Saturday, August 30, 2008

More Thoughts on Palin

I said previously that I thought Governor Sarah Palin (R-AK) was a great pick.  Here's a little of why.

PROS:

Based on the reactions of the conservative punditocracy, she has accomplished Senator John McCain's (R-AZ) #1 goal. She has energized the base.

Look who's on board:

These are people that were at best, ambivalent about supporting McCain. Now they're excited. And these are the people that follow the campaigns. The rest of America doesn't know her yet. But when they find out about her from Rush and Dobson and Beck and the rest, they're going to like her too.

She was the pick I was hoping for as well. I know I didn't mention her in my earlier post on McCain's VP Options, but that's because she wasn't being mentioned at the time. I only heard her name in reference to McCain about a week or so later, and I decided not to revisit my post because I tried very hard to stay away from the hype from both camps. I put out one and only one post for each.

More than that, the pick has accomplished one of McCain's unstated secondary goals as well. Many people derided his choice of naming his VP on the day after the Democratic National Convention, saying that Obama would be getting all the news coverage. Instead it was Palin who got all the news coverage. Forget about a bounce from Obama's speech. It's already forgotten.

She's a true conservative and a reformer. She's also been a maverick, but in a good way. She's bucked hard against the GOP machine in AK, and brought down some significant people with serious ethics challenges, including a Governor, an Attorney General,and the head of the state GOP. Obama claims to have stood up to his party, although there's no evidence to support it.  She is someone who has and has the evidence to back it up.

She has a great story to tell. One of the themes of the DNC was the "rags-to-riches" stories.  Her story blows every one of them out of the water. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) has been compared by numerous people to Abraham Lincoln, but it's her past that compares more favorably to Lincoln's.

She was a businesswoman and mom and a member of the PTA who got fed up and ran for mayor. She then ran for Governor but was defeated. The Governor thought he'd shut her up by giving her a post in his administration. When she discovered just how much corruption there was there and that she wasn't going to be allowed to do anything about it, she publicly resigned and made sure everyone knew why. She ran against the corrupt Republican Governor again and defeated him in the primaries, then defeated the former Democratic Governor in the General Election. While doing all this she's raised five kids and has home-schooled them.  her oldest joined the army on September 11, 2007 and will be deploying to Iraq soon. Her most recent child has Down's Syndrome and she was counseled by her doctors to abort. She said no and told them not to run any more tests. And all this with a "meager" degree from the University of Idaho. She didn't go to Harvard.

This is the real "rags-to-riches" story. There's no doubt that she's self-made. She has more in common with Lincoln than Obama could ever hope to have.

She's ardently pro-life. She's a member of the NRA and a hunter. She knows more about oil and energy than the other three men on the ballot combined. She strongly supports drilling in ANWR.  She's a supply-sider. She supports small government and defense.

CONS:

Yes, she has some downsides.

She doesn't have much experience. She has none on a national scale. Republicans will be quick to point out that she's the only person on either ticket with executive office experience and that given that Obama has been campaigning for the last 18 months, she easily can match his experience level. While technically true, it's a weak argument and they know it. She's going to have to prove herself worthy of this position, and it's going to be an uphill climb for her. The press will be ready to pounce on her first mistake, and they will lay traps for her to try to catch her in one.

She's also embroiled in a little bit of her own ethics scandal. It doesn't sound like it's a big deal, and the McCain people are obviously not worried about it, but Democrats will attempt to make it bigger than it is.

DEMOGRAPHICS:

I said in my previous post that she appeals to two key demographics. The first is the one that the MSM has been all over.

Can she help with women?  Obviously, yes.  Is she going to help with true-blue hardcore pro-choice feminists? No. She might help McCain pick off a few of those that are still mad at Obama on how they feel Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) was treated, but this is going to be a tiny number. But she'll help with conservative democrats and independents. Soccer Moms. This is a demographic that the Republicans have been going after more and more over the last twenty years, with improving success. Palin will help further this. Will women vote for her automatically because she's a woman?  No. But she gives women a reason to look at the ticket.  A reason they didn't have before. Some of those women will look at the ticket and decide they like what they see.

In my mind the second demographic is even more important, and has been totally ignored by the mainstream media. She hits right at the core of Obama's key demographic, 18-34 year olds. I mentioned earlier that the choice of Biden could cause some of that group to stray from Obama.  Now McCain has given them a place to stray. This may turn out to be the key piece of McCain's electoral puzzle.

SUMMARY:

Is Sarah Palin perfect?  No, not even close. And we don't know nearly enough about her.  There may be some big skeletons in her closet. She may be awful on the stump. She may be terrible in the debate. Despite that, she's probably the best pick McCain could've made. All of his other choices were uninspiring. Palin, whatever else she may be, is hardly uninspiring.

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