Friday, August 29, 2008

'Change and Hope' versus 'The Palin Problem'

Yep, as we are one week away from the mayhem that is the general election season, it's time to put on the pundit hat once again.

The 2008 Democratic Convention is now in the history books, and the Broncos and Nuggets get their sports facilities back. It was a helluva shindig, with some rather monumental moments, including memorable unifying speeches by both Bill and Hillary Clinton; direct, fiery diatribes by 2004 nominee John Kerry and current VP nominee Joe Biden and of course, a phenomenal game plan rolled out last night in an explosive nomination speech by Barack Obama, followed appropriately by fireworks in place of the traditional balloons.

And now, it's off to St. Paul for the Republican Convention next week. Needless to say, the RNC gig, never known for exciting moments, will have a tough act to follow. It is highly unlikely that their party's nominee, John McCain, will eclipse his counterpart in excitement level. Even with his eye-opening pick for the running mate slot, announced today.

Like many of you reading this, I hoped he'd select some loser like Mitt Romney or Joe Lieberman. Forbidding that, I would have even been amused if he picked Tim Pawlenty, the Minnesota governor with a bland personality and a bit of a bridge problem. Evidently, the Republicans didn't have much to choose from.

There were even slimmer pickings if McCain opted for the adventure pick. The token 'man of color,' Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is barely old enough to be eligible for a national ticket, and could probably scare away the white southern fundie base that indirectly controls the party. Romney's Mormon faith scares the fundies even more that Catholicism. Same with Lieberman's Judaism. How 'bout an alleged closeted gay VP? We all knew Florida Governor Charlie Crist was a no-go.

There aren't enough women to choose from in the party. At least women with much-needed credibility and name recognition. Loyal Bush administration stalwart Condoleeza Rice could have been justified, but I'm sure McCain wanted distance from the current president, to help forget the 95% of the time he sided with Bush during his last eight years in the Senate. He could have gone for youth, to at least help the party generate future leaders. Needless to say, the 'Party of No Ideas' has long been lacking in new blood, a dilemma that will hurt them for years to come. They are starting to resemble the Democrats of the 70s and 80s. Some fresh meat, like conservative think tank darling Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, currently half the age of the party's nominee, would have made McCain seem even older than he already is by comparison.

The most experienced person on the eventual VP short list, Tom Ridge, is the Bill Richardson of his party. He is the former governor of a battleground state (Pennsylvania) and first head of the Department of Homeland Security. He's got the stuff. But Ridge was likely done in once again by the evangelical crowd, who could likely never forgive his pro-choice stance on abortion. It was the same thing that likely did him in as Bush's running mate in 2000. So what did that leave? McCain could have bit the bullet and gone with Romney, who was the runner-up in the primaries or Lieberman, who the GOP cynically believe would actually attract Democrats and bolstered McCain's overly-hyped and nonexistent 'maverick' reputation. So that left a bunch of boring and rather inoffensive white guys like Pawlenty. The safest pick, one that nobody would have quarreled with, would have been Mike Huckabee, but he probably wouldn't have added much 'oomph' to the ticket.

So, what's a guy to do? Looks like he went the adventure route. In a rather cynical ploy, and ironically following months of blasting his opponent over perceived inexperience, McCain let his rivals pick his ticket. In his first notable decision as his party's nominee, he selected 44-year-old Sarah Palin, the little-known governor of Alaska, the second-least populated state in the country, to be his running mate.

Umm... Sarah Palin

Yes, Sarah Palin.

I honestly think McCain has given up in his campaign bid.

Before Palin's one and a half years as governor, she was a small town mayor. Did I mention she also headed the local PTA? Oh, and she was runner-up for Miss Alaska. If they thought Obama was supposedly lacking in his resume, Palin looks like an absolute neophyte by comparison. She has even less experience than the previously obscure Geraldine Ferraro, who in 1984 became the first woman ever nominated by a major party on a national ticket.

Now, I have always thought that the whole 'experience' thing is highly overrated. Either a candidate has or doesn't have the ability to lead. Experience doesn't account for that. James Buchanan in 1856 was probably the most experienced person to be elected president. His administration turned out to be a disaster that literally ripped the country apart. Meanwhile, his successor brought with him an underwhelming two years in the House as his only real government experience. His name was Abraham Lincoln, and to this day his name is exploited by the Republican Party he helped found. Lincoln's previous lack of experience is something, however, we hear little about by the modern-day GOP. Especially considering what they've been throwing at Obama as of late. One would assume those 'not ready to lead' ads will quietly hit the dustbin now that Palin's on the ticket, but we are talking about the GOP, which has absolutely no shame or sense of irony whatsoever. And if the Democratic Party doesn't mercilessly lash out at McCain for the blatant hypocrisy of putting someone like Palin a heartbeat from the presidency behind a 72-year-old man, then Obama should change his last name to Kerry, roll over and play dead.

We all know the Palin selection was a half-assed grab of recreating the Barack/Hillary scuffles of earlier this year, disregarding that much of Hillary's appeal was her notoriety. But it is likely the most effective way they envision of muzzling the sharp-tongued Democratic VP nominee, Joe Biden, who scares them shitless. The choice of Biden for Democratic running mate directly influenced the selection of Palin. In a debate and on the campaign trail, Biden would have eaten Romney, Pawlenty, et al alive. Now, he has to tread more carefully, lest he be seen as a beast for clawing up the young, perky Palin. In addition, like Biden, she has a son involved directly in the Iraq conflict. And while Biden plays well with blue collar voters, Palin's husband is himself a blue collar worker, as well as member of the United Steelworkers Union. As if the GOP ever really gave two shits about labor unions.

All in all, the selection of Palin smacks of one thing - desperation. They were obviously hungry for youth, particularly since the guy at the top of the ticket just turned 85 72 today. And they made a crass play to the PUMA crowd, a rather cranky group long angry that Hillary Clinton didn't get the nod for the Democrats, no matter how much they spun and massaged the numbers. Never mind that quite a few of the PUMAs likely weren't Democrats to begin with. And the fact that Sen. Clinton directly pleaded with her die-hards to fall in line and support the current Democratic ticket. Yes, these delusional Republicans are going all-out for what remains of the disenfranchised unforgiving Hillary voters, most of whom have already moved on.

Yes indeed, the McCain crowd thinks women across the land will vote for him because of the estrogen level on the other side of the ticket. Doesn't matter that the 2008 platform of the so-called 'party of small government' specifically states that they want to take control of women's uteruses, and have done a great deal over the decades to play up the 1950s ideal of being 'barefoot and pregnant.' Or that the grumpy old man leading the way dumped his faithful first wife for being 'too fat' (she wasn't) and opted for the skinner, blonder and richer trophy mistress. McCain hopes women will forget that he typically addresses said-trophy wife as a 'cunt,' reportedly slapped her around and recently toyed at offering her up at the annual Sturgis, SD biker rally to compete in a bawdy onstage competition for something called "Miss Buffalo Chip." If John McSame thinks women will support him because Palin is on the ticket, he likely thinks they'll vote for Ike Turner as well.

Meanwhile, Biden was aggressive in introducing domestic violence legislation in the Senate, long grieved his loved first wife after her death, raised his children as a working single father and has been very happily married to his current wife Jill for almost 30 years. The Obamas have also been married for many years and enjoy a terrific relationship. Even past all the smoke and mirrors, who's really looking out for women's interests?

The entire McCain campaign (and overall GOP effort this year) is in panic mode, being reactive rather than proactive in their moves. How else can one justify or defend a time of economic turmoil and the unpopular Bush administration with a straight face? Living in a so-called battleground state, I have seen just about every national political ad conceived this year. The GOP ones were truly ridiculous. Very little policy was presented. Rather, it was a barrage of pseudo-patiotic jingoism, personal attacks, character assassinations and cheap shots. They derided Obama as a celebrity for drawing tens of thousands of people to events. They claimed he's willing to lose in Iraq if it would put him in the White House, even though McCain himself thinks he's entitled to the office because he did five years in a Vietnamese brig. To pile on, they played the worn-out 'raise your taxes' card, even though Obama has been very specific about lowering them for most of the population. Missing in all this anti-Obama propaganda is anything resembling a McCain agenda. What exactly does he stand for, anyway?

So, what's going to happen in the next ten weeks? Will McSame actually tell us what it is he stands for, or will he continue to obsess over his more popular opponent? Will he actually be about substance, rather than the fact he thinks he deserves the office because he was a POW? Will the selection of Sarah Palin show he actually gives a rip about women, or is it all just smoke and mirrors? And will Palin be entered in next year's Miss Buffalo Chip competition in Sturgis? Time will tell, but I think all of us can agree that this will not be a boring election season.

And in all honesty, I am wrestling with pro and con opinions over Palin selection, mostly con. On one hand, it is kind of a shrewd attempt to bring women voters into the otherwise unwelcoming GOP fold. On the other, is she really just an empty shell in way over her head? Is she the GOP's next big thing, or is she Dan Quayle in a dress?

Hey, at least she's better than Dick Cheney. Then again, who isn't?


Malmö_Blue said...

The Palin Problem - or The Palin-drome, if you like. :)

FSL said...

She's hot even if she is a knees-together, goody-two-shoes type.

Republican women until now have been known for their complete lack of sex appeal: Nancy Reagan, Bette Ford, Pat Nixon ("American can't stand pat." - Richard Nixon, 1962). And of course, Barbara Bush (Ed Asner in drag).

Give McCain credit: He's associated with two hotties (one of whom comes with lots of money and all the beer you could want).

ltr said...

Quite frankly, my voting criteria extends beyond "would I hit it?" Otherwise, I'd write in Salma Hayek and be done with it.

Besides, Cindy McCain looks like a robot.

Jill said...

Wow...and they say WOMEN don't vote with their brains. FSL, you are never, ever going to get the opportunity to fuck Sarah Palin. So I suggest that you take a nice magazine into the bathroom with you with your baby oil and kleenex, and when your head is clear, vote on the issues that are important to you.

ltr said...

Best. Comment. Ever.

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