Monday, September 08, 2008

Deeper Musings About Sara Palin

The polls are shifting not so well for Obama (Tremors!) and there are lots and lots of theories. I am swayed by the idea that Sara Palin is having an impact on the race. Conservatives love her, and they are rallying around McCain in response. I will give an additional critique of Palin to add to what PD Dude has said.

I am bothered that many people seem to treat Palin without ANY scrutiny. She is a fresh face in politics, she's pretty, and she has very little political history from which to judge her. She also has a multi-multi-million dollar attack machine behind her known as the GOP to get her message shaped. It is in this context that we should look at Palin.

First, how did we get here? McCain was probably desperate after looking at the polls and seeing Obama's convention speech, and he wanted a "game changer." You don't need to believe me. The reports are there that McCain was going to pick Lieberman or Romney, but he realized he wasn't going to win that way. He wanted someone who would energize the Republican base and who wouldn't detract. He went deep, deep into the bench (more precisely, he picked from the grandstands) to find Palin. She is a perfect example of the politics of today and how some people win who otherwise wouldn't.

Those of you who remember what happened to Governor Gray Davis in California will understand this. In 2003 Governor Gray Davis was deeply unpopular. California has been truly mismanaged for years, thanks to an uninformed electorate scolded by lots and lots of "special interests." Davis won re-election in 2002 through a deeply cynical maneuver: He should have faced Richard Riordan, a very popular Republican mayor of Los Angeles. But the problem with Republicans is that they won't elect those who fall a little outside orthodoxy. Riordan was pro-gay rights and pro-abortion, two really big no-no's for a Republican. But he was highly popular, and very likely could have beaten Davis. So Davis intervened in the Republican primary and spent millions of dollars trashing Riordan by saying those two things: he was pro-gay and pro-abortion. These two issues would have HELPED him in the general election, and they were pretty much the same positions held by Davis. But this was toxic to the Republicans. Bill Simon, a very conservative Republican, beat Riordan and then went on to lose. It was inevitable. Simon was great for the Republicans, but no one else liked him. Davis was tolerable by comparison and he cake walked to victory. The Republicans were pissed.

They got even when Davis kept stumbling. Davis got gamed by Enron and others, and he just couldn't bring himself to raise electricity rates (or undo the whole "open market" electricity thing that was being gamed by private electricity companies). People in California are, were, and have been pissed for a long time about how their government is so dysfunctional. Davis was a great example of what people hate in politicians. Although he is a Democrat, he mercilessly shook down the teachers union for campaign contributions, and even changed some of his core positions when the CCPOA (California Correctional Peace Officers Association) cut him some checks. He just didn't seem to have any moral center, and he didn't have many supporters when he needed it. He even took some money from energy companies like Enron, and this made it look like he was dragging his feet and costing California billions. Voters were mad.

The recall election in 2003 was the first time ever that a state public official was removed from office in California, although 17 other recall efforts had been done before. It was ugly. Davis was removed by a margin of 55.4% to 44.6%. Schwarzenegger was then elected governor (by the same ballot) with 48.6 percent of the vote. Schwarzenegger would NEVER, EVER have made it through the Republican primary process. Just ask some Republicans now how much they like Schwarzenegger and they will likely say that he is a "Socialist," or a "Democrat," or some other epithet that they hate. Point is, only through this extraordinary process did Schwarzenegger come to office.

One to Palin. Palin supports abstinence-only education, and that means what it says: no sex ed in the schools. This isn't just her opinion, but the opinion of someone a heartbeat away from the presidency. She has a 17 year old daughter who is now pregnant. Palin denied funds recently (she used her line-item veto and zeroed the funds out) to a home for underage, unwed mothers, particularly those suffering from domestic violence. Message: I don't want your kids taught about sex education on the government's dime, and I don't want poor unwed mothers cared for on the government's dime, but I, myself, have a 17 year old who didn't get the message and is having a child early. Palin's own pregnancy is the subject of some really questionable judgment about why she flew 8+ hours from Texas (after waiting hours to give a speech), then drove to a little hospital, all after she was leaking amniotic fluid (technically she was in labor) one month early with a special needs child (i.e. Down syndrome).

Palin lied about the bridge to nowhere (she advocated for it, then claimed in her first national address that she said "no thanks") and lied when claims to be against earmarks, yet eagerly sought them both as mayor of a small town and as governor of Alaska.

As governor, Palin sought to fire her sister's ex-husband from the state police (and if what he did was true, he no doubt is a jerk), then instead fired the head of the state police (also a jerk who probably deserved to be fired) when he refused to fire the guy she wanted to be fired. But then she lied about the whole thing and has repeatedly sought to have the whole investigation placed under the control of a three person panel that she controls.

Palin tried to get the librarian to ban certain books from the library because she thought they were offensive, and when the librarian refused to do so, Palin started the process to fire her.

Palin did a nasty speech at the Republican convention where she mocked Obama's time as a "community organizer" and essentially labeled him as a guy with no real experience. What chutzpah. But now she hides from the press, afraid of what questions they might ask HER about HER experience, and the issues above. Her surrogates in the media, meanwhile, blow smoke about legitimate questions about her, claiming that such questions are really about the fact that she has 5 kids (So what?), or that she is a woman and Democrats are being sexist (Wow!). Never mind the fact that she is simply a political unknown,and she hasn't been through the process to find out who she is and what she stands for.

And that is actually the point I was getting at regarding Schwarzenegger. He was a political nobody, with no previous office experience. He would have been eaten alive in the Republican primary because he is a "creature of Hollywood" and he is, in fact, a closet moderate. Republicans would have avoided him if they had the chance. Palin, on the other hand, would have been a darling of the Republicans. Until, of course, someone like Huckabee, or Romney, tore her apart for her clear lack of experience. Now she is the #2 girl to the oldest man to seek the presidency ever. McCain is 72. He's got a great chance of dying in office, and Palin will then take his place.

Hats off to Republicans for getting their "stealth candidate" into the ring. I have no doubt that, between her and McCain that Roe v. Wade will be overturned. I have no doubt that people will grow more and more pissed at their dysfunctional government. I sure hate to lose this round (and I hated losing when Bush took it in 2000 and 2004), but I know that, if McCain wins, the American people will be getting exactly what we deserve. Maybe not what we want, but definitely what we deserve.

Dennis Wilkins
The Guest PD Blogger


Anonymous said...

Dennis, make fine points but only when you stay away from the family issues, and even some of the experience issues. When you stray and attack her on those, however, you take the bait.

“I am bothered that many people seem to treat Palin without ANY scrutiny. She is a fresh face in politics, she's pretty, and she has very little political history from which to judge her. She also has a multi-multi-million dollar attack machine behind her known as the GOP to get her message shaped. It is in this context that we should look at Palin.”

First. Cannot the same thing be said of Obama??
Scrutiny?? Has he not got a pass on Rezko, Ayres, and even Jeremiah Wright to some degree? Lets even say that you can say he does have more experience than Palin...does he really have all that much more? And isn’t he running for number one, rather than number two? Gee, what if Obama is elected and Biden dies?? That might scare one quite a bit too...Lets face it, her politics scare you not her lack of experience. Because if experience was the case you should have the same worry about Obama. Perhaps, the only reason it doesn’t is that you have heard his name for 20 months now and he just sounds more experienced to you, whereas she is just getting her name into prime time. The power of simple recognition makes one seem to be more experienced than they are.

Although it seems that McCain undercuts the “experience” argument by selecting Palin, he actually sets up a very viable strategy. Obama cant attack much back on the issue. Much of the left took the bait. Obama has attack dogs of his own who have been making that pitch this entire week, and you see where that has gotten them. You will now see them back off this tactic because its counterproductive and hurts Obama much more than McCain.

Second. I don’t agree with almost any of her social positions (creationism, abortion etc...). Those are all ripe for attack as you have mentioned. But you must understand that when the left does these hatchet jobs about her daughter, her lifestyle, her small town, her guns, her religion etc...that is where you lose the election each and every time. The left just doesn’t understand that they already have all the voters the need from NY, CA, MA, NJ etc...What they need is OH, CO, MI, PA, IN etc...and that kind of approach will not work there and insults them. They do not want to be talked down too on religion, guns, small towns, abortion and other social issues and the left just cant seem to discuss those issues without being rabidly offensive to them.

I disagree that there is no sexism involved. Palin holds much of the same views as Romney and Huckabee and yet she has been attacked by the left for things that those two would never be attacked for. The bottom line is the liberals arent much better than right wingers on this issue. If a woman doesn’t bring home the goods on their agenda, they are perfectly content on destroying her in a sexist manner.

“Palin did a nasty speech at the Republican convention where she mocked Obama's time as a "community organizer" and essentially labeled him as a guy with no real experience.”

Now c’mon man, I have heard liberals whine about this all week. Gee, how sensitive....
I seem to recall much nastier things by all sides in campaigns going back at least 40 years. Is it nasty to say John McCain cant remember how many houses he has? I dunno, I guess some would say so...others would say that he deserves as many houses as we wants after living in a 6x6 cell for 6 years... either way, that sounds like fair game to me.

Plus, lets call it as we see it on this point:

A. She didn’t pull the “community organizer” attack out of thin air. The only reason she used that quip is because she was being mocked for being a mayor of a town of 9,000.

B. What is a community organizer anyway? Do you think middle America knows? That’s the only group that you should consider if your looking for outrage. Judging by the recent polls, I doubt you will find it.

If McCain wins in a year like this, the left has to seriously consider throwing away its entire playbook. Its not, as you say: “the American people will be getting exactly what we deserve. Maybe not what we want, but definitely what we deserve.” Its about a party that doesn’t understand an entire segment of their own country. After all, this is not the United States of Canada.

Dennis Wilkins said...


First, I've missed your commentary, and I'm glad to see it again. Now that I am starting the posts I hope to see you more often.

Second, the thread you responded on was actually what I started writing to respond to your earlier response to PD Dude (whew!). In other words, your words got me to writing what I wrote. I would have said that, but it didn't fit in this post. Now that you have responded, I can credit you for having a good and balanced discussion on Dude's thread.

All that said, I wish you were wrong in what you wrote, all of it. But you are right on a lot of it. I see the Palin choice as a tactic, and I was hoping that people would see through it. I DO believe that experience is an issue, and I know that Obama has a thin resume himself (I didn't know what a community organizer was until I checked - now that I know, you're right - many people for swing states will have no idea what a community organizer does in a big city). But that is a fair argument, and Palin should get scrutiny for it.

I am deeply bothered that McCain looks like he can win this thing. With his missteps, he should be trailing by 20 points. I want to blame the media (and I do, because it is corporate and will not have anyone vaguely resembling a populist come in, something that Obama has tried to portray himself at times), but I know that that is not where the fault lies.

The truth is that our politics have a huge disconnect between reality and perception. I have a friend who is the best of friends and he is poised to vote for McCain. Why, I have asked in desperation, would he vote for the old guy who will take his social security and keep us in Iraq for years longer than we need to be there? "He's going to take away my guns." What can I say to that?

I tried, but it's no good. He wants to keep his guns, and it doesn't matter how many people die in Iraq, how screwed up the Republicans have made this country (with some bi-partisan help from the Democrats), how much in debt we are, how many jobs have left, how much gas costs and how dependent we are on oil, foreign or otherwise. People are more than happy to vote against their interests and then wonder why government doesn't respond to them.

Propostitions 6 and 9 on the ballot in California in November are the stupidest, most wasteful, backward-thinking initiatives that a fool could design, but I know that Californians will vote for them. Why? Because tough on crime sells well. It always has. And no matter the cost of maintaining prisons for more and more "criminals" arrested at younger and younger ages, or the fact that that money comes out of the school budget, the roads budget, the elderly care center budget, Medi-Cal, whatever, people wnat those prisons. I guess that they think it makes them feel safe, but the fact is that Californians have never felt LESS safe. Look at the polls.

When Al Gore lost I was perplexed, and I know that we Democrats had had our election stolen. When Kerry lost I know that we had compromised our principles in a vain attempt to win, and that we had forwarded a lacklusted candidate. If Barack Obama loses, there will be a LONG time coming in the wilderness for the Democratic Party. If THIS COMBINATION wins: the old guy who'll say whatever you want for money and who's actually WORSE than GW on many issues, plus an unknown yet cocky bible-thumper/social conservative, then how can the Democratic Party respond? I mean, how?

I know conservatives and I have no clue how they get to some of the conclusions that they get to other than simple dislike for Democrats. My political life would have been so much easier if I had been a Republican (In fact, I was one, for two years, from 1988 to 1990 when I became an Independent. I became a Democrat in 1992 when I voted for BC.) - heck if I had been a DA and a Republican I could have been a judge by now.

But I just can't drink the cool-aid. I hate Three Strikes - I think it is a horrible waste of everything - resources, lives, reality, fairness, everything. I hate the prison-industrial complex in the US. I hate the fact that we spend so much in this country on "defense" and so little on making our own infrastructure (things like roads, schools and hospitals) work.

The people I know care, but our government just doesn't seem to work. I don't get how Republicans, independents, heck, EVERYBODY, doesn't get it.

Honest enough response for ya? Thanks for the post.

Dennis Wilkins
The Guest PD Blogger

Anonymous said...


Don’t know exactly when you came on board to write with PD Dude, but always glad to see you post and have you guys continue blogging. I too have been a little MIA as of late. In any event, please continue the good work. While we may disagree on a number of issues, we share much in common as well, and I appreciate your approach to these issues.

There is certainly enough hypocrisy on both sides and plenty in these campaigns. Certainly, Palin was a strategic move, not a "qualifications" move. When I heard that McCain was considering Bobby Jendel or Pawlenty, I thought it would be hypercritical given the arguments against Obama. Certainly, the same goes for Palin. Although I believe that neither she nor Obama are seasoned enough for the positions they aspire, it is just as nauseating for me to watch certain conservatives make the case for her qualifications. They are thin indeed and the only reason they make those arguments, goes to my earlier comment: they agree with her politics. So much has been made of “experience,” but I am not convinced that people really care all that much provided their respective candidate brings home the goods on their issues.

McCain’s choice may prove the difference either way…could be genius (whether intentional or simply dumb luck and her appealing personality thus far). Or, could be disaster when she is scrutinized further. But again, whichever it is, it will be decided in middle America. Not where you and I live…

I like your analysis and reference to your friend. I think both Dems and Republicans could make such a big difference in their results and their base if but only for a few issues: Guns for the Dems, and Abortion for the Republicans. A change in these by one of the parties would attract many to their side.

As strange as it may sound to some, there is probably no other voting block that is more organized and adamant than gun rights supporters. They are truly one issue voters; they continuously effect elections and usually trump all other similar groups in turnout and effectiveness. Their beliefs are usually not steeped in religion but based on keeping a check on government and self defense rights. I am sure your friend has already confirmed this. It has always seemed to me that the left’s vehement opposition to law abiding gun right/gun owners is nothing more than liberal dogma, rather than rational analysis. It appears usually to be based on emotional fears rather than actual fact. But I digress. My point is not to start a gun control debate. Just merely to pose how many would be attracted to the Dems if merely this one issue was off the table and they didn’t have any fear that Dems were anti-gun. Seems like it would make a big difference for your friend, and many others. Especially in places like MI, PA and Ohio.

Similarly, the Republicans lose huge support continuously trying to convince people that life begins at conception, and by injecting religion into the mix. The amount of time, effort and money they spent on this issue is incredible. A shift in their position acknowledging at least the first tri-mester and health/life issues would make in-roads in their base on the West and East coast.

Those two issues popped in my head when reading about your friend. Certainly, there are plenty of others. Religion is one…and is considerably trickier. The problem the Dems haven’t been able to figure out about Religion is how to say that they are for the hard-working middle class little guy, and then thump at the same middle America little guy about his religion, small town and values. That’s a fine line that I am afraid they keep stumbling over and over.

It will be a close race, Dennis. And even though some of our issues and concerns differ, you may not want to fret just yet. Haven’t seen anything that makes me think McCain is winning the Electoral College as of yet, especially with Barr and Nader on the ballet. If I recall Bush beat Kerry relatively handily (52-48)…and he still barely squeaked it out with Ohio.

Anonymous said...

First, some fact checking: Palin does not espouse abstinence only education.

See this L.A. times article showing that she favors teaching children about contraception: //,0,3119305.story

And look, Palin plays populism. Scary, for sure, but no more so than when John Edwards played it: remember his "two Americas." Democracy is scary, but the standard response is to ask what is a better alternative.

The best protection from the Palins and Edwards is federalism. The less power the central government has, the less damage that any one politician can do. We shouldn't have to care so vitally who is President. If Washington D.C. didn't control so much of our lives, we wouldn't.

BH (Los Angeles)

Anonymous said...

Actually, the numbers now show Obama with about the same lead he had before the convention. The Palin bounce has come and gone.

Anonymous said...

i never see a long post like this

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Anonymous said...

The political scenario. I don't want to leave long comments.

Anonymous said...

Palin is toast.

PC Plastic Fuzz said...

Not a fan of Palin.

John said...

I know conservatives and I have no clue how they get to some of the conclusions that they get to other than simple dislike for Democrats.

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