By now, you’ve all no doubt heard that John McCain selected the first-term governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, to be his running-mate. As Palin has very little policy experience, and no foreign relations experience at all, one has to wonder, what the hell McCain, a 72 year old with health problems, was thinking. As she brings absolutely nothing to the ticket in the way of experience, maybe the folks at Salon are right and it’s just blatant tokenism.
Is it just that she’s a woman? If so, how fucking insulting is that? Does McCain really think that all the pissed-off PUMAs (the “Party Unity My Ass” backers of Hillary Clinton) are going to flock to him just because he chose a running-mate with a uterus? Does he really think so poorly of women, that he believes they would fall for that? And, let’s say all of this is true, and he did just want a woman, thinking that it would help him to siphon votes away from the Obama/Biden ticket – why not choose Elizabeth Dole, or someone else with at least a little national recognition and experience? I’ve got to think that the Republican bench isn’t so thin when it comes to women that he had to go with someone that makes Dan Quayle look like Dwight D. Eisenhower.
I’m sure we’ll hear a hell of a lot about Palin over the coming days – about her beautiful children, her love of firearms, the rugged individualism she exudes, and the fact that she makes a mean moose stew. I’m sure she’ll come across well initially. But, I suspect, once folks start digging, we’ll find that, not only does she have no experience, but she also brings some baggage with her. Already, stories are flying about her former brother-in-law, and how she attempted to use her office as Governor of Alaska, to have him fired from his job as a state trooper. And, it’s just a matter of time, I expect, before we start hearing about her ties to the oil industry (her husband is an oil man), and her dealings with Alaska’s corrupt Senator, Ted Stevens.
But, I suppose, she’s about as far away from Bush/Cheney as McCain could get, and there’s clearly some value in that. Republicans fought it for a long time, but they’ve come to realize just how terrible President Bush is, and they want distance. Palin gives him that. And, being a former runner-up in the Miss Alaska beauty pageant, she’s somewhat photogenic. So, maybe that’s all there is to it, but I don’t trust these guys.
I may be paranoid, but I’m thinking there’s something deeper. Maybe – and this is just me trying to think totally evil, like Karl Rove – she has something in her personal history that would put race in the forefront of this contest. Maybe she, or someone she loved, was once the victim of a crime that involved a black male. I know it’s a terrible thought, but maybe she’s just a back door way to insert race into the campaign somehow. McCain knows that three things have to happen for him to win this. He has to split the Democratic party, he has to make this about race, and he needs to distance himself from Bush. I’m thinking that there has to be a way that Palin helps him do all three. If not, I think he would have gone with someone else. (Damn you, Karl Rove, for making me think this way.)
Or, maybe, he just chose her because he knew that Biden would gleefully destroy her in the Vice Presidential debate, thus perhaps driving more women to their side… I don’t see how the math works out better for them, though, than if he’d gone with someone who could deliver a swing state.
If nothing else, it was good timing. Obama was riding the cresting wave of the Democratic National Convention when McCain made the announcement. Word is that 38 million Americans watched Obama’s acceptance speech last night. That’s more than watched the opening ceremony of the Olympics, the final episode of “American Idol,” and the Oscars. And, it’s more than double the number that tuned in to see John Kerry accept the Democratic nomination four years ago. McCain had to do something to change the news cycle. We can debate whether or not Palin was a good choice, but I don’t think there was any question that he had to make the VP announcement today.
So, what do you think McCain was thinking?
I posed the question to a few friends this afternoon and they responded, in unison, that, more than a running-mate, McCain was looking for the third Mrs. McCain.
[Thanks to Jason and Maria for sending along this photo… which, I’m sorry to say, is probably real.]
update: OK, it turns out that the photo included with this post is a fake. Sorry to get your hopes up. The photo of the body was taken three years ago in Georgia. It belongs to a then 23 year old woman. Palin’s head, however, was in its early 40’s. None of this means, however, that Palin has never handled a gun while wearing a bikini. I, like Americans everywhere, am still hopeful.