Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Angles of Attack, pt. 2

We knew this would happen.

We all knew that the Sarah Palin love-fest would come to an abrupt end at some point. All of the well-orchestrated campaign rallies, the fund-raising dinners chock full with obliging donors, the family photo-ops and the adoration heaped upon her by the masses were destined to come to a screeching halt.

That moment we all anticipated has arrived.

After a most difficult three weeks spent in various media interrogations, the bloom has indeed come off of Sarah Palin's rose. Beginning with a mediocre appearance with Charlie Gibson on World New Tonight, Palin has provided something less than star turns in interviews with Sean Hannity (see here and here) and most recently Katie Couric.

As I digest the gristle and bone of these conversations, it occurs to me that Palin has not troubled herself with many - if any - serious thoughts about American foreign policy, the economy, the workings of Washington, D.C. or any of the other matters of which a Vice-Presidential candidate (let alone a sitting VP) would be reasonably expected to have mastery. Doubtless, this is cause for concern.

It has certainly caused Kathleen Parker considerable consternation. In her syndicated column, Parker recently suggested that Palin should "save [John] McCain, her party, and the country she loves" by withdrawing from the Republican ticket.

Palin's recent interviews with Charles Gibson, Sean Hannity, and now Katie Couric have all revealed an attractive, earnest, confident candidate. Who Is Clearly Out Of Her League. No one hates saying that more than I do. Like so many women, I've been pulling for Palin, wishing her the best, hoping she will perform brilliantly. I've also noticed that I watch her interviews with the held breath of an anxious parent, my finger poised over the mute button in case it gets too painful. Unfortunately, it often does. My cringe reflex is exhausted.

Palin filibusters. She repeats words, filling space with deadwood. Cut the verbiage and there's not much content there. Here's but one example of many from her interview with Hannity: "Well, there is a danger in allowing some obsessive partisanship to get into the issue that we’re talking about today. And that’s something that John McCain, too, his track record, proving that he can work both sides of the aisle, he can surpass the partisanship that must be surpassed to deal with an issue like this."

When Couric pointed to polls showing that the financial crisis had boosted Obama's numbers, Palin blustered wordily: "I'm not looking at poll numbers. What I think Americans at the end of the day are going to be able to go back and look at track records and see who’s more apt to be talking about solutions and wishing for and hoping for solutions for some opportunity to change, and who's actually done it?"

If BS were currency, Palin could bail out Wall Street herself.
Parker argues, perhaps with some merit, that for McCain to take the nomination away from Palin himself would cause the electorate to question his ability to make executive decisions. In any event, it is doubtful that either Sarah Palin will withdraw her name or John McCain will rescind his offer. Both are too honorable and/or stubborn to make such a move.

To be sure, Parker's argument has considerable warrant. I suspect that as a conservative female, she
(much like Peggy Noonan before her) is most concerned about the qualifications of a candidate as opposed to the candidate's gender; as much is embedded in the DNA of conservatives. While I can empathize with Parker, it is just as well that neither McCain nor Palin take the step of revoking Palin's nomination.

Journalists, pundits (and bloggers) notwithstanding, the singular job of a politician is to win the next election. And much as conservatives might like to think that our political base does not need to be energized, the Palin pick lit a fire under McCain's theretofore struggling effort and a morbid Republican Party more generally. For all of her shortcomings, Sarah Palin did what a Mitt Romney, a Rudy Giuliani - or for that matter a Kay Bailey Hutchinson - would not have been able to do. She single-handedly brought the McCain campaign back from the abyss.

It should also be observed that throwing Palin overboard would do little to throw the MSM wolf pack off of McCain's scent. No would it do anything to address the collective cognitive dissonance vis-a-vis the relative qualifications of Palin and Barack Obama. As discussed elsewhere,
we note that the Left is quite willing "to have a conversation about experience as long as the argument does not spill over to a discussion of the qualifications of the man atop their ticket."
To be unable to observe that a hypothetically incompetent Sarah Palin laying wreaths at the gravesites of deceased heads of state is better than a similarly inexpert Barack Obama making life or death decisions in the Oval Office speaks to the funhouse mirror optics that blind progressives to their current situation. At the very worst, should McCain become incapacitated or otherwise unable to fulfill his responsibilities, Palin would merely have to implement the policies established by her predecessor(s). With change as his mantra, Obama has no such luxury. Whatever it is that Obama seeks to get done, he has to get decisions right, and do so right from the beginning.
If John McCain hopes to have any chance of winning in November, he must help the electorate see beyond Obama's rhetorical flourish by continuing to hammer at Obama's multiple deficiencies as a candidate. McCain showed himself capable of as much during last week's debate.

Besides, what's the worst that could happen if Palin stays on the ticket? She hasn't misspelled "potato" yet.

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