Juxtaposition Of The Week

August 31st, 2008at 05:02pm Posted by Eli

Tristan Snell at OpenLeft:

Who chose Palin?

Well, it certainly wasn’t John McCain.

McCain only met Palin once, six months ago.  Unlike every other major party VP nominee in recent memory, Palin did not meet McCain for a final interview before her selection.  A few weeks ago, she wasn’t in the running at all.  The scandals and unorthodoxies involving Palin — she flip-flopped on the Bridge to Nowhere and even raised sales taxes on her small town to pay for an overpriced boondoggle — show that the McCain campaign didn’t vet her.  The McCains and Palins looked visibly awkward together, not even speaking as they went their separate ways on a brief shopping trip in Ohio yesterday.  McCain is on record as saying he wanted a running mate with whom he had a strong personal relationship — and who was ready to be president.

This was clearly not his pick.  So again: Who chose Palin?

Was it Dick Cheney?  Or Karl Rove?  Or maybe James Dobson?

Southern Baptist evangelical leader Richard Land, on CBS:

CBSNews.com: Who’s on the list of people mentioned for VP that you think would most excite Southern Baptists and other members of the conservative faith community?

Richard Land: Probably Governor Palin of Alaska, because she’s a person of strong faith. She just had her fifth child, a Downs Syndrome child. And there’s a wonderful quote that she gave about her baby, and the fact that she would never, ever consider having an abortion just because her child had Downs Syndrome. She’s strongly pro-life.

She’s a virtual lifetime member of the National Rifle Association. She would ring so many bells. And I just think it would help with independents because she’s a woman. She’s a reform Governor. I think that, from what I hear, that would be the choice that would probably ring the most bells, along with Mike Huckabee, of course, who’s a Southern Baptist.


Circling back to Tristan:

1.  We place the focus on McCain rather than Palin.  Paul Rosenberg is right; the emphasis must be on his decision rather than on her personally.  As other have said, attacking her too directly is a trap: it could make us look hostile to women or elitist.

2.  We undermine McCain’s argument that he’s an independent maverick.  He emphasizes his willingness to depart from the GOP establishment, and yet that establishment — Rove? Cheney? — chose his running mate.  It is the logical conclusion and most egregious example of McCain’s decline from straight-talking centrist to sycophantic conservative, willing to do anything to win over Bush loyalists and Republican insiders.  And it shows that McCain would truly represent a third term for Dick Cheney and Karl Rove.

3.  We also rebut the cental theme of McCain’s campaign.  Country First?  Really?  When you’re willing to place a severely underqualified person with zero foreign policy or national security experience a heartbeat away from the presidency in order to satisfy your political patrons, are you really putting country first?  When you yourself are 72?  And you’ve staked your entire candidacy on promoting American strength?  Really?

4.  Even more fundamentally, we call into question McCain’s control and leadership over his own campaign.  If he can’t control his campaign, how could he control an administration?  Who will be making the decisions in a McCain White House — Rove and Cheney?  Is McCain his own man?  Or is he just a puppet?  The new Time piece on McCain already suggests that he’s being increasingly controlled by his advisors and consultants, no longer allowed to speak off the cuff or be open with reporters — leading him to be prickly and gruff.  So raising these questions could lead to a wave of media stories on McCain’s weakness and frustration at being controlled.   Similar stories about Kerry and Gore were devastating to their images and thus to their campaigns.

The Palin pick won McCain some initial good press, and it has raised some concerns among progressives.  But it has revealed a huge weakness in McCain’s candidacy — and if we take advantage of it, intelligently, it could be a tremendous gift.

McCain claims to be a maverick, but he caves in to the religious right just like he caved in to the Bush administration.  Not impressive, and the very real prospect of an inexperienced religious fanatic with a history of abusing executive power in the White House is flat-out terrifying.

(h/t Teddy Partridge for the Dick Land interview)

Entry Filed under: Elections,McCain,Palin,Politics,Religion,Republicans

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