Saturday, September 6, 2008

Brilliant calculus

I think John McCain’s choice of Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate has so far proven to be politically brilliant. I believe she was chosen in hopes she would attract Middle America voters and I think she’ll do that. Further, despite the insistence by some pundits that Palin’s presence on the ticket undercuts McCain’s “inexperienced” attack on Obama, I believe the opposite is true. When the Democrats attack Palin’s inexperience they draw attention to Obama’s inexperience and since Palin is running for Vice-President rather than for President, they risk looking rather foolish.

So much for the non-identity politics aspects of this pick.

I’d say there’s a fair chance the attacks unleashed on Palin and her family will drive some women - and some men - to vote Republican who otherwise would have either sat out the election or held their noses and voted Democrat. That would be a bonus for McCain but I can’t attribute this outcome to his brilliance. Yes, McCain and his people must have been fully aware how difficult it would be for the Democrats to run hard against Palin and yet avoid looking sexist but I simply don’t believe anyone could have foreseen how incredibly stupid the Left and the MSM have actually been about this.

I do suspect, however, that the McCain campaign was quite aware that Palin’s mere presence on the ticket would keep both aspects of the Hillary Clinton imbroglio - Clinton did not get the Presidential nomination and Clinton was not chosen (possibly not even seriously considered) for the Vice-Presidential slot - fresh in the minds of those who are unhappy about how Clinton was treated. As a bonus, constantly harping on the importance of Palin’s inexperience because McCain is probably going to drop dead sometime in the next four years - perhaps on January 21, 2009 - stirs faint echoes of the whole RFK/June mess. And so we’re back to yet another reminder of how badly Clinton was maligned.

I don’t see anything wrong with this kind of strictly political reckoning. It is not terribly different from basing a Vice-Presidential pick on how many electoral votes he or she brings to the table - both calculations have nothing to do with readiness to step into the Presidency and everything to do with winning the election. And as with an electoral vote based pick, if the person who brings along these political advantages is able to convince the voters he or she is adequately qualified for the job, it’s a good pick; otherwise, it’s a bad one.

One final thought. There’s been a lot of talk among PUMAs and some non-PUMAs about how this problem wouldn’t exist if Hillary Clinton were the Democratic Presidential nominee. I agree but only if she was smart enough to pick Barack Obama as her running mate. Otherwise, John McCain could have picked J. C. Watts as his and it would be Hillary sending Obama off to Florida to save her bacon.

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