August 29, 2008 [LINK / comment]
McCain-Palin: a winning team
I recently wrote that "An ideal vice president for McCain would have strong conservative credentials and appeal to non-traditional GOP constituencies such as women and minorities," and Alaska Governor Sarah Palin fits that description to a T. She is exactly the kind of "unexpected choice" that (as I suggested) McCain needed to make to retake the momentum from Obama.
The announcement ceremony in Dayton, Ohio was a little odd, I thought, especially the high school cheerleaders. But when Gov. Palin finally arrived [and] stepped up to the podium, she left no doubt that she is up to the big challenge laid before her. Sen. McCain praised her "grit and integrity and devotion to the common good that is exactly what we need in Washington today." (See foxnews.com.) It's exactly the kind of emphasis I am looking for in a presidential ticket: a strong devotion to a market-oriented, honest reform agenda. The fact that she opposed the Federal money sought by (indicted) Sen. Ted Stevens for the "bridge to nowhere" (actually located in a different part of Alaska) and bucked the state Republican Party establishment in her campaign to become governor are very impressive credentials for me. She is clearly determined to resist corruption wherever she sees it, and given the weak legacy of the Bush administration in that regard, it's another big plus for McCain.
As for her personal characteristics, Gov. Palin seems to be a dream candidate for the Conservative Base: mother of five (one of whom is headed off to Iraq as part of the Army National Guard), gun-toting NRA member, anti-abortion advocate, and with a solid record of opposing tax hikes. Those aren't necessarily my main criteria for choosing a candidate, but if they can help round up enough votes to win the election, it's fine with me.
McCain made a great choice in terms of political calculations, but we still need to probe into Governor Palin's qualifications to be chief executive. Barack Obama's campaign staff was caught off guard and released a harsh and tacky statement belittling Gov. Palin's background as the mayor of a small town -- Wasilla, pop. 8,500, located just north of Anchorage. (They should have asked musician-activist John Mellencamp before insulting the "demographically challenged" portion of the electorate!) As a sitting governor, nevertheless, she already possesses more executive experience than Barack Obama or Joe Biden ever had! She is obviously very bright, energetic, and resourceful, and will have no problem mastering the nuances of diplomacy and strategic affairs in the coming months.
On the other hand, McCain may have exposed himself to criticism that his Veep choice was too focused on the election, as opposed to who is best equipped to serve in the White House. Perhaps, but that probably won't weigh too heavily on most voters' minds. It has come to be expected. Ironically, Palin may not attract many women supporters, especially since she is on the opposite side of Hillary Clinton on most of the issues. On WHSV-TV3, JMU Prof. Bob Roberts made the interesting point that the benefit to McCain from Palin depends on how many additional voters Barack Obama can get registered this fall. If Obama gets as many new people registered as he plans, Roberts thinks that Palin will actually hurt McCain. We shall see...
Did I mention that Gov. Palin is quite a babe? Take that, you charisma-obsessed Democrats! Images aside, the contrast to the status quo big-government liberalism espoused by Obama and Biden, versus the alternative limited government, freedom-oriented approach of McCain and Palin, could not be stronger. The choice of Governor Sarah Palin as vice presidential nominee today was great news for Republicans as they get ready for the Convention in St. Paul, and for the fall campaign...
Obama's big speech
I have to give credit to Barack Obama for meeting his own high speech-making standards last night. Like Hillary Clinton two nights before, he said all the key things he needed to say to reassure his own core supporters and ease the fears and suspicions of fence-sitting voters. The Washington Post
Obama was a little fuzzy on the details about how he would pay for all of these wonderful benefits he promised, however, and of course he had to be. Raising additional revenues by closing tax loopholes and streamlining the Federal bureaucracy? Those are two of the lamest, most shopworn budgetary solutions politicians have ever come up with, and I was surprised he didn't try harder to bridge the obvious gap between what he desires and what he can plausibly deliver. It reminds me of the air-headed agenda of Jimmy Carter in 1977, which accomplished virtually nothing. Even if Obama were successful with those token belt-tightening measures, they would probably raise only a small fraction of the needed funds. Frankly, hardly anyone seriously thinks he could do all those things without an enormous tax increase.