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Interesting. Palin selected as McCain’s running mate. August 29, 2008

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized, US Politics.

As it happens It’s All Politics on NPR ruminated some time back about whether Sarah Palin might be the Republican pick for VP. They thought her an outside chance but one to watch.

Still, why not? Clever choice, albeit one that smacks of a fairly serious level of calculation (don’t they all? Well, yes, but there’s calculation and calculation). I think this might worry the Democrats more than slightly, because the message it sends is that the Republicans have useful polling data which indicates that they can pull a significant chunk of support away from the Democrats which might otherwise a) have gone Hillary Clintons way – yes, many of those but not all being women and that the selection will b) appeal to independents and ‘moderates’. That said that level of calculation may well be problematic. After all, no-one likes to think of themselves as voting fodder. So perhaps a little less inspired than Slate appear to think.

And wow, she’s straight out and making that pitch:

She was effusive in her praise for Hillary Clinton, claiming for herself the groundbreaking role Clinton played during the Democratic primary race. “It turns out the women of America aren’t finished yet,” Palin said. “We can shatter that glass ceiling once and for all.”

One wonders who would have been the VP candidate had Obama picked Clinton?

That said her strong pro-life stance may well be off-putting for some. So it’s swings and roundabouts. More interesting is the follow through. It is a most interesting choice, as noted again on Slate as regards the idea that someone with relatively little experience is suitable for the Presidency. I was looking at Obama’s CV today and it’s pretty damn impressive for a man in his late 40s. So let it be said is Sarah Palin’s, but the choice of her, particularly by a man in his early 70s as one commentator on Slate noted:

…undercuts the idea that Obama, who is three years older and far more experienced than she, is somehow still too green.

And her CV is… well, a little less exalted:

Palin, 44, is Alaska’s first female governor. She was sworn in December 2006, making her one of the least experienced people to run for vice-president in recent memory. Alaska is one of the smallest states in the US, with only 670,000 residents.

Before becoming governor, Palin served two terms as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, a town of 9,800 people, and was on the city’s council before that. In the 2006 Alaska gubernatorial race, Palin bested the incumbent Republican governor during the primary election.

And there’s some stuff that may not work out so well lurking in the details of her bio, not least a tricky little dispute where:

The Alaska legislature is investigating whether Palin sacked a public safety commissioner who declined to fire a state trooper that was engaged in a custody battle with Palin’s sister.

So how then does this play out? We’re about to see if African-American and staidish older white guy trumps staidish older white guy and woman or vice versa. The significations of all this are a sight to see, aren’t they? And here’s the thing, both tickets invert while simultaneously utilising identity politics. It just depends to a degree what flavour of identity politics you hold.

So, Obama’s moment of triumph is eclipsed. Permanently? Who knows, but now we can see just why McCain got out his courteous advert yesterday congratulating his rival. And I’ll bet it gets nasty from here on in. Oddly though I don’t feel this will have quite the traction the Republicans expect. Not sure why, it’s just an instinct. No doubt I’m wrong.

And what is it, eight, ten weeks to go? Great stuff.


1. Wednesday - August 29, 2008

I think this could seriously backfire on McCain. First of all, it is a plainly cynical choice, and even his supporters will have to admit that Palin would never have been anywhere near the running if she hadn’t been female. Not necessarily the wisest move for a party that is generally strongly opposed to affirmative action.

It’ll also be a lot harder now for the Republicans to use Obama’s inexperience against him; and don’t think for a moment that there isn’t an element of the (up til now) McCain vote that will have serious reservations about putting a woman a heartbeat away from the presidency. Particularly when that heartbeat belongs to a 70-year-old man. These people won’t vote for Obama, but they may go with Barr or another right-wing candidate or just stay home.

I agree that Palin’s strong anti-choice record won’t do them any favours in winning crossover votes. The evangelicals would have flipped if the selection had been someone more progressive on this issue (say, Olympia Snowe) but it would have made a McCain presidency much more palatable to Hillary’s female supporters, who would tend to be strongly pro-choice and concerned about Roe v Wade (I think this factor has been overlooked a lot in the Irish commentary).

It’s tempting, nonetheless, to be a little bit excited at the fact that there will be either an African American or a woman in the Vice Presidency come January. It’s obviously a hugely historical election. My worry, though, is that whoever wins, such a big circus will be made over it that the next time an election comes around that neither Palin nor Obama is involved in, people will think “Right, we’ve done the black thing and the woman thing and now we can get back to the real business” and it’ll be another generation before a person of either category gets a major party’s nomination again.


2. Claire - August 29, 2008

Wednesday, you’re dead right about the pro-choice thing. McCain is clinging to a ‘moderate’ image, but Palin is not just pro-life but really loopy pro-life – opposing abortion even in cases of rape and threats to the health (and life?) of the mother. And that puts her WAY on the fringe of American opinion. Hillary supporters won’t go for that. And the types that would, are much less likely to want a woman a heartbeat from the presidency.

I’m with you on the exciting historical bit. But I don’t want history to be made by a woman like Palin. She elects well though. I’m worried.


3. Ted Leddy - August 29, 2008

You would almost admire the republican strategists. What a masterstroke by the evil geniuses


4. WorldbyStorm - August 29, 2008

Wednesday, that last paragraph of yours is spot on. As you say, it could simply be a reprise of the Thatcher/Indira Gandhi etc situation where a one time occurrance is taken as a token of good faith for ever after.

Claire I hadn’t realised she was so far off the scale. That’s pretty scary. I’m not so sure though how this plays with some elements of HCs voting base. I think some would transition across, but maybe not as many as JMcC and his ‘evil geniuses’ ( 🙂 ) think… which may not make it such a masterstroke in the long term.

I wasn’t hugely impressed by the initial press conference, but in fairness its early days. And the thought struck me how Hillary Clinton has come to define an image of women politicians, assured confident even – whisper it – quite charismatic. I don’t think Palin has that yet. Still got to love the images that are accompanying her on TV, meeting the troops, sizing up an automatic, etc, etc.


5. McCain puts his chips on the female vote « Splintered Sunrise - August 29, 2008

[…] More good comment, as always, over at Cedar Lounge. […]


6. Ted Leddy - August 29, 2008

In her speech today she even praised Hillary, a clear attempt to woo some of the 18 million voters that went for her in the primary.


7. crocodile - August 29, 2008

“Mr Biden seems to be occupying the constitutional position in American politics that used to be filled in Britain by John Prescott: he is designed to be at the right hand of an elitist, slightly effete head of government and to be charged with mentioning, in every speech he makes, how wonderful blue-collar workers are.”
Simon Heffer in the Telegraph – wrong, of course, about most things, but that’s an astute observation.


8. WorldbyStorm - August 29, 2008

It is spookily similar crocodile, although Biden is a bit more middle class (I’d have thought, and I mean in UK terms, not necessarily US terms – although that said does he come over as middle class in US terms?).

Seems like it Ted. Going to be fascinating to see how this works out.


9. larry - August 29, 2008

People – get serious. This was a great choice. All politics is cynical. Obama should have chosen Hillary, he did not because he is so arrogant and sure he will win he felt he did not need her (just read his speech – “I will” over and over again, assumes he will win, and it is not he who will, it is the Congress and US people who will). McCain wants to win, he chose someone who can energize his base and may bring over some of HRC’s votes. & her experience is as good as Obama’s


10. crocodile - August 29, 2008

There’s a great paradox, in a campaign that makes so much of Obama’s star quality, in the emergence of ‘ordinariness’ as a political must-have. We’ve been aware of it here for years, with the loveability – and electability-of Bertie Ahern seemingly founded on little else than some perception that he’d be a good man to have a pint with. I think the same thing was highlighted after the ’04 US election, when some poll showed that more of the voters would like to have a beer with Bush than with Kerry.
Now, call me an elitist, but I’ve always thought that the last person I’d want to have a beer with is the kind of man you’d like to have a beer with, if you follow me. The implication with Ahern was that he was no intellectual but good company – the logical conclusion was that there was very little going on upstairs, so he was more representative of the ‘common man’ than one of those eggheads like Pat Rabitte or Alan Dukes.
There’s a thumping great condescencion to the blue collar worker going on in much of this – very cynical – analysis: that he’ll forgive almost anything but intellectualism. Expect wince-making attempts by Obama between now and November to appear like an ordinary Joe : Nascar Racing, hot-dog guzzling. A cerebral leader of the world’s most powerful nation? About as likely as a black one, I’d say. Not that we’re any better.


11. Wednesday - August 29, 2008

may bring over some of HRC’s votes

Which ones? Seriously.


12. Bakunin - August 29, 2008

That was a wild and crazy choice. She is a lot of things at once — pro-life, a reformer, unkonwn, and a governor. A mother of soldier and a Downs Syndrome child. She can and will be spun a lot of different ways.

This takes a little of height off of O’Bama’s post-convention bounce. There will be a real scramble to figure out who she is.

What does a choice like this tell us? Is Obama vulnerable? Is McCain in deep trouble?


13. skidmarx - August 30, 2008

My first inclination is that it is just a grab for the Hillary vote, and that it is likely to backfire when that becomes transparent. I’ve seen her compared to Dan Quayle, but then again he won.


14. WorldbyStorm - August 30, 2008

I love the idea that Obama’s ‘arrogance’ is posited as the reason he didn’t choose Clinton.

Isn’t it possible larry that above and beyond intangible and unprovable charges like that there are serious political calculations that were made as to the viability of an Obama led Presidency?

Perhaps these calculations and a bit of polling led to the conclusion that collectively BO/HRC didn’t have what it was going to take in a conservative nation. Or perhaps he was unkeen at having two Clintons occupying the house next door for the next 4 (?) years.

Really, we don’t have to be pejorative about peoples motivations – and I’d add that if you look back here you’ll find the Cedar Lounge far from starry eyed about Obama. As for the genius of the selection. We shall see. But for such an unknown figure in US national politics to be selected, Bakunin, makes me think that there is a certain vulnerability on the McCain side.


15. WorldbyStorm - August 30, 2008

Incidentally, excellent thought crocodile about people who are good to have beer with… etc. And surely, it’s not just Ahern, but Bush Jnr., who supports your point.


16. ejh - August 30, 2008

Going to be fascinating to see how this works out.

You seem to have misspelled “excruciating”.


17. WorldbyStorm - August 30, 2008

Why yes, yes I have. Well spotted. 🙂


18. CL - August 30, 2008

Palin believes global warming is a hoax, she wants ‘creationism’ taught in the schools, and she is opposed to a womens right to choose. Will Hillary feminists help put her a 72-yr old heartbeat away from being the most powerful person the world? Well she did win the Alaskan Ms. Congeniality contest.


19. WorldbyStorm - August 30, 2008

CL, The more one learns the less one likes. That’s for sure…


20. yourcousin - August 31, 2008

I think what is more worrying than in regards to the GOP is that while Biden was chosen for ability to help Obama out in the general election, Palin has been chosen to shore up the base. And while for right now it looks like that has worked it should raise a few eyebrows.

And as for one time leaders/minority leaders. I’m really much more concerned about those leaders are willing to do in order to break that ceiling. I mean seriously will Thatcher’s real legacy be first women prime minister? Or as the woman who pissed away a majority of the North Sea’s oil in order to break the unions and started the clock back to year 0 in NI? Politics should be about raising the bar not shattering the ceiling. Other wise the rest of us below just got showered with crap which all pretty much feels the same regardless of the color/gender of those dispensing it.


21. yourcousin - August 31, 2008

Oops, typo right out of the gate. Should read, “what is more worrying to the GOP…”


22. WorldbyStorm - September 1, 2008

Yep, it certainly looks that way. In other words the dynamic for Obama is to move beyond his base, but the opposite is true for McCain. And for all the talk at the weekend about how this may well do that it does as you say demonstrate a continuing disconnect between McCain and said base.

I think you’re right too, although that said once gender/colour issues are taken off the table it’s difficult to put them back on it. So although there’s not been another woman UK PM it is now entirely normal to see women cabinet ministers and now a woman Home Secretary. That said it took years for that to filter through even after (despite?) Thatcher.


23. cactus flower - September 12, 2008

The story spun endlessly that she (Could be the President in nine months time) was picked without serious vetting has got to be spin.

I would like to know who “found” her and who is training her now.

Raw right wind talent has to have a Svengali. Any suggestions for who is Palin’s Airey Neave ?


24. WorldbyStorm - September 12, 2008

Not necessarily. All indications from the US media, or at least that section which investigates such things, indicates that Palin was very last minute after McCain was ‘told’ the Reps wouldn’t wear Lieberman or the other more centrist guy whose name escapes me.

To be honest I think Palin is very much self-produced… not least because of the clangers in her past…


25. From the CLR Vaults… Part 2 – It’s 2008, Sarah Palin is selected as John McCain’s running mate. « The Cedar Lounge Revolution - August 18, 2010

[…] would have thought that Sarah Palin would become an iconic figure on the US right? And even, if we throw in the Tea Party, the right of right? And it’s been barely two or so […]


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