Thursday, September 04, 2008

In the Coliseum

I wrote a comment in a previous post saying that I wasn’t here to defend McCain’s VP selection, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. And I do mean that. I get the idea that she can defend herself. However, I am not above taking an analytical look at Governor Palin and what she means to this presidential race.

WSJ opinion writer (and former Reagan speechwriter) Peggy Noonan offers her take on the matter in this WSJ article. And it’s not pretty for just about anybody she references. Noonan shows obvious concern that the Left could make mincemeat of Palin, noting how tawdry the response has already been. Noonan offers a heavy dose of advice for the media. I think it’s good advice, but I also think that nobody in the media will give one hoot in a holler about it.

Noonan makes an insightful comment, variations of which I have heard from a fairly wide variety of conservative sources. She says that conservatives know that Palin is really one of them. They “can smell this sort of thing,” writes Noonan, and they “will fight to the death for one of their beleaguered own….”

Normally a VP candidate makes very little difference in a presidential race. Americans tend to focus on the #1 position. Most aren’t going to be persuaded to vote for or against the top dog based on the choice of a running mate. I sense that the formulation may be somewhat different with respect to Palin.

McCain has made a reputation of sticking his finger in the eye of conservatives. Some have argued that this is more a matter of style than of substance, but you won’t hear that from solid conservatives. Most self-described conservatives have felt quite disheartened about the current presidential race. When it became clear that McCain was going to cinch the GOP nomination, many felt that they no longer had a dog in the fight. Most conservatives that have been supporting McCain have been doing so either half-heartedly or through gritted teeth.

But McCain has infused the conservative base with new energy by selecting Governor Palin as his running mate. She faces all of the same questions about foreign policy inexperience that all governors running for pres or VP have faced in the past half century. (And that Obama also faces.) But more importantly, the tack of the Left has been to attack Palin for being less than perfect in living up to the Left’s interpretation of conservative family values.

Noonan is correct when she asserts that this latter line of attack will fail and will probably even cause a backlash. The issues the Left has been serving up tabloid style make Palin seem more normal — more like everyday middle American voters. Noonan writes, “It is the left that is about to go crazy with Puritan judgments; it is the right that is about to show what mellow looks like.”

Over the past few days I have seen the following kind of exchange occur frequently between Utah conservatives. “I’m sorry that Romney was not picked, but I’m really excited about Palin.” I chuckle when I hear this. Romney would have added no votes that McCain would not otherwise have gotten. He may have even pulled votes away. Despite Romney’s fundraising and stumping, McCain had no real reason to pick him.

At any rate, Romney is now free to campaign for the next four years. He’s in a similar position to Hillary Clinton, having to appear to be working hard for the party’s nominee while knowing that his/her own position will be improved if that nominee loses in November.

I sense that, unlike Romney, Palin will actually add votes for McCain without costing him any votes. I doubt many (if any) of those added votes will come from Democrats that already favor Obama. But many voters that lean conservative and that were going to sit this election out will now pull the lever for the McCain-Palin ticket. The question is whether enough of this enthusiasm will occur in battleground states to make a difference.

Mind you, I’m trying to offer a dispassionate analysis here. I’m still open on forming a personal opinion about Palin. I’m content to wait and see how things work out.

With all of that said, Noonan’s final paragraph is a chilling reminder of what the world politics is like. It’s even more chilling coming from someone that has lived in the vortex of the system.

“Palin's friends should be less immediately worried about what the Obama campaign will do to her than what the McCain campaign will do. This is a woman who's tough enough to work her way up and through, and to say yes to a historic opportunity, but she will know little of, or rather have little experience in, the mischief inherent in national Republican politics. She will be mobbed up in the McCain campaign by people who care first about McCain and second about themselves. (Or, let's be honest, often themselves first and then McCain.) Palin will never be higher than number three in their daily considerations. They won't have enough interest in protecting her, advancing her, helping her play to her strengths, helping her kick away from danger. And – there is no nice way to say this, even though at this point I shouldn't worry about nice – some of them are that worst sort of aide, dim and insensitive past or present lobbyists with high self-confidence. She'll be a thing to them; they'll see the smile and the chignon and the glasses and think she's Truvi from Steel Magnolias. They'll run right over her, not because they're strong but because they're stupid. The McCain campaign better get straight on this. He should step in, knock heads, scare his own people and get Palin the help and high-level staff all but the most seasoned vice presidential candidates require.”
It makes one wonder what will become of Palin should McCain win. Would four or eight years inside of the beltway make her one of “them?”

Honest Democrats know that Noonan’s criticism applies just as well to their own party as it does to the GOP. This is the way Washington, DC works. It is the nature of the political class. Please think about that next time you want a political solution to any problem, whatever it may be.

Also, the next time you are dissatisfied with your choice of candidates for political office, think about Governor Palin. I’m not implying victim status, but think about the horrendous battering that she and her family will endure between now and November both from the Left and from the family’s ‘friends’ in the campaign. And then ask yourself how many better qualified Americans are willing to go through that kind of thing for a political position. Then you’ll know why your ballot choices seem deficient.


Charles D said...

According to Time, the Republicans don't intend to expose Palin's ignorance and ineptitude to the American people if they can help it: "Swampland, TIME
September 4, 2008 5:07
No Questions, Please. We'll Tell You What You Need To Know.
Posted by Jay Carney | Comments (137) | Permalink | Trackbacks (0) | Email This

According to Nicole Wallace of the McCain campaign, the American people don't care whether Sarah Palin can answer specific questions about foreign and domestic policy. According to Wallace -- in an appearance I did with her this morning on Joe Scarborough's show -- the American people will learn all they need to know (and all they deserve to know) from Palin's scripted speeches and choreographed appearances on the campaign trail and in campaign ads. "

That pretty much sums up the case that McCain made a ridiculous, politically-motivated choice and one again, put country last.

While I agree that our media and the combative, win-at-all-costs campaign style championed by Karl Rove, has poisoned our political discourse and discouraged many worthy candidates from running for office; when the party responsible for those tactics names an unqualified and un-vetted candidate, they want to get a pass?

No thanks. As Truman said, "If you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen."

Scott Hinrichs said...

As I said, honest Democrats know that the crap sticks just as hard to their party as it does to the GOP. Blaming the current situation solely on Rovian politics is convenient, but highly partisan and myopic. That's only one ingredient in a smelly stew that has been brewing for quite some time, overseen by many cooks.

Also, I'm not at all certain how well the inexperience card plays for Obama supporters. Again, I'm not defending Palin, but for the Obama crowd to now claim that her inexperience to be #2 is somehow more important than his inexperience to be #1 takes a great deal of chutzpah.

Charles D said...

I beg to differ. There are extremes in the Rovian arsenal that Democrats have never used, or never used to anything like the extent we see from the right.

For the last 8 years, the White House has manufactured a talking point almost daily in order to either divert attention from their malfeasance or to spin it to their advantage. That talking point gets into the Drudge Report and the Washington Times, then Faux News, and from there it gets picked up by the corporate media. Once they get a story, they treat it strictly as a political strategy story - Republicans say X, Democrats say Y. Very rarely do they come out and say that one or the other side is lying, even when there is ample evidence that they are.

Democrats simply do not have that advantage. There is no left-wing media outlet with anything like the clout of Faux Noise, or even the Drudge Report, and the corporate media rarely picks up a truly leftist critique of anything.

Then there is the matter of the phony prosecutions for voter fraud, when there has been so little evidence of such fraud that not even a handful of people have been convicted. Meanwhile, election fraud is rampant. When in the last 40 years have Democrats intentionally suppressed voter turnout? When have they failed to count votes or allow a recount? When have they used the Justice Department to launch politically timed investigations of their opponents?

Sure, there are greedy and crooked Democrats, but they pale in comparison to the Republican machine.

Scott Hinrichs said...

Democrats = pure, Republicans = evil. This is crap. Both parties have their insidious elements. The Bush-hating Left exposes their imbalance each time they put forward such ideas. They are as bad as the Clinton-hating Right was back in the Clinton era.