The Next Few Days

Beautiful Downtown Wasilla, Alaska!

Kinda reminds me of back home, except the Ozarks has hills and more foliage.

I picked up the photograph of beautiful downtown Wasilla from this site, which has a must-read background article on the new nominee for VPOTUS, Sarah Palin. Read it, and then ask yourself: Is Palin another Dan Quayle? Or another Katherine Harris, albeit with less money? See also “Chief Fired by Palin Speaks Out.”

Wasilla, Alaska, is where Palin gained nearly all of her executive experience. She was on the Wasilla city council from 1992 to 1996 — I envision a meeting room graced by cheap imitation wood wall paneling and a soft drink machine — and mayor from 1996 to I think 2006. I haven’t found a precise end date for the mayor job. Then she was sworn in as governor of Alaska in January 2007. That was, like, last year.

Steve Benen reminds us of something Karl Rove said earlier this month on Face the Nation.

“I think he’s [Obama] going to make an intensely political choice, not a governing choice,” Rove said. “He’s going to view this through the prism of a candidate, not through the prism of president; that is to say, he’s going to pick somebody that he thinks will on the margin help him in a state like Indiana or Missouri or Virginia. He’s not going to be thinking big and broad about the responsibilities of president.”

Rove singled out Virginia governor Tim Kaine, also a Face The Nation guest, as an example of such a pick.

“With all due respect again to Governor Kaine, he’s been a governor for three years, he’s been able but undistinguished,” Rove said. “I don’t think people could really name a big, important thing that he’s done. He was mayor of the 105th largest city in America.”

Rove continued: “So if he were to pick Governor Kaine, it would be an intensely political choice where he said, `You know what? I’m really not, first and foremost, concerned with, is this person capable of being president of the United States.”

See above, photograph of beautiful downtown Wasilla, Alaska.

It’s possible Palin could help the McCain ticket a lot. She is already firing up the “movement conservative,” anti-government Republicans. Her inexperience will not be an issue for them, since they don’t give a bleep about anyone actually governing. She also will help McCain with social conservatives and cement support with white, conservative evangelicals. I expect McCain to get a significant bounce with these groups.

What about women? I predict a short-term bounce that will wither away once most women catch on how far Right and how inexperienced Palin is. And if anyone thinks McCain’s choice was not a bare-assed attempt to lure Hillary Clinton supporters, Gail Collins notes,

… the only nonfamily members other than McCain that Palin really mentioned in her introductory speech were Democrats Geraldine Ferraro and Hillary Rodham Clinton. Whatever happened to Ronald Reagan? Isn’t there a rule that you have to mention Ronald Reagan?

“It was rightly noted in Denver that Hillary made 18 million cracks in the highest, hardest glass ceiling in America,” Palin said. “It turns out the women of America aren’t finished yet, and we can shatter that glass ceiling once and for all.”

Not that anyone pays much attention to them any more, but feminist organizations like NOW and NARAL are already slamming Palin.

However, this is a moment that calls for quiet reflection on how far women have come since second-wave feminism burst forth in the 1960s. Forty years ago, slaves to the Patriarchy like Palin simply denounced feminism and women’s equality, saying they were happy being second-class citizens. Now, they pay lip service to feminism and take the reins of power to help the Patriarchy keep women subservient. Unfortunately, I fear there are many women — too young? too stupid? — who are selling out women by supporting an unqualified, anti-reproductive rights whackjob, who if she actually became President would set back women’s rights at least 50 years.

Yes, I’m a bit irritated.

On the other hand, long-term I think the Palin choice could backfire among “swing” voters, especially when they learn about her extremist right-wing views on most issues and understand how utterly inexperienced she really is. McCain’s one advantage with the swing voters was his alleged superior experience and judgment regarding national security. I think the Palin choice broadcasts that his judgment is erratic and that he is more interested in winning elections than protecting America.

In other words, it’s a frivolous choice that makes the Obama-Biden ticket look all the more serious in contrast.

A lot depends on how much of a clown show the GOP convention turns out to be. Eight years ago, a complacent electorate enabled a frivolous presidential candidate to get into the White House. Four years ago, a frightened and emotionally manipulated electorate repeated the mistake. But now, if the GOP convention is the convergence of social pathologies it usually is, I think this time the electorate will not be amused. Now, people are damn pissed off and want the government to be run by people who are serious about running government.

And the conventions do matter. The Dem convention of 1972 hurt McGovern. The GOP convention of 1992 hurt Bush I. Let’s see what they do this time.

I think the biggest reason the polls have been so close is that people who are not paying close attention see the silvery-haired white guy who’s been in Washington forever, and the young skinny not-white guy who’s brand new, and they figure the older guy will be the serious one, the one with gravitas.

Yet it’s McCain who has been running a silly, frivolous campaign — the only time he gets serious is when he is reminding us he was a POW 40 years ago, which is every ten minutes. Otherwise, he runs silly advertisements and has a nearly content-free campaign that consists of telling lies about what Obama might do while fudging the details (if there are any) of what McCain might do.

And a lot depends on Palin herself, and whether she can stand up to national scrutiny, with which she has had no experience, without imploding.


Update: Andrew Sullivan —

Here’s the real slogan the McCain campaign should now adopt:

Putting. Country. Last.

Update: Get this

Palin, who portrays herself as a fiscal conservative, racked up nearly $20 million in long-term debt as mayor of the tiny town of Wasilla — that amounts to $3,000 per resident. She argues that the debt was needed to fund improvements.

15 thoughts on “The Next Few Days

  1. I’m hoping to see Biden and Palin mix it up in a foriegn policy/national security debate. I can’t imaging Palin surviving or even attempting to engage Biden in any kind of serious debate on national issues where knowledge is a factor. The repugs are going to have to avoid any possiblity of pitting Palin against Biden in any arena. They will have to work overtime to protect Palin’s inexperience flank.

    Bush wrapped himself in the flag..and McCain wrapped himself in a uterus

  2. Is Palin another Dan Quayle? Or another Katherine Harris, albeit with less money?

    At the moment, she’s another Harriet Miers. If they pull this off, she’ll be another Clarence Thomas; a repulsive and terrible outcome. If we keep reiterating her gross inappropriateness as VP, she could become another Thomas Eagleton (as a commenter to another post pointed out yesterday). I wouldn’t be completely shocked if she’s not on the ballot on Nov. 4.

    The link you provided was an excellent compilation of Palin’s problems. However, I didn’t see mention of the financial condition of Wasilla after Mayor Palin left office. There’s a story circulating that she tried to get some sort of sports complex built, messed it up horribly, and left the town in serious debt. I haven’t seen confirmation of this, but if true, it’s powerful stuff.

  3. joan16 — I found something about the debt at The Politico —

    “— Mayoral performance. Palin, who portrays herself as a fiscal conservative, racked up nearly $20 million in long-term debt as mayor of the tiny town of Wasilla — that amounts to $3,000 per resident. She argues that the debt was needed to fund improvements. ”

    Oh, this is going to be fun.

  4. I don’t think she was mayor all that long. At some point in there she was on a state ethics commission, which she quit in protest, I think.

    It’s also unclear to me if she was working while she was on the city council. I’m doubt city council is a full-time paying gig there. Mayor might not be either, come to think of it.

    Memes I’d like to hear repeated in the next week:

    Would she be the candidate if she was a man?


    How much time did John McCain actually spend with her before choosing her to lead our country?

    What does it say about John McCain that he thinks that, out of all the people in the United States, she’s the best one to take over if he is incapacitated?

    Sarah Palin vs. Osama bin Laden?
    Sarah Palin vs. Vladimir Putin?

  5. Again with the reality; the Repubs are, as usual, not running on reality: they are running on stereotypes of the worst kind. And Rush-Linbaugh’s/James Dobson’s favorite V.P. candidate will solidify those heretofore tempted to think about yawning instead of getting out to vote to block the possibility of a Black President. For many Americans in a huge swathe of the electoral college, including swing states, what Gov. Palin represents are “real American values”. That those “values” are unexamined, and if examined are either stupid, crazy or both, has not been a problem for Republicans since at least the daze/days of Reagan. Worse… mocking Wasilla, AK will just be perceived as urban elites mocking small-town America, where Maureen Dowd and David Brooks tell us “the real Americans” are.

    Worse, the fact that McCain has been running a frivolus, stupid campaign should, in a reasonable world, kill his campaign off, but it isn’t hurting him that much (if at all) because it’s playing right into a frivolous, stupid media that will tell us that McMaverick has now picked Sarah Paleo-maverick, whereas the effite elitist Columbia- and Harvard-educated Black man picked a long-time Washington insider.

    Given McCain’s age (and melanoma), the argument must be made that Gov. Palin must be examined much more carefully than Dan Qayle was, and if anything, less favorably as Quayle was in Washington quite a while and known there, and regarded as hard-working, albeit not a genius.

    This is a high-risk move by McC, and the Obama people are taking it in stride, not believing its a game-changer. Still, I will repeat: the American electorate is just about the stupidest in the industrial world (certainly in terms of what it has been willing to accept from its government). There’s no reason to believe racism will not be dominant in this race, too. Hence, the choice of Palin, while probably made in weakness and probably incredibly cynical, comes out of fighter-pilot-McCain’s crazy-ass gambling sensibilities. Lest we forget, George W. Bush had no business winning the last two elections… if anything, he is a bigger joke and even less qualified than Palin. And yet…

  6. dog — I am from a town that was a lot smaller than Wasilla, so I feel I can knock it it all I like. Most small-town people know good and well that someone can’t go from being the mayor of a small town to POTUS in a couple of years.

  7. I know someone who not only agrees with #6 about the stupidity of american voters, but goes even further to suggest that they haven’t suffered enough yet to vote against their insecurities/hate/fear/group think…whatever.

    When I’m feeling cynical I think this may be correct. I will say that even here in Florida, Katherine Harris got nowhere after she helped Bush win in 2000 and she hasn’t held an elected office since then.

    Maybe SNL will succeed in making her the joke that she is – then Hillary won’t have to go after her. Still, a debate between the 2 of them would be better than one with Biden. I don’t think Sara will hold up well with either one.

  8. I don’t disagree, Barb. The NYC suburb I grew up in has around Wasilla’s population and was in a township quite a bit bigger– and I agree, our village mayor or town supervisor or even county executive would certainly not have been considered POTUS material without some other broader experience.

    But do sensible small-town people– rather than people from sheltered suburban or exurban Tampa, Orlando, Detroit, Pittsburgh or Columbus– decide our Presidential elections? And do they decide on reality, or on crap fed by a lazy, biased media?

    We all know how this kind of rap on Palin is going to be pitched: as the urban elitists mocking small town “real America”. I’m just saying it’s much easier– and likely much more effective– to knock Palin as unqualified not so much because of her young age and thin resume (Obama is only three years older and was a mere state senator less than 4 years ago), but because she is a crack-pot wingnut who believes a lot of things that hard-ass righties believe that most Americans are appalled by… who is also too thinly experienced to be so close to the big chair behind a 72-year old melanoma sufferer,

    I just see a trap in attacking her resume per se– which is going to be pitched as “mavericky”. Reality doesn’t count as much as it used to– especially if you’re a Republican.

  9. The Talking Dog just wrote a beautiful response, I’d like to just go ahead and re-enforce one point: Gov. Palin isn’t going to make it to the end of the week. 20 million in debt for Wassilla? Using the Governors office to play out your families vindictive revenge? Are you kidding me? I think its a just a joke. That is why McCain looked so confused yesterday – he didn’t understand it either!

  10. McCain is trying to throw a “bone” to women, he is going after the religious crazies and he wants to drill. He is going for the trifecta — women, religious right and oil drilling!

    Give me a break! No way no How McCain. She is no Hillary. McCain is totally insane and been playing to religion since Pastor Reed (Baptist College graduate and his father prayed to the Baptists as in a Baptist Minister). When you hear or read of Ralph Reed praising the ‘gal’ you have to be frightened!

    Why did she even test when she was pregnant if she is pro-life??? OH, the baby had Downs Syndrome and she decided to maintain the life?? What if it had been another disease?? Abortion perhaps; if not, why the test if you are such a believer and no abortion in case of rape? Would a rape victim have option or money to test for anything??

    What about your investigation? getting involved in your sister’s divorce case????????

    More later!!

    Her husband works for BP. Let’s her the praises of the ‘righties’. She loves ‘moose burgers’, soccer mom (WOW), administrator (right – small town under 8,000)

  11. Sarah Palin vs. Vladimir Putin?

    The female journalist that Putin had shot to death at her apartment door had more stones than rinky-dink Sarah Palin ever will have.

    Let’s run that “3 a.m. phone call” ad, this time with Biden and Palin.

  12. At some point in there [Palin] was on a state ethics commission, which she quit in protest, I think.

    Quit when she found out it was pro-ethics? Or misunderstood and thought she was on an ethnics commission, then quit when she found they weren’t grabbing Native Alaskans’ land?

  13. Katherine Harris got nowhere after she helped Bush win in 2000 and she hasn’t held an elected office since then.

    Sondra, I wish that were true. Unfortunately:

    Harris won the 2002 election to represent Florida’s 13th congressional district in the United States House of Representatives. She held that post from 2003 to 2007. Harris lost the November 7, 2006 election to represent Florida in the United States Senate. (Wikipedia)

    Fortunately, she doesn’t currently hold elected office. Let’s hope she never does again. She’s a criminal and a racist, for manipulating the FL “felons list” along racial lines in 2000.

  14. The Talking Dog just wrote a beautiful response, I’d like to just go ahead and re-enforce one point: Gov. Palin isn’t going to make it to the end of the week. 20 million in debt for Wassilla? Using the Governors office to play out your families vindictive revenge? Are you kidding me? I think its a just a joke.

    Frankly, reading comments like this feels like watching a car accident in slow motion. Yes, McCain is serious- and it might well help him. I’m not at all sure that it’s a good idea to dig into a scandal is apparently about her trying to get the guy fired who beat the crap out of her sister- yes, it’s an abuse of power, but not the kind that most people would get all that upset about. And every condescending remark about her probably helps McCain.

    Perhaps the Obama campaign should congratulate McCain for “admitting” that people don’t need a lot of Washington experience to be President? Might be a nice way to neutralise McCain’s “not qualified” attacks.

  15. I don’t think any of it matters – the Palin’s scandals, the fiscal incompetence, even her lack of experience – until Palin is up in front of a camera, for a good long while, probably in the debate with Biden.

    Until that time, I suspect the polls will initially show the far right consolidating around McCain, and a portion of swing voters heading toward Obama, freaked out by this woman.

    Once the public at large connects with her, then they’re going to start thinking about this stuff, particularly about McCain’s age and the likelihood that his VP is going to have to take over at some point (let’s say McCain gets sick, a more probable event, instead of expiring). It’s only when they see her on their TV trying to handle serious questions that the full reaction to Palin will be expressed and counted.

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