Thursday, September 04, 2008

McCain's Massive Risk

John McCain surprised many when he announced Sarah Palin as his running mate for November. "What?!" cried many non-Alaskans. "Who?" cried many more. However, a few days on it is very unlikely that many still have no idea about the woman who could only be a heartbeat (God forbid) away from the Presidency.

To evangelical Christians the choice was music (presumably of the choral or devotional sort) to their ears; a Jesus-loving, gun-toting, moose-shooting pro-lifer was bound to be popular for that constituency. To the Hillaryites, to whom the choice was also cynically aimed, the choice of a woman probably smacks of condescension on McCain's part, especially as this woman is certainly no liberal like their hero claims to be. To everyone else the choice may seem baffling. Palin is a candidate with experience only as mayor of a small town and as a part-term Governor of Alaska. In contrast to Joe Biden, Obama's running mate, she is a political lightweight. Republican claims that she has more Executive-level experience than Obama are technically true but no less ridiculous for it. Might I suggest that, barring constitutional prohibitions, the Mayor of, say, Limavady is equally qualified according to this criteria?

However, the merits of Sarah Palin's candidature are not in fact the greatest issue at stake here. Far greater, in my mind, is the fact that McCain made his choice after having only met Palin twice and without any effective vetting process. Had she have been vetted properly the campaign would have known about her pregnant teenage daughter, her links to the pro-Alaskan independence AIP, her fondness for pork-barreling (lobbying for money for projects in your home state at the expense of the country as a whole in order to win favor with the local electorate, a practice criticised by McCain himself), support for a pointless and expensive bridge project and ongoing investigations into allegations that she abused her powers by sacking her brother-in-law in the wake of his divorce from Palin's sister. Whether or not Palin turns out to be a good candidate is irrelevant to the question of McCain's judgement (or lack of) and the rashness of the decision he made. Such impulsive decision-making was the hallmark of the previous administration and is much suspected among many American voters. As a former Bush adviser told Channel 4 news, McCain has gambled a lot of money on black and even if it pays off it still doesn't make it a good decision.

Another interesting issue surrounding the Palin candidacy is the allegation of sexism in the media's reporting. I would suggest that the only sexism here is from the Republicans. It is perfectly reasonable to scrutinise the woman who may be the next Vice President and the criticisms do not have to be linked to the fact that she is a woman. To suggest that her gender should make her immune to criticism or that criticisms should be tempered to take account of the fact that she is female is nothing short of patronising.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think the choice of Sarah Palin will in the long term will be the death knell for the republicans fight for the Whitehouse

bill said...

Sarah Palin fills in all of McCain's perceived gaps. In addition to being what I understand is an incredible woman, she is exactly the right person to be in place when they try to push through drilling in the Preserve. In addition, the U.S.A. is claiming the northwest passage as an international waterway anchored at one end oddly enough by Alaska. There is also a land dispute with Canada re: the Alaska and therefore U.S. border with Canada. They are claiming a huge tract of the arctic which would seem to lie within what Canada deems to be it's sovereign territory. The area may be very rich in natural gas, oil, and mineral deposits. Who else but Sarah Palin could best handle that as V.P.?

Anonymous said...

Sarah Palin, will in the end, show up McCain as being old and not very exciting - not a good choice when she will undoubtably overshadow the main man

bill said...

I think they are trying to upstage the main man a little so concerns about his age and health will fall into the background. After all, if anything happens to him, they then get the young, dynamic, exciting, capable woman, etc. etc. etc. They're heading some of the most formidable criticism off at the pass and also countering Obamamania with some Palinmania of their own. Good ploy. Crafty move.

truth and justice said...

Bill

I can't agree ith your upbeat analysis of the McCain /Palin ticket - she may be younger and prettier than old man McCain - but could the US voters be crazy enough to risk this 'Backwoodswoman' with the top job when she has barely left Alaska - let alone made any statements in her political career about US foreign policy or anything else of consequence???