For entertainment value alone, this might be the best interview I’ve seen yet from either convention.
There’s also some talk now that Sarah Palin may get Thomas Eagleton-ed. NPR reported this evening that she’s been in seclusion for two days, from both media and convention goers. She even canceled a meeting with right wing maven Phyllis Schlafly’s pro-life group today, which got ol’ Phyllis’s knickers in a twist.
I think it would take a hell of a lot to get McCain to dump Palin. He’d have to conclude there’s no possible way he could win with her on the ticket. Because dumping her would almost certainly cause him to lose. And we’re nowhere near that point right now. It’s not even yet clear that she’s a liability. My guess is that McCain’s campaign has merely locked her down for a couple days while they finish the vetting they wish they had done two weeks ago.
I’m still not really sure what to make of Palin. She’s certainly driven the news cycle the last few days. Policy-wise, she’s a mixed bag, but in interesting, unconventional ways. Yes, she took on Alaska’s corrupt GOP fossils, but, we learned today, only after hiring a lobbying outfit well-known to those same fossils to secure a hefty chunk of federal earmark largess as mayor of her home town. And she really only took on Stevens, Young, and Murkowski once all three were already national pariahs, and once there were already investigations of Stevens in the offing. Palin opposed the Bridge to Nowhere, but only after initially supporting it, and even then, she merely shuffled the money earmarked for it off to other pet projects. Not exactly Profiles in Courage stuff, this.
Then there’s this alleged abuse of power known as “Troopergate.” From what I’ve read, if all the allegations are true, it would make me think more of Palin, not less. She asked the state’s public safety commissioner to fire a state trooper who tased his 11-year-old son, made death threats, and drove his squad car drunk? Why is this a problem? Because he was in the process of divorcing Palin’s sister at the time? I’d like to think any governor who was made aware that a state trooper engaged in any of those things would do what she could to get him fired, no matter how it was brought to her attention. And if the commissioner, who reports to her, refused to fire the rogue cop, he’s not doing his job. So I’m okay with firing him too.
Unfortunately, Palin has denied intervening to get the cop fired. So I can’t even give her the credit here that I’d like to.
By far the best thing Palin’s done thus far is get the usual suspects to don the others’ clothes. That is, the left’s screaming “affirmative action!” while the right’s screaming “sexism!” And both are doing it with a straight face. Makes it fun to be a libertarian.
The lefties are probably right in saying Palin’s gender gave her the edge over many other, more qualified candidates. But. Um. Isn’t that what affirmative action is all about? Breaking down barriers and whatnot? Correcting for historical injustices and such? Is the lesson here that only leftist minorities are allowed to benefit from preference-based political promotions? As my colleague Dave Weigel put it, does anyone really think the Democratic nominee would be where he is today if he were Barack O’Bama, the white Irish-American? For that matter, would Hillary Clinton have gotten 18 million votes for president if she had married the law student two doors down from Bill at Yale?
Yes, Palin’s political resume is thin. That’s a plus in my book. “Experience” tends to mean “knows the ways of Washington,” which generally means more of the same old crap. If David Broder has praised you in one of his columns, you’re probably part of the problem. Frankly, I wish Obama had picked someone less “experienced” than Joe Biden, a guy that embodies everything loathesome about Washington. I also like that Palin’s not a career politician, and doesn’t genuflect before powerful interests. On the other hand, it doesn’t bode well that she has a history of also applying that same kick-ass-and-take-names style of governance to, for example, trying to ban books from the public library that she finds offensive.
But the right’s cry that Palin’s critics are guilty of sexism is just as hypocritical. Palin’s family is Palin’s business, and I have no interest in passing judgment on the decisions she has made in her private life. But let’s pretend for a moment a liberal Democratic governor had delivered a baby with Down’s Syndrome last April, then ran for vice president months later–all while still mothering four other kids, and with her high school daughter pregnant with a grandchild. Can’t you hear the howling from the right about how feminist women care more about their careers than they do about their children and families? Can you hear the stern lectures about how, maybe if Palin had spent less time running for office and more time mothering, her daughter might not be pregnant? Hell, it’s only a hypothetical, and I’m pretty sure I can hear them as I type.
And while we’re turning tables, a poster at Reddit today had a doozy: Imagine the giddy glee we’d see from the right if it was Barack Obama who announced this weekend that his unwed teenage daughter was pregnant. Somehow, I doubt we’d be seeing the handwritten “I support unwed mothers” buttons we (weirdly) saw at the RNC tonight.
All of which is my rambling way of stating I don’t really have a pithy take on Palin. It’s all just a little too wacky right now. But it’s sure as hell fun to watch.
MORE: And I’ll defer to my colleague Jesse Walker on the Alaska Independence Party flap. Given McCain’s creepy “country first” fetish and nationalistic fervor, Palin’s sympathies for a secessionist movement are a positive, as far as I’m concerned.