An LA Times Editorial: McCain’s gamble on Palin

Posted by Kendall Harmon

o be fair, this is hardly the first time a presidential candidate has elevated electoral considerations above experience in choosing a potential vice president. Mondale did so when he chose Ferraro. An even better example is George H.W. Bush's choice of Dan Quayle in 1988. That selection, like McCain's, was designed partly to placate restive Republican conservatives. Those are not persuasive precedents. In one respect, McCain is in even less of a position to gamble than were Mondale and Bush. His age makes it especially important that his running mate be prepared to assume the presidency at a moment's notice.

Palin might surprise us. Unlike Quayle at his unveiling, she was eloquent and self-assured at Friday's event in Dayton, Ohio. She may prove to be a quick study in national security affairs, though it's hard to imagine her piecing together a foreign policy portfolio comparable to Joe Biden's by Nov. 4. Let's be honest: The learning curve that confronts Palin is the steepest facing a vice presidential candidate in recent memory. That McCain was willing to take this gamble may not be a sign of desperation, but it gives a new and unsettling meaning to his claim to be a maverick.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsUS Presidential Election 2008

22 Comments
Posted August 30, 2008 at 3:13 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. drummie wrote:

When I suggested to some friends two weeks ago that the was a likely candidate, they said “no way!”  Palin rounds things out for McCain in ways that not many could do. If you read her resume and leave out the woman part, everyone would think that this was a perfect candidate.  I think she is a very good candidate from what I have read so far, but I would like to know more.  I’ve got to give her a chance and see where it goes.

August 30, 3:32 pm | [comment link]
2. David Fischler wrote:

She may prove to be a quick study in national security affairs, though it’s hard to imagine her piecing together a foreign policy portfolio comparable to Joe Biden’s by Nov. 4.

She does, however, have more of a foreign policy portfolio than Barack Obama, having negotiated a deal with Canada over a natural gas pipeline. Last time I checked, however, Obama was running for president, not vice president. I can’t believe that liberal MSM outlets like the LA Times actually think that this line of attack won’t rebound to their candidate’s detriment if they keep harping on it.

August 30, 3:36 pm | [comment link]
3. Dave B wrote:

I thought I would throw a little gas on the fire so to speak.  Senator Obama had about as much Foreign policy experience as Gov. Palin.  Senator Obama was reduced to claiming that having lived in Indonesia as a child amounted to foreign policy experience!!  The contrasts between Senator Obama and Gov. Palin couldn’t be sharper.  Senator Obama profited from the corrupt Chicago political machine, (one primary his opponents partitions to be on the ballot were thrown out due to “irregularities”, and in his bid for Senator sealed court documents were reveled with claims his opponent had abused his wife).  Senator Obama has voted for earmarks that profited his wife’s employer and others.  Gov Palin has had 16 years experience running for office AGAINST the party machine and won!!  Gov Palin has fought against special interests and corruption including the bridge to no where.  The last thing of interest is none of the talking heads seem to notice that Senator Obama gave a speech on Thursday night!!

August 30, 3:45 pm | [comment link]
4. John Wilkins wrote:

She did manage a town of 9,000 before.  That’s good.  And Alaska is right next to Russia.  Granted, negotiating with Canada didn’t do her any favors for the Alaska GOP.

I would submit that working in the Illinois state legislature is a bit different than her executive experience.  As far as profiting from the corrupt Chicago Machine, the implication that he is corrupt requires some evidence.  If anything, it shows that he is pragmatic.  And this seems to be pretty important.

Palin, however, is dangerous to underestimate.  She’s mediagenic, and it does underscore that McCain was losing the “experience” vs “judgement” debate.  We’ll see if this is a “hail Sarah” pass or whether or not he really thinks that she’s ready to be president.  Remember, for all Obama’s inexperience, he knows the law; he knows economics; he defeated the Clintons. 

That Palin was the best that McCain could come up with demonstrates the thinness of the Republican brand.

August 30, 5:42 pm | [comment link]
5. Carolina Anglican wrote:

#4 “Pragmatic” ? That’s a new one…Corruption as a virture.  And he spent 20 years in Jeremiah Wright’s church because he is what? Loyal?  And he profited from Tony Rezko because he is what? a team player?

August 30, 6:31 pm | [comment link]
6. Dave B wrote:

Placing a one term senator who reads a tele prompter well as your candidate for president shows a really shallow bench!!!

August 30, 7:05 pm | [comment link]
7. Cennydd wrote:

Don’t make the potentially deadly mistake of selling this lady short.

August 30, 7:57 pm | [comment link]
8. Padre Mickey wrote:

As a U.S. citizen who grew up outside of the U.S.A., I must admit that the fact that Obama lived in Indonesia for several years as a child gives me hope. Those who lived outside of the U.S. (and not on a military base) often have a better understanding of how things are in the real world.

August 30, 8:14 pm | [comment link]
9. sophy0075 wrote:

“Those who lived outside of the US…often have a better understanding of how things are in the real world.”

Pardon me, Padre Mickey - The US is very much part of “the real world.” Fortunately for the rest of the world, which we have bailed out since 1918, through two world wars and a number of natural disasters, we are part of “the real world.”

I submit that Gov Palin, who comes from a working class background, is married to a union member and oil worker, was active in the PTA, was a member of a city council, a mayor of a city, a governor of a state critical to our energy needs, a governor of a state with a well-regarded National Guard, has a son who has volunteered for the US Army and who is going to Iraq, and who has confronted the difficult fact that she would bear a baby with trisomy-21 is far more a member of “the real world” than a politician who spent more than half of his two years in the Senate running for the Presidency and thinks that living as a child in Indonesia gave him foreign policy experience.

August 30, 8:42 pm | [comment link]
10. Dave B wrote:

Well said sophy0075.  Senator Obama has at various times denounced his Grand Parents, his Pastor of twenty years, his friendship with Father Flagler, his no oil drilling policy, his agreement with McCain about public financing of his campaign, his agreement to hold town hall meeting with McCain. Palin has stuck to her guns about abortion, even to the point of her youngest child.  She is a gutsy classy women!!!

August 30, 9:08 pm | [comment link]
11. John Wilkins wrote:

#5 - calling somebody corrupt doesn’t make someone corrupt.  And I would watch the news more closely to see how the Alaskan governor handled one state employees.  You have no evidence.  That’s fine:  I don’t think you’d vote for Obama even if he were perfect.  Why did he stay in Wright’s church?  That’s not a hard question to answer:  Wright introduced him to Chicago.  It sounds to me that you don’t know very much about Obama. 

Nobody has any knowledge about Palin, but if McCain thinks she should be president, he’s going to have a hard time going against Obama because of his experience.  Illinois politics is pretty tough: and if you want a tough president, its good vetting ground.

I admit - sophy’s soliloquy sounds convincing.  But Alaska isn’t Illinois.  She was mayor of a village.  I mean, I guess, it makes me feel good that anybody can be president.  And I find it amusing that sophy thinks that Obama’s experience isn’t in the “real world.”  Hm - he’s world travelled; he organized workers and churches.  What’s pretty amazing is that he got himself to be nominee through hard work and by defeating the most powerful democrat in the country.  Palin?  Well, she was chosen by a guy who needed to shore up his base. 

As far as judgment goes, Obama chose a reasonable democrat who knows the way the country works.  If something happens to Obama, Biden - for all his warts - has experience.  If something happens to McCain, McCain chose someone with less experience - the least experience of any modern nominee - than Obama.  Good judgment to get elected. 

But I suspect there were stronger Republican women out there.

August 30, 9:35 pm | [comment link]
12. Dave B wrote:

Uh John, she WAS mayor of a village of nine thousand and IS Governor of the state of Alaska.  I think that trumps community organizer.  How successful were his organizing efforts?  From what I‘ve read the area he worked is as bad or worse than when he started!!www.thenation.com/doc/20070416/moberg - 38k -

August 30, 10:10 pm | [comment link]
13. Dave B wrote:

John, I don’t think there are very many women of any political stripe that are as strong as she is and damn few men!!

August 30, 10:12 pm | [comment link]
14. Chris Hathaway wrote:

No one is capable of being President all by himself. They all have Cabinets and staff to help them. Palin will be able, should she suddely become President, to rely on the team that Mccain will put together. The one asset she will need to bring with her is the ability to lead that team and not be led by it. That is where executive experience comes in, something Obama has none of.

August 30, 10:32 pm | [comment link]
15. Padre Mickey wrote:

Well, I can only go by my own experience, sophy0075. Everytime I return to the U.S., I find a group of people wrapped up in their own provincial perception of what is going on in the rest of the world. When I’m in the U.S., it’s as if I am in a dream world. Come spend some time in Central America, and then we’ll talk about your (mis)perceptions.

August 30, 10:57 pm | [comment link]
16. Carolina Anglican wrote:

#11 It sounds like you don’t watch anything besides MSNBC.  Have they told you any of Obama’s actual accomplishments besides being elected Sen.?  Oh yeah, he did vote against a state bill requiring life-saving aid to babies born alive, wanted or not. How’s that for judgement? I guess that is liberal compassion, while Palin refused to abort her baby despite his special needs.  The truth is she has the accomplishments in Alaska that Obama promises for the country but has no history of achieving. What has he done as a Senator? He speaks of all the problems in the country and Wash DC being broken; all of his criticisms find resonance in his own VP Biden who has been in Wash DC over 35 yrs.  There is a reason congress’ approval ratings are nearly in single digits and Gov. Palin’s are over 80%.  Obama can only be elected by pretending he is something he is not and with the help of the media to ignore his liberal past.

August 31, 12:46 am | [comment link]
17. drjoan wrote:

I find it interesting that she was mayor of a town about the same size as the Diocese of Nevada .  And tho’ Alaska’s population is less than a million, it is a huge state geographically with relations with both Canada and Russia.  Surely she and Katherine Jefferts Schori could go neck and neck.
Plus, she considers Jesus the Way to salvation!

August 31, 1:28 am | [comment link]
18. azusa wrote:

Obama’s an intelligent guy, and I like smarts - but that’s not the first thing you look for in a leader. Smarts you can buy. Experience, character and a commitment to the things I believe in are the things that count.
I am old enough to remember how people in Europe went apoplectic when Reagan was elected: he was nothing but a dumb*ss actor, they said (none of them seemed to know he had been Governor of California) and they were fearful a war with the Soviet Union would follow. How much the chattering classes are in thrall to what their papers and state-sponsored media tell them.

August 31, 4:01 am | [comment link]
19. Chris wrote:

I’d call this exhibit #4397 as to why fewer and fewer people read publications like the LA Times anymore.  How much ink have they devoted to Obama’s lack of experience.  You got a better chance of finding Amelia Erhardt than you do finding objectivity from these people….

And folks, we all know that, in politics, money talks and (you know what) walks:

“Palin’s conservative credentials, including strong anti-abortion views and a record of confronting entrenched interests during less than two years as governor of Alaska, energized conservatives, who poured money into the campaign.

“We raised over $4 million online” on Friday, said senior adviser Steve Schmidt, who is in charge of day-to-day campaign operations. He said the campaign had never made more than $1 million in a single day over the Internet before.

http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSN1928744420080830

$50 of that $4 million was mine!

August 31, 8:23 am | [comment link]
20. Bill Matz wrote:

My first reaction was, “What?” Then I thought it was a transparent attempt to draw Hillary supporters. But as I learned more, the real reason became clear. John McCain wanted someone who hated government corruption as much as he did even in the same party. The selection gives a real indication of a major focus of a McCain administration.

Overlooked in all this is the historical rarity of tickets with no executive experience, to say nothing of their records. The last I believe was ‘64 (LBJ/HH). ‘60 (JFK/LBJ) was a ticket remarkably similar to Obama/Biden. But the legacy of ‘60/‘64 should give us real pause about tickets with purely legislative backgrounds.

August 31, 3:38 pm | [comment link]
21. rob k wrote:

Right now I’m listening to a frantic ultralib talk show host, who is saying that McCain’s choice of Palin is treason because of her views on certain issues and her “lack of experience”.  It’s amazing how he and others can elide Obama’s lack of experience.  He has just finished shouting down a woman who called in to try to give her point of view.

August 31, 10:25 pm | [comment link]
22. iceworm wrote:

I first heard Sara Palin on the radio during the primary campaign for the Republican candidate for governor. I was impressed enough to vote for her over then US Senator, Frank Murkowski. When Frank won the primary, Sara through her support behind Frank wholeheartedly. I particularly remember her radio voice exclaiming to some claim or other, “Bull ... -ony”.

In my opinion, Sara has a lot on the ball. The rest of the world and the lower 48 seem to forget about the men and women who migrated to the Matenuska Valley during the Great Depression. Those outside (those not so blessed to live inside Alaska) forget that Alaskan women regularly compete in the Iditarod and win. Is there any other state in the union where women drive pick-up trucks with a bumper sticker that reads, “Alaska Women Kick Ass”?

As one who just turned 71, I don’t have a problem voting for a 72 year old president. John clearly has had life experiences that has put steel into his backbone. These experiences seem to have given him a focus on God as opposed to America. I am, in addition, quite delighted to have Sara Palin as running mate to John McCain. I have the feeling that they will make a great team.

September 3, 4:00 pm | [comment link]
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