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That's a wrap

Well, and that’s the end of the convention. I have to say, it was a tremendous convention, the sort of convention people in the business will be talking about for some time. Barack Obama seems to know how to hire the right people, which isn’t a bad qualification in itself. I’m not talking about the speakers, of course, although I like them, but the event staff; there are now enough events in the country that there’s no excuse for trying to hold a national political convention on the cheap with amateurs. Lots of Dems complained, over Our Only President’s first term, about how rigidly he controlled his image—all those backdrops, the careful placement of the podium to make sure that the lights and the background were just right. I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s no great virtue in being incompetent at that sort of thing. It would be good for a President to have some time outside the bubble, to incorporate a certain amount of improvisation in the carefully controlled image factory, but it also would be good to have a President who knows that a bad image is a bad thing, and makes a difference in the end.

And the key thing is this: The Republican party has to work really hard not to look like pishers next week. They don’t have a lot of star power, and there is no way they can get eighty-thousand people into the tent. Unless I miss my guess (which happens a lot), any mistakes or glitches in the running of the show will be harped on by the sort of puerile pundits that are looking for easy insights. It’s easy enough to make comparisons between the music and lights, between the security lines, between the Tele-Prompt-R handling and the cheers of the crowds of the two conventions. Comparing the two policy platforms is takes work, intelligence and knowledge, and comparing the abilities, priorities and temperaments of the two candidates takes wisdom, experience and insight. Comparing the confetti just takes a mouth and a hindbrain. It’s nice, for once, to come out on the good side of the easy comparisons.

I will, however, say that if the rumors turn out to be true, and John McCain will pick Sarah Palin to run with him, it’s a startlingly good pick, on the theater of it. On first glance, I don’t dislike her any more than I would dislike any Republican with enough experience to be chosen. And there is just the slightest possibility that such a choice will convince people that John McCain does after all “get it”, that the times they are a-changin’.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,


Palin should certainly reassure the Republican base: pro-life and impossible to criticize on that, supports teaching creationism, and deeply tied to the oil and gas industries. And with zero national experience or international experience, she won't seem threatening to the media misogynists the way that Hillary did.

To me, her explicit desire to piggyback on Hillary's hard work over the past year is cheap and repugnant. But I worry that it will work. Especially if the left wing, which will be hunting through her non-existent record looking for something to criticize, resorts to cheap shots that are based on, or even read like, sexism.

Oh, I don't like her, but then I would dislike any Republican vice-presidential choice. I'm a Democrat. I disagree with the Republican platform, and I'm going to disagree with anybody who endorses it or associates herself with it. I will say that Gov. Palin is not one of Our Only President's cabal of incompetents and crooks, and that's a good thing, whether it's a cynical political move or not. And speaking of cynicism, if it took cynicism to finally get another woman onto a national ticket after twenty-four years, well, that's what James Madison was on about, isn't it?

And speaking of cheap shots, I do hope that left blogovia will back away from its initial dismissal of her achievements. She was elected Governor of a state. That's quite an achievement. She stopped the Road to Nowhere, and that's something that none of the Republican in Washington, nor any of the Democrats either, had been able to do. Yes, she is young and in her first term as Governor, and she doesn't have a record as long as some—well, as long as any V.P. pick in recent history. But that doesn't mean she has no record, or that we don't have enough to look at her judgment and her abilities, her policies and her priorities.

And, as you begin with, her policies and priorities are clear. Aside from anything else, she is supporting John McCain, and that speaks to judgment in itself. Her youth doesn't mean that she is incapable of serving or of serving well. Her Party affiliation does that.


My short take would be that Palin is a pick that doesn't immediatley and significantly weaken McCain's position, as would just about anybody else who was in the running. So from a strategic perspective, I think it has to be considered a shrewd choice, given the options available. Since she is truly untested on anything like a national stage, it's quite possible that she won't end up helping McCain's candidacy. We'll just have to see.

Her _youth_ is not a legitimate campaign issue; her experience is, I think. Yes, Alaska is a state, and it has a lot of land, but its population is approximately 670,000, and its economy is driven by resource extraction and tourism. Particularly since she has lived outside of Alaska only during her college years (spent in Idaho), I think it is quite legitimate to ask whether she is ready to govern a nation, which would entail grasp of a variety of policy issues that are largely absent from the Alaskan political scene.

It's certainly legitimate to ask whether she is ready to govern the nation. I do think that it's wrong to dismiss her gubernatorial experience because of the low population of Alaska. Alaska has full statehood, and its governor is a legitimate governor. The fact that she has less than a full term's experience is fair to bring up, as is her somewhat (but not entirely) small-time experience before winning the Governorship. As is her seemingly total lack of experience (or interest, evidently) in foreign affairs. It seems obvious to me that there are two or three jobs that Sen. Obama would be able to give Sen. Biden off the bat (mostly Legislative liaison, getting the cabinet together and confirmed), but it isn't obvious what jobs Sen. McCain would be able to give Gov. Palin. Something to do with energy policy, I suppose. Shudder.

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