(This entry follows the unfolding events today, up to and including Sarah Palin’s speech in Dayton, and my and readers’ reactions to the pick.)
(As of late Friday night, more comments have continued to be added to this thread. As of Saturday morning, the discussion continues in a new thread.)
I’ve been away from my computer all morning until a few minutes ago and missed the exciting developments. At 8:24 a female reader, who had told me earlier that it wasn’t Pawlenty, wrote:
“They’re saying it’s not Romney either!”At 8:45 she wrote:
They’re speculating that it’s that female governor of Alaska, Palin. Something about a female taking a plane from Alaska with two teenagers, something, something.Then at 8:57 the reader wrote:
Gee, wouldn’t it be a little unwise to pick a woman to run for veep who has just had a baby, and one with Downs at that?! Aren’t we taking the female thing and motherhood compatible with politics and all that a little too far? Motherhood is one thing, but a babe in arms,, and one with special needs?At 9:35 the reader wrote:
Huckabee’s out too!At 10:39 she wrote:
It’s PALIN!Then other readers began writing with the news about Palin as well. At 10:56 Paul G. wrote from Korea:
CNN is saying it’s Palin. She seems like a great governor—principled, conservative. But she completely undercuts McCain’s experience argument against Obama. But hey! She’s a woman. That must mean that women will vote for her, right? Dumb. This will be the most identity-focused election ever.at 11:00 a.m. Spencer Warren wrote:
The glee of the “conservatives” over the news of McCain’s selection of the conservative governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, completely ignores the fact that the Vice President in office does the bidding of the president. (Remember how Humphrey was emasculated by Johnson?) So in policy terms her choice means nothing; its purpose is to win the election only. These immature “conservatives”—undoubtedly to include NR, Limbaugh, Hannity et al. later today—bring to mind Churchill’s words from 1936: “Those who are possessed of a definite body of doctrine and of deeply rooted convictions … will be in a much better position to deal with the shifts and surprises of daily affairs than those who are merely taking short views, and indulging their natural impulses as they are evoked by what they read from day to day.” You and many VFR readers are those “possessed of a definite body of doctrine and of deeply rooted convictions.” The rest, especially the journalists and talk radio hosts, “are merely taking short views, and indulging their natural impulses as they are evoked by what they read from day to day.” Put another way, VFR thinks strategically, the rest are the blind leading the blind.At a few minutes after 11 o’clock, this story by the AP was posted at Drudge:
DENVER—John McCain tapped little-known Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to be his vice presidential running mate on Friday in a startling selection on the eve of the Republican National Convention.She’s been the mayor of a small town, the governor of the oddball, welfare-dependent state of Alaska for a year and a half, she has five children, including a baby with Down’s syndrome, and she’s the one McCain picks?
Also, in all the photos of her I’ve seen, her hair is hanging in her eyes and she has a ditzy expression on her face.
John Hagan writes:
Well, for a politician at least she’s interesting.11:50: I just saw a clip of a CSPAN interview of her from February 2008. She’s not exactly impressive looking and sounding, with messy looking hair and a bit of a little girl voice, the way young women have today, but she seems intelligent and confident. There’s a sparkle about her.
But someone with this little experience? A year and a half as governor of a state that’s barely a real state?
And McCain turns 72 today. So if he wins, a 72 year-old’s heartbeat away from the presidency will be a 44 year old woman with very little political experience. It seems like a shot in the dark.
At 12:08 p.m. the female reader continues::
Frankly, I think it’s a kind of slap in the face to motherhood and may actually turn off some conservative women. It makes motherhood so casual that you can leave a newborn and go flying around the country to become vice preseident. It suggests that maybe it’s easy to have children, even children with special needs, if you don’t have to give them day to day care, put their needs first, or even be in their vicinity.12:18 p.m. CSPAN playing more of the February interview with Palin. She’s a smart and confident politician, she speaks effectively of her desire to make Alaska less dependent on the federal dole.
At 12:09 Randy wrote:
For what it is worth, I spent six weeks working in Alaska last summer. Alaska is a conservative state. I occasionally caught the local news and there was a big budget issue between Palin and the state legistature. She stood up to them, was no nonsense, and I believe threatened them with shutting down the government. She seemed very confident and decisive. Other things I heard confirmed that. I remember thinking to myself that I wish we had more Republicans like her in office. Other than that, I do not know much about her. All this business about experience is silly. Ted Kennedy has all kinds of experience. We all have experience in life and act on what we know to be right. I’ll take anyone oriented to reality. As you say, Romney is too compromised-and not such a solid conservative.12:20 p.m. McCain rally begins. With rock music. Rock music has become our obligatory national political music.
12:25 McCain is speaking. He has a terrible speaking voice. High pitched, weak.
At 12:22 Jeremy G. writes:
It seems that McCain is seeking support from Clinton feminists with this move. And Palin is pro-life and a life time NRA member, so she’ll be okay with most conservatives. Looking at the Republican ticket from one perspective, it seems that traditionalism is toned down considerably and this is a tremendous disappointment. But from another perspective, McCain is making sure the Republican party lives up to its image as the white people’s party… Here is the racial image they project: The white man and white woman, united in the Republican party. The Democratic party has a clinch on the black vote and the Hispanic vote is largely in the bag. Where can the Republican party pick up voters as they reduce their own base? They have to go after more white voters, as Steve Sailer has been telling us for years. They have no other choice if they want to get elected, and they certainly do want to get elected! The irony is that as Republican acquiescence to nonwhite immigration continues to reduce whites, Republicans will gradually be forced to make their campaign more explicitly racialist in order to attract moderate white voters. They will not do this on any principle, they will simply have to do this if they want to get elected.LA replies:
It’s hard to see what Jeremy means by a racialist Republican ticket. How is the choice of Palin more “racialist” than the choice of any other white running mate?12:28 p.m. Palin comes out with her entire family. With fake music playing. With her entire family. with a tiny baby being carried behind her. What, is the baby three months old?
Her youngest child was born in April. So she was pregnant and gave birth while she was this fighting, crusading governor of Alaska? That just seems so bizarre to me.
She’s obviously a very talented politician. She’s a spark. When she states her ideals and principles there’s a real conviction and energy about her.
Unfortunately she has a high-pitched, squeaky voice. She needs a voice coach.
He could have chosen an Hispanic. He could have chosen a white man. This choice was designed to appeal directly to white women (a group that strongly supported Hillary Clinton) and broaden the base of whites who vote Republican.LA replies:
I think he chose her because she’s a spark. She’s a talented, confident politician with a strong sense of conviction, a sense of American idealism, and not at all plastic as most politicians are.12:40 p.m. Oh, no. She talked about “shattering the glass ceiling once and for all.”
Jeremy G. writes (12:48 p.m.):
Why do you think Obama chose Biden? I think it has a great deal to do with Biden’s working class Catholic family background. Biden represents the white men who typically vote Democratic, but who don’t trust Obama and may vote McCain. Biden’s selection left white women up for grabs, without direct representation, so to speak. McCain is going after this group of voters.LA replies:
Interesting.Jeff S. writes:
One point: Those of your respondents who are criticizing Palin for embarking on a nationwide campaign having recently given birth, know this. In days gone by, when it was much more common for Americans to have large families, it was absolutely expected that the grown siblings (Palin has a couple of “adult” daughters) would almost immediately assume a large share of the “care and feeding” of the newborn. Large families would have been otherwise impossible. This child will not be lacking for familial affection in any way. It’s as “traditional” as “traditional” gets.Mark J. writes:
Strategically speaking, by choosing Palin, McCain really took the wind out of Obama’s sails as far as him being the exciting new thing in presidential politics. We’ve had a couple years of hyperbole now about how Obama is so fresh and young and he’s black and there’s never been a black man as candidate, etc, etc. Well just as that whole thing peaked with his speech last night, now here comes McCain with this attractive young professional woman as his candidate. To my eyes, that instantly makes Obama’s “first black candidate” status look like old news. Yes, there was once a female candidate for Vice President, but that was a long time ago. McCain really stole the news cycle from Obama with this. The women who supported Hillary primarily because she was a woman are going to be looking at the McCain ticket with new eyes. My impression is that this was a pretty good strategic move by McCain.Gintas writes:
“Oh, no. She talked about ‘shattering the glass ceiling once and for all.’”A reader sent this e-mail received from Ron Maxwell:
McCain has just sealed his defeat. He’s made an obvious political choice to placate some of the “base.” In the process he’s chosen a nobody. What makes this nice lady qualified to be president? This VP choice makes Obama looks like a statesman in his choice and McCain look like just another hack politician. With advisors like Lindsay Graham at his side Conservatives shouldn’t be surprised. A disaster.LA replies:
I don’t see it as a disaster. I see Palin as a winner. That’s my impression of her on the basis of hearing her February 2008 C-Span interview and her appearance today. I see her as someone with a genuine, original political talent that comes from within herself. She’s not your usual other-directed, manufactured politician. In this sense she’s the complete opposite of Romney.Female reader writes:
Sorry, I don’t buy Jeff S.’s argument. You don’t pass off a special needs infant on a 17 and 13 year old while you’re campaigning for veep. That was when the family stayed together in the day to day, and all was under Mom’s overall supervision, not for when Mom is seeking national office.Laura W. writes:
Queen Victoria had nine children while ruling an empire. But, her rule was hereditary. Ordinary women didn’t draw the conclusion that they too might responsibly raise many children and occupy leadership positions. A democratically-elected woman with a large family sends the unfortunate message that ordinary women can—and should—do the impossible. There is a big difference between having children and raising them. Palin’s family may be the happiest, most stable family on the planet. But, it’s a bad model.LA replies:
Also, it seems Palin’s two older daughters, who Jeff S. says are taking care of the baby, are 13 and 17. How does someone run for VP with a five month old baby with special needs? It does seem very strange.Steve D. writes:
It may be that McCain chose Palin for a reason I’ve not seen addressed yet. Her presence essentially makes the race between Obama and Palin—two fascinating political newcomers, callow yet with tremendous celebrity appeal. Palin cancels out Obama’s celebrity. (She also cancels out the “experience” argument, but that was never very strong anyway—I, for instance, would far rather have Palin in the White House than any Democratic member of the Senate, just as most liberals would far rather have a liberal newcomer than a conservative with any amount of experience.) And since celebrity was really all Obama ever had going for him, his campaign now may be in the situation of a sloop in the wind-shadow of a three-decker.Steve D. continues:
I see that you just posted a reply from Mark J on your Sarah Palin thread that not only makes the same analysis as mine, but even uses the same metaphor. That makes me even more confident that I’m right, and that this may actually be a brilliant move by McCain.John B. writes:
As someone who knows that his decaying northeast Philadelphia neighborhood will only get more dangerous should Obama be elected, I couldn’t be happier about the Palin selection. Palin undercuts McCain’s argument that Obama lacks experience? I assume most persons realize that McCain makes that argument only because he doesn’t think he can get away with denouncing Obama as a Negro Communist. The main thing the Palin selection accomplishes is the destruction of Obama’s putative glamour. Now, wonder boy is just a black guy who thinks too much of himself. And the timing: the morning after his speech from Mt. Olympus. That such a move would never have occurred to me makes me realize that I just don’t understand how this game is played. Anyway—am looking forward to no increase in the likelihood of my having a knife stuck in my ribs anytime in the next four years.Alan G. writes:
Isn’t it possible that her husband will assume the role of primary caregiver while she runs for VP? It certainly seems more likely than the idea that her teenage daughters are responsible for the baby. Political wives with jobs frequently take a leave of absence from work while their husbands are running for office so they can join them on the campaign trail. The way you’re all wondering about who could possibly take care of this baby makes it seem like she’s a single mother.A female reader writes:
In your enthusiasm for Palin, you’re just responding to the hype about a woman.LA replies
LOL. My response to her is based solely on the person I was watching on TV. It’s amazing how, as soon as people disagree with me, they start to describe me and my intelligence in denigrating terms. I go from being smart to someone who is mindlessly controlled by GOP hype. Palin strikes me as a talented politician with an original quality.Reader replies:
You keep talking about how talented she is, but you give no specifics.LA replies:
For example, when she talked about Alaska, how she wanted to make Alaska less dependent on the federal government, there was a fire and passion in the way she said it. It came out of herself.Ron K. writes:
Re Jeff S., Laura and female reader’s discussion of Gov. Palin’s recent motherhood, we should all remember that this is the VICE Presidency we’re talking about. Two months of vigorous campaigning, followed by 50 1/2 months in which the baby will have plenty of opportunity for hands-on maternal care.James P. writes:
I think we need to accentuate the positive here, and take McCain’s choice for what it is—an olive branch to conservatives. One can all too easily imagine him picking a VP like Lieberman or Hillary herself that would have represented an overt slap in the face to conservatives. Romney is merely acceptable at best from a conservative viewpoint, but Palin is someone whose heart and head are in the right place. This is the first time in the campaign that I’ve felt that McCain is not actively trying to push me away!Randy writes:
My campaign bumper sticker:Marius A. writes from Europe:
When I heard the news regarding McCain’s election of Sarah Palin as his running mate (sic), a sentence written by you immediately came to mind:Laura W. writes:
Ron K. misses the point entirely. The question isn’t whether Palin’s children will receive care. How absurd! Of course, they won’t be neglected, for heaven’s sake. The point is whether this expresses our shared convictions about what family and government—not to mention men and women—are. The point is how will this effect the working-stiff mother who is tempted to throw aside her husband because raising a bunch of children and holding a responsible position just ain’t that easy and because she is embittered by her romantic expectations of career and family. The point is how will it affect our culture, or what’s left of it, not how it will affect Palin’s family.John Hagan writes:
This women and her family sat down and made a decision to carry to term a Down’s Syndrome child. That takes enormous courage, especially in this day and age of abortion on demand. She could have aborted the child, and most people would have understood that decision. But as a Christian and a pro-lifer she walked the walk. Only an inner-directed person of strong character could, or would take on this kind of responsibility.Sam H. writes from the Netherlands:
I think the discussion about Sarah Palin strikes me as rather silly. [LA replies: Do you really mean that the entire discussion so far is silly? Or certain comments in it are silly? If so, which ones? Statements dismissing an entire discussion without providing any specifics are not helpful.] We’re not talking about Jane across the street // we are talking about interest of state.Paul Nachman writes:
This ..LA replies:
I don’t get the relevance of that sentiment to the Palin choice.Paul Nachman replies:
That didn’t even occur to me.Laura W. writes:
Sam H.’s point that extraordinary women deserve extraordinary breaks would make sense in a world where women weren’t already taking over many managerial fields; where families were not at the point of annihilation; and where the civility and literacy of the average American child wasn’t comparable to that of a foundling raised by wolves. Perhaps Palin offers a level of charisma and conviction no man in America possesses. Wow. Are things that bad?LA writes:
On the experience issue, it’s true that the Palin choice takes away the ability of the Republicans to argue that Obama is inexperienced. However, it also works the other way. Obama’s lack of experience prevents the Democrats from arguing that Palin lacks experience. So the experience issue has been wiped out, as far as what each party can say about the other is concerned.Mark J. writes:
I dislike McCain. I’d decided long ago I would never vote for him, based on his immigration position. Like you, I’ve felt that if he is elected it will be a disaster for conservatism.LA replies:
Your comment, with its profound relativism, clearly demonstrates the mistake of making politics—the policies one wants for one’s country—one’s decisive guide. We need to look at the whole, balancing all goods and bads together. To say, “I want Result X, and this candidate will give it to me, therefore I will support this candidate, regardless of how harmful he or she may be to our culture,” is wrong.David B. writes:
By choosing Sarah Palin, McCain grabbed the attention away from Obama. This is important in this day and age. A woman can make the GOP ticket more palatable to disgruntled Hillary supporters. She helps more than Romney in the short run, maybe in the long haul as well. I was really afraid McCain would choose Lieberman or Ridge. If Palin does well as a campaigner, Obama is likely sunk.Mark J. replies:
Imagine a candidate who advocates all the policies you most strongly favor. They want to stop Muslim immigration and begin an outflow of Muslims. They strongly state that the U.S. is a particular nation with a particular people and that those people have the right to take action to make sure it stays that way. And so on. The candidate agrees with every significant policy position you have. And what’s more, you believe they are sincere and they will act on their convictions.LA replies:
I’ll try to answer Mark J. later.Laura W. writes:
Mirroring what you’ve said many times about race, the irony of this selection of vice-president, which is at least partly driven by a desire to garner the Hillary vote, is that the more you pander to women, the more bitter they become. The bar is raised each time. Their expectations of what they are due and what they can achieve without sacrificing substantial personal goods are raised. They become enraged when these expectations are not fulfilled—and why shouldn’t they be enraged when they have swallowed lies. Palin herself will not become bitter; that’s not the point. Others will. They will express this rage in their most intimate affairs. I’d feel more comfortable with this vice presidential candidate if she had no children at all. That’s the expected price a woman pays in her position.LA writes:
The L-dotters are blown over by the choice of Palin, ecstatic, both because they think it’s a stunning political move and because they like her.The female reader writes:
Palin reminds me of one of those comediennes on Saturday Night Live who imitate female anchors or female politicians, complete with high pitched voice and adorable earnestness.Gintas writes:
I was looking over the L-dotters thread, and this occurred to me.Jeff in England writes:
My prediction: This will not be a close election. For a while McCain and his young “chick” Palin (who makes Obama look experienced) will hang in there a few points behind. Then Obama will pull away and win easily. McCain is part of an old paradigm (which includes neo-conservatism) which is on its way out. Choosing Palin will not change that.LA replies:
There have been so many “inevitables” that somehow have ended up not happening.Laura W. writes:
Mark J. writes:Jeff C. writes:
Positives of choosing Palin as far as Ragey McRage is concerned:Paul T. writes from Canada:
You wrote:LA replies:
Here’s my short answer:Daniel H. writes:
As far as foreign policy experience goes, shouldn’t it count for just a little bit that Sarah Palin is the chief executive of the only state that shares a border with Russia? Notwithstanding the federal responsibility for defense and border security , there must be numerous policies and matters that need to be tended to as a matter of course, just for the interests of the state off Alaska and, consequently, the United States. I am sure they are not nothing. I am sure they are more weighty than hustling around DC wondering which of the nightly news shows one is going to get one’s face on.LA replies:
I wasn’t aware that Alaska shares a border with Russia. Doesn’t the Bering Strait lie between them? And even if they did share a border, would it be significant in terms of her experience? The U.S.-Mexican border is surely more significant, and look at the use GW Bush made of his supposed great knowledge of that border as governor of Texas. He really “understood” border issues, he said. And what this understanding told him was that we should open our borders to Mexico because family values don’t stop at the Rio Grande.Ken Hechtman writes:
Paul G. wrote:LA replies:
“Pothead”? Here is what Wikipedia says:RS writes:
Perhaps my thinking on this issue is too simple, but here it is in bullet points:Laura W. writes:
I don’t mean to disagree with Mark. J.’s point that immigration control is a more important public issue at this time than traditional sex roles. As Aristotle said, the interests of the state supersede those of the family, as the family doesn’t function without the protections and vitality of the state. But why should we choose one over the other unless there is no possible alternative? If discarding fundamental conservative values is the only way to defeat Obama, it’s not worth it.Robert B. sends a photo of Sarah Palin aiming what looks like a semi-automatic rifle and says:
Thought you might like these photos. She is definitely my kind of woman. In fact, reading about her and gives insight into my own daughter’s future in a way—she scored a 100 percent on her gun safety test at age 12 and is, in fact, a great shot. She is also on her way to being a three time National Honor Society inductee and a two National Latin Exam perfect score honoree. I know how this woman was raised.LA replies:
So, now we automatically approve of a person and assume she is a kindred spirit and represents our values, simply if she uses guns? Is that really enough to make us support someone politically? Robert B. is essentially begging politicians to press his buttons: “Pose for a picture holding a firearm, and I’ll support you.” Please. We can’t allow ourselves to be swayed that easily. We need to look at the totality of a politician’s record.[Note: my comment to Robert B. was too dismissive. The exchange between us continues in the follow-up thread.]
David B. writes:
Tonight I called my liberal friend, Professor F. He said, “Choosing this bimbo is the worst thing I have ever seen in American politics. Tonight I am ashamed to be an American.” I replied that after nominating the Great Obama, the democrats have no room to complain. It went over his head.LA replies:
Oh, heck—liberals are constantly professing how “ashamed” they are of America, how “ashamed” they are to be an American. By saying this, they’re not expressing adherence to some higher standard by which America is found wanting—they’re simply expressing their endemic dislike of and disloyalty to America. From their liberal point of view, America is by definition “shameful.”Mark J. writes:
Laura W. wrote: “Mark J. is saying that, at the end of the day, it is worth sacrificing sexual morality and the traditional roles of the sexes for other goods, such as immigration control.”LA replies:
What originally motivated Mark J.’s argument along this line was his stated concern that he opposed Obama for lack of experience, but now is supporting Palin who lacks experience, and that he generally opposes women in positions of national leadership, but (at least on first impression) he likes Palin for national leadership. And instead of trying to resolve these contradictions, his response to them is to suggest that there are no standards, and that we should just support the candidates whose policies we like regardless of standards that we supposedly once cared about:LA writes:
I’ve seen Republican talking heads tonight on TV openly proclaiming the goodness of the Palin choice on the basis that having a female candidate will win women’s votes. If Republicans have now gone so low as to resort to such leftist and feminist style identity politics, that is a powerful reason to refuse to support them.August 30
Simon N. writes from England:
You wrote:Sam H. writes:
You wrote: “Do you really mean that the entire discussion so far is silly? Or certain comments in it are silly? If so, which ones?”LA replies:
Ok.Sam H. replies:
Fair enough, but I think that if you go back to the thread you will say that 90 percent of the discussion at the point I sent my email was about the issue I addressed.LA replies:
“But this could be true.”Sam H. continues:
Her children are called Track, Bristol, Willow, Piper and Trig. Are these names as absurd as they sound to European ears? Or are these traditional Alaskan names?LA replies:
They certainly sound ridiculous to these lower-48 ears.Terry Morris writes:
In terms of executive experience Sarah Palin apparently has more than all the other candidates combined.LA replies:
Good point. We’ve got a 35 year senator; a four-year congressman and 21 year senator; and a ten year state senator and three year U.S. senator.Terry Morris replies:
Precisely. When exactly was it that lack of executive experience became a positive quality in presidential and Vice Presidential candidates, particularly with “conservatives”?LA replies:
In fact, over our history, and especially since 1976, most presidents have been governors or have had other significant executive experience rather than being senators, while the number of incumbent U.S. senators who have unsuccessfully run for president in recent decades must number in the scores. It’s a striking and surprising fact that only two incumbent U.S. senators have been elected president: Harding in 1920 and Kennedy in 1960. This year is the first time in our history that the presidential nominees of both major parties are sitting U.S. senators—plus one of the vice presidential nominees as well. In this sense, Gov. Palin is more in line with historic presidential qualifications than the other three candidates.Terry Morris writes:
I strongly disagree with the commenter who said that Alaska is a “conservative” state. I lived in Alaska from 1990-1992, and I can tell you that unless during the years since Alaska has done a 180, it is definitely not a conservative state. There is, however, an air of rugged independency in Alaska, and I think this is sometimes mistaken as conservatism. But as a lifelong conservative who believes in strictly enforcing discipline in the home in order to raise good productive self-governing future citizens, I can tell you that Alaska does all it can to thwart that process. When I first arrived in Alaska, one of the first things I was instructed on was to avoid at all costs ever exercising any form of discipline over my children in public, particularly corporal punishment irrespective of how lightly it is administered. You just don’t spank your children in public in Alaska, period, unless you want them taken from you because virtually every Alaskan is on the lookout for what they consider to be child abuse at all times. And God forbid if someone sees a few bruises on them. It doesn’t matter how they got them, it is assumed that they are abused if they have bruises from rough housing or whatever.The Editrix writes from Germany:
I am so angry that I’d better share this before I burst with suppressed rage.Sam H. writes:
Here is an interesting morsel I saw in Palin’s wikipedia page:Laura W. writes:
Sam H.’s point that the entire discussion about Palin’s motherhood is silly shows he doesn’t even understand what is being discussed. Whether Palin’s own children turn out okay is irrelevant. The wider cultural implications are the issue and are indeed a matter of state. It’s a cliche, but the family is the very foundation of the state, a fact repeated ad nauseam by philosophers throughout Western Civilization. Silly, eh?LA replies:
Laura is making a powerful point, a point that once would have been widely understood, but that now represents a minority view even among “conservatives.” For the Republican party, the party of family values, to nominate a mother with a five month old baby for vice president is to send the message that it’s ok and desirable for women to make their career more important than caring for their children. This is a message that, at least as traditionalists understand, is harmful to the fundamental well being of society.[This entry has reached its maximum size. The discussion continues in a new entry.].