Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sarah Palin: A Bridge to Nowhere

John McCain has really lost the right to proclaim himself a "maverick". I know he's saying that he didn't choose the safe pick when he announced Sarah Palin as his VP on the ticket ahead of Romney, Pawlenty and Ridge. He even went as far to say that this pick was made on his gut, not on the polls. But I've got to call "Bullshit" on this one. The political calculus here is so obvious.

I'm sure that there are many good attributes in Mrs. Palin's favor, but this is the most obvious case of pandering to a number of constituencies, not least of all the disaffected Hillary voters who feel that the Hill-dog got mis-treated in the Democratic primaries. Palin is supposed to be the:

  • Bridge to Women Voters: The ultimate pander. In the wake of Obama's victory over Hillary, McCain did everything he could to court the 18 million people who voted for Hillary. Now he took the 'daring' step to bring a woman onto his ticket as VP. But once these female democratic voters start to see some of Palin's positions -- e.g. hard-core Pro-Life and lifetime NRA member -- I don't think the average 'soccer mom' will connect with this particular 'average hockey mom'.

  • Bridge to the Future: Yeah, McCain is the old guy. He doesn't come across as hip or knowledgeable about any technology invented after 1982. So while people like Bobby Jindal (R-GOV LA) and Tim Pawlenty (R-GOV MN) were in the mix, they had that extra Y chromasome that knocked them out of the running. But Palin's youth and inexperience (2 years as governor of the least populated state and 2 terms of Mayor of a town of 9,000 people; I realize I'm glossing over her run as sports reporter) will blunt McCain's position that Obama is too inexperienced to be President -- especially since at 72, being "one heartbeat away from the presidency" never felt so close

  • Bridge to Conservative Voters: This one he got right. I do not doubt that in the coming weeks you will hear a lot about the truly heart-wrenching story (no sarcasm intended) of her choice to continue with the pregnancy of her son Trig even though she knew he would be born with Down's Syndrome. It was no shocker that Dr. James Dobson was one of the first to praise her selection. And her other positions on gun control (or lack thereof) and offshore drilling will certainly thrill the conservative base.

  • But in the end, she will be a Bridge to Nowhere, much like Senator Ted Stevens' (R-AK) misguided project to build a $350M bridge to connect 4 seals to 3 polar bears.

    Now the upside from the selection for me is that I think the late night talk show hosts should have a lot of good material to work with. There is no doubt that Jon Stewart will comment on Palin's relative hot-ness in the political world. I mean this is the guy that made a joke about spying a Merkel camel toe in a picture at a G-8 meeting. A few other potential jokes I expect to hear (all of which are terrible. read at your own risk. please play mental rim shot in your head at the end):
  • Yes, Sarah Palin is immensely popular in Alaska. She has the caribou vote all wrapped up

  • Sarah Palin will be very comfortable in the White House. After all she grew up in one herself...but it was called an igloo.
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