Friday, August 29, 2008

One Woman Is As Good As The Next?

This commentary pretty much says all you need to know about McCain's pick for VP.

Paul Begala also offers a few not-completely-idiotic thoughts, as he is wont to do when not seated opposite Tucker Carlson:

For a man who is 72 years old and has had four bouts with cancer to have chosen someone so completely unqualified to become president is shockingly irresponsible. Suddenly, McCain's age and health become central issues in the campaign, as does his judgment.

For months, the McCainiacs have said they will run on his judgment and experience. In his first presidential decision, John McCain has shown that he is willing to endanger his country, potentially leaving it in the hands of someone who simply has no business being a heartbeat away from the most powerful, complicated, difficult job in human history.

Yes, it's rhetorical and not particularly insightful, but it's also unquestionably true. She has no serious leadership credentials. Period.

I'd say the pick makes McCain look fairly desperate. I'm clearly biased, but I can hardly see any other way to construe it. I mean, while Biden may be a good choice for Obama as far as "shoring up weaknesses," I kind of wonder how many people really believe that that sort of thing decides elections. I half-suspect it just provides mouthy pundits (or wannabes, like, um, yeah, nevermind) with one more topic over which to engage in moot, mentally masturbatory bloviation. I mean, the fact of the matter is that people vote for the presidential candidate they want to be president. Veeps are an afterthought. So when McCain makes a reachy move like this (this might be the most "maverick" we've seen from him in a while), it seems almost like an admission that he can't beat Obama head to head. He's pulling out the gimmick playbook because he can't get it done with fundamentals. Once again, while I happen to really like Obama's pick of Biden, there is absolutely no question that Obama's campaign intends to win the election on the strength of Obama. He could have chosen just about anyone as his veep and it wouldn't have made much difference. Well, he couldn't have chosen "a first-term governor of a state with more reindeer than people" without raising some eyebrows about what type of campaign he was trying to run.

As for my predictions about the efficacy of this gambit, I suspect that it will fail spectacularly. The desperation of this pick will not go unnoticed, and I think the patent insincerity of his attempt to reach out to female voters (read: exploit disgruntled Hillary supporters on the rebound like Fratty McRoofie III at a kegger) will probably backfire. Not like, not work well. More like, blow up in your face you patronizing old pig.

Furthermore, in failing to choose an old Republican stalwart (for all his weaknesses, I think Tom Ridge would have been an excellent choice for McCain; they would present a united front of old, grouchy, militant geezers, which they might as well do, because only the die hard Red-Heads are going to vote for them anyway.) he will most likely continue to alienate the conservative branch of the Republican constituency. Much as he may think he can pick up points with traditionally Democratic demographics, what he really needs to do is ensure the thus-far tenuous support of traditionally Republican blocks. Some of the old boys from the party will not be pleased that he has chosen an upstart nobody of a woman from Alaska, while McCain, regardless of his running mate, is himself an awful choice for reaching to anyone not already in the fold. Not to mention he's running against Barack Muthafuckin Obama, the archetype of charisma and pied piper of the disillusioned, so even a more dynamic candidate would hardly stand a chance among the ranks of the undecided. In short, for a guy who touts his military expertise, McCain has done a terrible job of picking his battles. McCain would do better to base his strategy on ensuring maximum turnout from the Republican faithful: wave the flag, cut taxes, hate gays, love Jebus. Don't try to get cute and start pretending that women matter all of a sudden; in matters of fresh faces and fresh ideas, Obama is king.

PS: If the McCain campaign really thought those sore losers on the HillRod wagon were serious when they claimed they would vote for McCain if Obama won the nomination, they will prove sadly mistaken. On the other hand, this maneuver is somewhat more subtle than I've given them credit for. I cannot but imagine that McCain strategists appreciate that they will have little success in capturing the female vote at large. Palin's unique appeal is in her exemplification of a strange and paradoxical political entity that I call the she-o-con. There are a handful of Fox News pundits and such that also fit this mold, and they are essentially smart, attractive, conservative women wily enough to conceal their "masculine" political ambitions behind a pretense of dutiful motherhood. They are proud soccer moms who quickly avow their subservience to their husbands, lest they be castigated as uppity, but who are meanwhile clearly brainy and ballsy enough to handle the Machiavellian machinations of the political world. They're like the Republican equivalent of Hillary Clinton masquerading as Martha Stewart. A strange beast indeed. (Actually, I don't know enough about Palin to confidently assert that she is a she-o-con, since she's never really been in the media at all. But I extrapolate this from what little biographical information is available on her. If she is not she-o-con, then she REALLY doesn't have much going for her.)

PPS: I have been please with my calls about the election so far. Way back at the beginning of primary season, even after Hillary came out of the gates super strong, I predicted confidently that Obama would win the nomination. So I'll make another prediction, this time on the record, so that the legend of my political forecasting prowess will spread from - and be enshrined forever upon - a blog that nobody reads. Obama crushes McCain in the biggest landslide I will see in a presidential race in my lifetime. We're talking like 57%-40% of the popular vote, and carrying almost all of the big swing states to a thrashing at the electoral college level. It will be an embarrassingly lopsided lopsided contest. See "a thumpin'."

PPPS: I didn't mean to compare Palin to Hillary in a way that would validate McCain's oh-so-ridiculous strategy of placing a Hillary decoy on his ticket. Also, I just found that Wonkette feels similarly, calling Palin a "fake Hillary Clinton," and breaking the news (to me) that Palin is embroiled in a scandal. Oh Alaska, do you ever elect legislative types that aren't corrupt?

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