the day, nothing changes the fact that this is actually more of the same from the GOP -- more political opportunism and clever gamesmanship for the sake of achieving the goal of power. Nor does anything change the fact that McCain wants to put someone without a shred of experience in foreign relations, worldwide diplomacy or global conflicts a heartbeat away from having to deal with all three -- with the security of the rest of us hanging in the balance.

As McCain himself has implied about his opponent, the White House is not the place for on-the-job training -- not during these uncertain times, when our country is facing turmoil abroad and unprecedented challenges at home.

Why am I outraged?

Because there's always the possibility that his shifty little parlor trick will actually work.

And then what?


drater said...

I had the same thought. The Dems need to make it clear that they won't roll over for any Ohio 2004-style shenanigans at the polls or we could be very, very screwed.

Ben Fleming said...

My thoughts exactly, though I could never put them into words so well.

When I first heard about McCain chosing Palin (from your blog, no less) my first thought was that, wow, he just handed the presidency to Barack Obama.

If the American people fall for his transparent ploy, I truly fear for the fate of the world.

Mark Russell said...

I'm sad that one of these four will be President and no more enthusiastic about McCain than I am Obama but Palin has more executive experience than than Obama, Biden and McCain put together. If your problem is that the White House isn't the place for on-the-job-training than you should be equally outraged with the prospects of an Obama led White House.

Chez said...

Mayor of a town of 8,000 and half-term governor of Alaska to you equals impressive executive experience -- particularly compared with Obama and Biden?

Wow -- just wow.

Ike said...

Chez, let's back up for just a moment here.

First, you can't fault Palin for being from a less-populous state. Home is where you are and where you grow up. Maybe she should have moved to New York at the last minute and established residency in a place she had never lived before to qualify.

Second, everyone seems to be looking at Palin as a trick or scheme to lure the PUMAs. If you lined up her conservative positions (and took away her boobs for a moment), you'd see enough party bona fides to please the base on key issues, and enough 'maverick' to help her avoid the taint of Bush/Cheney.

Third, how can you say that this is a no-brainer that she will appeal to women? There was no polling on this. No advance word. No big vetting circle. She was NOT on the radar.

Fourth, she has more executive experience than Obama, Biden, and McCain combined. She is just two years younger than Obama. To diminish her with the "inexperience" card just puts it right back into play against Obama.

You're entitled to your opinions, of course. But to use the "heartbeat away" logic against Palin seems like a gamble when Obama would be "zero beats away."

And for the record... I STILL do not know who I will vote for. Just trying to parse through the hastily-drawn Begala-inspired talking points that seem to be raining down on me today...

Ike said...

One more thing, for the record:

I wrote a Twitter message about the executive experience issue before seeing it in other places. I came to that conclusion on my own.

Carry on...

Anonymous said...

Agree 100% with your analysis. Maybe the US needed this to finally realize that this nation is in major need of a new fabric. Amazing that we have a real outside chance that this McCain move may work. There is 67 days for America to make sure we put this train back on the tracks or we risk the chance of becoming a Second World Country with a Hockey Mom with more ties into the Oil Industry making the moves. No way! After the show last night and the vision outlined by Obama, we are finally getting a real direction that we can not afford to miss. I really think these next 67 days are going to shape the next generation.

See You Next Tuesday said...

I agree, Chez. This choice is downright dangerous.

This woman has no ability to repair our foreign relations. None. To top it off, she's extreme religious right. Wants abortion banned, creationism taught in schools, no stem cell research and opposes same sex marriage and rights, to the point of a constitutional ban.

I'm a libertarian for the most part, but an unaffiliated lower case L one. I can't believe so many official Libertarians are supporting McCain and this woman. I am crossing fingers, toes, everything for Obama.

I'm terrified for this county.

T E R R I F I E D.

Anonymous said...


Could you back that up with some facts for the rest of us? I am all agog...

This is all begining to seem like a reality show, complete with shock factors, temporary suspention of disbelief, and a huge dollop of counting on the dipshits who buy it all. Exept, god help us, it's real.

See You Next Tuesday said...

Chez, don't forget, they are counting "city council" in her years of political experience.


I'll take Obama's 12 any day.

Felis Femina said...

This is my worst fear, that the women of this nation who were so dead set on getting a woman -- any woman -- into the White House will vote for McCain just to see their dream come to fruition. I, too, would love to see a woman president one day, and I really wanted to give Hillary my vote but she just didn't give me a reason to do so. It's obvious what McCain is trying to do and if people fall for it, well, I guess it's time to move to Canada.

Kurgan said...


It is a 100% parlor trick.
She has what Mac lacked on his campaign; a heartbeat.

But do not miss the fact that BO had a chance to put his foot on the neck of McCain and failed by picking Biden.

After 8 years of George, the DNC could put my dumb ass up for Pres and win.

e said...

When I heard this... I was like...oh GOP, you fuckers. Crafty bastards. It's so transparent a move, I can't imagine people won't see through it. But I couldn't imagine half the country voting for GW 4 years ago, so now I'm just scared.

Chez said...

On second thought, I shouldn't have excluded the councilwoman position. It's been adjusted.

Chez said...

Ike --

Back when I worked in LA, I knew this executive producer who dated this reporter long-distance. She lived in Midland, Texas. he used to visit her all the time and whenever he returned, he'd tell me about how the news director would basically treat him like gold during his stay and defer to him whenever he stopped by the station. The reason? Because in the hierarchy of news, an executive producer in Los Angeles trumps a news director in Midland, Texas. (Yes, I know I'll be called a pretentious dick for saying this, but it's true.)

In other words, context matters.

I certainly don't mean to denigrate Alaska, but someone who's technically a couple of rungs down the management ladder in Washington, DC -- who deals with the workings of the US government first-hand and has actually traveled abroad as a representative of it -- likely has more pertinent experience than the governor of that state.

Also, my point isn't necessarily that Palin isn't fit to lead so much as there were so many other candidates that McCain could've chosen who were.

And yet he went with Palin -- and not because of her qualifications.

And that means, like I said, he put the election above what's best for the country.

Ike said...

Hey Chez... I'm an ex-newsie too (although I was afforded the privilege of leaving on my own terms instead of getting hosed like you, but I digress.)

I understand the fear. What I don't get is the assumption that it's automatically a parlor trick or a ploy. Look at the glee erupting from the conservative base. I think McCain's decision had more basis in energizing his party than a transparent grab for PUMAs.

If you start assuming Karl Rove is behind everything, it's easy to accuse the sun of going down earlier in the winter so that poor people will have to heat their homes longer. Occam's Razor. The conspiracy theory might be right, but let's not discount simpler explanations.

Chez said...

She certainly does swing very far to the right. And yes, it'll definitely energize the base -- but do you really want or need that right now? In this climate?

Ike said...

Well, if your name is John McCain, then you really DO want and need the base energized. So of all the potential motives for his decision, why focus on the most cynical?

Liz said...

Um, while you were rooting around in my head for this blog material, you didn't run into my midget porn collection did you? I had to listen to the fucktards at work go on about how brave the choice was, how she was just as much of a "maverick" as he was. *snerk* In my head I was thinking "how desperate." They were saying this would give McCain's bid a little oomph. What? Do you not see how cynical and calculated this was? They said that it would give Obamaites something to think about. Yeah, that McCain is desperate in a big, scary way. Please tell me people can see past this ploy to the meat of the matter Chez. Please tell me there is a Santa Clause.

Alex said...

And you have to love MTV adding this interview they did with her to the pile.

cf said...

When I first heard the announcement, I immediately thought of Ann from Arrested Development: Her? Really?

Dawn said...

It's not Hillary supporters, it's the hard right he's after. Palin has a four-month-old child with Down syndrome that she chose not to abort, so she's literally a poster child, so to speak, for the anti-choice hardliners. I believe she's also a member of one of the farther-right Christian sects, home schools her kids, and is a Creationist.

The one way this could backfire, of course, is that a number of people who agree with Palin's positions don't believe that a woman should be governor of a state, let alone the Vice President.

Chez said...

It's fascinating -- he wants both. He's truly hoping to shore up some of the Hillary people and bring the far-right dipshits out for him -- the ones who subscribe to everything you just described.

Man, the lines are so clear this election.

Kurgan said...

Line are clear, but crafty doesn't begin describe.

Risky, but brilliant.

idiosynchronic said...

I call it the Wall Street choice - McCain made a short-term choice to bring him immediate returns while basically saying fuck it on the long-term. Short-term profit over long-term growth.

Anonymous said...

I just keep imagining Liddy Dole telling McCain to "Go Fish" when I think about this nomination.

Seriously, if the deciding criteria was gender, there's far better (and more respected) Republicans out there.

I can hear her uncontrollable laughter when he called her at 3 a.m.:

"Liddy! I can't find a woman to run with me!"

Chez said...

Before anyone says anything, yes, the title of this post changed -- mostly because as I was transferring the piece over to the Huffington Post a better idea dawned on me.

It kinda happens that way sometime. I think better late at night. : )

The Firefaery said...

ohh...clever :)

(if you weren't married, and I wasn't married, and I was about ten years older... ;) lol!)

P.S. I'm not thrilled with either candidate at this point, but I dislike the Republicans more than I do the Dems, especially after this lame stunt by McCain, so I'm predicting I will be voting Obama/Biden in November. I hate that feeling of picking the lesser of two, though.

Blade said...

If we could only see what would've happened, otherwise.

I'd bet, that if we could, we could see that McCain/any other old white man would be getting landslided by Obama/Biden. And that what we will actually see is much closer to a real race.

Which is really sad, when you think about it.

This is when I hope the "better a negro than a woman" mentality of the less-bright people in the country comes out on top.

Hex said...

Speaking as an Obama supporter living in Florida (you know, the state where Voting is where the majority of the populus really shines?) -- I'm friggin TERRIFIED.

All that's left now is for Nader to show up.

Anonymous said...

First of all he picked her due to his own delusionsl sense of being clever and did so for two reasons. One, to satisfy the fucks on the Right and second, her way of beating up on her own party. This concept that there are Hillary loyalists not going to pull the lever or punch the card for Obama is just plain stupid - do you really think they would anyway for McCain because of a right wing hockey mom? Please. Chez is so right in context about the size and statute of Alaska. If he picked the head of EBay I would have been more impressed and ultimately, he someone to appease the Right who when their happy I shiver in fear.

Anonymous said...


Don't worry... Nader entered the fray months ago and no-one is paying attention.

Phil said...

The observation that he's shoring up with conservatives who doubt his bona fides is correct.

He is also courting those who want a fresh face, adding charisma, and distancing the ticket from GW as much as possible by picking someone who was not part of the war machine on a national level.

There are two other levels on which this is smart. (1) If the campaign continues to be a catastrophic, uncharismatic and self-contradictory failure, at least it won't have burned the credibility of a potential 2012 challenger. (2) Picking a bright-eyed neophyte with energy but no clue what she's getting into has the virtue of insuring that the running mate will be dependent on handlers and relentlessly on-message.

There may be some cynical calulation that this will appeal to a shrill and irrational majority of democrats who are single-mindedly fixated on ovaries above all else in the whitehouse this year, but that is far from the heart of it. That's just the hook that insures she get's maximum attention all down the line as "another historic first". More than cross-over votes, they're counting on gender to create energy and attention.

Ike said...

Chez, I'll never convince you, but Donkey Hotey was one of my favorite characters in Mr. Roger's Neighborhood, so here's one last point upon which to gnaw:

You claim Sen. Obama has the requisite experience as a direct result of having labored through a grueling 18-month trial-by-fire.

Throughout that campaign, his answer to the inexperience argument was that he had "the judgment" to do the job.

Tell me, please, how it is that Sarah Palin can't cram those very words down Joe Biden's throat during the Veep debate?

Alaskans seem pretty happy that she's had the judgment to take on Ted Stevens and other corrupt Republicans in her home state. She certainly has shown more independence from the party loyalists in Juneau than Obama has in Illinois.

You just don't like her, fine. It's okay to not like a woman without being misogynistic. Just like it's okay to not like Obama without being a racist.

Here's the word of warning to enlightened Democrats: don't run this election like it's a referendum on Bush. Don't run with the assumption that a trained monkey could beat the GOP. That's how we got Kerry, and I think we all know how that turned out.

ABB was a losing strategy in 2004, and since he's not on the ballot in 2008 it won't work now for sure.

Brandon said...

The other aspect that I see is this a calculated move to turn public opinion against Biden. He's a pretty fiesty debater and most Republicans would have a tough time going against him and not getting embarassed. By choosing a women, Biden may have to walk on eggshells to avoid being stigmatized as badgering a women in a debate. It's disgusting to think about, but that's how it's going to be spun in order for the right to save face when Biden crushes her...

Trish said...

Palin has a four-month-old child with Down syndrome that she chose not to abort, so she's literally a poster child, so to speak, for the anti-choice hardliners.

The Daily Kos blog is currently freaking people out claiming that the baby is actually Palin's grandchild courtesy of her 16-year-old daughter. Hmm.

Adrienne Saia said...

As much as I hate to say it, I think this choice (which, as a woman, I just find to be insulting) is partly in reaction to the fact that Obama went safe with a rich white male as his running mate (I think choosing Hillary would have made the Democratic ticket ultimately revolutionary, that being if those two could stop catfighting... just a thought).

Those who vote purely by vaginal connection make me embarrassed to be female. However, I am REALLY glad he didn't pick Tom Ridge, as was speculated (threatened?) by some pundits.

Sigh. Let's hope America sees through this whole sham. All ten fingers are crossed.

Ref said...

Boy, Ike, you're really drinking the Kool-Ade. Her "opposition" to Stevens was all after the fact. She actually ran a 527 in support of Ol' Ted. She's a hard right, Big Oil money servant.

Mr. Controversy said...

"...there's always the possibility that his shifty little parlor trick will actually work.

And then what?"

Then, we all drown our sorrows on election night and wait for the robots to dig us out.