Saturday, August 30, 2008

On Sarah Palin

The irreplaceable Billmon, (now back at Kos after far too long an absence) weighs in on the Republican nomination of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as John McCain's running mate:

...McCain has picked a 44-year-old ex-mayor, with a grand total of two years of gubernatorial experience, in a state with a population of less than 700,000 (and a sane population that's quite a bit smaller than that) and wants the voters to put her the proverbial heartbeat away from the presidency.

This doesn't exactly jibe with McCain's brand image as the candidate who will keep America "safe" -- not for a 72-year old man who's had repeated bouts with skin cancer.
Whether and when and how the Obama campaign decides to "go at" Palin will be an interesting test of their political instincts and their skill with the propaganda knife. Can they define and demolish her without turning into the bullies, picking on a delicate flower of Caucasian Christian womanhood? Or will they just let Sarah be Sarah, and see what falls out of the Alaskan corruption and craziness tree? Stay tuned.

But, the politics of it aside, by picking a woman as his running mate McCain has performed at least one service: He's made it possible to precisely calibrate just how far behind the curve of history the Republicans really are -- and it's 24 years, the exact length of time since the Democrats put the first woman on a presidential ticket.

John McCain: the Republican answer to Walter Mondale.

I definitely like the ring of that.

For my part, I think the Palin nomination, while truly cynical and almost desperately pandering, should not be underestimated.

It will change the narrative of the coming Presidential election.

By implicitly embracing themes of gender equality and generational renewal, the McCain-Palin ticket is now well-positioned to credibly speak from the right - the very far right, apparently - in the progressive dialogue that began in the Clinton-Obama primary race.

And while the McCain camp has, with this nomination, absolutely sucked any remaining utility from its own argument that Barack Obama lacks the experience to lead, that ill-formed posture probably didn't have winning legs, in any event.

It would have been difficult before the Palin announcement to imagine any John McCain-led Republican ticket as presenting even an arguable alternative for modernity and change. The Palin nomination has at very least accomplished that incredible feat.

As a result, "four more years of the last eight years" will probably no longer cut it as the Democratic campaign mantra. (That's probably a good thing - if the polls are accurate, it certainly hasn't been resonating with the electorate)

But let's face it, while Governor Sarah Palin may be many things...

She sure is no Dick Cheney.

And that's a change even I can embrace.

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto

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