Friday, August 29, 2008


Hard to say anyone saw McCain's VP selection coming, the choice is best described as a shocker. Alaska Gov. Sarah "Barracuda" Palin, a relative unknown, wasn't even on the VP radar, and yet McCain picks her as running mate. Overall, while the pick brings potential, I would say it was a poor choice on McCain's part, and the reasons are mostly obvious.

John McCain's biggest strength is experience, that fact allowed for an distinct contrast with the relatively green Obama, in many ways his ace in the hole. Poll after poll shows McCain towering over Obama on foreign policy, terrorism, even Iraq in terms of readiness to lead. Apart from the experience angle, Obama tends to have the advantage, which makes the selection of a novice for VP very curious.

McCain likes to reference his age, and he openly suggests he would only be one-term President should he win, largely because of that fact. The age question raises the stakes for a VP pick, because it is natural to see that person as potential President, and it is because of this realit that McCain has probably erred. As the pundits are already noting, McCain's experience argument is hurt when in choosing someone with little, the person more likely than any other VP selection to actually assume office, requires lots of "on the job training". In essence, McCain has undercut his own narrative with this selection, a risk I'm not sure he needed to take, all things considered.

Within the inexperienced angle, there is also an element of political opportunism that could backfire. John McCain contradicts his experience message with an overt attempt to win over woman voters. Obama didn't pick Clinton, so McCain makes a transparent play for that ground. The optics aren't necessarily good in the first analysis, I suppose the thinking is that cyncism will yield over time, and Palin could have the right appeal.

What McCain does do, is show up his base further, and one can assume they will now be more energized. A gun-toting, anti-abortion Christian, from a tough environment, is a sure winner with the rank and file. The fact Governor Palin also seems to share McCain's anti-pork drive, a champion of ethics, outside the beltway mentality, not to mention a sometimes non-partisan perspective, should have some appeal to independents, or so they hope.

This pick is risky, a word used ad nauseum today, but it's true. There is potential for McCain with this "outside the box" selection, it surely has created buzz, and the media will give her considerable attention in the coming days. The pick could help him with key demographics, but it just as easily could blow up in McCain's face, given his true motivations. From everything I've seen, this race was tight, for all intent and purposes a draw (temporary bost-convention boost blips aside). That fact begs the question- did McCain really need the "hail mary" pass? The selection almost assumes he did, which then lends an air of desperation, hardly a good frame. Time will tell, but at first blush, I see this pick having just as much potential to hurt McCain, as to help, so for that reason, the choice might have been a mistake.


Scott Tribe said...

She has potential ethics problems as well. Using your power of office to try and pressure an official to fire your former brother-in-law from the police force after a nasty diveroce with her sister and then firing the official when he refused to do that would be a no-no.

Steve V said...


One would think these problems were vetted, and shouldn't be a big deal in the grand scheme. That said, I wonder just when it was that the McCain team settled on Palin, because she couldn't have been a serious contender for long, too hard to envision no leaks whatsoever.

Anonymous said...

I honestly do not feel she was vetted seriously.

From reports this morning, it sounded like some of his very closest staff were genuinely not aware of her selection until the decision was made.

This is a play for disaffected Hillary supporters partially (the visual).

But the real drive on this is evangelical conservatives, who apparently were nearly apoplectic in joy at the announcement.

Plus, while everyone else was scrambling for just what to say about her his morning, the Christian Broadcast Network had press release and spokespeople armed with praise on the airwaves.

It's a page from 1988, which is why I suspect it will fail spectacularly.

However, having said that, never underestimate the US voter. If she plays out west and in Ohio, maybe McCain feels he can hold the margins on the other republican states back east.

I have always thought the race would ultimately boil down to Virginia, Colorado, NM & NV (the last two because in a close race, 5 electoral votes could be the delta).

My instinct tells me this is a spectacularly bad decision. But I don't underestimate poor voter judgment in the US.

Anonymous said...

So the Obama bounce after the convention is 8 points. Good enough to be insurmountable?

Steve V said...


That's why I was wondering about when she became a serious contender. You assume a thorough vetting, but in some ways, this out of left field announcement reeks of kneejerk response. If that is the case, then what Scott mentioned could be a sign of poorly thought out.

BTW, I must say I'm pleased that I won't have to listen to Romney for the next few months, if there is a more annoying chameleon in American politics, I haven't seen him.

Anonymous said...

Alright, so I haven't "always" thought those specific states.

But for the past several weeks that is what I have begun to suspect. I sense the big electoral states will return to recent form (Ohio - R, Penn - D, Michigan - D, Florida - D) and that the periphery "new battlegrounds" will be where the race would ultimately be decide - UNLESS the race turns into a blowout.

Steve V said...


I'd wait until after the Republicans have their turn, the conventions tend to be a net neutral. Seems like a normal bounce so far, but I think we won't know the true extent until Sunday, when all the polls fully factor last night, which was clearly a great moment.

On that speech, I did like the preamble video, did a good job of showing that Obama is American afterall. Grandfather in the war, grandmother working for the war, not sure everyone knows this about him, very pleasing to the eye. The speech also was less shakespearian than some of Obama's others, had more of a real world edge that was attractive.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, my wording may have been sloppy - I DO NOT feel she was thoroughly vetted.

mushroom, the 8 point will probably not be the end of the bounce. Most of the polling was still underway last night when Obama was giving his address.

I'm not sure how Palin plays out in this. On one hand, everyone is talking about it. But I'm not sure people are going to jump right on board, even if they ever do. I think the peak of Obama's DNC bounce will appear tomorrow or Sunday then we'll see what happens from there.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I'll stop monopolizing. Just correcting my state list. Floria - R

Steve V said...


No question, this announcement is a good blunt for the Republicans, instead of digesting Obama's speech, the buzz is about McCain's pick.

I just heard that McCain met with Palin on Wednesday, which appears to only be the second time they have spoken personally. That is another odd tidbit, because McCain is notorious for surrounding himself with comfortable figures, it would he appear he doesn't really know Palin.

Anonymous said...

"Ohio - R, Penn - D, Michigan - D, Florida - D"

Ohio is a much different egg than 2004, Joseph. I will mark it solidly Democrat. Virginia is almost a done deal for the Dems, despite not having either Webb and Kaine on the ticket.

I subscribe this to the Iraq war. Reagan Democrats know someone that came home in a body bag.

I am close to declaring Missouri for the Democrats. Indiana is still Republican for now. Not sure come November though.

Florida for the Republicans? The Hispanics are flocking to the Dems. McCain may be left with the panhandle.

Steve V said...

Monopolize away, your comments are always insightful :)

Steve V said...


I have to disagree with some of that. If anything Missouri is leaning Republican, same for Florida. Ohio, is in play big time, wouldn't even hazard an opinion on who takes that. Virginia is certainly a possible Dem pickup, but really Obama can lose all of these states, so long as he carries Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado, not to mention Iowa and NH.

Anonymous said...

"Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado, not to mention Iowa and NH"

How will these states get Obama 270, if the GOP wins Florida, Missouri, Ohio, and Virginia?

Anonymous said...

Remember one thing she has a hell of a lot more executive experiance then Obama, she is far readier then he is to be president.

Anonymous said...


It does. If you start with every state exactly as it was in 2004, but change 3 of these 4 - Iowa, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada to democrat, Obama wins.

Actually without Colorado it becomes an electoral tie but in that case I think Obama would win in the House tie-breaker since the delegations are mostly majority democrat - particularly since it could be justified by Obama having the higher overall national voter count (as i)

Granted winning just 1 of the other 4 biggies you listed, and it is game over with Obama winning.

That's why in some bizarre way I think Palin was chosen. Maybe they figure she'll play to conservatives in the traditional battleground states back east and to westerners in general.

My "close" scenario is based on McCain holding the close states that Bush won and preventing Obama from breaking through in those new battlegrounds where he shows promise.

In the blowout scenario, I'm with you that any number of the battlegrounds from the last two elections could all swing in one direction - hopefully towards Obama.

I think you felt I was giving you what is happening when instead I was presenting what I think McCain hopes can happen.

Steve V said...


Check out this link, and you will see that even if McCain carries all of the above one's you mention, he still loses if he does what I suggest (even without Nevada).

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, you are absolutely correct! Why just this past evening I was reading her health care plan. I have to admit I was impressed at the work she was already undertaking during her recent stint as Mayor of moosejaw.

If that is what the republicans are banking on as an argument, then cancel everything I just said. Game over Obama.

Sorry for the sarcasm, but I can only dream that is the real argument they intend to make.

I suspect it will be mildly more nuanced than that.

JimmE said...

This is just widow dressing. I visit 3 states with some frequency, CO. AK & NY. Having just returned from Alaska I got a take on this person. After the Geraldine Ferraro factor wears off, she will be an boat anchor not a help. She is more anti environment than BUSH. She came out against Alaska's Ballot measure 4 (a failed measure that would have prevented mining companies from spilling tailings into fish habitat). She is the anti-Hillary so the best it will do is soften some Red State Women to the ticket.

Steve V said...

Jimme, you are right on the environment, so much for McCain as a refreshing Republican voice on the topic. Very disappointing.

One rumor that is floating around, and I actually think this is very shrewd- McCain will name his Secretary of State and Defence Secretary sometime next week. If the campaign does that, it will counter any perception about the VP as inexperienced. That would be a sound move.

JimmE said...

Steve, I had heard the same rumor. Don't get me wrong this is a smart move by the 'Cain, this is not a sure thing for the Dems, but what I see with my long suffering friends & family is they feel UPBEAT, they feel they can win this time, & they are working. As my Bro in Anchorage said: "if Kerry did as well as he did against Bush, OB has a hell of a chance against the Cain.
.... Oh & one more thing, she's the Governor of a state where they've just re-elected Republican Senator Ted Stepehens, -federal inditement & all - to carry the Republican banner in the race for the senate. From what I've seen of Alaska, even if convicted, - he'll get re-elected.
Alaska is not in play, so like I said, window dressing.

Scott Tribe said...

Gee, that sounds rather "presumptuous" of McCain, doesn't it? :)

How many bets Lieberman is one of the names? Another dead-weight that I would love to see McCain add to his list... a poll cam out saying that if Lieberman had been named VP, he would have actually cost MCCain votes in Florida AND Connecticut.

So I'm not exactly thinking Obama's team will be shaking in their boots if his name comes up.

Scott Tribe said...


Check your polling again. Stevens is trailing by double-digits to his Democratic contender, Begich

Anonymous said...

Palin Pick Leaves Bruised Feelings
By Anne E. Kornblut
DENVER -- Though it was high in shock value, the Palin pick left bruised feelings among the short-list contenders who were not picked -- and infuriated some Republican officials who privately said McCain had gone out on a limb, unnecessarily, without laying the groundwork for such an unknown. Two senior Republican officials close to Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty said they had both been rudely strung along and now "feel manipulated."

"They now know that they were used as decoys, well after McCain had decided not to pick them," one Republican involved in the process said

...she looks like Sally Jesse Raphael to me.

NYSmike said...

Ahhh, and we're still waiting on Obama to be vetted. What was it with Obama's pick...seems like Biden has a temper, lobbyist connections and he's a huge Washington insider, longer than McCain I believe...oh, and he's 65, only 7 years younger than McCain.

Anonymous said...


I think you read the wrong report. You just described John McCain so do you really think they'll use that as their line of attack on Biden?

Better to just scream POW from now until November.

Was wondering about the bruised feelings. I suspect many influential Republicans shook their heads this morning thinking, "Dear Lord, Crazy McCain is back."

Not maverick, crazy. I lived in DC. McCain has strong supporters, but he also has major critics in his own party. This has got to be rubbing them the wrong way. He had better hope folks eyeing 2012 or 16 don't decide to just "sit" this one out.

This could eclipse the Dems concerns about Hillary factor if the republicans don't smooth it out quickly.

CKAinRedStateUSA said...

Picking Palin a "hail Mary" pass?


Can no one think outside of the box into which the Demockacrats have either tried to stuff everybody or tried to prevent anyone from leaving?

And risky?

If she's risky, the into what much-much-worse category does the morally anchorless, inexperienced, fascistic megalomaniac from that cesspool called the Chicago Political Machine fit? And what does that say about his couldn't-be-safer pick of Joe Biden, who's was entering Congress when Barack H. Obama, or Barry Soetoro, or Barry Dunham, or whatever his real name might be, was all of 11 years old?

As for her ethics problems? Someone brings that up, as if that's a big thing? If it's true, that's needs to be assessed and dealt with.

But raising that is akin to going after the capillary with her while avoiding the jugular with BHOBSBD as well as Joe Biden.

And, respectfully, none of us know how or when she was vetted? If the McCain crew took even a single hard look at her--and you know they did--that's more than the Demockacrats and their shills and shillettes in the wrongly named MSM have done with what's-his-name.

And I'm just going out on a limb here, but it seems that the "ethics" investigation that a Demockacrat initiated surfaced about the time her name was mentioned some weeks ago, as a potential VP choice for McCain.

McCain may be old and crusty, but in choosing Palin, he shows the type of testicularity that a POTUS and CINC needs, the kind that Obama/Soetoro/Dunham, he lately of "hope" and "change," can only ever dream about. Or read or hear about.

Anonymous said...

Someone is very touchy.

You're right. She is the best McCain could have chosen. As he himself made foreign affairs experience the centerpiece of his campaign in these troubled and dangerous times, I will sleep well convinced McCain's ONE meeting with Palin was all he needed to see she was the best he would find.

Clearly the self-proclaimed soccer mom is the best person to be a heartbeat away from the Presidency.

How kdo you thin those pesky investigators created fake phone records on that totally bogus ethics investigation? If they were in Canada, Bush / McCain could just sue for libel and lock them away for the next 67 days, but I'm not sure that will fly in the US. As it is, I think everyone will agree it's just not a big issue for someone with her vast resume. It will be just a harmless blip on an otherwise untarnished record of service to the Oil & Gas Commission, the PTA, Mayor of a town of 6500, and Governor for 19 months.

And when they discover her desire to teach creationism in schools, opposition to environmental concerns, and strong anti-abortion stance, those disaffected Hillary supporters will flock to McCain's campaign.

How DARE anyone question McCain's judgment on the matter - there should not be any discussion!

I apologize completely.

Steve V said...


Is that the American Libranos? Somehow I just stop reading... Hippo yawns.

Antonio said...


Like the pick or hate it

Democrats starting any argument with "If my opponent dies" is not a winning proposition

The Democrats, in my opinion, took the bait.

1) they are not talking about George W. Bush and his 8 failed years.

2) they should have waited til wednesday ebfore calling this "the worst thing in history"

3) and most importantly, getting into an argument about experience plays right into John McCain's hands. People vote for the top of the ticket. Any day in the next 67 spent talking about experience is a good day for John McCain

Joseph, I know you dont wanna overlook the intelligence of the American voter.

Based on the Democratic reaction today, I question the judgement of the Obama campaign's overreaction.

James Bow said...

Yeah, not so fast. The conservatives aren't warming to her either:

Comparisons to Harriet Miers, anyone?

Anonymous said...


I don't underestimate the US voter - I fear them sometimes but don't underestimate them.

But this decision defies a lot of that logic. I responded to you on one of the other blogs ; ) somewhat harshly.

I have relatives who live in the US and vote fairly religiously (no pun intended) with the Republicans.

They are genuinely concerned about McCain's judgment on this. Genuinely.

People in the US generally do not "vote" for the VP pick. But they do ask themselves if the pick can step in at a moment's notice. It comes with the territory.

If my relatives are concerned, that should be a concern for the McCain camp - no matter how cool this choice might sound in theory.

Antonio said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Antonio said...

Im not saying this gives mccain the election

im not even sure it gives him an advantage

I do know that in 3 days this woman, who has accomplished more in 2 years in Alaska than Obama did in 4 years in the Senate, will introduce herself to the country.

(its easier to do as Senators talk and Governors get things done)

Obama has talked a lot in 3 and a half years

The last senator to win the presidency was 48 years ago.

The democrats are writing her off before she addresses the country in a few days.

Its bad strategy. If she truly is that bad, let her fall on her own sword.

My absolute favorite part of the day was the media falling over themselves because they were completely taken off guard

Anonymous said...

You're right, Antonio. No one should question your judgment either.

The democrats should have sat out the first few days, allowing un-contested glowing talking points about this novel, fresh pick, the challenges of her 5-month old child, her working mom tales, and how proud she is of her son heading off to war (which she told us all about in during her 5-minute introduction to the world).

Silly of them to point out that she has absolutely zippo foreign policy experience (a photo op with bouncy photos of her in Afghanistan the one rare exception). And, contrary to Faux Reporting last night, sitting in a state "next to" Russia doesn't quite cut it.

McCain has beat the drums on leadership and experience in dangerous times the centerpiece of his appeal. Now it appears that ol' dodderer has decided it will be he and another "reformer" blazing a trail together for the next 67 days from his ONE meeting with her.

Yeah, no one should question that judgment either.

Right, Antonio, I yield the floor on your superior knowledge of the entire North American electorate.

You're absolutely brilliant!

Antonio said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Antonio said...

See Joseph,

I never said I knew more about the electorate than anybody else.

You put those words in my mouth.

Then you used the words of a bad surrogate on a TV station to take and declared it the official position of the Republican Party.

your hyper-partisan reaction is hardly surprising. That's been the noticeable trend of this campaign. The Democrats are acting as zealous as the republicans did in the past two elections, a good sign considering the outcome of those two elections.

However, any day the topic of this campaign is "experience" instead of "change" is a victory for the Republicans.

Governor Palin's deal with TransCanada to build the pipeline, while commercial, was not only 30 years in the making, but alone is one more foreign deal that Palin made compared to Barack Obama.

I have listed one.

Now I welcome anyone else to list an accomplishment Obama has made with regards to foreign policy.

it's like that famous Clinton quote "John McCain brings a great depth of experience to this issue, Barack Obama has a speech he made in 2002."

If Palin is so inexperienced, can we list any of Obama's accomplishments that would top a business deal with Canada.

Anonymous said...


Every time I see a discussion involving you on these blogs, it is all about how much more you understand things than ANYONE else. You never actually have to say those words.

So I'm giving you what you clearly want. You are ABSOLUTELY correct. McCain just made a precisely calibrated perfect decision and the US will be a safer place with the former mayor of winemuca (or wherever the hell it was) a heartbeat from the Presidency. I for one will sleep better at night.

Sheer brilliance! And you called it.

Wow, I had no idea that the former chair of the Oil and Gas Commission in Alaska with a husband who works for BP managed to forge a deal to build an oil pipeline (that hasn't been built yet) with a Canadian company. Such a hot spot in the world too, highlighting the need to understand diverse cultures and having to contend with the years of political and military strife along those rugged borders.

I also had no idea that she had been working on it since the age of 14. Was she playing basketball then at the same time? That is impressive.

I have no idea who you are referring to when you talk about the reporter bit so please share so I'll know who I am supposedly parroting.

Obama has served on the Senate Committee of Foreign Affairs, handling legislation related to Africa, sponsoring and passing legislation. He has also developed a policy team with his campaign to layout plans for his administration should they win the election. But no pipeline experience, sadly.

Again, you are right. You win.

Now can I go for my hike? Or do you require me to sing your praises again.

I haven't met you, and I actually want to like you because I do value your opinions but it is like nails on a chalkboard trying to have the dialogue because you can never acknowledge another point.

And having said all of that, I will genuinely agree that the debate over experience vs change is not one Obama should have politically. But sometimes the issues are beyond politics.

This is about McCain's judgment in making this selection. It screeches politics and says very damn little about judgment.

And that is sad, especially since I have spent several years somewhat admiring the man.

Have a good weekend, Antonio.

Anonymous said...

If you read this Antonio, I had a a great hike. Heading home, I actually thought about my reaction to you - which is sorta weird considering I don't actually know you except from reading your blog comments.

But I was trying to figure out why I tend to react so strongly when I see your comments. In general, I enjoy checking out the blogs to hear other people's thoughts and even have a little fun sharing and sometimes debating a bit. Yet even when I don't respond to your comments, I often find myself peeved (for lack of a better word) when I see you commenting on various things.

I think I figured out why. In your comments, I can never tell if you are arguing a personal opinion (Palin is the best choice for the Vice Presidency) or if you are arguing strategy (McCain made a terrifically cunning strategic choice). And while I can get a kick out of some of the political strategy that goes on in any election, I care very deeply that politicians make good fundamental decisions.

As I read your comments, it appears to me you mix the two. I can never categorize them as "he's making a comment on strategy" or "he's offering a personal opinion about the issue." That, coupled with the fact that I cannot recall ever seeing you acknowledge someone else has made a good point unless it coincides with yours, and it just makes me want to counter you.

That is a bit unfair, and more about how I'm reading or feeling about the issue that about you. So, long story short, I apologize for being snitty. Not that I think you've been too concerned about it, but I thought I'd offer anyway ; ).

Finally, on this issue itself, what bothers me - personally - about McCain is that I do believe he has the ability to be a true moderate and seek compromise. So it pains me to see him slowly morphing into this Rovian creature (can we start use Rove as an adjective now?) who feels it is all about the strategy. Simplifying issues to absurd extremes, Dicing up the population with wedge issues, and basing decisions SOLELY on political strategy - even those decisions that really warrant forethought and can have real consequences.

I tend to be more realist than idealist these days, but I am still extremely disappointed when I see someone I consider a "good" politician morph into some ever-calculating caricature where strategic brilliance is valued over wisdom.

McCain, in my opinion, has seen enough in his life experience to be wise, so it pains me to see him toss that out in a mad push to be cunning. I don't think he needed to do that to win this election, and it disturbs me for what that will mean if he actually wins on that basis.

In my opinion, this Palin decision reeks of pure politics on an issue that should have been about making a wise decision.

He met her once. One time. She may be a talented and even nice person. But that is hardly the grounds for him to have made this decision - no matter how "brilliant" the choice might be politically - in my humble opinion anyway.