Friday, August 29, 2008

Any relation to the guy from Monty Python?

This just floors me.

I'm sorry, folks...I know this is an awful lot of words for one day. And I could be proven wrong in what I'm about to say here anyway, because I'm shooting from the hip. But if McCain's just-announced choice of a running mate isn't a primo example of political cynicism at its worst, I don't know what is. So here, in novice Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, we have a woman (the Hillary vote) who is generally conservative (to pacify those in the GOP who regard McCain himself as too much of a centrist), anti-abortion (this makes the evangelicals happy, though I grant you, it may present some problems with the Hillary crowd), a relative youngster at 44 (to siphon off some portion of the presumed youth vote that is going strongly for Obama) who's in her first term as Alaska Governor (so she hasn't yet been slimed by too much association with heavy-duty Beltway politicking, and thus can claim to be an outsider and even a reformer, just like someone else we know).... Was this really the best person for the job? Or was it the best person to fill in missing corners of a political puzzle?

Now, were there political imperatives behind Obama's choice of Biden? Sure! But the man is eminently qualified to be president in his own right. Probably more qualified than Obama himself.

Sarah Palin?
So let me get this straight: If John McCain is elected and he dies in officenot inconceivable, given that the guy is 107 today (OK, I jest, he's actually only 72)our president is...Sarah Palin? Well, at least I take comfort in the fact that she knows how to name kids. She has five of them, and they respond to Bristol, Willow, Piper, Track, and Trig. I wonder if she's been hanging out with people in Hollywood.

P.S. Wait, again, I'm sorry, you have to excuse me, but I just read that she's married to a Native Eskimo and has one child with Down Syndrome and another who's deploying to Iraq. Let me guess: Her sister was the first Caucasian president of the local chapter of the NAACP, her father, while still in perfect health, donated all of his internal organs to needy children with Sickle Cell anemia, and her mother is Susan G. Komen....

The photo is Sarah, as "Miss Wasilla," 1984. She later served as mayor of that small Alaskan town; that, and a stint as councilwoman, encompasses the bulk of her experience in public service, prior to her becoming Governor. I'll give her this: It'll be better than looking at Dick Cheney for four years.


Jen said...

Either way you look at it, it's going to be a "new America" this time around, once the dye has been cast.

Steve, I'm really enjoying coming to your blog for the latest political news. (I hadn't heard about McCain's choice yet.)

Steve Salerno said...

I'm sorry--I keep apologizing, and I guess I should apologize for that, too--but I just watched the Ohio press conference where McCain introduced her...and...I think "floored" is still the operative word. I should probably shut my mouth and see what evolves over the next few weeks, but at this moment all I can say is, I can't wait for the debates.

Elizabeth said...

Somewhat facetiously here:

Sarah is hot! (No, seriously.) I'm glad she'll be on the Old Troll's side, because looking at him has become a strain for my eyes.

Elizabeth said...

And, McCain's advisers got on their "coincidentally thinking" caps, again: By choosing Palin and announcing his choice Friday morn, McCain steals or at least diminishes the media buzz over Obama's (excellent) speech. The shock over his choice will be no.1 theme in MSM over the weekend and leading to GOP convention.

Steve Salerno said...

I gotta tell ya, I am surprised--well, still shocked, really--at the degree to which this choice is being taken seriously. I just listened to Rush a while (something I still force myself to do, so I always know what the talking points are), and he betrayed no squeamishness whatsoever. In fact, he actually made the case that Palin is more qualified to be prez than Obama is. And so far the vote on AOL's own polls seems to show that most people are reasonably impressed with her. I don't know whether they're impressed with her looks or her platform, but I guess in this culture we can never discount the weight of appearances.

Apropos of which, I give you my wife's initial reaction to Palin (based on a photo that the press has been using a lot today): "She looks like the woman who shows up at a bachelor party dressed like an accountant or a judge or something, and then starts stripping...." No joke.

Tell me if I'm wrong about this, though, Eliz: If I were a woman, and I heard someone in Palin's position say--as she did, referring to Hillary's departure from the race--"It turns out the women of America aren't finished yet"--I would be deeply offended by the implication that my vote can be so cheaply had, merely by the sudden appearance of another candidate who happens to have a vagina. (Sorry, but isn't that pretty much what it comes down to?) So as I said, tell me why I'm wrong, if I am.

Anonymous said...

Question: Is there a reason you chose to feature a photo of the vp nominee that dates back 24 years, taken when she was about 20 years old, and was clearly designed to have people contemplate her appearance, not her intellect? Wondering.

Elizabeth said...

Steve, I consider Palin hot and nice to look at -- now and in her younger days (and I'm a heterosexual woman, btw, exactly her age). I also think she is nice enough and has a charming family. But the fact that she is a woman is not yet a compelling factor to sway my vote.

For one, she is staunchly anti-choice. Her stance on most issues, from what I've gleaned so far, mirrors Bush's. (And she hunts. Sorry. Killing animals for sport is a big turn-off for me, in men and women, as it suggests a glaring deficit in empathy.) So, as blatant as this choice is in terms of wooing women for McCain, it does nothing for me. Having a vagina is not enough. It's the issues that matter. Character too, as it pertains to the choice of one's stance on issues and expression of one's values in general.

I'll be very content looking at Palin on TV (much more so than McCain, to be sure -- I too prefer looking at pretty people), but that's the extent of my delight over Palin (if one can call it delight, that is).

P.S. To say that Palin is better qualified than Obama suggests a serious deficit in intelligence (Rush).

Steve Salerno said...

Let me expand briefly on my comment about the AOL polls. There's a question, "Whose running mate impresses you more?", and at this moment, the answers break down as follows:

McCain's, 52%
Obama's, 48%

Thus far, 336,000 votes have been cast.

I...can't get past that. I just can't. This is a man--Joe Biden--who has given three decades of his life to public service at the highest levels. What on earth could the roughly 175,000 people who've decided they're more "impressed" with Palin possibly be using as criteria?

Steve Salerno said...

Oh, to answer Anon above: Yes, I chose the picture specifically to highlight her looks and her "womanness," because I think that's what this is about, in the end: She's a good-looking woman who adds "glam" to the ticket. (See my wife's comment, too, above.) But as I said in the post itself--I could be proven wrong.

Elizabeth said...

Well, the vice-presidential debate will be interesting, for sure. Though I hope Biden is not too cocky; it's possible Palin may surprise us. She appears fierce and intelligent, if nothing else.

Anonymous said...

Well, it's anon again. Then not much of your commentary on the relentless commentary in the MSM about Obama's appearance makes sense.
Haven't you been asking people to rise above and beyond "looks" and get to the essence of the person to make your choice?
It's okay if people want to focus on Palin's woman-ness in order to pass judgement or fan fears about a women who is heartbeat away or degrade her ability but not for people to focus on Obama's ethnicity? What's the difference? Both are equally irrelevant.

Steve Salerno said...

Eliz, if ferocity and intellect were the operative criteria, there are plenty of people McCain could've picked who also have significant experience in public life. But they're not young and cute, and most of them fail in the one core criterion that--I think--guided this choice. By now you should know what that is. this point I am hoping that Palin will be undone, in the end, by her stance on abortion.

Elizabeth said...

and most of them fail in the one core criterion that--I think--guided this choice. By now you should know what that is.

Vagina? (She asked sweetly, batting her eyelashes with studied innocence.)

Steve Salerno said...

Anon, first of all, I'm going to be blogging very soon about what I think is the heart of the issue here, so that will address your question better than I can here. Or at least it will give you more to go on, in attacking me. ;)

But hey, I basically agree with you. We should ignore looks and ethnicity and all that. That's what we as voters should do. But is that what you think McCain did here? Are you seriously telling me that you think this woman's gender and looks (and youth) had nothing to do with her being on the ticket? Then why is she there? Are you telling me she is--seriously, now--the best veep he could've come up with, qualifications-wise?

I'm showing Sarah Palin for what--in my view, at this juncture--were the chief factors that worked in her favor. She's a woman, she's a pretty woman, she's a young, pretty woman. And there she is, a heartbeat away from the presidency.

Steve Salerno said...

P.S. to Eliz: Well, one assumes she also has secondary sex characteristics.

Elizabeth said...

This from "Time" -- "Why McCain Picked Palin":

She'll be the first woman on a Republican ticket, which the campaign is surely hoping will appeal to Hillary Clinton voters and help reduce Barack Obama's advantage among women.

Repubs just don't get it, do they. They really think that women who favored Hillary for president did so only because she was a woman? And they'll just jump right over to McCain because he selected Palin? Oh dear. I'm sorry, but this is just not only offensive to women, who presumably lack intelligence to discern what is at stake in this election, but, it's also, well, stupid (sorry to be so rude).

As in, "It's the issues, stupid!"

Matt Dick said...

In fact, he actually made the case that Palin is more qualified to be prez than Obama is.

P.S. To say that Palin is better qualified than Obama suggests a serious deficit in intelligence (Rush).

So explain to me the logic underlying that conclusion (it's a serious question, even if I vectored off of your title by quoting Monty Python).

Seriously. Exactly how is Palin less qualified than Obama? I'll tell you how: she's a woman, and a pretty one, and you two are judging her on that criterion. She has been a governor, an executive position, exactly as long as Obama has been a Senator. She worked through various elected positions up to that point, exactly as Obama has done. Her executive experience makes her more objectively qualified than his legislative one.

By all accounts she has been credibly strong, decisive and intelligent in her jobs.

Steve, is she everything you say in terms of the cynical political reality? Indeed she is. Biden is exactly that for Obama. Exactly.

Nothing you've said is an even remotely compelling argument as to why she's less qualified than Obama is. You and Elizabeth have certainly said she is, but you haven't asserted any cogent reasons why.

You've asserted that she is political spackle for McCain. I counter that she is indeed, so what?

You've asserted that she named her children something strange. a non-sequitor.

You've asserted that she's inexperienced. I counter that she has more relevant experience than Obama does.

You've asserted that she's pretty. Another non-sequitor.

You've asserted that Biden is more serious a candidate. I'll give you that he's older. I would argue that being a senator for 35 years is not a qualification to be president, at least it's not an immediate one. Is he more qualified than she is? For addressing foreign policy matters certainly. For being responsible to a budgetary bottom line in an executive capacity, he is most certainly not.

Now comes my big disclaimer--I am voting for Obama/Biden in all likelihood, I just don't like to see emotional reactions masquerading as considered arguments.

Elizabeth said...

Nothing you've said is an even remotely compelling argument as to why she's less qualified than Obama is. You and Elizabeth have certainly said she is, but you haven't asserted any cogent reasons why.

Er... And where have I said that...?

Steve Salerno said...

Take a look at the last two comments before this one. Interesting, isn't it? One person (Eliz) says it's all about the issues, and the other person (Matt) accuses us of ignoring the issues and drawing inferences based on more superficial considerations.

Again, I'll be addressing That Question--How is Obama really any different from Palin?--in an upcoming post. I think everyone is overlooking something important. As for the argument that Biden is no more qualified to be president than someone like, say, Palin... Yanno, sometimes I almost feel like all this talk about "reformers" and "outsiders" has jerked us back to that hippie-era ethic that goes, "Never trust anyone over 30." Are we edging ever closer to declaring that significant Washington experience is now an actual drawback? It's especially funny to me that these arguments pop up on SHAMblog, of all places. Remember one of the key arguments from my book? That you have all these experts-without-portfolio running around claiming to be relationship gurus, and psychic healers, and this-and-that-and-the-other thing. You have Dr. Laura with her misleading doctorate and John Gray with his PhD from some Mongolian correspondence school or wherever he got it, and Dr. Phil, who, by his own admission, was "the worst marital therapist in world history," and who now spends much of his time fixing people's broken marriages.... At some point we have to take a stand on credentials, because once you throw credentials away--once you negate the value of proven experience and track record--then what do you have? Why not, at that point, simply say everyone is qualified to be president? In fact, why not make a case for electing a gang-banger as the next president, since they often have to make life-and-death decisions in high-stress/high-stakes scenarios? How far into rationalization do we really want to descend?

Come on, people. I'm as fed up as anyone with Washington "business as usual," but that doesn't mean you just open up the floor to all comers. Does it?

Anonymous said...

Are you seriously telling me that you think this woman's gender and looks (and youth) had nothing to do with her being on the ticket? Then why is she there? Are you telling me she is--seriously, now--the best veep he could've come up with, qualifications-wise?

Here's my point: absolutely, I think one of the reasons McCain chose Palin was to counter the "business as usual, same old guard" comments coming his way from the Obama campaign. (Just as I believe that one of the reasons Biden is on the democratic ticket is his experience in DC, to counter the "no experience" soundbites coming from the McCain campaign.)

Is she the best he could have chosen, based on her experience? Here's my answer: I have no idea. Like millions of Americans, I never head of her before 11 am today. But why does that mean she's not qualified? Because she's not a national, older, insider, independently wealthy policitican whose own bid for the nomination was thwarted?

I'm okay with that.

Dimension Skipper said...

A couple items re Palin for your consideration...

Palin dissed veep job
by Mike Allen

From's Capital Eye blog:
The Money Behind Palin
by Massie Ritsch and Lindsay Renick Mayer

Matt Dick said...

Er... And where have I said that...?

Perhaps I misunderstood. Didn't you say that asserting that Obama is less qualified than Palin "suggests a serious deficit in intelligence"

If you were quoting someone else and I conflated that, I apologize.

Matt Dick said...

As for the argument that Biden is no more qualified to be president than someone like, say, Palin...

Except to say that I think executive experience is more important in seeking an executive position than a legislative one, I never said Palin was more qualified than Biden. I intimated that she's no less qualified than Obama, but not Biden.

My only real point is that people are painting Palin as an unqualified boob when she has held a major political office for as long as Obama has. I don't think it's clear by any measure than she's a lightweight any more than Obama is. And I am voting for Obama, so I clearly can take the time to look past almost no experience.

And I did open by accusing you of judging her by her gender and looks, and I was being purposefully provocative, mostly in reaction to your clear mistrust of her, when you made no actual arguments.

When you come with an actual argument, I will consider it, and I might even agree with it.

Steve Salerno said...

"When I come with an actual argument"?

Sheesh. Snide, aren't we? Sounds like someone started his Labor Day weekend a tad early. ;)

Elizabeth said...

Matt, I made this comment: To say that Palin is better qualified than Obama suggests a serious deficit in intelligence (Rush).

It was in response to Steve's remark on Rush Limbaugh's words.

I do not think Palin is more qualified than Obama, but it does not mean that I think she is less qualified. I don't think that either.

Additionally, I think that the whole issue of political experience here may be 1. overblown, and 2. taken both ways -- as an asset and liability. And, frankly, none of the other VP candidates on the Repubs side were appealing.

Furthermore, I stated that Dems, and specifically Biden, should not be too confident and gloat over Palin's lack of (foreign affairs but not only) experience. The woman is smart, tough as nails, and apparently well-put together -- and able to learn fast. She may surprise us all. It would be a mistake to underestimate her, IMO.

But still, if McCain chose her thinking that he'll get the women disappointed over Hillary's "demise," then, I think, he was seriously off in judgment (for reasons I already stated earlier).

Elizabeth said...

And, reluctantly, my hat's off to McCain and his handlers: The Democratic convention with the many fine and important speeches is all but forgotten in MSM, where it's now all Palin all the time.

Mike Cane said...

Palin taken seriously? You need to get out and around the Net more, son!

Danielle Quayle
Sarah Meirs
Cheney in a Dress
Quayle with a Ponytail


You can see ongoing Twitter reactions at my blog (where I also do some of that Obama speech).

I think people with some sort of functioning cognitive capacity don't like the idea of a President "Drill Alaska Dry!" Palin.

And then there's also: VPILF

Elizabeth said...

The Wall Street Journal is off and running with Palin. Here is its very important article on her workout regimen and eating habits (I kid you not):

Cosmic Connie said...

Well, Biden is good-looking enough to be in a Viagra commercial. That should count for something.

Anonymous said...

I thought you said the media weren't supposed to sensationalize and be superficial but all you talk about is the woman's looks and even her vagina! I notice you have hypocrisy as one of your tags. You should know about hypocrisy.

Steve Salerno said...

OK. Let's put this to rest right now. This is a blog, folks. You know how you can tell? Because right up there, next to the word "SHAM," which is in all caps, is the word "blog." See? It's that easy.

Yes, I said the news media were not supposed to sensationalize, editorialize or otherwise take sides--and they're not. They certainly shouldn't do it in the guise of presenting straight news. But that doesn't mean no one should editorialize. (And I'm not part of the "news media"--not when I'm writing for the blog, at any rate.) In fact, the very reason that the news is supposed to be presented "straight" is so that the rest of us can make up our minds how we feel without being unduly influenced by the way the facts were couched/presented.

I make no pretense of impartiality here. I try to be a devil's advocate in many areas, but I'm also a person, with--duh--personal feelings, and I'm going to voice them from time to time.

Elizabeth said...

Now that the dust has settled a bit, I gotta do my devil's advocate's duty (and actually side more directly with Matt here).

Steve, you said:
"She's a woman, she's a pretty woman, she's a young, pretty woman. And there she is, a heartbeat away from the presidency."

My questions: So what? And why not? (You are surely not suggesting that a woman, a pretty woman, a young, pretty woman is incapable of being president -- are you? Do you really think that her gender and attractiveness make her somehow less capable? Or is it her youth that bothers you really? If the latter, then note that she is not that young -- she is the age of JFK when he was elected president, and not far from Clinton (in 1993) and Obama now. She has been a successful governor of the largest state in the Union, and she has earned the respect of many for taking unpopular but ethically sound positions on various issues. And, may I add, she has accomplished all this while bearing and raising five children -- that itself speaks of her excellent executive and management skills, if nothing else. This is a unique challenge that, honestly, none of the available candidates could boast about surmounting -- nor would any of them be able to surmount it, of this I'm certain (as a preoccupied mother of only two, and nowhere near governorship of any kind).

So... What exactly do you have against Palin (because it can't be her gender and great looks, can it)? And lack of "experience" is both relative and, as I said previously, can also be an asset.

P.S. The more I learn about her, the more I'm convinced it has been a brilliant choice on McCain's part. Much better than any of the other possible guys contemplated by the pundits until today. Does not mean McCain/Palin get my vote, though. It's still -- and always -- about the issues.

Elizabeth said...

Connie, Biden is good-looking enough for both Viagra and Crest Whitening Strips commercials. To think of it, also for Bosley hair implants. This definitely counts for somethin'.

Cal said...

I also caught some of Limbaugh today and was surprised somewhat to hear him give his approval with no qualms whatsoever. It makes me wonder if partisans on both sides are now asking people to just follow along, without asking questions. I'd bet that even the majority of people who are political junkies know that Alaska had a female governor, much less a Republican one.

The beauty queen picture is striking. I don't know why, but it kind of reminds me of pictures of Delta Burke when she was a beauty contestant. Are the glasses and hair pulled up kind of an "Ugly Betty" look so that people will take her more seriously in politics?

I do think we may be going too far in the opposite direction as far as "experience". I almost can't believe that someone who would have been in high school, albeit ahead of me, could possibly be President. That is, of course, if something unfortunately happened to McCain after he was elected.

If McCain wins, the most striking Democratic female governor if Jennifer Granholm of Michigan. But I believe she can't run for Prez or VP because she was born in Canada.

I give McCain credit, thought. The media is probably scrambling to find something on Palin. That's another problem, when I think of it. Are people going to be elected because we can't find anything negative on them? I don't think everyone can live a wholesome life. Obama tried to say he used drugs, but I remember some of his friends say they don't recall that. Was he trying to get "street cred"?

Steve Salerno said...

Folks, I don't have anything against Palin, per se (though my wife does; I'll be posting on that shortly). I'm just saying that the problem here is that, in my opinion, she was chosen for her gender, youth, and good looks. Those are not "qualities" that should come into play when one is selecting a vice-president. In fact, though my Vanna White post clearly was facetious, I think the same reasoning applied in McCain's actual choice of Palin: "Let's get someone who can out-young, out-cute and out-cool Obama! And let's have her be a girl, too!" I mean, come on; I can think of a half-dozen women presently in Congress who have paid their dues and are more qualified as veeps than is Palin. But they're not young "lookers."

Elizabeth said...

Are the glasses and hair pulled up kind of an "Ugly Betty" look so that people will take her more seriously in politics?


Elizabeth said...

I do think we may be going too far in the opposite direction as far as "experience". I almost can't believe that someone who would have been in high school, albeit ahead of me, could possibly be President. That is, of course, if something unfortunately happened to McCain after he was elected.

Again, she is 44, not 18. Mother of five. Former mayor. Current successful and respected governor of the largest state. Not exactly the first post-adolescent passerby picked by McCain at the local Starbucks.

For age comparisons, look at JFK, Clinton and Obama. For experience, look at the several past presidents only and pray tell on what basis they could be considered so much more qualified for presidency than Palin is for the VP position (and presidency as well, should the need arise).

Please note also that the so-called "experience" (if you mean by it years spent in politics) does not necessarily translate into successful presidency. Again, look at the past presidents for proof.

And, finally, well, look at Bush. Honestly, if Palin were president (and let's keep in mind she is a VP candidate -- yes, I know, I know...), do you really think that she would be worse on the job than W?

RevRon's Rants said...

Steve, I've gotta agree with you wholeheartedly on this one. What Obama lacks in experience, he more than makes up for in the ability to inspire and lead, and I honestly believe, based upon the experience he does have, that his heart is in the right place. We need to keep in mind that a President can manage domestic affairs to a degree, but his (or her) influence in the international community depends more upon leadership and inspiration than upon fiscal management.

On the other hand, we have McSame, who is defiantly adhering to the same ideology and policies that have severely damaged this country on many levels.

In Palin, we have a woman who holds to an ideology that won't win her many women votes, but will endear her to the religious right, whom McCain is trying hard to woo. Palin is admittedly very attractive, but regardless of how feiry she is, she just doesn't have the chops to effectively challenge Biden in a debate about issues he has dealt with for decades. Likewise, I'd hate to think of her pitted against some of the foreign leaders she's likely to deal with, especially if something happened to McCain. The same concerns simply aren't applicable in Biden's case.

If executive management experience is more important than political legislative experience, I would have been a more logical choice than Palin, as I managed an operation with a larger annual budget than the little town of which Palin was mayor. Yet somehow, I was never contacted!

Bottom line is that as I see it, anyone who asserts that she was the most qualified person to take the right seat is talking purely from their partisan agenda, rather than logic or common sense.

RevRon's Rants said...

On a lighter - if equally profound - note, were Gilda Radner alive, I have no doubt her Emily Litella character would have a field day discussing the possibilities afforded by the November erection! :-)

Dimension Skipper said...

I'm still evaluating McCain's Palin pick as well as Obama's Biden pick for that matter. Hey, there's plenty of time—I don't have to decide anything right now.

But of course Biden is more of a known quantity whereas background details about Palin are gonna come fast and furious as the media gets her in their sights. We'll all get to see how she handles the exponentially amped up pressure/exposure.

With "getting to know her" in mind I see has several new articles this morning which I found to be of interest, possibly illuminating a little bit more about Palin and also about McCain and his thinking/strategy in making her his "#1 draft pick"...

The story behind the Palin surprise
By Jonathan Martin

6 things the Palin pick says about McCain
By Jim Vandehei & John F. Harris

Palin, McCain differ on global warming
By Ben Adler & Avi Zenilman

I don't think there are any earth-shattering revelations in there, but it's a start. I'm sure they're just scratching the surface.

Should be interesting to see how things shape up in the next few weeks and especially how it all plays at the GOP convention and in the general convention coverage.

mikecane2008 said...

@RR: See, we can't seem to agree on *anything*. It'd be Roseanne Roseannadanna who'd give the best political commentary, not Litella!

I can just hear the "I thought I was gonna DIE!!!"

RevRon's Rants said...

In this case Mike, I concede that you're right. I got my characters messed up. Must be the mad cow... :-)