Sarah Palin

(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:


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.

Two senior campaign officials disclosed McCain’s decision a few hours before the Republican presidential nominee-to-be and his newly-minted running mate appeared at a rally in swing-state Ohio.

Palin, like McCain, is a conservative with a maverick streak who has shown a willingness to clash with others in her own party. A self-styled hockey mom and political reformer, she has been governor of her state less than two years.

Palin’s selection shocked numerous Republican officials.

At 44, Palin is a generation younger that Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, who is Barack Obama’s running mate on the Democratic ticket.

She is three years Obama’s junior, as well—and McCain has made much in recent weeks of Obama’s relative lack of experience in foreign policy and defense matters.

In making his pick, McCain passed over several more prominent prospects who had figured in speculation for months—Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge among them.

Palin flew overnight to an airport in Ohio near Dayton, and even as she awaited her formal introduction, some aides said they had believed she was at home in Alaska.

She is a former mayor of Wasilla who became governor of her state in December, 2006 after ousting a governor of her own party in a primary and then dispatching a former governor in the general election.

More recently, she has come under the scrutiny of an investigation by the Republican-controlled legislature into the possibility that she ordered the dismissal of Alaska’s public safety commissioner because he would not fire her former brother-in-law as a state trooper.

The timing of McCain’s selection appeared designed to limit any political gain Obama yields from his own convention, which ended Thursday night with his nominating acceptance speech before an estimated 84,000 in Invesco Field in Colorado.

Public opinion polls show a close race between Obama and McCain, and with scarcely two months remaining until the election, neither contender can allow the other to jump out to a big post-convention lead.

McCain has had months to consider his choice, and has made it clear to reporters that one of his overriding goals was to avoid a situation like the one in 1988, when Dan Quayle was thrown into a national campaign with little preparation.

Palin has a long history of run-ins with the Alaska GOP hierarchy, giving her genuine maverick status and reformer credentials that could complement McCain’s image.

Two years ago, she ousted the state’s Republican incumbent governor, Frank Murkowski in the primary, despite having little money and little establishment backing.

She has also distanced herself from two senior Republican office-holders, Sen. Ted Stevens and Rep. Don young. Both men are under federal corruption investigations.

She had earned stripes—and enmity—after Murkowski made her head of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. From that post, she exposed ethical violations by the state GOP chairman, also a fellow commissioner.

She and her husband Todd Palin, have five children. The latest, a baby, was born with Down syndrome.

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.

Jeremy replies:

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:


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.’”

This is the national GOP we’re talking about. Only liberals are left standing at this point. This must indicate that Romney was less liberal than we suspected.

My expectations for the Republican candidate were shattered a long time ago.

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.

Also, my understanding is that he did go on leave at some point because he worked for an oil company, BP, which is a conflict of interest for his wife

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.

Here is she is today, suddenly appearing on the national and world stage for the first time, and she came out there with complete confidence and assurance. “Lack of experience” was not the phrase that popped into my mind.

I don’t think she was picked solely or mainly because she is a woman. People hire people not because of points on a resume, but because they have a good feeling about the entire package. My guess is that they saw Palin as a winner and picked her for that reason.

That’s my first impression, and that’s all it is. When I first saw GW Bush give a speech in 1999 after he declared his candidacy, I said he was a winner.

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.

They’ll just have to knock on the lactation-room door whenever there’s a tie in the Senate.

Does anyone think little Trig would be better off in Juneau, where mom is ten times busier? Send him to One Observatory Circle right away.

The introduction of a disabled neonate into the campaign can make this heretofore boring race come to life. “Sarah’s neglecting Trig? Barry would strangle him! And Joe would turn his head.” That Illinois partial-birth vote looks even more embarrassing now.

As for the presidency itself, I would think traditionalists would have caught the great silver lining in this whole storm cloud of an electoral season. The office is a century or two overdue for a good deflation. I hear serious right-wing benefactors have been shifting their resources to other races. It’s about time!

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!

Spencer Warren notes that the VP is political window dressing who helps the President get elected and has no further role beyond what the President permits. This is true, but also a moot point. Conservatives were already shut out of the number one slot. Number two is the best we were going to do, and we weren’t even assured of getting that.

She hunts, she fishes, she’s attractive, she wants to plunder ANWR, what’s not to like? =)

Randy writes:

My campaign bumper sticker:

- And don’t forget to vote for her running mate

The white male voters will be coming out of the woodwork.

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:

Women are cute. But do we want the major institutions of our civilization being led by cute people?

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.

Unlike a lot of Americans who seem like children with all their toys and gadgets, this women is an adult. She strikes me as being in the moment. She and her husband have had real jobs unlike a lot of politicians. There’s a feel of authenticity about her.

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.

It’s a liberal way of thinking to immediately go to some abstract principle. [LA replies: What are you referring to? Where in this discussion have people been talking about an abstract principle?]

This woman has more than a sparkle. She has something I haven’t seen in her female politician since Thatcher first emerged as conservative leader in the late seventies. Women shouldn’t be in politics, right—except for when they have more balls than the men. This woman qualifies. She can win votes. She may be President one day. And that might not be a bad thing.

Paul Nachman writes:

This ..

“The office is a century or two overdue for a good deflation.”

.. is a seriously correct statement.

And, beyond correct, it’s important.

As a matter of logic and design, Congress is the premier branch of the American national government (not “federal” government, by the way, national government in a federal system), the first among equals.

We put WAY too much weight on the presidency. All sorts of absurdities follow—the President creates jobs, the President runs the economy, the President has to have an opinion and a policy on everything … the President winds up being the national daddy.

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.

I was reacting to Ron K’s excellent, perspective-setting final paragraph. which just happens to be in your Palin blog. “Just happens” isn’t quite right—it’s a very useful “clean-up” paragraph in its context.

There’s still no way I’ll vote for either ticket.

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.

Yet here I am feeling more positively disposed towards him because he picked Palin as his VP candidate. Why? Because from what I’ve learned of her root beliefs—being a lifetime NRA member, for instance—she seems like she shares my values and would make choices with which I’d agree. (Understand that this is just an initial impression.) But the thing is, I also felt that one of the reasons Obama should be disqualified is his lack of experience. Yet here I am feeling positive towards a candidate with very little experience. Also, I generally feel women are not suited for national leadership. Yet here I am feeling positive towards a female candidate for national leadership.

This strikes me as similar to the feminists who supported Bill Clinton even after Juanita Broaddrick came out with rape accusation, or after the Lewinsky dalliances in the Oval Office. Where is my consistency?

I think what it comes down to is that people will support a candidate who they think will work to make the country the way they want it, regardless of any particular traits of that candidate. Experience? Who cares about experience if you’re convinced the person will get the reforms made that you want made? Can’t speak without mispronouncing words, a la Bush? Who cares as long as the right laws get passed? Canoodles with young interns and rapes campaign workers? Distasteful, wrong, but again—if the right laws get passed and the right Supreme Court justices get nominated, then in the big picture it’s what matters.

I think this is true enough that I might even be convinced to vote for a homosexual black female ex-convict with no previous experience in any managerial role in business or government as long as I was convinced strongly enough that she would work hard to get passed the laws that I want passed.

It’s only if you disagree with a candidate’s principles and values that all of these other considerations come into play. Suddenly they don’t have enough experience, or they have too much experience (they’re an insider) or they’re a crook or they’re an out-of-touch goody-goody, etc.

Don’t you think it comes down to this: will this person work to make the world the way you want it to be? If you really believe they will, then what difference does any of the rest of the stuff that people criticize candidates for make?

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.

Are you saying that if they were a different race, or gender, or religion, or had a lack of experience, or whatever—their personal characteristics—that you would not vote for them even though their policies were 100 percent spot on? That this would be relativistic?

Now I would have to have some pretty compelling evidence to believe that, for example, a black female homosexual ex-convict with no leadership experience would actually believe in the same things I do. But if I did, and the alternative was a white man who opposed what I believe in, I would vote for the black woman.

You say this thinking is a mistake, and wrong—but why is it a mistake and wrong? The result is that this black female homosexual transforms my country back into my country again. That is a good thing.

I’m choosing an extreme example but my point is that when it comes to arguments about things like the experience of candidates, people will flip flop about how important it is depending on whether they like the candidate. My point is that what matters to people is whether the candidate will do what they want done, not the traits of that individual.

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 Cornerites are reporting that their e-mail is heavily in favor of the Palin choice.

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.

Take the McCain/Palin ticket, and list all the things you like. In the end you’ll find this is really your preferred ticket: Palin. People are going to be voting for Palin but getting McCain.

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.

America is more than ever a liberal country and even its dominant conservatism is of a liberal type. You saw this when McCain eclipsed Romney. Admittedly Giuliani came across as too liberal. Obama is retreating from his leftist liberalism and promoting a conservative liberalism with good results.

Just as Kennedy and Reagan was exactly the right men for their “moment,” one feels the same about Obama, even if one opposes him. It may be astrological. It certainly feels spiritual in the broadest sense of the word. There is a spiritual like inevitability about it, beyond the actual political campaign.

LA replies:

There have been so many “inevitables” that somehow have ended up not happening.

Laura W. writes:

Mark J. writes:

“Now I would have to have some pretty compelling evidence to believe that, for example, a black female homosexual ex-convict with no leadership experience would actually believe in the same things I do. But if I did, and the alternative was a white man who opposed what I believe in, I would vote for the black woman.”

A black female homosexual ex-convict could not possibly believe in traditional sexual morality. 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. That’s like trying to remove a brain tumor without touching the surrounding tissue. These things are so intimately intertwined. Our nation is not just the White House and Congress. We are a public and private union. There will be no leaders even remotely fit for the White House or Congress 100 years from now unless these private matters are not viewed as part of a sacred public trust. If you think this too radical, remember this was the consensus 100 years ago.

Jeff C. writes:

Positives of choosing Palin as far as Ragey McRage is concerned:

- Woman. Takes the Hillary and independent vote.

- Maverick. Maintains Ragey’s reputation and injects it with fresh blood.

- Unabashed conservative. Will shore up and energize the base.

- Blue collar background and husband’s a union member. Will help with the blue collar Democrat vote.

- Lack of experience. This is a mixed bag as far as Ragey is concerned. He wants someone who he will have control over and who will have to answer to him. She might fit this profile (although I think she’ll be more independent than Ragey thinks), Romney wouldn’t.

Her major disadvantage is that the press will pounce on any gaffe and try to Quail her. She had better be careful, although she seems like a very self-assured, intelligent and principled candidate.

Overall, a brilliant choice … as long as she doesn’t let the press get a handle on her. That remains to be seen.

Lastly, I still think Obamaton will win the election.

Paul T. writes from Canada:

You wrote:

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.

This put me in mind of something I’ve thought of from time to time—it would be fascinating to read a post by you setting forth your opinion of Machiavelli.

LA replies:

Here’s my short answer:

Reading The Prince is like jumping into a stream in the Rocky Mountains: it’s extremely stimulating at first, but if you stay in for more than a couple of minutes, you start to freeze to death.

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:

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.

American mileage may vary, but in Canadian elections, our rule of thumb is that all other things being equal, whichever party has the only woman in a race gets a five percent bounce from that alone. It’s nice to have when it works out that way, but if you want to win you need more going for you than just that.

In reference to the conversation I was having with Robert Locke the other week about how we’ve [by “we,” KH means the left] won the culture war, I claim game, set and match. The Republicans just put a girl-jock pothead with gay friends a heartbeat away from the presidency (and a 72-year-old heart at that). I mean, take a moment to consider exactly how unthinkable that would have been 20 years ago—never mind 40 or 50.

I don’t care if she calls herself a “conservative Christian” from here to tomorrow—she’s got more in common with me than with you.

LA replies:

“Pothead”? Here is what Wikipedia says:

[Palin] admits that she used marijuana at a time when the state had legalized possession of small amounts. She says that she did not like it and she does not support legalizing marijuana, concerned about the message it would send to her kids.

So she’s used marijuana at some time in the past. For this, Mr. Hechtman calls her a “pothead,” implying that use of pot is a part of her life. This is part of the Hechtman technique. He throws statements out there hoping they’ll stick to the wall, and when they’re refuted, he doesn’t reply but just moves on to the next point.

“with gay friends”? Here’s Wikipedia:

Palin has said she has good friends who are gay, opposes same-sex marriage, but complied with an Alaskan state Supreme Court order and signed an implementation of same-sex benefits into law, stating that legal options to avoid doing so had run out. She supported a non-binding referendum for a constitutional amendment to deny benefits to homosexual couples.

I’m sure Ronald Reagan had good friends who he knew were homosexual. It’s not possible for many, perhaps most people in today’s America not to have homosexual social acquaintances. That doesn’t necessarily imply approval of homosexual conduct. Indeed, far from supporting the homosexual agenda, Palin seems to oppose recognition even of homosexual “civil unions” as well as homosexual marriages,” which, if true, definitely puts her on the right side.

So Mr. Hechtman’s comments about Palin’s background should not be allowed to pass unexamined. He’s soft-spoken and non-confrontational. But as he has made abundantly clear, he has an agenda—the moral-liberationist, multicultural, Islamic destruction of the West. And everything he says should be looked at in that light. In the present instance, he was trying to create the impression that pot-smoking and acceptance of homosexuality are more widespread and accepted on the right than they in fact are.

This is not to say that Mr. Hechtman is not welcome to post here, or that my statements should not be subject to the same kind of examination as I say his should be. I have an agenda, which is to save and preserve the West. It therefore becomes a legitimate question whether I am distorting things in order to further that agenda, or am trying to look at things objectively.

RS writes:

Perhaps my thinking on this issue is too simple, but here it is in bullet points:

- McCain owes his power and prestige to those who are not conservative.

- Palin owes what she may have at the national level to McCain and his network of supporters, who are not conservative.

- Vice-Presidents, in this day and age, do not build strong power bases of their own in defiance of the President they serve.

- Palin’s conservatism seems to be at odds with McCain’s liberal Republican record.

- Palin has no strong power base in Washington.

- McCain has shown that he is willing to cross conservatives, within the Republican party as well as in the population, outside of election time.

From the above I conclude that Palin, though she may be the poster woman for conservatism in the Republican party and be right as rain on all the issues, will have little to no influence on policy in a McCain presidency. She has too small a base of official and social power from which to project her views and she will not be permitted to build a strong position in a McCain administration because she will be surrounded by people, McCain’s core group, who are not conservative. She is being used to attract votes and will be shoved off stage after the election, when the non-conservatives of Team McCain set to work.

We get a conservative administration only if McCain dies.

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.”

I’m not saying that at all. My goal is to restore sexual morality and the traditional roles of the sexes. I’m saying that what policies a person would put into place come first, and their various personal traits—race, gender, age, orientation, religion, experience, marriage history, and so on—come second. ALL OTHER THINGS BEING EQUAL, I would choose the candidate whose personal traits were those I consider traditionalist. But if the choice is between, say, a black woman who is a traditionalist conservative and a white man who is a trans-national progressive, I will choose the black woman.

I purposefully chose an extreme example (black female homosexual ex-convict) to make a point. But let’s suppose the candidate was a white heterosexual woman. Is Laura arguing that it would be sacrificing our cause to vote for a traditionalist conservative woman for President? Or suppose it was a black male traditionalist. Would we be sacrificing our cause to vote for him if the alternative is a leftist? I don’t think so. So was it just that I included homosexual in the list of traits of my hypothetical traditionalist conservative that put Laura off? Could we not elect a homosexual traditionalist conservative without giving up the core of our beliefs? I don’t think that homosexuals are inherently unfit to lead. If they keep their sexual behaviors private and support the sanctity of marriage and traditional roles for the sexes, then a homosexual traditionalist conservative would be preferable to someone who is not a traditionalist conservative. This is true even though, all other things being equal, I prefer a heterosexual as leader.

Now it may be true, as Laura says, that in real life you will never find a black woman or a homosexual who is a true traditionalist conservative. But that doesn’t negate my point, which is that while we would all prefer a candidate who not only supports traditionalist policies but embodies traditionalism in their personal traits, when the choice has to be either/or, I will take the policies before I insist on the traits. It’s why conservatives who were criticizing Obama’s lack of experience can turn on a dime when Palin is nominated and argue that experience isn’t so important. This is because it’s Palin’s policies that matter, and the experience is a secondary consideration. Yes, we would prefer someone with Palin’s beliefs who was also more experienced and male. But the alternative is worse. My point was to make the observation that it’s only when you disagree with the candidate’s policies that these personal traits seem to loom so large in importance.

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:

I think what it comes down to is that people will support a candidate who they think will work to make the country the way they want it, regardless of any particular traits of that candidate. Experience? Who cares about experience if you’re convinced the person will get the reforms made that you want made? Can’t speak without mispronouncing words, a la Bush? Who cares as long as the right laws get passed? Canoodles with young interns and rapes campaign workers? Distasteful, wrong, but again—if the right laws get passed and the right Supreme Court justices get nominated, then in the big picture it’s what matters.

Thus Mark resorts to the sophistical nihilism that Plato repeatedly confronted in the person of Thrasymachus and others.

Similarly, Republican talking heads, people who supposedly have moral principles, are disgracing themselves by saying that Palin is ready to replace the president on Day One, but that Obama is insufficiently experienced.

If you find yourself in a contradiction, the answer is not to embrace contradiction and say that standards don’t matter. The answer is to resolve the contradiction. This can be done in various principled ways.

I’m writing this late at night, so I’ll complete the comment tomorrow.

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:

“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”

There’s no doubt they’re doing that—Palin’s “Hillary Clinton put 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling, and now … ” comment made it explicit. My wife is a Hillary-supporting feminist Blue Dog Democrat (pro guns, pro legal abortion), disgusted with the Obama campaign, she’s ecstatic about Palin and is considering voting Republican for the first time ever.

From what I can see, Palin is 100 percent honest, gutsy, was smart and capable enough to bring down the corrupt Alaska GOP Old Boy network, has governor experience, and is an excellent VP pick. As a Brit, I remember Thatcher being our greatest leader since Churchill so I don’t have the “women can’t lead” views of many American conservatives.

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?”

I meant the part about whether it is morally wrong for a woman with children, including young children, to be the vice presidential candidate.

We are talking about matters of state. Margaret Thatcher was probably a bad mother—and neither of her children in fact turned out very well—but we shouldn’t evaluate these matters from the perspective of those children but from the perspective of the interest of the state.

That’s what I meant.

LA replies:


May I ask, in future comments, that you say what you mean. Saying, “this discussion is silly,” is not a meaningful statement.

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.

Incidentally, my initial, gut reaction to Palin was negative because it seemed like an irresponsible gamble on McCain´s part. Then I saw her on CNN and I saw that she is very dynamic.

I am still not sure she is the right choice. But I try to evaluate it for the right reasons. The most important argument against her is her insufficient political experience, not that she is woman who has young children. But this could be true.

LA replies:

“But this could be true.”

Sorry for being a nuissance again, but how about telling us what the linked article in Newsweek says, instead of expecting us all to click on the link and read the entire article to find out what you’re alluding to?

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.

Which of course doesn’t change the fact that her high-level experience—a year and half as governor of a low-population, oddball state that is geographically and culturally removed from the rest of the country (her accent even sounds a bit Canadian)—is very limited for a vice presidential nominee. Will her supporters be able plausibly to argue that she is prepared to step into the president’s shoes on a moment’s notice? Now, it’s true that a year and a half as a governor is more significant experience than five and half years as a member of Congress from Queens, as was the case of Geraldine Ferraro in 1984. But the Ferraro nomination was an embarrassment driven by feminists, and Republicans should not be making that their standard.

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.

Additionally, there’s a large and loud contingent of homosexuals in Alaska’s largest city, Anchorage. The city of Anchorage makes up about half of the entire population of the state of Alaska. And animal rights advocates run rampant in the state, as well as environmental wackos.

The short of it is this, anyone who claims that Alaska is a “conservative” state either doesn’t know what conservatism is, or isn’t very familiar with Alaska, or both. But by comparison to, say, Massachusetts, my state of Oklahoma is considered “conservative” in the extreme. Go figure.

The Editrix writes from Germany:

I am so angry that I’d better share this before I burst with suppressed rage.

Spiegel Online, the website of the leading German newsmagazine Der Spiegel lets one Marc Pitzke tear Palin to shreds to finish. Here are the last three paragraphs:

But that [the image of the “I can do it all” working mother] is, of course, just one side of the lady [in this context, “lady” is meant to be a gross insult], who looks like a living image of the TV-comedian Tina Fey. Under closer scrutiny, Palin emerges as an arch-conservative, specifically in social matters.

So she doesn’t just oppose abortion. She is against abortion in cases of rape or incest. Or—as it happened with her own son Trig, born in April—in case of a handicap that was already diagnosed during the embryonic stage. Trig, so the results of early genetic tests showed, is suffering from Down syndrome. Palin gave birth to him nevertheless—and hold him in his arms yesterday.

This was a first whiff of the cynicism with which the Republicans will stage-manage themselves next week for the voters. Who thought now after the success of Denver that the Democrats own the political show biz will be surprised: At staging sentiments, the other side [i.e. the Republicans] have been always better.

According to that logic from hell, cynicism is to decline to abort a child with Down’s syndrome, because parents are too lazy and weak to cope with such a child. It is not cynicism to assume that Mrs. Palin had that child to further her political career; it is cynicism to give birth to, to hold and to love such a child.

Nota bene that I do not approve of working mothers of small children, and that Mrs. Palin’s other merits or the lack thereof are beyond my ken. This is just about an all-time low of anti-American and leftist journalism, not about this specific politician.

Sam H. writes:

Here is an interesting morsel I saw in Palin’s wikipedia page:

While Mayor of Wasilla, Palin wore a “Buchanan for President” button during conservative Pat Buchanan’s 1996 visit to Wasilla.

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?

Sam H. obviously has a very different experience of life in modern society than I do. There’s a thin line between barbarism and civilization. Many people, even families from prosperous homes, now live on that line. I could give many facts, figures and observations to support the claim, but VFR has well-documented the deterioration. When women abandon their moral obligations, the world goes to rot and a race declines from demographic inertia. I refer you to the fall of the Roman Empire, richly aided by the abandonment of motherhood and the moral decay of Roman women. Does Sam H. think it silly to consider just why the birth rate among white women in Europe and America, especially among the most talented and intelligent women, is so depressingly low? Is it likely to improve if every little girl is told she can become vice president someday too?

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.

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Posted by Lawrence Auster at August 29, 2008 11:30 AM | Send

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