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The Collective
Friday, August 29, 2008
By Dr. Steven Taylor

I was in class, so missed the initial news.

CNBC: Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin Is McCain’s Choice for VP

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, a self-styled “hockey mom” who has been governor for less than two years, is GOP Presidential candidate John McCain’s choice for Vice President.

[...]

Palin, 44, was a relatively surprising pick, but one aimed at appealing to women voters who might have been disillusioned by Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s decision to pick Biden as his No. 2 instead of Democratic Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York.

James Joyner has a media round-up.

My initial responses:

  • McCain just damaged (if not completely removed from the table) the “Obama is inexperienced” line of attack. Given McCain’s age, and the very real possibility that he might not finish four years in office, let alone eight, the fact that he has put a person with no more experience than Obama “a heartbeat away” from the president will damage the notion that experience alone is an argument to not vote for Obama.
  • Biden will likely roast her in the debates, especially on foreign policy.
  • This will not work to attract disaffected Hillary voters. Palin is extremely pro-life, and so just the fact that she is female will not be enough to get the PUMA types.
  • It is going to take a while for “Palin” not to mean “Michael Palin” (of Monty Python fame) to me when I hear the name.

More later.

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Filed under: 2008 Campaign, US Politics | |

23 Comments

  1. Palin is more experienced than Obama. A governor of Alaska not only does she have executive (as opposed to legislative, book writing or “community organizing” experience). She also has strong energy credentials and knows a thing or two about logistics and dealing with the Canadian and Russian neighbors.

    And we’ll have to wait for the debates, but I don’t think Biden’s going to do as well as predicted. His foreign policy proposals include sending Iran a $200 million check in response to 9/11 ( http://hotair.com/archives/2008/08/23/bidens-foreign-policy-chops/ ) and divvying up Iraq — over the protests of the Iraqis — to stop the violence.

    Comment by Max Lybbert — Friday, August 29, 2008 @ 11:22 am

  2. Palin is more experienced than Obama.

    That strikes me as a bit of stretch, to be kind. Palin has been governor for 2 years and has a handful of years of experience in local government. Obama has been a US Senator for 4 years and was a member of state legislature.

    It is basically a tie, depending on how one wants to discount things like state size and governor v. US Senator, etc.

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Friday, August 29, 2008 @ 11:33 am

  3. Biden will likely roast her in the debates, especially on foreign policy.

    Presidential debates, especially vice presidential ones, aren’t scored like a Lincoln Douglas debate pitting the local teen intelligencia. It’s more like golf — how did you perform relative to a handicap. Given that she’s able refrain from drooling when saying “Medvedev” she’ll get points on how well she did.

    The other thing in her favor debating Biden is that he’s never been even tolerably good in this format. His answers are too long and convoluted for the 90 second response time limit. Which do you think will be the take away to be played on the cable shows — a 12 minute lecture on what Biden learned from his coal mining grandfather or a perky zinger from a beauty queen/governor.

    Biden may well win with dad’s that have been roped into helping with their daughter’s debate team, readers of Foreign Policy Quarterly, and Hair Club for Men customers, but he’s not memorable. On TV, he’s outclassed.

    Comment by Buckland — Friday, August 29, 2008 @ 11:46 am

  4. Well, I got one thing right: I was confident it would not be one of the 3 that I heard a radio correspondent this morning say it would be: Romney, Pawlenty, or (memory fails here, but not Palin).

    I agree, odd choice. I guess McCain has bought into the notion that this is an election that is not about experience. That may be the only smart thing about the choice, but he just handed that issue right back to Obama.

    And to the prior comments, I fail to see how around 2 years as governor of one of the smallest states is anywhere near as significant experience as US Senator (from any state). I don’t even know that we need to add service in the legislature of one of the largest states to the equation. I mean, to the inequality.

    Comment by MSS — Friday, August 29, 2008 @ 11:48 am

  5. I like this pick. I’ve always thought the “he’s inexperienced” attack was a bit of a dodge, and this will hopefully take that away (plus, Obama will attack on that, which may bite him anyway - I think that within a couple of weeks, they won’t go down this stupid path anymore).

    Comment by B. Minich — Friday, August 29, 2008 @ 12:03 pm

  6. Palin:
    -Citycouncil woman and mayor of a town of 7,500
    -Governor of a state of 650,000

    Obama:
    -State Senator representing ~210,000
    -U.S. Senator representing 12,800,000

    The experience argument was probably McCain’s best card. Now, Obama like he has been playing in the big leagues compared to Palin.

    Comment by Joseph Mucia — Friday, August 29, 2008 @ 12:07 pm

  7. One more thing…

    This will not work to attract disaffected Hillary voters. Palin is extremely pro-life, and so just the fact that she is female will not be enough to get the PUMA types.

    Categorical responses don’t work when talking about large numbers. Sure it will bring some Hillary voters over, and fail to bring some of the Woman + NRA member + beauty pageant demographic.

    Obama did really poorly in the heartland. Take away the people who live in large cities, state capitals, and college towns and he won very few states. This is the demographic that McCain is reaching for. He was never going to win a majority of the Hillary primary voters. They’re into democratic politics and only a quarter or less will actually vote for McCain. However only about half of the general election voters even voted in the primaries. A good chunk of these married po’ white broads would have voted for Hillary if she were on the ticket. Now the majority will probably go for McCain.

    Comment by Buckland — Friday, August 29, 2008 @ 12:07 pm

  8. [...] Macleans.ca Blog Central, The Garnet Spy, Comments from Left Field, Firedoglake, DownWithTyranny!, PoliBlog (TM), The Anonymous Liberal, Winds of Change.NET, On Deadline, The Reaction and The RBC Big Tent [...]

    Pingback by UPDATED WITH THE ‘OH NO HE DIDN’T’ REACTION FROM OBAMA CAMPAIGN…CONFIRMED! And The Mate Is: Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin | Right Voices — Friday, August 29, 2008 @ 12:09 pm

  9. Oh I quite disagree that this takes the “experience” question off the table. How can the Democrats make a believable attack against Palin - executive of the largest state in the Union - as VICE president when their own Presidential candidate has barely more experience as one of a hundred Senators?

    That argument is the rock upon which the SS Obama will crash.

    Comment by Eric Lindholm — Friday, August 29, 2008 @ 12:20 pm

  10. How can the Democrats make a believable attack against Palin - executive of the largest state in the Union - as VICE president when their own Presidential candidate has barely more experience as one of a hundred Senators?

    But, this wasn’t an attack that the Dems were going to make, but it was a key attack for the Reps to make against Obama-and now I think that weapon is quite blunted, if not taken away.

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Friday, August 29, 2008 @ 12:22 pm

  11. Wouldn’t this choice undermine Obama’s ability to reach Catholic’s?

    Comment by Paul Barnes — Friday, August 29, 2008 @ 12:36 pm

  12. So I was looking at Palin’s pictures, and trying to figure out why she looked so familiar . . .

    Then it hit me (after seeing a picture that brought this up) - Palin bears a striking resemblance to President Roslin in BSG.

    Seriously - we’ve got the Tigh/Roslin ticket here - vote BSG, so that when the Cylons attack, we’ll be ready.

    Comment by B. Minich — Friday, August 29, 2008 @ 12:42 pm

  13. Being governor of Alaska isn’t really that hard. How tough is it to run things when not only is getting more revenue not a problem, but you can get that revenue without actually taxing your citizens-and then cut them a check every year?

    Comment by Alex Knapp — Friday, August 29, 2008 @ 12:43 pm

  14. I still submit that Palin’s experience is more formative than Oabama’s. Going from NPR’s biography ( http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=94100439&ft=1&f=1001 ) Palin has fought corruption and ruffled feathers in her own party. Palin actually canceled the Bridge to Nowhere project and put the governor’s private jet up for sale.

    Obama’s run-ins with corruption are very different. There’s something fishy about the Chicago Annenberg Challenge that the Obamessiah has been trying to keep quiet. And his attempt to work with McCain on ethics reform in Congress led Obama to decide that the Democratic leadership’s proposals were 100% correct, and the only proposals necessary to clean up Washington ( http://obama.senate.gov/letter/060206-sen_obama_and_sen_mccain_exchange_letters_on_ethics_reform/ ). In the last two years, I haven’t seen those proposals have much of an effect.

    Comment by Max Lybbert — Friday, August 29, 2008 @ 1:09 pm

  15. Sure, Palin fought corruption. But it’s a little harder to swallow her as a reformer when she’s currently under investigation by her own legislature for ethics violations.

    Also, again, by virtue of how Alaska’s government works, you never have to make any tough decisions as governor. When faced with a revenue crisis, Palin didn’t cut spending-she put a windfall profit tax on Alaskan oil companies. There are no state taxes levied against individuals in Alaska, so she didn’t have to worry about the nuances of tax policies and how they might effect economic growth-the oil companies aren’t going anywhere. Alaska’s where the oil is.

    My point about her experience is that it’s almost negative experience-being in Alaskan government is so far removed from the realities of the federal government that her habits are going to be all wrong. Like in the army-the hunters are always the ones who are the hardest to train to shoot properly, because they’ve built up a lifetime of bad habits that aren’t applicable to firing guns in the military.

    Comment by Alex Knapp — Friday, August 29, 2008 @ 1:14 pm

  16. [...] Drudge Retort (Left); The Left Coaster’s Steve Soto finds the pick “laughable”; PoliBlog’s Dr. Steven Taylor doesn’t believe Sarah will be wooing Hillary Clintonistas away from [...]

    Pingback by Sarah Palin Wins McCain’s Veepstakes — Shocked? Not The GTL™ | THE GUN TOTING LIBERAL™ — Friday, August 29, 2008 @ 2:00 pm

  17. I’m not sure that the vice presidential candidate really matters as much to the typical voter as we’re making it sound here.

    The vice president serves as the figure-head president of the senate, and gets to vote in the event of a tie. The role of the vice president in day-to-day governance varies greatly from one administration to another. For example, Dick Cheney is deeply involved in things, compared to Al Gore during the Clinton years. In many ways, the then unelected Hillary Clinton had more influence and power (her office was nearer the president’s than Gore’s was, and she had a larger staff).

    Because of the minimal “on the book” requirements of the vice president, and the president’s ability to delegate to the VP the things that they are good at, I don’t see Palin as a bad choice. She may attract some women voters who would otherwise be undecided. Sure, she’s pro-life, but there are a lot of women in America to whom abortion is not a voting issue. It is silly to categorize all women as pro-choice; there will be some tickled by the idea of a female VP who won’t care about her choice/life affiliation. Most importantly, Palin is palatable to the Republican core. The Rush Limbaughs and such will not have a problem with her.

    Palin may also sway some younger voters. In an election that will largely be resolved by style and image, she is an attractive, articulate, witty person. She used to be a sportscaster. She knows how to entertain people. This is what Obama does well - he is engaging. McCain is trying to bring some of that onto his ticket by going with Palin. I would not underestimate her skill in front of the camera or microphone. She is not likely to make any serious mistakes on the air (something her democratic counterpart is known for) and will be able to capture the short attention span of young adults. Again, this is Obama’s territory. The things she is good at are things he is good at. This makes sense.

    Also, I wouldn’t downplay the size/importance of Alaska. Yeah, it’s a small state in terms of population, but its importance to our economy cannot be understated. The conversation about energy independence frequently comes around to talk of drilling in Alaskan wilderness areas. She will have specific, nuts-and-bolts experiences with this stuff. In fact, that experience - dealing with oil companies, exploratory drilling, managing oil infrastructures and pipelines - will make her a powerful voice whenever there is talk about domestic drilling, be it in Alaska’s wilderness or coastal Florida. Governing Alaska lends very specific and relevant experience in this area that probably can’t be had by any other elected office. It would be a mistake to underestimate the relevance of that experience given that drilling for oil domestically is going to come up again and again, and that most americans support responsible drilling in the US. It will be VERY difficult to attack her and McCain’s positions on domestic drilling and energy independence without looking - here’s a shocker of a word - INEXPERIENCED.

    I think it is still on the table for McCain to criticize Obama’s lack of experience. It would be silly for Palin to do so (except in the realm of energy policy), but she probably won’t be the one doing it. I mean, really, if you just look at it in a vacuum, what looks worse, an inexperienced president teamed with an experienced vice president, or an experienced president teamed with an inexperienced vice president? I don’t see how this is going to be a problem for McCain. His campaign will just say that the Obama ticket is backwards and the man who really matters is still inexperienced.

    And I’m with a previous commenter. I think that if America had the patience for it, Biden would eat her alive. But we’re a 30-second society; in the sound-bite format that the modern debates have taken, her experience in front of cameras and microphones as an entertainer is going to give her the advantage. Biden may sound better to a minority who have the patience to listen, but next to Palin, I think most people are going to think he is a fussy old man.

    Furthermore, I think it’s a bit silly to presume that there is a good chance McCain will die during the next four years just because he’s old. The guy is in better shape than most people half his age. That is going to be pounded into our heads by the time this election is done with. Personally I think there’s a decent change he’ll outlive me and I’m only in my 30’s (well, I’m kidding, but I really don’t think he’s knocking on death’s door, and I don’t think most americans will think that by November).

    Comment by Captain D — Friday, August 29, 2008 @ 2:29 pm

  18. The important details about the “Palin scandal” couin be found at http://beldar.blogs.com/beldarblog/2008/08/non-scandal-inv.html .

    I take it you’re referring to the possibility that she … acted improperly — through a complaint she filed before she was governor and through later expressions of disapproval and concern when she was briefing the head of her gubernatorial security detail — in the firing of the boss of an Alaska state trooper, Mike Wooten, who was previously married to Palin’s sister. (Wooten’s been married and divorced four times, in fact.) In response to the complaint, Wooten was found in 2005 to have shot a moose illegally and to have used his Taser on his own ten-year-old stepson, “just to show him what it would feel like to be Tasered.” …

    The trooper’s boss who Palin later replaced when she became governor, Walt Monegan, had reduced Wooten’s suspension without pay from ten days to down to five. But Wooten is in fact still on the force, a time bomb continuing to tick away. Palin has denied that there is any connection between Wooten’s status and her replacement of Monegan, however, whose position was an appointed one that serves “at the pleasure” of the governor. (Monegan was offered a different position, which he refused.)

    She filed a complaint against a state trooper who had been married to her sister, and who has a record of acting pretty badly. When she became governor she replaced his boss (not him) with somebody else; but his boss had a politically-appointed position that served “at the pleasure of the governor.” Sorry, that’s a non-scandal in any book.

    Comment by Max Lybbert — Friday, August 29, 2008 @ 3:04 pm

  19. Honestly, the political science lit offers very little evidence that VP candidates matter positively. They can do harm, but rarely help. Whether this one will do harm or not, I have no idea. She is mostly a blank slate, so probably little room to do harm. I certainly would be shocked if she brought any voters in any swing state who would not otherwise have voted for the Republican ticket.

    Nate Silver has suggested that the VP candidate can have a small home-state effect when he or she is from a state that is normally neglected in national politics. Palin certainly fills that bill! However, the chance that Obama would carry Alaska was always pretty low.

    Really, this pick is a big YAWN.

    The third name I could not think of above was the very forgettable Joe Lieberman.

    Comment by MSS — Friday, August 29, 2008 @ 4:04 pm

  20. [...] folks have thoughts on the matter.   I tend to [...]

    Pingback by Polimom Says » A vice-president cannot help you. — Friday, August 29, 2008 @ 7:22 pm

  21. John McCain chose this female who broke the law by using the influence that her office has to pressure her brother in-law boss into firing him for divorcing her sister, and challenging her in court to gain custody of his children. What kind of person would force someone to fire their brother in-law she that her sister can gain custody, so he would not be able to take care of his kids, and we all know the courts will not give anyone custody if they can not financially take care of their kids, all women should be seriously mad! Republicans always talk about families but they never live up to them, she is as bad as the adulterer John McCain!

    Comment by P — Friday, August 29, 2008 @ 7:35 pm

  22. She will solidify the religious right and energize them and make it less likely that they will vote for a third party candidate, which politically speaking is a plus. However, once it becomes clearer that she was part of Pat Buchanan’s “pitch fork brigade” and that she endorses the latter’s points of view, moderates, including Republican women are going to think twice before voting to put someone with that world view near or in the oval office which is politically a greater negative.

    Outside of seeing this as a political choice, there is the judgment angle as it pertains to competent leadership. Obama recognized a weakness (both politically and experience wise) and made the right choice in choosing Biden who has the foreign affairs credentials. In the process Obama hurt his ‘brand’ which is change, but it was what was needed to assure competent leadership. John McCain states he is not too comfortable with economic issues but instead of choosing someone who has experience at the national level with the economy, he still made the politically expedient choice. Further more, Biden could take over tomorrow, and Palin could not. I find Obama’s judgment to be quite superior, and I am still not an Obama supporter.

    McCain has become the political, poll driven candidate whose choice here gives the appearance that he is willing to risk competent leadership for the country in order to be elected.

    I am disappointed and he has definitely lost a shot at my vote.

    http://www.poliblogger.com/wp-trackback.php?p=14089

    Comment by Bert van Hoek — Saturday, August 30, 2008 @ 2:22 pm

  23. The selection of Gov. Palin is consistent with Sen. McCain’s comments in the interview with Rev. Rick Warren. He has said goodbye to all socially moderate Republicans and Independents and chosen to make his bed with the same social conservatives and hardline security neocons that he previously said he felt so uncomfortable with. This is NOT the John McCain who served the Senate and this country so admirably for 20+ years. This is one Republican that will be voting for Barack Obama and I bet the rest of the middle of the road voters will be feeling the same way on election day.

    Comment by ArtB — Friday, September 5, 2008 @ 6:33 pm

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