Friday, August 29, 2008

McCain Selects Running Mate, Soulmate Still Open for Suggestions

Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the expected Republican nominee, has chosen young Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R), to be his running mate on the 2008 Republican ticket.

It's an intriguing selection by McCain, a sign that the candidate may actually possess a few keen political instincts. I know commentators have said that VP picks don't really matter, but if McCain had selected Mitt Romney or Tim Pawlenty (Gov. of Minnesota, R), I could have today virtually guaranteed McCain's defeat in November. With the selection of Gov. Palin, McCain somehow continues to actually have a chance of victory in a campaign that his opponent's party is heavily favored in, in a year where anti-conservative, specifically anti-Bush and anti-neocon sentiment, has appeared to reach an all-time high.

So why does the choice of Palin, a relatively obscure figure in national politics, provide McCain such a solid boost in the political standings?

Gov. Palin is female. Her selection is obviously an overture to disgruntled supporters of former Democratic Presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton. Also, Palin came into office as the Governor of Alaska by defeating an incumbent Republican who had plentiful connections to big oil in the state, while she promised to clean up Alaska's political system. Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens (R) recently came under criminal indictment for his (alledged) deals under-the-table with an oil services company to provide him free services in exchange for his support. Alaska Rep. Don Young (R) was also charged.

So Gov. Palin carries some serious "reformer" street cred by helping to clean up Alaska politics. It's important for McCain to continue calling himself a reformer so he can avoid the stigma of the Bush-Cheney administration the Democrats have consistently tried to tie him to. One Democratic speaker observed this week that "McCain and Bush are awfully close lately" and joked about the Republican convention meeting in Minneapolis/St. Paul, the "twin cities".

Palin, while holding a solid conservative record (pro-life, pro-NRA, pro-oil), apparently lessens the appearance that McCain is just "a twin" of George W. Bush.

And as I have previously stated, it really doesn't hurt that she is a woman.

If any of you readers are former and/or current supporters of Sen. Clinton, I'd love to hear your thoughts on McCain's selection of a female running mate.

It poses an interesting quandary: what's more important to Clinton supporters, electing a woman to high office by voting for McCain-Palin, or promoting liberal policies and stopping the conservatives by voting for Barack Obama?

Or is Palin just conservative enough to appear anti-feminist despite being a woman? Or is one of the ultimate goals of the feminist movement, to empower women, ultimately more important than petty political differences between parties or ideologies? This is clearly a chance for a new generation to define the feminist movement. If you are a woman, and a feminist, what's important to you? What would you like to see in America to improve it for women?

I do believe that McCain's selection of Palin was a great political move, but it is up to history, and ultimately up to this generation, to decide what her selection means for women, and for America as a whole.


Stephanie said...

Alex, that woman is so antifeminist she might as well get a sex change operation. That way she can stop kidding herself. I must say, I am a feminist with an agenda, but damn, I'm not THAT desperate. So I suppose it would be appropriate to say that I'm a democratic feminist. The only reason why I would ever vote for a Republican is if the Democratic candidate is literally mentally retarded (though some might argue that Republican and retarded are synonymous). But I definitely agree, chosing a female running mate was a good move for McCain. It gives him a false image of actually caring about what women think. Though mind you he'll probably keep Palin baking in the kitchen during the campaign. I just find it ironic that McCain had the political savvy to play the feminism card but Obama passed it up.

Teleprompter said...

True, I did originally say and I still agree, McCain's decision was one of great political savvy, to play the feminism card. However, Obama had several other cards he needed to play on his own, and I believe that with the selection of Joe Biden he played those cards. Biden's foreign policy experience and ability to connect with voters that feel somewhat alienated by Obama (b.s. for blue collar voters) is more valuable to Obama. Also, frankly, Biden's just a lot more personable than Clinton. Biden and Clinton can both be highly divisive figures, but Biden can be the "regular joe". Hillary could never do that, no matter how she tries. It's not her fault, it's not an indictment of her character, it's just a political reality, and I prefer to deal in political realities foremost of all. I believe both Biden and Palin were great complementary picks to augment the candidates' perceived weaknesses.

Matt said...

The selection of Biden bolstered the democratic ticket, but it also undermined Obama's message in a very real way. Here's why:

McCain has been criticized for running on the "experience" factor...then choosing a running mate with limited experience. I like Palin, but this argument has some validity.

Obama, meanwhile, has been running on "change" - trying to convince us he's going to bring something new and refreshing to the table. Upsetting the establishment and all. Then he picks a running mate who REPRESENTS the establishment, who has spent a whole lifetime in the Senate. Someone with very little promise of change.