McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin certainly has suceeded in catching the headlines. It has dominated the cable news netwroks for two days now. Before I blog in more depth on her, a quick reference back to the Obama speech.
Factcheck.org fisks Obama’s speech and finds seven inaccuracies, half-truths, exaggerations etc. Now to be fair, I am sure when McCain does his speech, they wll find a similiar number. But I think it is a wonderful resource to have a neutral well funded site that checks facts and claims from both sides. We badly need one of those in New Zealand. That would be a project worth getting a few million donated towards!
Now back to Sarah Palin. Power Line looks at how much of an outsider she is:
So Palin was an upstart in every possible way when she challenged Frank Murkowski, the former Senator and entrenched Republican Governor who, among other things, appointed his daughter Lisa to succeed him in the Senate. Palin was opposed by the entire Republican establishment in Alaska, including Senator Ted Stevens–after whom the Anchorage airport is named–and Congressman Don Young. Notwithstanding the hostility of her party’s elder statesmen, Palin defeated Murkowski in the primary. She then faced the popular former Democratic Governor Tony Knowles in the general election. In what would have been considered an extraordinary upset just a few months earlier, Palin trounced Knowles, despite reported efforts by her own party’s leaders to defeat her. As Governor, she has enjoyed approval ratings in the 80s.
So it is hard to imagine a more complete outsider, in terms of national politics, than Sarah Palin. She ran and was elected as a reformer, has governed successfully as such, and owes nothing whatever to anyone in Washington. Personally, I’m not as anti-Washington as many conservatives, but it would be just about unAmerican not to root for a rebel and outsider like Palin.
This is what I like about Palin. She is the genuine deal, as much as anyone can be in politics.
But criticism of her experience is valid, if overly dramatised.
Could I say she is ready to become President on January the 21st 2009 should John McCain drop dead on the day of his inauguration? Not really. She does not have the experience in national politics. However she is standing for VP, not President, and people do overplay the McCain age issue. It is worth remembering that John McCain’s mother is still alive!! Given time, Palin as Vice-President will gain the experience so she could step up if necessary. So there is a risk should something happen very early in a McCain presidency, and that will be a factor in voting – not a huge factor though I suspect.
Some people have claimed Palin is more experienced than Obama to be President, as she has had two years of executive experience as Chief Executive of Alaska. It is true that Obama has no executive experience, and limited federal legislative experience. But 18 months on the campaign trail has exposed him to almost every issue domestic and foreign and Palin has not had that. Of course Obama is standing for President, not VP.
Palin is somewhat of a risk. If she does a massive blunder, or a series of minor ones, in her early days, she will be painted as a Dan Quayle (who was in fact somewhat unfairly treated) lightweight. But if she does not stuff up, she could develop a lot of popular support. Both Palin and McCain are genuinely independent of their party machines, and may appeal to those independents.
I still think Obama is favourite to win, as his get out the vote organisation will be so massive, that he will win on turnout. But there is still a long way to go.
I’ll finish with some quotes on Palin from the Palin for VP blog, which had been quietly pushing her for many months:
I have been working to draft Gov. Palin as Vice President since February of 2007, and I can recount first hand how she has united divergent views among Republicans and is now even gaining Democratic support. The key is that she offers a combination of qualities that make her a hero to many, many different groups. For instance, two of our strongest bases of support have been social conservatives and libertarian republicans, who are normally at each other’s throats.
However, she offered both groups something that they desperately wanted without compromising any appeal to the other. The SoCons loved her pro-life, pro-family, and pro-gun positions, while the libertarians and fiscal conservatives cheered her on as she vetoed hundreds of millions of dollars of wasteful government spending. Getting those two groups to sing kum-ba-ya was enough of an accomplishment, but now it appears that a third group has found what it wants in Gov. Palin: McCainocrats.
If anyone can unite those bases, she does it to a reasonable degree.
By upending Alaska’s corrupt political class, Palin has actually produced the type of change that Barack Obama can only talk about; and her collar is far bluer than Joe Biden’s ever was. Furthermore, she is arguably the only candidate who has the necessary expertise to address the single most pressing issue in this election: gas prices. As Governor of Alaska, Chair of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (America’s largest interstate organization), and a former Chair of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, Sarah Palin can run rings around almost anyone when it comes to oil.
That’s a good point. She may be inexperienced on some issues, but if they position her as a VP who will lead the Administration’s energy policy, that could appeal.