Saturday, August 30, 2008

What John McCain's VP pick tells us about him

Not to put too fine a point on it, it tells us that when John McCain said that his top criterion in choosing a vice president would be finding the person most qualified to step in and assume the presidency, he was lying. Not only is Sarah Palin not the "most qualified" person, she's not even the most qualified female Republican governor. Jodi Rell is more qualified. So, for that matter, is Senator Kay Baily Hutchison. So are Tom Ridge, Joe Lieberman, Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, and even Mike Huckabee. So are at least a couple dozen other Republicans.

But this is nothing new. There may have been some truth to John McCain's independent, "maverick" image back in 2000. I liked him back then. If he'd been the Republican nominee, I might even have voted for him. I would have seriously considered it.

But the "Straight Talk Express" derailed a long time ago. At some point, McCain realized that he couldn't get nominated without pandering to the Republican base. Since then, he'll say anything to get elected. Thus, his endless flip-flops. Thus his passing over much more qualified but arguably less electable candidates to make a desperation reach for someone whose only experience is less than two years of governing a state with a population smaller than 19 American cities. Thus his choice, IOW, of the person that he hopes will be best for his campaign, not someone that he thinks would be best for America.

"Country First"? No. "Elect Me First." That's who John McCain is now. And it's all the sadder because of who he once was.


  1. Here's something I like about John McCain's pick: when she ran as a reformer, she got in office and went after corrupt Republicans. When Obama ran for state senate, he went along to get along with the Daley machine, making no effort at reform, and in the Senate, he went back on an early offer to help with bipartisan reform so that it could remain a campaign issue for the Democrats.

    Oh, and Palin's husband quit a job in which he was 17 years toward retirement because his wife's duties as governor meant she would be negotiating, in part, with his employer. Michelle Obama went from making $150k to $316K within months of his being elected to the Senate. But don't worry: the each assure us that the one had nothing to do with the other.

    We can believe them. It's not like they are former oil execs, right?

  2. I don't have anything against Palin (except the usual policy disagreements) other than her lack of experience/expertise regarding any national issue other than energy policy. (Since she praised Obama's energy policy, she must be up to speed on that one, right?) ;)

    My point is that it's another disappointment from McCain. He's been saying how important experience is. If he believes that, why did he choose someone so inexperienced? He's been saying the most important VP criterion is readiness to be president. If he believes that, why did he choose someone so obviously unready? He says "Country First." If he believes that, why did he place his campaign's interest above the national interest?

    I think she's an indefensible pick, especially in terms of what's good for America, and I would think that even if I agreed with every Republican policy and planned to vote for McCain in November. It's an awful decision on McCain's part. Just awful.

  3. I think McCain's actual position is that experience is important in a president. It's true that a vice president may succeed to the presidency upon the death or the disability of the president, but the vice president is, otherwise, a figure with little of import to do, and a good place for on-the-job training. The president, however, has to be a strong executive, able to make hard decisions quickly and under great stress, and he has to make the right decisions.

    I know that you are going to vote for Obama; your commitment is probably inviolable. I see a man who constantly intones two mantras about his past. First, that he misjudged his associates -- they are not the people that he's known for twenty years, etc. The second is that his personal decisions have been "boneheaded." What he has accomplished is, in my view, less impressive than even Palin's slender resume. At least she has accomplished the goals for which she was elected.

    For years, Obama says, he worked on the problems of poverty, health care, and education in South Chicago. After many years, Chicago's poverty, health care problems, and educational failures are largely the same. His legislative career in both Springfield and Washington has produced no significant changes in law. He neglected his committee assignments, not calling his committee into session.

    I think Obama is the indefensible pick, but there is no way I would vote for either Alinksy protogé, so I am not likely to vote Democrat anyway. I respect and admire your mind and your understanding of the political scene. We just disagree.

  4. I'm a yellow dog not-Republican right now. After eight years of incompetacracy, I really would vote for a yellow dog before I'd vote for a Republican.

    I admire Obama's ability to inspire people, but that's not the biggest reason why I'm going to vote for him. I'm more of an issue voter. I think Obama might change the system enough so that health care becomes available to millions of people like me. I know McCain won't. Obama's tax plan will cut my taxes (and the taxes of 95 percent of Americans) more than McCain's would. I think Obama's realist foreign policy will make us much more secure than McCain's belligerent neoconservatism would. I hope Obama will respect the Constitution. I think he will end institutionalized American torture. I have deep doubts about McCain on both of those scores. I think Obama will appoint judges who make us more free; I think McCain will appoint judges who will make us less free. The fact that Obama actually inspires people, that he gets more people interested and involved than any politician in recent memory, is just a bonus.

    Those are the basic reasons I'll vote for Obama. The reason I often talk about McCain's "character" rather than the issues is because that's all McCain has. He loses on the issues -- a majority of Americans' views are closer to Obama's policies than to McCain's on almost everything -- and he loses on party brand. He's got nothing but "character" to fight the election on.

    But he hasn't got much "character" left. He's just an empty image. He sold out to the right wing to try to get elected. He's a political liar. His choice of Palin illuminated three lies he's been telling: "experience is very important," "I'll pick the most qualified person," "Country First." All lies. Where's his "character" now? It's just hype.

    I might actually have voted for him anyway, you know. I think issues are more important. But he's also wrong on the issues, he's a Republican, and he's too old. He's got nothin'.


What do you think?