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Friday, July 18, 2008

"Most popular politician in the country," a hockey mom from Alaska, is indeed in "the realm of the possible" as McCain's Veep choice

It's not quite all-Palin all-the-time at BeldarBlog, but I'll forgive you if you draw that conclusion. I'm as hungry for inspiration as anyone else who's planning on voting for McCain next fall, so the natural subject on which to seek inspiration is his pending choice of a running mate.

Apropos of which,  from today's WaPo Politics Blog, "The Fix," comes this analysis as part of the Friday Veepstakes Line:

McCain's choice is whether to throw a "short pass" or a "Hail Mary."

The short pass candidates are people that McCain is personally close to or would fit an obvious need for him. Choosing a "short pass" candidate would be a signal that McCain believes he can win this race without fundamentally altering its current dynamic. Among the "short pass" names are: Govs. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota and Charlie Crist of Florida, former governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, former Rep. Rob Portman of Ohio and South Dakota Sen. John Thune.

The "Hail Mary" option would suggest that McCain believes that he has to shake up the race with an entirely unexpected and unorthodox choice that would carry great reward and great risk. It's the opposite of a safe pick. Among that group: Govs. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Sarah Palin of Alaska.

Columnist/blogger Chris Cillizza goes on to handicap both the Veepstake races thusly (with each number one ranking representing his view of the current most likely pick):

DEMs: (5) Hillary. (4) Slow Joe Biden (D-DE). (3) Sen. Jack Reed. (Who? Oh, yeah, the senior senator from Rhode Island, who's accompanying The Chosen One and erstwhile GOP straight man/clown Chuck Hagel to Iraq and Afghanistan.) (2) Gov. Tim Kaine (D-VA). (1) Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) (my Dem Veep-nominee prediction from last year).

GOP: (5) Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (yay!). (4) Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.). (3) Former Rep. Rob Portman (R-OH). (2) Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN). (1) Former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA).

Gov. Sarah Palin, with daughter Piper and infant son Trig, meet Mayor Edward Itta in Barrow, Alaska, on the last day of the annual whaling festival

Further on Gov. Palin, who's new to his lists this week, Cillizza writes (boldface mine):

Palin's name doesn't appear on many vice presidential lists but if you believe that McCain needs to make a totally out of the box choice, she fits the bill. Palin, elected in 2006 on a reform platform, may well be the most popular politician in the country, and her story — former high school basketball star and beauty queen, mother of five including a newborn with Down's Syndrome — is the sort of narrative American voters could fall in love with. Plus, picking Palin would send a message to disaffected Democratic-leaning women that McCain is paying more than lip service to the notion of changing the face of the Republican party. (Previous ranking: N/A)

The main problem I have with Cillizza's analysis is the "Hail Mary" metaphor — a sports analogy that refers to a game-ending play required by desperate circumstances, and hence a play that actually is quite predictable. I agree that McCain has to "shake up the race," and that he "can[not] win this race without fundamentally altering its current dynamic," but I don't agree that choosing Gov. Palin would carry "great risk." Instead:

  • Where she's objectively weak — lack of decades of experience, lack of foreign policy experience — McCain himself is overwhelmingly strong already.

  • Where they dove-tail — as fiscal conservatives, and as self-styled reformers and mavericks unafraid to take on established interests within their own party — they're likely to find very receptive audiences. By pairing her own record with his, they would have a powerful rebuttal to the "McSame" label that Obama needs to pin on McCain.

  • Where he's objectively weak — lack of executive experience (running something larger than his own campaign or a naval aviation squadron), lack of trust among movement conservatives, and most of all, lack of excitement to counter Obamamania — Palin is objectively strong.

McCain doesn't need a gravitas transfusion, and he can certainly hold up his end on foreign policy. On those counts, McCain himself can outmatch both Obama and whatever reassuring figure Obama picks as his own Veep nominee. But McCain desperately needs a connection to both younger and more jaded voters who are likely to simply tune him and his entire campaign out altogether — regardless of its policy content or his personal character. And Gov. Palin could and should become their joint campaign's voice — an overwhelming positive, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable voice, from a personal background that both figuratively and quite literally represents the future — on what's likely to be the number one domestic issue this November: the price at nations' gas pumps in particular, and its energy policy in general.

I'm glad that MSM outlets like the WaPo are adding to the Palin buzz, as is my home-state senator John Cornyn (who recently included a Palin op-ed on energy and ANWR on his own campaign blog). But I'm even more heartened to see that Gov. Palin is shown aboard the McCain campaign bus, amidst other speculated GOP Veep nominees, in JibJab's new video, Time for Some Campaignin'. (I also love Obama riding the pretty unicorn over the Rainbow of Change.)

Jibjab's GOP Veep candidates (L to R): Ridge, Pawlenty, Jindal, Crist, Romney, Lieberman, and Fiorina

When asked about her Veep prospects last week at the National Governors' Association convention, Gov. Palin didn't exactly deny that she's received inquiries from the McCain campaign, but she brushed off the reporter's inquiries with a rhetorical question (ellipsis in original):

AK Gov. Sarah Palin (R): “I can’t say that I’m on the short list. They, the officials in the campaign, haven’t told me I’m on any short list. … I really doubt that such a thing would happen. Gotta keep this in perspective: I’m a hockey mom from Alaska. Do you really think that it is even in the realm of possibility?”

Palin also says she invited McCain to visit ANWR.

Not all long bombs are Hail Marys, where your best hope is a prayer and a lot of luck. Sometimes you throw the bomb, the unexpected and unconventional long pass, all the way down the field even when it's not the fourth quarter and even if you're not behind. Sometimes you do it precisely because it's unexpected, maybe on a first-down from mid-field in the second quarter, because you believe it's the best way to score. Picking Palin would not be desperate politics; rather, in this context, for this campaign, it would be smart and aggressive politics.

McCain picking Palin is indeed in the realm of the possible. But better yet, it's in the realm of the genuinely inspirational.

Posted by Beldar at 09:27 PM in 2008 Election, McCain, Obama, Palin, Politics (2008) | Permalink


Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to "Most popular politician in the country," a hockey mom from Alaska, is indeed in "the realm of the possible" as McCain's Veep choice and sent a trackback ping are listed here:

» Yay! It's Palin! from BeldarBlog

Tracked on Aug 29, 2008 11:44:58 AM

» Non-scandal involving Gov. Palin: Even though he's an admitted child-abuser who Tasered his own step-son and used a deadly weapon to break the law, Trooper Wooten still has a job from BeldarBlog

Tracked on Aug 29, 2008 2:03:00 PM


(1) Ted made the following comment | Jul 18, 2008 10:19:31 PM | Permalink

I'll go one step further and say that Palin, in fact, is THE SAFEST CHOICE for McCain (assuming "safe" means likelihood of winning the general election).

And on a more personal note, I wish McCain would simply name Palin already SO THE FUN COULD BEGIN!!!

(2) Lola LB made the following comment | Jul 19, 2008 5:48:28 AM | Permalink

What about Michael Steele? I think he should be on the list - he's solidly conservative, has experience running an administration (although as a Lt. Governor), is a very good spokesman. And he's way, way more qualified than Obama.

(3) Donna B. made the following comment | Jul 19, 2008 3:50:08 PM | Permalink

Lola, you and I are more qualified than Obama!

I would love to see Palin as the VP choice. And I think McCain should announce that NOW.

(4) Gregory Koster made the following comment | Jul 19, 2008 4:51:12 PM | Permalink

Dear Mr. Dyer: The symbolism of Geo. W. standing in front of a bus labeled STRAIGHT TALK EXPRESS, with all the prospective veep candidates looking out the window to see McC run him down is too ironic...Intrade does not agree with you on gas issue this November. If you examine the contracts on the price of light sweet crude at the end of 2008, you will see lots of opinions that the price of light sweet crude is going to fall from today's level. The connection between gas prices and crude prices isn't perfect, but it is strong. You can see the Intrade prices here if I've made this link right.

Your larger point about energy policy is strong, but I think Obama will double down and demonize Big Oil, howling that Alternative Energy Will Save Us. McC has not been great as a counterpuncher (though his shot at Obama's trip to Afghanistan wasn't bad), so I repeat: McC has to make this a foreign policy election to win. High energy prices would be part of this of course.

Sincerely yours,
Gregory Koster

(5) Gregory Koster made the following comment | Jul 19, 2008 4:52:40 PM | Permalink

Dam. I didn't make the link right. So here it is:


Back to HTML books.

Gregory Koster

(6) DRJ made the following comment | Jul 19, 2008 10:31:48 PM | Permalink

If Beldar is the founder of the "Texans for Palin" club, you can sign me up, too.

(7) Sam D made the following comment | Jul 20, 2008 3:40:26 AM | Permalink

Folks..you need to go to www.andrewhalcro.com to see what our Governor Palin has been up to. Her political career is all but over. She has been caught in many lies in the last few days. Read for yourself.

(8) nk made the following comment | Jul 20, 2008 5:32:52 AM | Permalink

Has there ever been a Governor who stepped down to become Vice-President? What did Julius Caesar say? "Better first in the meanest village in Gaul than second in Rome"?

(9) Beldar made the following comment | Jul 21, 2008 12:39:06 AM | Permalink

Sam D: Halcro, who runs a rental-car business, is a colorful crank who placed a distant third in the gubernatorial election that Palin won. He's devoted his life since then to trying to discredit her; her constituents see through it.

I take it you're referring to the possibility that she and members of her family may somehow acted improperly — through a complaint she filed before she was governor and through later expressions of disapproval and concern when she was briefing the head of her gubernatorial security detail — in the firing of the boss of an Alaska state trooper, Mike Wooten, who was previously married to Palin's sister. In response to the complaint, Wooten was found in 2005 to have shot a moose illegally and to have used his Taser on his own ten-year-old stepson, "just to show him what it would feel like to be Tasered." (To work up a righteous furor over this, the Left will be obliged to pivot from its stance in the Andrew Meyer Tasering incident at the John Kerry speech in Florida last year, and to instead wear "Please Tase Me, Dad!" tee-shirts.) The trooper apparently was also photographed by the governor's husband while riding a snowmobile while off work on a worker's compensation claim for a supposed back injury, and the governor has reported that he's made death threats against her and her father. The trooper's boss who Palin later replaced when she became governor, Walt Monegan, had reduced Wooten's suspension without pay from ten days to down to five, and Wooten is in fact still on the force, a time bomb continuing to tick away. Palin has denied that there is any connection between Wooten's status and her replacement of Monegan, however, whose position is an appointed one that serves "at the pleasure" of the governor.

Yeah, I've been following that story in the Alaska press, but I previously chose not to dignify Halcro with a mention here, much less a link to his blog. Nevertheless, if that's the best opposition research anyone can come up with for Sarah Barracuda, I'd say that's a pretty good sign she can pass the McCain team's, and the American public's, vetting too.

I don't know whether there was an even subconscious connection between Wooten's misdeeds and Monagen's dismissal, but I've written before that Sarah Palin is popular in Alaska despite having some sharp elbows. Her victims include some Republican politicians who are now doing well-deserved prison time for influence peddling. The fact is that some people deserve a sharp blow from a sharp elbow. Sometimes those who enable and cover up for such people also deserve a sharp blow from a sharp elbow. So bring me someone with a Palin-elbow-shaped bruise who clearly didn't deserve it, and then you might have something interesting.

Halcro, by contrast, has invested himself in promoting a child-abusing bully with a proved record of misusing deadly firearms while an officer of the law — which I think tells you all you need to know about Halcro too.

(10) Michael Brophy made the following comment | Jul 22, 2008 7:23:23 PM | Permalink

Her use of the Alaska oil fund struck me as somewhat socialistic, but, heh, we need somebody, per NRO online whch GlennR linked to a day ago, who can fire up part of the Hillary target audience and she may be just the gal. Romney is probably pretty good on economics but seems like was it Shakespeare's Richard III. I really would prefer somebody really solid on economics like L. Summers, the feminist icon.

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