Quick Thoughts on McCain-Palin
Obama’s choice of Biden struck me as safe. Barring the possibility that Biden opens his mouth and utters one of his typical stupid non-PC comments, there aren’t any great negatives. He brings experience, especially in foreign policy, both of which are signal weaknesses of Obama. But McCain-Palin? What does this ticket do for McCain? Whereas Obama’s choice might be seen as overly safe (a don’t rock the boat choice), McCain’s just strikes me as panic.
Ed Rollins wrote a piece today hailing McCain’s choice, calling it a “brilliant Hail Mary”. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think of Hail Mary plays as brilliant. They are desperation plays. Sometimes they work (not often), and they become highlight reel material. Most of the time they don’t. That’s why they aren’t used often, unless you’re in the hole. So to call a Hail Mary “brilliant” (especially before you see the receiver in the endzone) strikes me as some pretty strong spin. But what can you do — Rollins is a Republican strategist, so that’s his job.
Rollins is right about the Hail Mary part, though. Which isn’t good, because it makes McCain look desperate, and I’m not sure that’s the public face you want on your campaign this close to election day. Some quick thoughts, not knowing that much about Palin:
1. McCain wanted a woman, in the cynical hope that disgruntled Clinton supporters would be willing to vote for a ticket with any woman on it. Beyond the sheer cynicism behind such a move, and the willingness to play identity politics in a way that McCain would swear never to do, it seems like a ridiculous play. Disgruntled Clinton supporters are not stupid. They will not vote for an anti-choice, anti-gay rights candidate who has little in common with Clinton. At best, they’ll stay home. They surely will not be drawn to Palin at all. Unless, of course, they really are as stupid as this choice presumes them to be. Of course, assuming that they are not that stupid, they will realize the insulting nature of this play and be even more turned off by McCain.
2. Palin’s experience, before her breathtakingly short stint as Governor, was mayor of a small town. So much for the main McCain argument: that Obama is unqualified due to lack of experience. With McCain at 72, how could he choose a VP with far less experience than Obama? Silly move on this account.
3. Palin’s ethics issues. Are they trumped up? A vendetta? Who knows. And it won’t matter either, because by the time they are halfway through investigating the issue it will be election day. What was McCain drinking?
So what does Palin do? Well, she’ll clearly appeal to right-wing voters who may be “holding their noses” at the prospect of voting for McCain. But this move confuses me, for a few reasons:
4. I can understanding thinking that putting Biden on Obama’s ticket really does add Biden’s foreign policy experience to the administration, and the way things will be done. But does anyone really think that adding a person with “values credentials” to the VP slot has a similar effect on the administration? I somehow doubt it. Somehow I doubt that McCain will become the social conservative they want him to be simply because Palin is the VP. It’s window dressing of the least persuasive kind.
5. Social conservatives were not going to vote for Obama. At worst, they stay home. So what did McCain accomplish? He made sure that some conservatives go and vote. But did he achieve his goal — grabbing moderate Democrats? If he had, he did so before he added Palin. Palin adds nothing to the ticket to convince any such Democrats to “cross over” who hadn’t done so already. If anything, she may well repulse many moderate Democrats who might have considered such a move.
All in all, the play seems crazy, desperate, and in my opinion, doomed. If McCain wins, it will be in spite of Palin. If he loses, it may well be partly because of this choice.