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Obama’s Speech; Palin Picked

Quite a few happenings in the Presidential race since the last time I harped on it.

On Obama’s speech: firstly, let me just say I’m super jealous that not only was lolavavoom in Denver, but that she actually got in to see the speech in person.

Say what you want about Obama – that he’s inexperienced, naive, what-have-you. However, you cannot deny that the man is one of the greatest public speakers of our lifetime. No other political candidate I’ve ever seen has been able to mobilize people to the extent he does with one speech. It was an amazing thing to watch live, as even people who tune out whenever political candidates open their mouths were captivated by the speech. I’m an Obama supporter, but even I have my doubts that he can do everything that he claims he can. But Jesus, when he talks, he makes me think he can.

Pat Buchanan also liked the speech, but there’s nothing to him saying that other than a desire for him to stick it to McCain, since the two legitimately despise each other and McCain was a primary force behind Buchanan’s much-needed exile from the Republican Party.

It’s too bad that he chose Biden for his running mate. It’s just that…idunno. I was never a big fan of Biden. And it seems to me that he goes against the general sentiment behind Obama’s campaign, which is bringing change to Washington. Biden has been a big cog in the democratic machine in Washington with the term “beltway hack” tossed around in association with his name for years. In fairness, it gives the campaign a boost when talk turns to lack of experience and isn’t going to hurt with anybody that’s already chosen to support him. I guess I’m just disappointed on a personal level that Bill Richardson wasn’t chosen.

A day after Obama’s speech, the McCain camp announced their choice for VP – Sarah Palin, the Governor of Alaska. Many people seemed to be excited by the news. She added a fresh and exciting face to a rapidly aging campaign, which especially helps since in the past couple months McCain has looked older, bloated, and tired during public appearances. He’s also been stumbling over his words in speeches, which isn’t something I’m accustomed to seeing out of him. She also fits in with McCain’s “maverick” image – she bucks the trend when it comes to gay rights and she ran on and executed widespread reform amongst State politicians, particularly when it came to corrupt members of her own party.

However, there are some negatives that will ultimately work against her and the campaign as a whole. There’s the fact that she’s still pro-life, a lifetime member of the NRA, and opposes gay marriage. However, that doesn’t hurt her with the Conservatives, and so in that sense it’s sort of a smart pick (and better than going with a full-blown Christian Right candidate). Besides, advocates of abortion rights weren’t going to vote for McCain regardless of his pick, since the last thing they want is another Executive with power to build on the majority needed in the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.

We don’t know if she’ll be able to hold her own against a seasoned Joe Biden in a Vice-Presidential debate, although being a wild card in the debates could work in her favor. And personally speaking, I want to admire her approach as a reformer, but as a New Yorker I’m overly-cynical in my weariness of anybody who presents him/herself as such with the promise to “clean up” the State.

Where it really hurts the McCain campaign, though, is at their central argument – that unlike Obama, this campaign has the experience necessary to lead the country. There’s nothing ageist in pointing out the simple fact that McCain is elderly, and at the end of the first term he’d have passed the average life expectancy in the United States. The McCain camp and McCain himself is fully aware of this. So why pick a VP nominee who has even less experience than Obama? Even the most casual observers quickly dismiss her “Executive experience” by noting she’s only been in the position for 18 months and is the Governor of Alaska for crying out loud. These are the arguments that don’t even need to be presented by the opposition, but are rather so ingrained in the public sub-conscious that it instead puts the McCain campaign on the defensive without a single shot being fired from the other side of the aisle.

For a day or two, the pick of Palin as VP invigorated and energized McCain’s campaign. Now they have to focus all their energy when it comes to her on giving legitimacy to what little experience she has and trying to convince people that she’s not just a “token pick” for the party despite the wide array of potential choices they had at their disposal. Rather than strengthening the ticket, all she really does is give them more work to do.

It’s going to be an interesting Fall, to say the least.

More later…

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  1. Anonymous
    August 31, 2008 at 4:40 pm

    Accomplishments

    The difference between experience is that Obama has spent four years in the U.S. Senate essentially campaigning for president the entire time, while Palin has spent two years as governor of her state *governing*, with a list of accomplishments to show for it.

    It’s such a historic anomaly to have this many Senators running for Prez and VP, what a relief that we finally get a Governor.

    She has two more years of Executive Branch experience than Obama, Biden, and McCain combined. Even still, number of years isn’t a very good metric. It’s about the accomplishments.

    I do agree that Obama’s speechmaking is important. I hope his candidacy reminds people that Americans do want their President to be the Visionary-in-Chief. He’s done a better job evoking Reagan than all of the candidates who’ve claimed to evoke Reagan. That doesn’t mean his policies will work though. Unless he backtracks on all of his campaign promises, like he’s already started to do on NAFTA and Iraq, we’d have a very tumultuous next four years under a President Obama.

    • August 31, 2008 at 10:51 pm

      Re: Accomplishments

      I know you already know this, but I think it’s interesting to note it anyway: we did actually have Governors and others with Executive experience on both sides of the aisle running for President in the primaries, and they were all defeated soundly.

      I respect Palin’s work, but she was Governor for (less than) two years of a State with less than 650,000 residents and not nearly the level of infrastructure to manage that most other States have. As far as her accomplishments, I know she helped reform the Alaskan State Legislature and blocked legislation that favored big oil. Is that enough, though? Routing out corrupt State politicians is one thing; widespread change and reform is something else entirely. Did she accomplish that? (I pose that not as a hypothetical but as a legitimate question)

      What’s interesting is that I see a lot of people comparing this criticism to ones levied against Bill Clinton, saying that much of the same arguments against the impact of his experience were used in ’92. Thing is, he had 12 years of Executive experience. Big difference there.

      Don’t worry about the Reagan thing – with some years having passed since his death, it’s only a matter of time before unworthy candidates evoking his name will seem as ridiculous as it did when, say, a one-time Senator and VP candidate let everyone know that people often compare him to John F. Kennedy.

      What I want to make sure everyone reading this understands is that I’m not saying experience shouldn’t be an issue, or that it isn’t a legitimate criticism of Obama. What I am saying is that the choice of VP for McCain inherently makes it a lot harder to make that argument.

  2. August 31, 2008 at 4:50 pm

    I like Biden. He’s poor if you consider politican standards. He also signed the Violence Against Women act, which imho is a victory for women. So often politicans, men politicans, do not remember 51% of their consitutency are women. Biden, he knows.

    • August 31, 2008 at 10:53 pm

      Fair enough, but it’s not like he was necessarily taking a controversial or difficult stand against an unwieldy House as far as that bill is concerned. Particularly considering he was a Democrat.

      And agreed, he knows how much of his constituency is women. That’s what makes him a good politician.

  3. August 31, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    I have a hard time admiring much of anything about Palin, other than the hot librarian sorta look she has. She’s against abortion even in cases of rape or incest, is pro-death penalty, supported a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, is a creationist or at least supports the teaching of creationism, is anti-marijuana legalization, and is married to a guy who works for BP and coincidentally wants to drill in ANWR. I won’t fault her on her view of global warming or her NRA membership, and she can name her kids whatever ridiculous things she wants to (though being pregnant in your 40s increases the likelihood of having a kid with Down Syndrome, like her Trig, so that was a pretty stupid move). I don’t think Obama or Biden are anything special, and I’m still not voting for them, but I’ll take them over McCain/Palin in a heartbeat.

    • August 31, 2008 at 10:54 pm

      I’m doing a write-in vote for Embarrassed Captain America.

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