Monday, September 01, 2008

Shooting From The Hip

In the last months, when pundits were analyzing the "veep-stakes", they would generally wonder whether a candidate was weighing a potential VP pick in terms of governing or electability. Ideally, those two would be perfectly aligned, but here in the real world, it's painfully clear that the qualities it takes to succeed in getting elected are not necessarily the same qualities it takes to do a great job once in elected office. So the presidential candidates must ponder their VP picks in these two dimensions - what characteristics would a VP pick bring to an administration, versus how would a VP help to deliver a key state or constituency in the election. For Obama, Biden would seem to be a good pick on both counts. His depth of experience in the Senate and foreign policy expertise would make him a great contributor to the administration, and his working class family man appeal may help pick up some key voters in the rust belt. For McCain, as the pundits all pondered how he would weigh electability against capability, the "maverick" surprised everyone by inventing a whole new category. Disregarding both electability and capability, he went for stealing a news cycle, with the timing of his stunning pick calculated to dampen the bounce after the stirring Democratic pep rally in Denver. He certainly succeeded in getting the nation to talk, as jaws dropped on Friday morning with his news. Of course he managed to surprise everyone (including Palin herself) by going way down on his "long list", and picking someone he'd only barely met twice, and nobody (probably including McCain himself) really knew much about. But while instinctively chasing an attractive woman on first sight may have played out well for McCain with Cindy, I suspect Palin will be more like the girl who looked good at 2am when he took her home from the bar, but less good by the light of the next morning. The holiday weekend's not even over and already we're learning more about Palin, like her brother-in-law whom she abused her power to try to get fired, and her unmarried but pregnant 17-year-old daughter. Apparently, that information was volunteered by Palin in defense against accusations by people who noted the age of Palin's children -- 24, 17, 14, 7, and now a 4-month-old baby -- looked suspicious and wondered whether Palin wasn't covering for a baby really born to her daughter (a story out of the last season of Desperate Housewives). Nope, Palin said, my baby couldn't have been my daughter's because my daughter is 5 months pregnant now. I'm sure James Dobson was reassured to hear that.

Speaking of Dobson and stolen news cycles, it appears God had the last word to Focus on the Family's prayers for a downpour on Obama's acceptance speech. The weather seems perfectly timed to squash McCain's news cycle, and to steal the coverage from the Republican pep rally in St. Paul. Meanwhile, true Christians are praying for the safety and welfare of those in New Orleans and the gulf area, rather than the petty self-serving prayers advocated by the so-called Christian leadership.

Meanwhile, as people continue to talk about McCain's stunning veep pick, it doesn't seem it will be good for McCain. This choice will make McCain look silly to rail too much against Obama for inexperience. And as we all contemplate the prospect of Sarah Palin being a heartbeat away from the Presidency, it just calls more attention to wondering just how steady McCain's heartbeat is -- not exactly what he wants folks focusing on.

This choice seems to have been a gutsy "shoot from the hip" choice that will turn out to be incredibly short-sighted, just for the sake of grabbing some media attention for a few days. Given that two important characteristics of a President are his ability to make sound sober judgments not made impetuously on gut feeling, and his ability to choose very capable people to lead his administration, what this stunt tells me about McCain gives me two strong reasons not to vote for him.

1 comment:

JTM said...

All I can say after the weekend of Palin (does anyone else think that sounds like a dwarf's name from Tolkiens' Middle Earth?) and seeing the GROSS incompetence of McCain in vetting her (what a disaster) I would be seriously reconsidering if I had planned to vote for him in teh first place. Independents that he's going to need to win are probably running in the left direction.

McBush didn't bother to check some of the simplest of sources. Four more years of bungling? Hell no.