The Intersection

McCain Picks Palin


Sarah Palin is McCain’s running mate.

As I wrote yesterday, with less than two years in office, her nomination undercuts his central criticism of his opponent — that Obama is too inexperienced to be commander-in-chief. As a relatively young woman, she may draw a necessary demographic and conservatives will be pleased she is opposed to abortion rights.

As Nate points out, Palin may run into gender politics taboos and be unable to draw Clinton voters. Further, Andrew Sullivan is correct that she has no Washington experience or foreign policy expertise.

On the campaign trail, this may be a smart strategic pick for McCain. Beyond November, what do you think?


  1. #1 Globle Warren Terrism
    August 29, 2008

    Maybe the strategy is that the choice of Palin, will persuade women to vote the McCain-Palin ticket in hopes that McCain will soon die of natural causes, be felled by a stroke, or be otherwise incapacitated or deceased, so that the US will finally have a woman president.

    If so, I’d say it’s a bad strategy — appealing to the constituency which would most want you to be assassinated soon after inauguration.

  2. #2 Julie Stahlhut
    August 29, 2008

    I think it levels the playing field somewhat. The Republicans will no longer be able to attack the Obama ticket for “inexperience”, while the Democrats will no longer be able to attack the Republican ticket on the grounds of either McCain’s age or old-white-guy politics as usual. Also, Palin seems to have a reputation for being above corruption, which will appeal to undecided voters. It will also be interesting to see if those other “undecided” voters who either openly or secretly prefer their candidates to be both white and male will figure out that they should make their choice based on actual issues.

    Still, the choices are pretty clear for anyone who either has a distinct progressive or conservative voting preference, or else has been disillusioned by the Bush years. Nothing about Sarah Palin’s politics stands in stark contrast to those of John McCain.

  3. #3 Jon Winsor
    August 29, 2008
  4. #4 Jon Winsor
    August 29, 2008

    Also, Palin seems to have a reputation for being above corruption…

    Not so sure about that:

  5. #5 Joel
    August 29, 2008

    An interesting choice, and personally I’m glad to see a woman choosen. Much better than Obama’s choice of Biden.

    It may weaken the experience argument against Obama, but it could be argued that governor is good experience, and VP is a good place to gain further experience.

  6. #6 Carol
    August 29, 2008

    Yes, a women. But very bad on women’s issues.

  7. #7 Soto
    August 29, 2008

    Besides the other reasons stated above, is this choice designed to deal with the oil issue? She enacted what are essentially windfall taxes on oil revenues in Alaska. (see the bottom of this article). Perhaps McCain thinks he can use this limited record to assuage voters angry at the oil companies while never outright advocating windfall taxes or other measures likely to aggravate the oil companies?

    (I don’t support windfall taxes because I don’t believe that the produce the desired result. I would rather cut oil subsidies and increase investment in energy alternatives. That said, I could see how subtly playing the windfall tax idea could help McCan woo those who are just focused on today’s price of gas.)

  8. #8 Jennifer
    August 29, 2008

    I’m very happy to see a woman chosen, but I also find it a very cynical choice. Instead of choosing a woman with, you know, actual national and international experience (we are in 2 wars after all), he chooses someone who I don’t think could jump into the presidency if something were to happen to McCain. That is, after all, the main role of VP. Why didn’t he pick a woman with some substantial experience, like Kay Bailey Hutchinson? There are many, many women on the national scene who could have brought years of experience to the ticket. His choice is actually somewhat insulting to me when I really think about it. Just pick a woman, any woman will do!

    To answer your question, I think it’s a very poor choice if we’re just thinking about after November.

  9. #9 marguerite manteau-rao
    August 29, 2008

    As an environmentalist, and a woman deeply concerned about our environment, and also women’s rights, Palin is the pick from hell.

  10. #10 marguerite manteau-rao
    August 29, 2008

    Not sure my last comment came out as I intended . . .

    I meant I am the environmentalist and the pro-choice woman. NOT Palin. She represents all we should be concerned about from Republican ticket. Get your guns out!

  11. #11 ponderingfool
    August 29, 2008

    Palin may end up being a great pick.

    Experience is a none starter. The Democratic convention just told us experience doesn’t really matter. The Republicans have morphed inexperience into the celebrity angle regarding Obama. That attack they will still use. Besides the top of the ticket is who is going to be President on Day 1. Attack her and you raise the concern will Obama not be ready day 1. Not to mention any attack in that nature will raise screams from the GOP about double standards (something along the lines “so what, it isok for a man to be inexperienced but not a woman?”), all playing to get those undecided moderate Clinton supporters.

    Palin reinforces the old image of McCain as a maverick and reformer while still playing to the GOP base: pro-family, pro-NRA, and anti-choice. Just think she will be a woman talking against abortion proclaiming ” how can anyone consider it just another acceptable choice to end the life of defenseless newborn just because he is not perfect according to scientists?” as in the background her husband holds her newborn baby who has downs syndrome. Talk about a frame. How do you will Biden debate that without coming across as cruel?

    Then there is oil drilling. Palin has stated her concern about climate change but is also pro-oil drilling. More importantly she is an Alaskan who is for drilling. She will likely hammer home the “us (people, in particular westerners) vs. them (the Democrats in the House and Senate)” theme Republicans like to play on this issue. That has the potential to play well in western states. As Nisbet has pointed out McCain has morphed concerns about the economy to concerns about gas/oil & the desire for more drilling.

    To dismiss her is dangerous for the Democrats. McCain camp seems to have set this up well. The attack on her, the Democrats provided cover for during their convention. Palin reinforces the themes of outsider, maverick/reformer while playing to the GOP base and is front & center on a key issue for McCain (oil drilling).

  12. #12 Laurie Mann
    August 29, 2008

    NPR called her the “dark horse” early this morning, then spent more time talking Romney and Ridge. McCain had to go far to the right to satisfy the social conservatives. But some of them are so far to the right, that they won’t vote for her because she’s a woman.

    The Republicans were, as recently as last night, blasting Obama’s “lack of experience.” So McCain picks a person with less general government experience and no foreign policy experience.

    It is a cynical choice, but the rabid right would never vote for Ridge or Romney. Most of them probably will vote for Palin, even if they don’t trust McCain.

  13. #13 Keanus
    August 29, 2008

    Her “experience” consists of being a part time mayor of Wasilla, Alaska (population, 6000), and not quite 21 months as governor of Alaska. But Alaska isn’t any state. It’s population is only 600,000, less than only three states, North Dakota, Vermont & Wyoming, and less than countless American cities. And oil royalties and taxes provide 80% of Alaska’s state budget, meaning the governor has precious little exposure to financial management or tax policy. The state is so atypical of US states that no argument can be offered for her having anything remotely like credible credentials to be one heart beat from the US presidency. It would be like arguing that the manager of a rural Chevrolet dealership is qualified to step in as CEO of General Motors.

  14. #14 razib
    August 29, 2008

    what do you think?

    …there are more flattering pictures, that’s what i think 🙂

    Yes, a women. But very bad on women’s issues.

    i’ve pointed this elsewhere, but the term “women’s issues” from a left-liberal perspective is very loaded. it is certainly true if you are a liberal democrat, but most people in this country aren’t liberal democrats, so it’s kind of an irrelevant point for a republican candidate (e.g., there’s no sex difference on the legality of abortion)…..

  15. #15 Sheril R. Kirshenbaum
    August 29, 2008

    …there are more flattering pictures, that’s what i think 🙂

    You’re right. This was the first photo up at MSNBC when I found out.

  16. #16 Bruce
    August 29, 2008

    Palin seems like Quayle in a skirt.

    Olympia Snowe or susan Collins might have been better choices.

  17. #17 Isis the Scientist
    September 1, 2008

    Palin seems like Quayle in a skirt.

    Because that’s not at all offensive. We might compare her to Quayle, but the skirt part? Unnecessary.

    Seems to me that more people have been pointing out her amazing legs than talking about her politics.

  18. #18 Roman Werpachowski
    September 1, 2008

    “Seems to me that more people have been pointing out her amazing legs than talking about her politics.”

    That’s because most male politicians are in bad physical shape, or old, or both. When a physically attractive male politician happens, this is noticed and commented upon (think about Nicolas Sarkozy half-naked photos some time ago).

    Women just generally care more about their physical appearance and attractiveness. People notice that and appreciate it, what’s wrong with that?

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