Everyone else has commented on Sarah Palin, the surprise VP pick of John McCain, so I might as well throw down my thoughts.
In several ways, she is a very clever tactical pick for him:
- The Republican base loves her
- Picking a woman reestablishes McCain’s maverick reputation
- And makes a blatant play for the disaffected Hillary Clinton supporters
- She is a fresh new face, a Washington outsider, so McCain can play the change card
On the other hand, her selection completely eviscerates the McCain argument against Obama that seemed to be working best: that he is too inexperienced to be president. Palin’s dearth of experience makes Obama seem like a wizened old man. Mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, population 8,471, leading to a couple of years as governor of a state with population: grizzly bears. Seriously, Alaska has a population of 670,000, which is smaller than San Francisco, where I live, and nobody is suggesting that our mayor Gavin Newsom is qualified to be president (and that’s not just because he is a marginally competent pretty-boy tool).
Republican supporters are talking up Palin’s “executive experience,” but that is as moronic as Fox News’ claim that she has international experience because Alaska is near Russia. Does anybody really think that being an “executive” is that much different than running a Senate office? That’s like saying your marketing VP isn’t qualified to be CEO because she hasn’t run a whole company even though VPs of marketing make great CEOs all the time.
Most Hillary Clinton supporters I have seen interviewed have been insulted by the concept that they will get behind Palin just because she is a woman. However, the hard core PUMAs, who I have queried before, seem mixed. Which is moderately crazy, given that Palin supports none of the causes that Hillary does, and is especially conservative on the traditionally feminist causes.
Finally, I reckon I should comment on the new controversy, about whether Palin will have time to be VP and to be a good mother, and whether it’s sexist to even bring it up. She is the one who positioned herself as a “family values” candidate, so I feel like her family values are fair game. I should also note that having five kids, one an infant with Down’s syndrome, is a lot of work, for both the mother and the father. As I told my friend Catalina, when feminists say “nobody questions whether Obama can manage being president and being a father,” I have to reply that Obama has only two children, both healthy. That being said, there is no question that our society has higher expectations of mothers than of fathers, and it’s entirely likely that if Todd Palin were the VP candidate, nobody would be questioning his ability to manage.