The Horrendous Mistake That Is Sarah Palin

In one of its most recent ad drops, the Obama campaign deals with Sarah Palin’s selection as running mate just about perfectly:


I believe I have made the observation several times in the past that one of the key reasons why Barack Obama is now the Democratic party’s nominee is because he plays chess while everyone else around him plays checkers.  Perhaps the single best illustration of this fact can be found in the Politico’s multi-part piece, “Relentless”.

What we saw in the grueling primary battle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton was a situation in which two candidates were playing two completely different games; while Clinton was expecting to win the nomination according to conventional methods of building a head of momentum and using it to drive out the competition, Team Obama was already building contingency plans and charting multiple courses to victory.

Chess and checkers.

It would seem that McCain has fallen into the same trap, and the selection of Sarah Palin would only seem to confirm that.

Through the bulk of the summer, the Obama campaign was silent, causing many to worry as John McCain took the opportunity to launch frequent assaults on Obama.  The primary hand wringing from the left and the doom-filled soothsaying of the media led one to believe that Obama was getting defined by McCain, and making a serious mistake.  This narrative actually continued into the convention itself with many criticizing the Democratic party for playing too soft on the first two days.

When it would be all said and done, however, the Democratic convention would be described as nearly pitch perfect, with Obama’s speech alone drawing a record viewership of 38 million (not including households that watch on PBS.  PBS has said that their viewership likely adds a couple more million to the final tally).  Further, for all the navel gazing, the Obama Campaign did come out of their convention with a sizable bump that was at nine points at its highest.

It is believed in many circles that it was the success of Obama’s convention that was a factor that forced McCain’s hand in selecting Sarah Palin as his running mate; a decision that may prove disastrous.

Initially it was believed that Palin was an obvious ploy for Clinton supporters, but if that was ever the case (and I do believe that it partly was), it turned out to be a major failure–the Obamas and the Clintons having made major moves to bring Clinton supporters back into the fold during the convention.  On top of that, based on anecdotal evidence mostly but a whole lot of it, if anything Palin’s selection only seemed to energize former Clinton supporters and feminists for Obama; Palin’s selection being a cynical and sexist move that insults women to think they will vote for any woman without first examining her qualifications.

And this is about where we get into McCain playing checkers, because examining her qualifications is exactly what he and his team didn’t do.  From potentially scandalous family affairs to an actual ongoing investigation as to whether Sarah Palin abused her powers as governor of Alaska, to a comically untested foreign policy record, McCain picked someone who is only now being vetted after the media and the blogosphere has already smelled blood in the water.

This has put Republicans back on their heels as they attempt are forced to defend against not only the doubtful baby saga that has filled the internets over the weekend, but also Palin’s past love for pork that she now claims to be against, her role in a secessionist group in Alaska, and what is to me perhaps the most important, troopergate. Of course, there is much much more.

Why would McCain do this?  Two principal reasons; energize the religious right, and disrupt Obama’s post convention momentum by sucking all the air out of the news cycle with Palin’s selection.

On the first reason, Palin’s looking to be a success, but to what end will that translate in the polls?  The Religious Right’s strength is its ground game, but this is where I think they may be neutralized given that Barack Obama has put together the single most impressive and mobilized ground game in politics.  Case in point, Obama is currently far better deployed in rural America and small town America than McCain ever will be.

Much as the Democratic primary went, John McCain is only now tapping into Christian fundamentalists, but Obama has already had mechanisms in place to minimize their impact ages ago.

On the second front, the one about sucking the air out of Obama’s convention bounce, current polling still indicates that Obama is riding his post convention bounce.  Yes, the media spotlight was swiftly taken away from him, but I’m not sure if this is the effect that I would want to see.

Up until now, this election has been about Barack Obama.  The onus was upon him and his campaign to define himself despite a vigorous right wing smear machine and a critical media.  Now it’s about Sarah Palin.  In effect, McCain has put up a lightning rod that benefits Obama.

This week, while the Republicans spend much of their time attempting to define Obama in a negative light, the real story will be on whether or not Palin is actually qualified to be his running mate.  But here’s the thing, pass or fail, and right now let’s not kid ourselves, she is failing according to everyone who isn’t a die hard Republican, there’s a simple fact that it would seem John McCain forgot.

People vote for the top of the ticket, not the number two spot.  Eventually this election will come back down to whether or not McCain or Obama is more qualified to be the President of the United States, and in selecting Palin, McCain robbed himself of the chief critique he had against his opponent; lack of experience.

By contrast, Obama’s primary challenges to a McCain presidency, lack of judgment and (as the ad above points out) McCain would be a carbon copy of the Bush presidency, are not only left untouched, but actually bolstered by the Palin selection.

I discussed judgment over the weekend, but when it comes to being more of the same, it just doesn’t get better than Palin.  A hard right Christian fundie, Palin not only exhibits significantly less experience than George W. Bush did before he took office, her alleged abuses of power as Alaska’s Governor indicate a definite Cheney streak running through her as well.

While I appreciate Jeralyn’s enthusiasm in suggesting that Governor Palin will not make it to the actual ballot this November, I can’t agree that it would ever happen.  The only mistake that John McCain could make that would be bigger than picking Sarah Palin would be to allow her to leave the ticket.

It’s his mess now, and he has to live with it.

(edited by DrGail)

6 Responses to “The Horrendous Mistake That Is Sarah Palin”

  1. Citation says:

    I am one of those former Clinton supporters who was still dragging her feet up until the Palin selection. What Palin did for us was to jolt us into realizing the stark contrast between the Democratic and Republican platforms.

    I mean do we want–a creationist, an anti-choice bring-back-the-coat hangers person, an advocate of drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge–to be possibly our next president??? Do we want to go back to the Dark Ages?

    This was a colossal mistake on McCain’s part. Had he chosen Pawlenty, Lieberman, Ridge or even Romney (his notorious flip flops help him keep the “vagueness” factor going), he could have passed muster with a lot of Clinton supporters. He didn’t need to “consolidate” the conservative base, because they would have voted for him anyway–I mean would they have ever considered staying home or voting for the most liberal and 3rd most liberal senators?

    McCain is TOAST.

  2. nikki says:

    “I mean do we want–a creationist, an anti-choice bring-back-the-coat hangers person, an advocate of drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge–to be possibly our next president?”

    Well, frankly, yes. Creation, intelligent design, quantum physics, and Darwin’s theory of evolution are all just that: theories. All have credible and accredited scientists that support them. And none have been disproven–only disputed. It is plainly fascism that the schools censor information to the degree that students graduate with no information about any theory other than Darwin’s.

    What a strange euphemism for pro-life–anti choice? There are certainly choices other than abortion–adoption, leave the baby at a hospital or police station, keep the baby. The only choice that kills someone is abortion. Perhaps the choice of allowing an innocent child to have a chance and the risks of a back alley abortion would have more women make a choice that does not place their own personal selfish convenience as a priority over the life of someone who might potentially grow up to cure cancer.

    And as for ANWR, have you read about it? Check out You will learn that 1.5 million acress–that’s 7.9% of the 19 million acres–is open for discussion as far as drilling. You will also learn that there are housing, schools, stores, boats, an airstrip, power lines and a variety of other modern-day facilities, including an oil well there already. The U.S. military’s Barter Island Distant Early Warning System radar site is also on the shoreline. Turns out that most of the residents favor drilling, as do more than 70 percent of Alaskans.

    Concerned about animals? The environment? Well, reading on, you will find that the coastal plain is distinct from the rest of the ANWR as it is not part of the hills and mountains of the Brooks Range, where the environmentalists take their beautiful photos. It is a flat, treeless, almost featureless plain in northeastern Alaska. Few animals can thrive in those temperatures. In fact, only five species of birds, some polar bears (who den on the Beaufort Sea pack ice) and lemmings (who burrow beneath the snow-pack) remain during the winter months. This increases the bird count and brings back the arctic fox and, most significantly, the Porcupine caribou. While only a portion of the caribou herd shows up each year, yhe caribou travel to the coastal plain from Canada, passing near 89 dry wells drilled by the Canadian government and crossing Canada’s Dempster Highway–all of which seems to be development that does not hinder theirmigration or survival. The Central Arctic caribou herd that inhabits part of Prudhoe Bay has grown from 6,000 in 1978 to 19,700 today, according to the most recent estimates by state and federal wildlife agencies. In fact, there is some evidence that the caribou use un-vegetated and elevated sites in the existing oil fields as relief habitat from mosquitoes and from oestrid flies that attack their nostrils. Worried about the polar bears? Alaska’s polar bear population is healthy and unthreatened. In fact, there are no listed endangered species on the North Slope or in the coastal plain. So, yes, since it seems the existing development and drilling that have taken place have had NO negative, and perhaps some POSITIVE impact on wildlife, I am happy to have someone who wants to drill there so I can feed MY HUMAN FAMILY without sacrificing to pay for gasoline and fatten the wealthy oil execs and middle eastern terrorists.

    So, yeah, there are people who like her and would vote for her. I am SICK of politicians with experience in Washington–the longer they’ve been in the game, the more CORRUPT and DISHONEST they have become, voting and lobbying for their own personal financial interests with no regard for the impact on families like mine.

    And in case you were assuming that I must be some dummy, I have a bachelor’s in secondary education, a law degree, and I’m a homeschool mom of 6, pregnant with #7. Yes, there is a stark contrast between the D and R platforms–that’s by design. They are two different parties with two different philosophies. And Sarah Palin reminded some of us who had lost hope in the R party that there are still conservatives left who are willing to MAKE CHANGES HAPPEN to STOP THE EROSION OF OUR RIGHTS AND VALUES.

    And yes, I’m a Christian. Amen.

  3. DLH says:

    What a strange euphemism is “pro-life!” Are the proponents pacifists? Do they support US military intervention? (BTW, another term for intervention is US “imperialism,” defined on as “the policy of extending the rule or authority of an empire or nation over foreign countries, or of acquiring and holding colonies and dependencies.” Feel free to use it.) Do the proponents support the death penalty? It is strange that most pro-lifers support both of these positions. I certainly don’t see many of them marching against the Iraq war. These positions don’t seem very “pro-life” to me, nor do they seem very Christian.

    BTW, I don’t like abortion either. Maybe we should eradicate poverty and the conditions that produce unwanted births. Wouldn’t that be a change!

    Those who are truly Christian might also believe that “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:24) Doesn’t that mean that that simplicity and sustainability are the way to go? I think so. We shouldn’t need to open up Alaska, because we should be simplifying our lives, and using less petroleum products.

    None of us have a monopoly on morality. The choice of Sarah Palin is clearly about pandering to a certain kind of worldview– not necessarily a moral one– that brings prosperity to those in the leadership who advocate it. They’ll be looking for some mighty small camels!

  4. Rebecca Burt says:

    She has next to no experience in government. When ask about national security back ground or knowledge regarding foreign affairs the best Ms. McCain could come up with was “she lives right by Russia.” She has only traveled outside the country twice in her life.

    She was associated with to a 3rd party which among other things supports allowing Alaska to secede from the United States and feels the only thing wrong with the John Birch Society was it was to liberal! Her husband “First Dude” was registered as a member of this party between 1994 and 2004!

    She tried to have a local Librarian fired for not banning books. She used her political office to try to have fired and smear a state trooper who is in a custody battle with her sister. She is being investigated for this and is worried enough about the outcome to have recently “lawyered up.”

    Palin currently has pretty messy family issues. She recently gave birth to a son with Downs Syndrome and has a 17 year old daughter who is pregnant. Ironically she has fought sex education in the schools and availability of contraception for minors. I am glad she was able to make the choice to carry her disabled son to term…we all need the right to make our own choices!!!

    She believes that for 9 months a woman has no right to control what is happening to her own body and is basically nothing more than a baby container. She does not believe in a women’s right to choose to end a pregnancy, even if she has been raped.

    She does not believe human pollution has anything to do with global warming (even Bush has had to back down on this one). Is so in bed with big oil she is willing to watch as the polar bear and beluga whales become extinct, rather than slow the possibility of drilling. She would open up one of the last great wilderness on earth to exploitation by oil interests.

    She laughed when hearing a fellow Republican woman being called a bitch in public (she and the woman had disagreed on several issues) I guess this does make her on par with McCain who thinks it is alright to call your wife a cunt in public.

    She has been repeatedly described as stubborn with a vicious streak – even by family and friends. (nick name Sarah Barracuda)

    Has an undergraduate degree in Journalism for a small obscure university.

    She did fund raising for Sen. Ted Stevens (think major Alaskan corruption) and accepted money from the same sources as Sen. Ted Stevens. She pushed for the “bridge to no where – the flipped when convenient to do so.

    She has been named Sen. John McCain’s VP selection for the Republican ticket. Sen. McCain is 72 years old and has reoccurring cancer as part of his health history. One can not help but question Mr. McCain’s judgment regarding her selection. John McCain has made a calculated choice in selecting his VP, that has unfortunately put an undereducated, inexperienced right wing nut case a “heart beat” away from becoming President at a time when our Nation faces some of the most complex and volatile issues it has in decades. I VOTE FOR A PERSON BASED ON THEIR STAND ON THE ISSUES – NOT THEIR PLUMBING!!

    PUMAS eat Barracudas for breakfast!!!!

  5. Brian Curdy says:

    May the Lord have mercy on us all and continue to protect us from these Loonies of the clueless “right of center” crowd who call themselves “Conservative Republicans.” They are visibly exhausted after nearly 30 years (the Reagan-Bush regimes) of self-wrought and home-made chaos. They need to take a rest for 20 or so years to allow for a general revision and restoration of America’s democratic institutions…..and by the way, I happen to be a USNA grad and a Retired Marine with a nephew of my own now “home from Iraq”………VOX POPULI, VOX DEI.

  6. billp says:

    “Well, frankly, yes. Creation, intelligent design, quantum physics, and Darwin’s theory of evolution are all just that: theories.”

    Give that old chestnut up – evolution is no longer just a theory, it has been definitively proven that it takes place. It’s no more a theory than the Theory of Gravity. Come out of the 19th century.

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