Saturday, August 30, 2008

More Palin

Inexperience? Some of our gentle readers believe that McCain's Palin pick disarms his attack on Obama's inexperience. We think that it keeps the issue on the table in several ways, albeit not with monochromatic clarity, while nicely putting other high cards on the table:
  • Dems can't talk about Palin's inexperience because they've claimed Obama's is a matter of no consequence.
  • Palin has loads of unconventional experience: as a mom, a partner with her husband in the fishing industry, an officer in local education and local government (i.e. a "community organizer" with an actual organization) and--even if briefly--as an executive in government in a state where government is a very big deal. On that last category, she's the only person on a major party ticket with any executive experience of any kind. When she says that she knows the environment, oil and education, we pity the fool who tries to challenge her.
  • Her political record in Alaska so far is remarkable. If the vote is on potential, hers rivals the potent potential of Obama and highlights the proven political impotence of Biden.
  • In debate, if Biden, not the most sensitive of politicians, attacks her, he'll inevitably look mean and stupid, especially because she seems to be temperamentally unflappable and articulate and so will likely respond with grace and clarity.
  • On the stump, if Obama or any of his surrogates tries to attack her, they'll look even meaner and more desperate than will Biden.
  • Every time a Democrat makes sneering reference to the obvious fact that instead of being a seasoned politician with a national reputation, she's an attractive, married woman with five kids, they'll confirm what Republicans have said for a generation: that liberals really loath women. Do we all remember how utterly uncouth Biden appeared when, in his first speech after being named Obama's mate, he moaned that Mrs. Biden is "drop-dead gorgeous" and then tried to recover by saying that her doctoral degree "is a problem"? Dude, SWNID knows the boundaries of sarcasm better than you do, which makes you utterly pathetic.
  • So much for Obama running against Washington. McCain's got the farthest-from-Washington candidate ever: the governor who refused to spend the appropriated federal swag for the Bridge to Nowhere. Best line so far: If Alaska needs a bridge, we'll build it ourselves. Nice.
Religion? Wikipedia reports that Governor Palin is a member of the Assemblies of God. Religion blog, helpfully maintained by the Dallas Morning News, notes that she's kept her faith well in the background in her rhetoric, while clearly taking positions--publicly and privately--that are informed by it. It's also a matter of long-standing: Palin seems to have made her faith her own in high school, leading FCA activities while a standout point guard for the state championship high school basketball team. We venture the assertion that Palin will not only be the first Pentecostal on a major-party national ticket but also the first candidate in the post-Carter era to handle the question of religious faith with proper perspective, which is to say clearly guided by her faith but unwilling to flaunt it as an appeal to voters. She obviously won't need to make the kind of awkward public confession that some think will satisfy evangelicals (remember Giuliani's "Jesus is my personal savior"?) and is disinclined to fire up the base with the myth of Christian nationhood and such.

We'll say what's needless for the sheer pleasure of saying it: we really like how as a politician she's handled her faith.

And so? A day later, we still really like this pick. Palin gives McCain a better shot (no basketball or hunting reference intended). As Bill Kristol has been saying and many now agree, Sarah Palin is such a real, regular person, other real people, especially of the female persuasion, who are inclined to vote on their sense of personal identification with the candidate, are going to get a brighter green light to try the GOP one more time. This is more than a matter of being a mom with roots that remain in the middle class. By a wide margin Palin passes the barbecue test: which candidate would you most like to invite over for a backyard cookout?

Even in the case of an Obama victory, still the likely outcome in November, McCain has promoted the next generation of Republicans to prominence. If McCain loses in '08 or retires in '12, in the next presidential election the Republicans will largely be the party of Palin, Jindal, Portman and other young lions. By 2016, should McCain win two terms, the party will be fully in the hands of that generation.

It's worth noting that Palin-Jindal Republicans came of age in the Reagan era. They know how to be happy, courageous, conservative warriors. They won't need to brand their conservatism as "compassionate" because they'll assert its compassion naturally. From their youth they can also personally remember how disastrous are the policies that still find a hearing in what was once the party of Jefferson. They can tell the millennials that as far as higher taxes, federal subsidies and isolationist foreign policy are concerned, there's no reason to replay That 70s Show.

The young GOP will be what Palin and Jindal embody: enemies of corruption, proponents of economic growth, sensible about natural resources, scourges of high taxes, advocates of a vigorous foreign policy and strong military, quiet protectors of traditional values. And if they can extinguish the sinister influence of anti-immigration demagogues, they'll be ethnically diverse.

In sum: This will be the most interesting campaign since 1980. And the Dems can forget about creating a generation of political dominance like what they had from 1932 to 1994. The GOP is proving it can learn and adapt. Meanwhile, the Ds sound exactly as they have in every election since 1984. When Barack Obama leads them while Harold Ford, Jr. is on the sidelines, the Democrats remain the party of Henry Wallace rather than Harry Truman, as they have since 1972.


JB in CA said...

The thing I like best about Palin is that she's willing to take on scoundrels in her own political party. I question the integrity of those who aren't.

JB in CA said...

The thing I like least about Palin is that she's willing to fire employees for suspicious reasons. I question the integrity of those who are.

Anonymous said...

It's strange to me to hear McCain representatives discuss Palin's foreign policy experience in terms of her administration of the national guard. It would seem a better example to discuss her interaction with multi-national organizations in an oil state. In particular her position on the Canadian pipeline for Alaskan oil would seem to be apt. It seems this would call out the rhetorical ambiguity between experience in military leadership and foreign policy experience.

CA in Cincy said...

"Dude, SWNID knows the boundaries of sarcasm better than you do, which makes you utterly pathetic."


JB in CA said...

CA in Cincy: Am I missing something? Where did you get that bizarre quote?