Friday, August 29, 2008

Palin: Well, she's a woman, so vote McCain

She thought it was a joke when someone called her at 6 a.m. to tell her the news. 'She's not prepared to be governor. How can she be prepared to be vice president or president?'

A typical reaction to the news that Alaska's Governor Sarah Palin, still with that new-governor smell, is McCain's pick for vice president. Shock was the universal reaction amongst political junkies. "Whozzat? Is Brady playing tonight?" the universal reaction among everyone else. The above quote, however, is slightly atypical is that this is the reaction of the Republican state senator who represents Palin's hometown. How, um, neighborly.

The Republican Speaker of the House in Alaska checked in with his own ringing endorsement: "'She's old enough,' Harris said. 'She's a U.S. citizen.'" (Thanks to pablo for the spot.) So with disbelief and curtness, Palin is given a rude shove-off by her own Alaska Republican colleagues. What a start.

But understandable, because the Palin choice is underwhelming in almost every metric. Underwhelming as a candidate, as a possible president, as a person of judgment, even as a Republican woman. Palin's got less than two years as Alaska's governor under her belt, she's under investigation for abusing her powers, and other than that is best known for being part-time mayor of a tiny town in the Frontier State (and not a particularly good one, at that).

But what really grinds my gears is the obvious thinking behind this ploy -- that any old set of ovaries will entice Democrats and Independents who sided with Hillary Clinton to check off McCain's name on the ballot. Palin directly invoked her campaign today when speaking in Ohio, and punditry is focused on the idea that this is some sort of olive branch for women voters. An olive branch studded with thorns: Palin wants to take away women's control over their own reproductive health care, keep the door open for private exploitation of our health, and loves the Iraq war. It is impossible to get Palin's own ideas on the issues, as her campaign site has been taken down and redirects to McCain's site (same happens, with Biden in fairness). Apparently merely scrubbing her piece where she is chumming with indicted Senator Ted Stevens wasn't enough...letting Palin speak for herself on anything has been deemed too risky.

So here we have a woman who is pretty much against anything Hillary Clinton is for, who is already being silenced by McCain, and offers nothing to people who backed Clinton beyond a second X chromosome from a swing state.

If the only requirement to be McCain's VP is to be a woman, it really is stunning how deep McCain had to dig to find a Republican woman to run with him. There are five woman Republican Senators, including swing state specials such as Elizabeth Dole and Susan Collins. They didn't make the cut, or didn't want to. Same with three more experienced Republican governors, including Jodi Rell and Linda Lingle, two moderate Republicans with real future potential. Even Republican businesswomen such as Carly Fiorina weren't picked.

Instead we get somebody so far down the depth chart that she's pretty much AA-league material. So apparently, those of us who backed Hillary Clinton are expected to be grateful for any woman -- anywhere on the ticket. Even an inexperienced, reactionary Republican woman. Even a second-tier inexperienced, reactionary Republican woman. Maybe the first tier was too uppity for McCain's liking, maybe they were smart enough to say no.

This is the crassest can't even make the argument that Palin has the most to offer from the small group of prominent Republican women! Do they think that this will actually work?

PS: I will say that I think this does pretty much put Alaska in McCain's column. Alaska was always a long shot, though, and what the three he gains there, are more than balanced by the four he's going to lose in New Hampshire for picking such a reactionary unknown.

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