Friday, August 29, 2008

Miss Congeniality

Back in 1964, when Barry Goldwater picked obscure NY Congressman William Miller as his VP nominee, Democrats came up with this bit of doggerel:

I’ve got a riddle and it’s a diller
Who the hell is William Miller?

So with the choice of an obscure Alaska Governor (is there another kind?), let me contribute this:

Iraq’s a mess, the economy’s failin’
And John McCain picked Sarah Palin??

Who is Sarah Palin? She is a right-wing icon: anti-abortion, pro-gun, pro-home schooling, in favor of teaching creationism, anti-stem cell research. She also has as little experience as any person who has ever run for national office. She is in favor of drilling in ANWAR and doesn’t think polar bears should be an endangered species. She doesn’t think global warming is man-made, but has created a commission to study its effects on Alaska.
She has already contributed perhaps the most surreal moment in American political history, as the Republican presumptive nominee for Vice President finished her first speech praising Hillary Clinton. If any of Hillary’s voters actually cross over to vote for her, they should be shot, since she is as far politically from Hillary as anyone could be, genitalia excepted.
What was the McCain campaign thinking? My guess is that this makes the base extremely happy and enthusiastic, as the religious right loves her. It does sort of blow a hole in their attacks on Obama’s experience. What they are likely to do is work on the concept of two maverick Republicans, ready to take on the establishment at the drop of a hat. McCain has a bunch of things where he went against the party leadership, from campaign financing to immigration, from global warming to Iraq strategy. She took power in Alaska by defeating a Republican, cleaned up the state government by firing a number of Republican appointees, and enforced ethics regulations while creating new ones. This willingness will be contrasted to Obama’s steadfast party regularity, never opposing the Democratic leadership, and will be referred to as demonstrating gutsy leadership, while Obama is just a follower. This argument could work with some independents who fear partisanship more than anything.
This morning, every Republican had the key talking point down pat – every one of them said “she is very well-qualified”, like saying it made it true. In reality, she is one of the least qualified VP candidates ever. Expect the Democrats to use the phrase “a heartbeat away from the Presidency” as often as possible. She will help in certain areas – religious, pro-gun parts of Midwest states, like western PA, eastern OH, and with her accent, she should play very well in rural MN. Being a MILF shouldn’t hurt her on the campaign trail either, although less makeup might be good – this is the one job where seeing a few more lines in her face could help.
Two weeks from now, she will be debating Joe Biden on national TV. Biden will have to be careful in how he handles her, but she has a lot of learning to do in a short time. It could be grisly. On the other hand, she has a good deal of TV experience, having been a sportscaster in Anchorage (her career goal was working for ESPN), so she should be cool under the lights.
Does this help or hurt McCain’s chances? I think it hurts, because his age and cancer history should make people a little nervous about such an inexperienced VP. I also think they don’t look good together. He makes her look too young, she makes him look older – and neither of those is a good idea. Still, it’s a more interesting choice than Tim Pawlenty, and it could serve as a good audition for the darling of the religious right and doctrinaire conservatives.
Fun Facts About Sarah Palin
1. She was a basketball player in high school. She played point guard in the state championship with a stress fracture in her leg – take that, Kerry Strug.
2. She and Cindy McCain were both in beauty pageants – so they should have no trouble smiling or waving for the next two months
3. She was runner-up in the 1964 Miss Alaska pageant – beating, I assume, two Eskimos and a moose.
4. She won Miss Congeniality is that pageant – the moose bit one of the judges, I believe.
5. Her talent in the pageant was playing the flute – one time, in band camp…

Labels: , , , ,


Blogger Barry Rubinowitz said...

That's the 1984 Miss Alaska Pageant, not 1964. Sorry to age her prematurely.

2:53 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home