US Republican Presidential nominee John McCain has not been the favourite choice of conservatives. He is far from ideal in a number of areas (eg., he is pro-embryo stem cell research; he opposes same-sex marriage but also opposes a federal amendment to ban it; etc) but strong in other areas (national security and foreign affairs, etc). But his choice this weekend of running mate Sarah Palin has a lot of conservatives excited.
They are excited because Palin, a governor from Alaska, is a solid conservative. She is a Christian who opposes same-sex marriages, for example. She is strongly pro-life. She has five children with her husband, one of whom has Down Syndrome. Her doctor advised an abortion, but she refused, and calls her son “perfect”.
Conservatives are also excited because this makes the Presidential race even more close, boosting Republican chances considerably. A female running mate will be a real boost for McCain. Of course this is not the first time a female VP has been chosen (Democrat Geraldine Ferraro ran with Walter Mondale in 1984).
In terms of minorities in the White House, we now have a black (or half-black – his mother is white, his father black) Obama running for President with the Democrats, while we have a female running as a Vice-President for the Republicans. Many Hillary Clinton supporters who are still sore at Obama may well be even further tempted to vote for McCain now that Palin is on the ticket.
Of course the biggest furphy going around is that the 44-year-old Palin is inexperienced. But bear in mind that the 47-year-old Obama is only a first term Senator from Illinois, for heaven’s sakes. McCain certainly has age and experience (he is 72), while Obama had to pick a much older running mate to offer experience (Biden is 65).
Commentator Ken Blackwell offers some reasons why Palin is a good choice, and will boost McCain’s chances: “Senator John McCain’s pick of Mrs. Sarah Palin to be the GOP vice presidential nominee is historic. Coupled with the GOP platform he enthusiastically embraced, Mr. McCain has completely changed the game, and put Senator Barack Obama in a difficult situation.”
He also notes the inexperience charge being made against Palin: “People understand that it’s unfair to compare the presidential candidate of one party with the vice presidential candidate of the other. Mr. Obama’s opponent is Mr. McCain, not Mrs. Palin. It is the president who makes life-or-death decisions for the country. The phone rings at 3 a.m. in the East Wing of the White House, not the Naval Observatory where the vice president resides. It is a disastrous mistake for Mr. Obama to raise the experience issue. Mr. McCain’s experience in national security exceeds Mr. Obama’s by orders of magnitude.”
Moreover, “Mrs. Palin has more executive experience than Mr. Obama. A governor does a lot in two years. And speaking as the former mayor of a major U.S. city, her years as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska are full of executive experience. Is she as experienced as Bill Clinton or Ronald Reagan when they first ran for president? No. But she is more experienced than Mr. Obama.”
“For that matter, Mrs. Palin has more executive experience than the entire Democratic ticket. Her opponent is Mr. Biden, not Mr. Obama. And in all of Mr. Biden’s years legislating, he’s never made an executive decision. Even before he was in public life, he never held a job that required him to make leadership decisions. Between Messrs. Obama and Biden, they’ve never run a corner store, to say nothing of troops. So if I were them I would not want a comparison with the commander-in-chief of the Alaska National Guard, Mrs. Palin, staring across a narrow strait at Vladimir Putin’s Russia.”
He continues, “The nature of Mrs. Palin’s experience is also important. She’s a reformer. She has taken on corruption in her own party, and people are now out of office in Alaska because of her crusade to clean up that state. She even challenged the sitting Republican governor of Alaska, Frank Murkowski, and beat him in the GOP primary to restore integrity to Alaska state government.”
Mark Steyn, political columnist and humourist, also weighs in to the choice of Palin. He offers a number of reasons why she makes a great choice:
“First, Governor Palin is not merely, as Jay describes her, ‘all-American’, but hyper-American. What other country in the developed world produces beauty queens who hunt caribou and serve up a terrific moose stew? As an immigrant, I’m not saying I came to the United States purely to meet chicks like that, but it was certainly high on my list of priorities. And for the gun-totin’ Miss Wasilla then to go on to become Governor while having five kids makes it an even more uniquely American story. Next to her resume, a guy who’s done nothing but serve in the phony-baloney job of ‘community organizer’ and write multiple autobiographies looks like just another creepily self-absorbed lifelong member of the full-time political class that infests every advanced democracy.”
“Second, it can’t be in Senator Obama’s interest for the punditocracy to spend its time arguing about whether the Republicans’ vice-presidential pick is ‘even more’ inexperienced than the Democrats’ presidential one.”
“Third, real people don’t define ‘experience’ as appearing on unwatched Sunday-morning talk shows every week for 35 years and having been around long enough to have got both the War on Terror and the Cold War wrong. . . . Sarah Palin and Barack Obama are more or less the same age, but Governor Palin has run a state and a town and a commercial fishing operation, whereas (to reprise a famous line on the Rev Jackson) Senator Obama ain’t run nothin’ but his mouth. She’s done the stuff he’s merely a poseur about. Post-partisan? She took on her own party’s corrupt political culture directly while Obama was sucking up to Wright and Ayers and being just another get-along Chicago machine pol.”
Not all Republicans are happy with the choice, and it is a risky selection. It definitely remains to be seen how this decision will pan out. But it is certainly going to make for a very interesting contest indeed.