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Friday, August 29, 2008

Will Sarah Palin suffer the same fate as Harriet Miers?

So, despite my apparent hostility to Obama's selection of Biden, and my sense that Obama was not at the top of his game during most of last night's acceptance speech, I think the election is now the Dems to lose for the reasons illuminated in Prof. Russell Korobkin's post:

The homepage of the town of Wasila, Alaska (population 5469 as of the
   last census), has links to three news stories. The lead story, as you
   might expect, is that the town's former mayor, Sarah Palin, has been
   named John McCain's running mate. The second story announces the
   town's new website. The third advertises the "Baby and Me Lap
   Sit-Program at the Library."

   Before serving as Wasila's mayor, Sarah Palin earned a B.A. at the
   University of Idaho, worked as a sports reporter for an Anchorage
   television station, and did commercial fishing with her husband.

   At age 72, John McCain has already lived longer than his father, John
   McCain Jr., who died at age 70.

   Sarah Palin looks like an interesting woman, but let's hope she
   doesn't have to stare down Vladamir Putin any time soon.

Whether it's warranted or not, I suspect Palin's selection is a big area of political opportunity for the Dems. I wonder if enough GOPniks will think of her the way some did of Harriet Miers. I also doubt that disgruntled Clinton supporters will now feel more comfortable with the GOP simply because Palin is pro-life/anti-choice, and if you're upset about the sexism in the campaign against Clinton you're not likely to feel welcomed by Palin's pro-life commitments. These are just my untutored reactions. What are yours?

Posted by Administrators on August 29, 2008 at 03:55 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink


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Let Pat Buchanan and Joe Scarborough explain how dumb it is to compare Palin's inexperience to Obama's record.


Posted by: Bart | Sep 1, 2008 2:13:30 PM

But Joe Biden has a higher IQ, I saw him tell someone that on C-Span.

Those going after the relative inexperience of the person at the bottom of the GOP ticket, what do you have to say about the relative inexperience of the person at the top of the Democrat ticket?

Posted by: anon | Aug 31, 2008 6:18:01 PM

Rick, I think the state championship winning basketball team issue is a wash, don't you? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYfmBv7cBCU


Obama spent seven years in the Illinois State Senate and four years in he Senate. It's funny that the party of term limits and abhorrence of Washington finds eleven years of public service too few all of a sudden.

But its less about experience and more about judgment in any event. The kind of judgment that leads someone to abuse their authority as Palin did, http://talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/211769.php . Or to choose a lightweight without vetting her for ethics. Or heck, for that matter the judgment that led Obama to realize that our troops would be bogged down in a guerrilla war and that the Sunnis and Shiites would war and rend Iraqi society to pieces at a time (2002) that McCain would wonder why Sunnis and Shiites would fight, since after all, they are all Muslims. (He never heard of Northern Ireland, apparently.

Posted by: Bart | Aug 31, 2008 4:11:27 PM

Cute, Bart. I admit, there's something to the post to which you linked. While I'm pretty sure I'm not a "syndrome" sufferer, there's no denying that the Palin pick must come as a relief to some social and religious conservatives. My point (if it rose past the level of "quip" to "point") was just that, as someone who prefers McCain to Obama, I'm hoping that Palin's critics continue to tout the importance of "experience" and to insist that community organizing on the South Side and a few years in the Illinois legislature so obviously trumps serving as mayor of a small town and as Governor of (the great state of) Alaska (and, most important, leading a state-championship-winning basketball team). Having said that, though, I think I'll call it quits on this particular topic.

Posted by: Rick Garnett | Aug 31, 2008 1:48:29 PM

Poor Rick has battered base syndrome. http://obsidianwings.blogs.com/obsidian_wings/2008/08/battered-base-s.html

Posted by: Bart | Aug 31, 2008 12:50:19 PM

For what it's worth, Dan . . . I grew up in Alaska (but was a much lousier high-school basketball player than Palin). And, I suppose I'm a conservative who was relieved when Alito replaced Miers. And, I am absolutely delighted by the Palin pick. As for "experience", others -- especially Bill Stuntz -- have posted interesting thoughts about this, but it's hard for me to see how it helps Sen. Obama (who declared for the Presidency about 6 months after coming to the Senate) to have people debating the question whether he has more experience than Palin.

Posted by: Rick Garnett | Aug 31, 2008 8:49:10 AM

She's not just pro-life or against Roe v. Wade. She is literally against Griswold v. Conn. She is opposed to birth control and contraception being used by MARRIED COUPLES. And she opposes abortion even in the case of rape and incest. She's a dangerous lunatic.


Posted by: Bart | Aug 30, 2008 5:36:07 PM

As a hunter in the Alaskan backwoods, I'm sure she knows you don't try to "stare down" bears--you squirt pepper spray in their eyes and back away slowly.

Posted by: Allen | Aug 30, 2008 2:00:48 PM

Lets cease the "have a drink at the bar" test for the United States presidency.

How about - "thinks deeply about the issues"? Or "understands the complexities in world diplomacy"? Or even "pays attention to American war fought abroad when son is going to be sent there"?

Enough. Its time we elect a PRESIDENT, not a bar buddy.

Posted by: anon | Aug 30, 2008 1:06:35 PM

Your comment's a bit funny b/c I actually do think of myself as a big BO fan, though I am admittedly a bit leery still on his foreign policy and relatively thin experience. That said, the comment I made about the speech was based on the sense I had that it wasn't as inspiring to me as the 2004 convention speech or the one that's been reprised on the yes we can video by will i am. Those two were "the top of his game."
He might be like Michael Jordan, where his game is still so much better than most others that even his non-top performances are still very successful. On the other hand, maybe I just had unfair expectations created by the hype and the earlier speeches.

Posted by: Dan Markel | Aug 30, 2008 1:03:42 PM


Yeah, being anti-abortion even in cases of rape and incest, denying global warming, opposing gun control, and espousing creationism should really play well with women Democrats.

Posted by: Kevin Jon Heller | Aug 30, 2008 1:18:43 AM

I am a devout democrat who despises George Bush, and Chaney even more. However, I have to say that John McCain's choice of Sarah is absolutely brilliant. The choice of a woman will persuade some women democrats to vote for her. She is quite attractive and she speaks the language of many Americans. She really is the type of person one would like to be with at a bar, which is the major criterion that most Americans use to elect a president. It will not matter to the millions of people in the heartland that she has no experience and is a heart beat (rather slow I may say in this case), away from deciding on what to do with Iran. Perhaps she will set up a hockey game (field hockey is their preferance). She is blue collar, but apparently the loss of 50% of her income in the last 8 years does not matter to her. As someone who has profited greatly from this country (no place but America could someone whose parents were iliterate be able teach at a prestigious university and become a multimillionaire). People with my income are usually Republicans and a vote for a democrat will probably reduce my income. However, there is more to this country than becoming rich.

Posted by: tannedneck | Aug 29, 2008 9:51:43 PM


Not at the top of his game? I know you aren't much of an Obama fan, but seriously. How about these reviews:

MSNBC Pat Buchanan – "It was a genuinely outstanding speech. It was magnificent. It is the finest – and I saw Cuomo’s speech, I saw Kennedy in ‘80, I even saw Douglas MacArthur, I saw Martin Luther King – this is the greatest convention speech, and probably the most important because unlike Cuomo and the others this is an acceptance speech. This came out of the heart of America and he went right at the heart of America…"

FOX Bill Kristol – "Barack Obama faced very high expectations tonight and honestly I think he met them and I honestly think he exceeded them… He eloquently explained America’s promise. He explained why the Bush Cheney administration had fallen short of that…I thought it was an awfully impressive performance."

And Sarah Palin? Michael Palin is more qualified.

Posted by: Kevin Jon Heller | Aug 29, 2008 7:34:59 PM

You are reading it all wrong: Palin is a game changer. Post at the VC was wrong too.

This pick has unified and fired up the Conservative base. Just go to Hotair or Malkin or FreeRepublic or any of them. The McCain donation page is crashing under the load.

The Dem's are flailing, and their first instinct was a retreat into major sexism. That isn't going over well with the Hillary supporters. Obama had to walk back his campaigns first attack on Palin.

Palin is a play for the conservative base. And so far, McCain hit a home run.

Posted by: Vanceone | Aug 29, 2008 7:21:09 PM

I agree with the post, mostly. I see the anointment as coalition building with a 2012-2016 outlook. McCain proved contrarian in the nuclear option to nominate conservative judges to the supreme court, and on DTA equally as bristling, headlineworthy at the time only perhaps because of of the murk in the media generally on both processes, Scotus appointments, and coverup of torture policies, renditions to clandestine sites. GOP's having turned to McCain contrarian is an indicator their strategists believe 2008 is the Democratic Party's election gimme, like the afterwash from the scandals surrounding the most recent Democratic Party president, Clinton, was a gift to Republicanism. The unaccustomed experience in the Republican Party, however, is the need for a big tent, always inchoate in their cloakroom. Perhaps the terrorism events of the Cheney Bush presidency distracted the principals in organizing that party from their task list. Maybe Palin can lead them, or not; it remains to be seen whether she will have a Miers problem with some of the more stultifiedly oligarchic segments of that party. It looks like a lively campaign. I guess Biden will be debating against her in the usual format. A nice way to re-energize the Democratic party as leadership change is coalescing well.

Posted by: JohnLopresti | Aug 29, 2008 7:07:53 PM

I agree that this isn't going to win over Clinton supporters. But I don't think the "lack of experience" theme will make much more of a difference in the general election than it made in the Democratic primary. In the end, I don't think this will make much of difference at all-- but it does make the Republican base happy without making McCain much more offensive to independents or conservative Democrats.

In any case, what other choice did he have? Social conservatives ruled out Joe Lieberman and Tom Ridge, Mitt Romney probably ruled himself out for a # of reasons, and the other likely picks would have made less exciting news than Wasila's the "Baby and Me Lap Sit-Program at the Library."

Posted by: YawnerJoe | Aug 29, 2008 6:52:35 PM

I think a very important difference between the Miers situation and the VP nomination vis-à-vis the GOP is that Governor Palin has already been selected and there isn't a John Roberts or Sam Alito waiting in the wings if she doesn't work out. McCain is stuck with her now and no amount of GOP uncertainty is going to get her off the ticket. Sure she's inexperienced, but, as a Republican, if my only other real choice on election day is Obama-Biden, I'll take my chances with her and Senator McCain.

It is for this reason that I don't understand why Hillary supporters are not all firmly behind Obama. Sure, he isn't Hillary, but their policy positions were almost identical and his positions are closer to Hillary's than to McCain's.

Posted by: PaulWashington | Aug 29, 2008 6:26:44 PM

I hope Obama doesn't have to stare down Putin anytime soon.

Posted by: PaulWashington | Aug 29, 2008 6:06:49 PM

Sarah Palin is the new Clarence Thomas.

Posted by: James Grimmelmann | Aug 29, 2008 5:57:04 PM

After supporting Clinton in the primaries, I've been on the fence. Obama's speech didn't wow me last night, but McCain's VP pick is just crazy and awful IMHO. I will be voting for Obama in November.

Posted by: Amy | Aug 29, 2008 4:45:21 PM

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