Utne Blogs > Politics

The Republicans’ Desperate Measures

 by Hannah Lobel


Tags: Politics, Election 2008, John McCain, Sarah Palin, Barack Obama, Democratic National Convention, DNC, speeches, vice president, CNN, TPM,

Sarah PalinHere’s what the Republicans have mustered this week: A DNC counteroffensive that mocked the Democrats' stage and blather about how 80,000-plus people showing up for a political speech is somehow a bad thing. And now there’s this: A seemingly last-minute, hail-mary VP pick driven by the now-stale strategy of luring disgruntled Hillary supporters.

Word broke this morning that Sarah Palin is McCain’s pick. The first-term Alaska governor is so unknown on the national stage that CNN’s breaking coverage of the nod was basically a rewrite of the governor’s web bio.

She’s got ethics reform on her short resume (and an ethics investigation) and some green credentials. But most importantly and most obviously she is a woman. Why else would McCain throw his experience mantra under the bus? To paraphrase Josh Marshall, If you’re a 72-year-old cancer survivor running for president you better pick someone who’s ready to step up, especially if your entire campaign is based on your EXPERIENCE.

Here in Minnesota, we’re all buzzing about what doomed Governor Tim Pawlenty’s chances. (Our office pool was a boring failure, since everyone picked Pawlenty.) He was the frontrunner in chatter yesterday, had canceled his week’s schedule, and then suddenly broke the Republicans’ tightly controlled message management and—not sounding too happy about things—told a local radio station that it was a “fair assumption” that he wasn’t going to be the veep. That leaves the impression of a last-minute decision, one forced by the unexpected strength of Obama’s performance last night.

While Democrats—egged on by Republican teasing—stewed in doubts about Obama not hitting back hard enough, or Obama leaving himself open for sucker punches by going on vacation, or their ranks not being unified, the Obama team clearly had a plan. They let McCain’s people play in the mud for the whole of August. And in one fell swoop of a speech, dispatched with each and every tactic in the Pubs’ playbook. The speech was smart, and, given the Republican response to it last night, it was clearly unexpected.

Now, it’s not even September, and the McCain team has been forced to chisel away at their best card—the experience card. It’s time Democrats—particularly the pundits out chattering to the media—stop letting Republicans get their goat and leave the self-doubt thing behind.

Image by Ryan McFarland, licensed under Creative Commons.

jessie fetterling
9/3/2008 1:20:19 PM

I am completely disappointed in McCain's decision for VP. As a woman, it's insulting that McCain thinks that just because Palin is a woman, all of Hillary's supporters will just automatically change their opinions and vote for the Republican Party. Just because he gave up his beliefs by nominating her, doesn't mean the rest of us will.


gary ashcraft
9/2/2008 4:24:08 PM

This was not a "Hail Mary" by any measure. I called this shot about six weeks ago. The sad thing is Obama's bankrupt pick of a traditional insider like Biden. John McCain has always had my respect as a Viet Nam Vet like myself, especially for the courage he displayed both then and now. I thought for the longest time McCain was going to be the GOP's throw down gun in a almost certain loosing year, however this plucky old fart's got more game in himself than men half his age. He keeps the faith as a maverick and his chioce of Palin shows that he's not going to have any back office rump legislature trying to manipulate him or his administration into upholding 25 years of old failed policies that will be the Albatross around either winners neck. Obama's selection of Biden is a clear bending down to kiss the ring and genuflection to the Beltway Mob so his administartion won't have to battle the way Jimmy Carters did ( in other words he's sold out ). McCain on the other hand seems to clearly signaling this will not be the case for his administration. Gary Ashcraft


ab
8/30/2008 10:18:14 PM

Are you kidding me? Are republican voters so clueless that they think only in terms of how much they pay in taxes. I bet if their trash wasn't picked up in a month or if they had to drive on unimproved surfaces then they'll stop complaining about paying taxes. Mccain's "gambling" problem would prove dangerous for the American people if this man is elected. Surely, with so much at stake he can't think this woman is the "best" in the repugni-cans have to offer.


shawna culik
8/30/2008 12:11:36 PM

Wasilla, Alaska combined with less than 2 years as state governor for around 670,000 people --- this is Sarah Palin's domain of political rise. I actually stopped in Wasilla on my way up to Denali National Park a few years ago, and while it was a nice small town --- for all the awesome things Alaska is, it monumentally lacks any ability to deliver full scale, national, international, political (or otherwise) vision or experience to anyone. How can someone with such a limited background built from essentially small town life, and a very small state population even begin to deal with the myriad of issues facing this nation let alone our interactions with the world. Obama was criticized for things like not going to the Middle East enough, etc. during the primaries and by John McCain. With the city council meetings, then running a city of around 6000 as mayor, and then successfully getting the votes of the majority of only 670,000 people to be governor for less than 2 years, while having 5 children and attending hockey games, hunting in the wilderness, and attending husband Todd's snowmobiling races, when has Sarah Palin even had a chance to get a view of the U.S. let alone travel outside of this country?? Truth is, she hasn't. She truly isn't qualified for the job --- not even close. And with decisions like this, clearly John McCain isn't either. Are Americans so intent staying on this downward slope that they would actually show up and vote for this ticket...


jasper_2
8/29/2008 3:03:09 PM

Interesting pick -- but risky. Experience argument could actually work against McCain now. The pick does work for the GOP in some ways because: 1. She is a rock hard social conservative (no gay marriage, pro-life), so that's a relief to those thinking he might pick Tom Ridge. 2. Her age and demeanor. She is not a patrician Liddy Dole or K.B. Hutchinson grande dame type. She will be able to relate to "normal" folks better than most pols. 3. People who are "uncomfortable" with Obama can still feel "progressive" by voting for the historic GOP ticket. How she holds up to the media hot white light will tell the tale. If she doesn't have any skeltons and handles herself well, it could push McCain over the top.