Friday, August 29, 2008

North to the Future

John McCain has picked Alaska governor Sarah Palin to be his running mate - in my opinion, a strategically brilliant selection. Her negatives shouldn't be crippling. I assume the vetting process made sure the mini-scandals that have dogged her won't get bigger. And while picking an inexperienced VP makes it harder for McCain to attack Obama for the same thing, McCain has already decided he won't be using the failed Hillary Clinton "he's inexperienced" playbook.

Her positives are obvious enough - she'll bring youth and excitement to the ticket. And, let's not kid anyone, her main purpose is obviously to attract female voters, especially disgruntled Clinton supporters. It also appears that McCain is keen on reviving the "maverick" myth, in an effort to distance himself from Bush, so picking an obscure Alaskan Governor is about as "outside Washington" as you can get.

Of course, I'll be the first to admit I don't know a lot about Palin - if she turns out to be an empty vessel, then this pick could backfire spectacularly. McCain took a risk but, up against Obama, this was probably a risk worth taking.

Speaking of Obama, I haven't had a chance to watch his convention speech yet - that's on the agenda for this evening. But the early reviews have been very positive.

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34 Comments:

  • Obama's idea of "change" is someone with 30+ years in Washington.

    McCain's idea of experience is someone who has proven herself in an Executive Office in government.

    By Blogger paul.obeda@, at 6:48 PM  

  • I think nominating Tina Fey as his Veep nominee is a really smart idea.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:06 PM  

  • If Democratic Party women flock to Sarah Palin that would be quite disappointing. Essentially she seems to be the American equivalent of Cheryl Gallant. When the Republican base is ecstatic about her being picked you can be pretty sure the McCain-Palin ticket won't be advancing the cause of women.

    By Blogger Danielle Takacs, at 7:10 PM  

  • You might wish to read this (Gravitas).

    By Anonymous Haleem, at 7:18 PM  

  • An interesting twist in an otherwise boring American election.

    By Blogger Joanne (True Blue), at 9:25 PM  

  • Sigh! McCain just lost the election. Here's a babe with just two years of executive experience in a small state. Would Americans want a President like her, if 72-year McCain has a heart attack. What would she do if the phone rings at 3 a.m.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 10:32 PM  

  • Oh man you're wrong on this choice. What it is is another one of these McCain policy pirouettes that seem brilliant for 4-24 hours and then turn moldy. She has zero foreign policy experience and VP candidates are expected to have some. It's easy to see her committing some sort of gaffe along the lines of referencing China and Taiwan incorrectly (for example) and then the media being all over her. Her main purpose is to reassure the Evangelicals and only secondarily pick up PUMAs.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:43 PM  

  • High risk, high reward - like I said. I think she'd get destroyed at the top of a ticket for sure but for 2 months as the VP nominee...if she can survive without looking like a Dan Quayle clone, she'll be an asset.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 11:26 PM  

  • im with dan here

    McCain didnt want the Hillary Clinton voters in big cities.

    He needs the Clinton voters in small-town Appalachia, which will be Sarah Palin's home until early November.

    I also think the Democrats getting into an experience argument with the Republicans is very stupid.

    People vote for the top of the ticket.

    Also, here is a pro-tip for everyone, if you begin any argument with "If my opponent dies", you already lost

    By Blogger Antonio, at 11:46 PM  

  • Antonio,

    With all due respect, you know a lot about Quebec which is why I pay attention to what you say there.

    But you don't know shit about the US electorate.

    I do. I can see the rationale in your argument about who he hopes to appeal to. But people in the US - even in rural states - do want to know the VP meets the minimal "can he/she step in?" requirement.

    And the bottom line is she does not. She sounded like she was running for school board today.

    This could backfire big-time, and people will note it as a measure of McCain's judgment.

    Even my family members who live and vote fairly reliably Republican in the US have been asking incredulously, "He met her ONCE before he made this decision?"

    By Blogger Joseph, at 1:46 AM  

  • Dan, I agree with you - high risk, very high reward. If his faith in her is not misplaced, he just took on a terrific partner.

    As already noted, the big risk is a 72 year old multiple-cancer survivor taking on a very inexperienced candidate.

    She's cool, I like her a lot from what I see today - one of those great people I disagree on abortion and etc with, but whom I totally respect. But Governor of an oil rich state that's flowing in cash for 2 years? Hey, dreams come true in America, but her executive experience is not sufficient to warrant the Presidency, imo.

    But, if McCain can give people the impression he'll live for another 15 years, then people may totally overlook the issue....

    But it's FUCKING AMAZING that we're living in a time that's going to have either a black man or a woman in the White House before my next birthday. It's incredible and I just feel great about the future all the time because of this fantastic election.

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 3:18 AM  

  • You say you have still to watch the speech and link to a Youtube clip. There's a much nicer high-def video at the democratic convention site.

    You may have to load silverlight and move to play it, but the beautiful full-screen high-res image is worth it. http://www.demconvention.com/

    By Anonymous Greg, at 4:08 AM  

  • The choice of VP provides the clearest contrast between two leaders (McCain and Obama).

    Obama has demonstrated that he is able to combine the intuitive grasp of a leader with the organizational skills of a manager. Obama cautiously chooses Biden, and covers a crucial weakness in the final two months before election day.

    McCain has great folksy appeal, but is out of his league. He chooses a running mate who is his junior in every way. He could have chosen Mitt Romney who could act as his economics advisor, in the midst of a n economic crisis.

    Instead, McCain chooses a VP for her tactical advantage, but which will cost him strategically.

    McCain's strongest argument to independent voters has been Obama's inexperience. Now, McCain has destroyed his campaign's central theme. In fact, he has created a weakness for himself.

    The media will do a job on Ms. Palin, just as they have on Obama. What are your positions on x, y and z? Should we invade Iran? Ms. Palin is not noted for her scholarship, intellect or sophistication.

    There is a possibility that Ms. Palin could alienate chauvinist voters. Huh, that lady could become the next President of the United States?

    In any case, can Ms. Palin (pro-Life, pro gun) win over Hilary's supporters? What do you think?

    Here is the big question. Should women voters support the McCain/Palin ticket because Ms. Palin could become the Republican candidate in 2012? We will shortly find out whether she has the vision and the will for that job.

    The Alaskan Governor is eye candy, unless she has prospects for advancement.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 5:10 AM  

  • jimtan,

    McCain, despite his messaging gaining traction was consistently behind Obama in the polls by about 2 points. Obama has a better campaign organization and more money - to pick a safe choice would not reflect good judgment, it would reflect sheer and utter stupidity. McCain was doomed to lose in a mobilization battle - now he has a winning scenario.

    Yes, it was a risky choice, but at the end of the day, losing in a landslide versus losing narrowly makes little difference. Palin's experience will matter little if she performs reasonably well. Given how little I know about her, lets say she brings a 50% chance of a 3 point gain, and a 50% chance of an 8 point drop.

    So GIVEN, that McCain was in a position where he was likely to lose, he needed a game-changer. What were his options?

    Lieberman, Tom Ridge, Palin, Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman were his main options. Pawlenty and Romney (or Rob Portman or Eric Cantor) are cookie-cutter politicians, who would not have changed the dynamics of the race.

    Lieberman and Ridge have positions on abortion that would risk a revolt by the base, that would probably more than compensate for their ability to gain independents.

    Whitman and Fiorina are CEO's/former CEO's who can hardly relate to average Americans in an election where white working class voters are a key swing constituency. Moreover they also have no experience.

    Palin was the only pick that shored up the base, while keeping with the main themes of the campaign (maverick-ness and folksy average American-ness), and a shot at winning some Clinton voters (you don't need a lot of them - 10% of them are still 1.8 million people, enough to swing most elections) - while protecting McCain on abortion. With Clinton voters as swing voters, abortion is a likely issue (plus, Obama's position has historically been rather extreme, as is McCain's in the other direction) - but one on which Palin has a compelling and personal story.

    You can sort of imagine the nightmare scenario for Obama... Joe Biden in the VP debate attacks McCain-Palin on abortion, throws in "hun" or "sweetheart" at Palin. Cue compelling story of down syndrome baby, cue shame on you, cue media frenzy about sexism.

    jimtan, you have said McCain has ceded the experience argument. A few issues.

    1. Palin, as a governor, can point to more concrete accomplishments than any of the three senators on either ticket (Biden and McCain do have some legislative accomplishments, but they aren't on bread and butter things).

    2. Making the inexperience argument against Palin, as the Obama camp is doing, runs a risk of backfiring. Here is the response "So, it is okay for a man to be president with effectively 1 year in the senate, but not okay for a woman to be VICE president with 2 years as governor?"

    3. Experience remains a net winner for McCain (but obviously not an election winner, to anybody who watched Clinton's campaign). It is possible to LOWER your positives on an issue, but actually gain votes by raising the salience of the issue, if that issue remains a net winner for you.

    Lets say 50% of people are experience voters, and 50% are change voters. Experience voters are 75-25 for McCain, change voters 75-25 for Obama.

    Picking Palin drops McCain's positives - he goes to 70-30 among XP voters. However, all the talk of experience from both camps raises the salience of the issue, so that now, 60% of voters are XP voters, 40%, change voters.

    Where you had a tie to begin with, McCain gets:

    60*.7 + 40*.25 = 42 + 10 = 52
    Obama has 48

    And this is from a pick that made NO gains among change voters, and only dropped McCain among experience voters.

    So, Palin gives McCain a shot, whereas before he had none. Will he win with her? It depends upon her performance.

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 8:19 AM  

  • As for the play for Clinton voters, people have argued that because Obama is close on the issues, they will never vote for McCain.

    In Ohio, 17% of voters said the gender of a candidate mattered to them, 60% of whom voted for Clinton. That translates to 230,000people (that would otherwise vote Dem) in a swing state known for being close - plus those denying their gender preferences (people don't like to say they are racist or sexist). For reference, Bush's 120,000 vote margin in Ohio translated to 2 points (and about 170,000 in 2004).

    In Pennsylvania, 20% were gender voters, and they went 72-28 for Clinton. So voters with a fair preference for female leaders numbered about 335,000, in a state Kerry won by 245,000 votes (and Gore by 200,000).

    In New Mexico 20% were gender voters, and they went 84-15 for Clinton. That is 24,000 voters in a state Bush won by 6,000 votes (2004), and Gore by 366.

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 8:44 AM  

  • She's been a mayor of a small town - approx 8,000....big problems like sewar systems, local events, town budget...

    Then Governor of Alaska for 20 months - pop: approx 680,000 - cities have more population than that.

    She recently did an interview and didn't know what a VP does.

    Apparently, someone on FOX said she has international experience because Alaska is next to Russia...sigh

    She's a hockey mom (Frank Luntz been talking to her?)

    Before going into politics she was a sports writer.

    Now: Obama - a lawyer, constitutional expert, smart, has legislative experience in a state with a huge population, federal experience - hey, and knows what the federal system set up is....even knows what a VP does.

    Huge difference between the two.

    Oh, Obama has kids too and he plays sports too.

    You know, you need someone with experience of the old to makes the changes from inside out.

    McCain seems to have a thing for beauty pagent girls doesn't he? He left his wife for Cindy McCain, a beauty pagent gal...watch out Cindy.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:44 AM  

  • Forgot to mention - she says nuclear just like George Bush does...well, that makes her qualified.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:09 AM  

  • "but her executive experience is not sufficient to warrant the Presidency, imo."

    jason bo green,

    thanks for this. I'm going to store this somewhere in cyberspace and bring it out every day for the next two months.

    She HAS executive experience.

    Obama has NONE.

    So, by your logic, you are no longer supporting Barak Obama.

    Go McCain!

    By Blogger Chuckercanuck, at 9:37 AM  

  • (and for the Liberals here, I'll explain:

    being in the senate gives you legislative experience - even for those, like Barak, who've never actually got an important piece of legislation passed. but it gives you zilch in executive experience.)

    By Blogger Chuckercanuck, at 9:38 AM  

  • Oops, I misspoke - thanks for pointing that out. She doesn't have the experience, in that case. Premier of Alberta would give more White House-suited experience than Governor of Alaska, in my opinion.

    Of course, I personally highly doubt McCain would die in office - he's a strong man and I have no fears of him passing away anytime soon. But I wouldn't say she's McCain's equal, at all. Biden's very different from Obama, but I'd say he's "as ready" as Obama. Palin's the least suited for the Oval Office out of all four candidates.

    But, she seems like a very interesting and cool person.

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 10:36 AM  

  • "Obama has NONE. So, by your logic, you are no longer supporting Barak Obama."

    Ah! The Chucker is back.

    Actually, I have to disagree with Chucker. Obama has lot's of executive experience.

    He built a campaign out of nothing. He's drawn an incredible amount of donations from perfect strangers, He's recruited managers of ability and experience. They can and did.

    Obama himself has been tested in the fire. He has made decisions under pressure from all sides. Obama has a record that most executives would envy.

    “So, Palin gives McCain a shot, whereas before he had none. Will he win with her? It depends upon her performance.”

    I agree. However, all the historical analysis you can do is worthless when you don't have political instincts.
    And, Palin is IMO not VP material, charming as she is.

    “Of course, I personally highly doubt McCain would die in office - he's a strong man and I have no fears of him passing away anytime soon.”

    There speaks the voice of reason.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 11:43 AM  

  • I agree, to me "executive experience" means successful leadership experience. I think Obama's shown he can head up a team filled with smart picks, and delegate as he mobilizes the organization towards a goal. But, Chucker is I think talking more in legal terms, and in that sense, he is right.

    Running PEI's population on Alberta's wealth isn't experience for the Presidency. But, Palin at least seems more pragmatic than ideological (unlike Bush or Layton, say) at first blush, so if ever called on, she may well prove to be very deft.

    Because as I explained to Chucker already in regards to Obama, attitude and perspective are more important than experience when it comes to leadership. It's really nice to see he's decided the same.

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 12:03 PM  

  • I agree with you Dan, women vote do not vote with their big head, they vote with their little hood.....Palin is a brilliant choice....

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:14 PM  

  • Dan, wow, I can't believe how much I disagree with you.

    I'm watching her right now and this whole thing is so stupid.

    If this works, it would be one of the most disappointing political reality checks I can imagine.

    This is so insulting I can only hope this mobilizes the hell out of the Democratic base. Wow, so so lame. Dan, what the heck?

    By Blogger Matt Grant, at 6:40 PM  

  • Re: Leading a Successful Campaign

    Jimtan, I agree with you. By the time this election is over, Barak Obama has succeeded brilliantly whether he wins or loses.

    My hope is that he loses - not in irrecoverable defeat - just loses this election. I hope he invests heavily in the senate post-election and comes back with the same attitude, intellect but eschewing the lefty bromides. More Clinton in thinking. Less Hoffa Jr.

    Then, unless someone as compelling shows up, Barak's my guy.

    Right now, there is very little of his stated policies that I find acceptable. Plus McCain rocks. So, Barak ain't my guy.

    By Blogger Chuckercanuck, at 10:43 PM  

  • Matt - Who else should McCain have picked? He needed someone the right would embrace and, like it or not, Palin is going to be a great campaigner for him in the south and with their core vote.

    Will she snare a few women or bitter Hillary supporters? Maybe, maybe not - but she won't snare any less than Romney or Pawlenty or whoever else he would have picked.

    Maybe she bombs - it's a risk and I'm sure McCain is aware of that. But I watched her intro press conference on YouTube and I was worried, because I can see her being an asset to McCain (again, not for sure, but maybe)...she's got that Bush "common man" thing going for her that a lot of voters eat up.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 12:56 AM  

  • She utterly lacks gravitas. She might be second in command of a superpower. Please, this is the best the Republicans can do?

    If the Democrats were smart they would have Hillary challenge Palin to a debate. Palin would have to reject the offer and it would make her look weak. It also would create for the Democrats a kind of 3 person ticket.

    In the end Palin will get none of Hillary's voters. They utterly reject Palin/McCain/Bush agenda.

    By Anonymous Bruce King, at 1:20 AM  

  • Oh, Obama has kids too and he plays sports too.

    Hey, let's decide the Presidency with a little one-on-one between Obama and Sarah Barracuda. :)

    By Anonymous The Invisible Hand, at 4:29 AM  

  • I'm not sure Hillary could challenge Palin to a debate but, at the very least, Obama should have her involved in the campaign as much as possible. Maybe publicly say she'll be in his Cabinet or will play a key role in his administration or something like that.

    By Anonymous Deb, at 9:44 AM  

  • Poll: Obama/Biden Take Eight-Point Lead
    Democratic Ticket Gets Boost After Convention, CBS News Poll Finds

    Sept. 1, 2008

    (CBS) Democratic nominee Barack Obama's lead over Republican John McCain has grown after the Democratic convention, which 71 percent of Americans say they watched. Obama and his running mate Joe Biden now lead McCain and Sarah Palin 48 percent to 40 percent, according to the latest CBS News poll.

    The eight-point lead for the Democratic ticket is up from Obama’s three-point lead before the convention. But there are still a significant number of voters who have yet to firmly make up their minds.

    Before the Democratic convention, McCain enjoyed a 12-point advantage with independent voters, but now Obama leads among this group 43 percent to 37 percent. Obama's lead among women has also grown to 14 points (50 percent to 36 percent), and the Democrat maintained the lead he had before the convention among voters who supported Senator Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries.

    The poll shows an increase in the number of Obama voters who are enthusiastic about him. Sixty-seven percent of Obama voters say they enthusiastically support him, which is up from 48 percent who said so before the convention. About a quarter of McCain’s backers are enthusiastic about him--unchanged from before the Democratic convention.

    Sixty-three percent of registered voters say Obama understands their needs and problems, while just 41 percent say that about McCain. And after the Democratic convention, 58 percent of voters say Obama is "tough enough," which is up from 48 percent in early August.

    Though Obama has seen his lead grow, there are still areas where he has room to improve. The latest CBS News poll shows no change in the percentage of registered voters who say Obama has prepared himself well enough for the job-- a sentiment in which McCain has held a large advantage. But fewer voters now say Obama is not prepared for the job of President than before the convention.

    Although 50 percent of voters now say that Obama has made it clear what he would do as president (up from 41 percent), 44 percent still say the Democratic nominee has not made it clear.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 5:01 PM  

  • CNN has Obama up by one point; Gallup by six; Rasmussen by three.

    The RealClearPolitics average is 4.5% (before the Democratic convention, it was about 2%).

    By Anonymous The Invisible Hand, at 11:18 PM  

  • I want to wait till her convention speech (or first post-pregnancy speech) before declaring anything about her. The rumours of the past few days, confirmed and not confirmed haven't killed her, they have teed her up to knock this out of the park (she could easily blow it too).

    Clinton's affair with Lewinsky didn't hurt him in the polls, it HELPED him. Indeed, that Juno was a sleeper hit suggests that there is a large audience willing to look at these sorts of issues compassionately.

    As for experience, firstly, it requires a fair degree of cognitive dissonance to say Palin is unqualified to be VP, while Obama is qualified to be president. Palin has been in a business owner, ethics commissioner, city councilor, mayor, and governor for two, relatively productive years. Plus if McCain dies, she will have had some VP experience.

    Obama has been a state senator and a senator (but mostly a presidential candidate). That folks trump up his record reflects that they do fear its thinness.

    Somebody called him a "constitutional expert". Obama was a part-time lecturer, not an expert. He never published an article while at Chicago. He WAS also a lawyer, but in that capacity he tried no cases. His boss did say that he wrote some substantive memos, though.

    I think Obama is really smart, and has been good at surrounding himself with smart people - including some, like Joe Biden, that disagree with him. Obama's more important skill, however, is in bridge-building - politically this manifests itself as annoying equivocation, but Obama is good at getting diverse groups of people to like him - and that is important for getting things done as president.

    John McCain has character and experience. His record suggests that he puts his country first, and a lot of other considerations second. He is a decent man who, contrary to the McBush mantra, has the guts to run against the worst element of his party (something his pick of Sarah Palin reflects).

    Sarah Palin is also politically gutsy, and independent-minded - she has had no qualms about running against the worst elements of her party (the Alaska Republicans eat sponsorship scandals for breakfast). She wasn't a Republican before the mid-90's. The people of Alaska know her best, and approve of her at 80% or so levels. Her decision to keep her child with down syndrome reflect that her cherished beliefs are something she practices. Moreover, her coming from truly modest circumstances (even as governor she made 80,000/year, probably the best job she has ever had) mean that she can better relate to most Americans.

    Each of these candidates has substantial merits (Joe Biden is awesome too). Bill Clinton argued that nobody is really prepared to be president - the question is whether the myriad of strengths a candidate has will make them a good president. Experience isn't irrelevant, but I am not sure whether a minimum bar works that well.

    And for fun... who asked the experience question about:
    -Mitt Romney (4 years as governor)?
    -Tim Kaine (mayor + 2 as governor, same as Palin)?
    -John Edwards (4 years in the senate before he started running for president)

    All of whom were considered serious contenders for Veephood.

    PS: it is pretty clear to me, after day 2 or 3 that Sarah Palin is not a pander to women voters. She is McCain's "I feel your pain" to the working class.

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 10:33 AM  

  • Alaska
    Alberta
    Sarah Palin
    Ralph Klein
    geez even GWB was Gov of Texas

    must be a breeze in an oil producing state/prov

    Danny Williams, dumber than a sack o' hammers?

    By Blogger art, at 2:43 PM  

  • Nicely stated, hosertohoosier.

    The proverbial alien from mars would likely say that expereince is a wash between the two tickets. Pretending that Obama hadn't run for prez and was instead appointed by Hillary Clinton as Vice Prez, but otherwise had not been part of the '08 run, I imagine you'd have lots of people claiming "lack of gravitas" and the such. Palin is a brand new face pushed onto a stage where everyone else has been discussed for seemingly a lifetime (or 16 months, anyway), so for the first couple weeks, she will be the story, sink or swim.

    As for campaign experience, GWB ran some great campaigns in '00 and '04. I'm not sure that leadership translated into a top-notch presidency ;).

    Anyway, it should make for a fun race (more fun than our Dull and Duller campaign, coming soon to a riding near you).

    By Anonymous Cory, at 3:56 PM  

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