Avoiding the McCain-Palin Trap
I have to admit some significant disagreement with how most Democrats (including the Obama campaign) are reacting to the choice of Sarah Palin as John McCain's running-mate. Many are simply deriding Palin as a lightweight or someone obviously unqualifed to be commander-in-chief--another Dan Quayle. Others watched the event in Dayton and found the whole thing laughable.
To be sure, I'm a poor judge of the visual side of campaign events. But what I saw in Dayton was (1) the "maverick" GOP presidential candidate introducing his "maverick" running mate, although Palin, even more than McCain, is actually a conservative ideologue whose selection thrilled both cultural and economic factions of the Right; (2) a direct appeal by Palin to HRC supporters to consummate Hillary's campaign by shattering the splintered "glass ceiling;" (3) a compelling personal story of a woman who (a) has one son with Down's Syndrome, (b) another who is being deployed to Iraq on September 11; (c) is married to a Native American (at least technically) union worker and athlete; and (d) has bravely defied her party and oil companies in Alaska.
If I'm wrong and other Democrats are right, then Palin's obvious and laughable lack of gravitas and preparation for the vice presidency under a 72-year-old president will become apparent soon enough. But if I'm right and others are wrong, then focusing criticism of the choice of Palin on her qualifications could be a very large mistake, particularly in terms of women who might otherwise have little reason to support her, but who are sensitive to gender-based double standards. Credentials aside, Palin is very vulnerable because, like McCain, she's mainly "above party" because she dissents from Republican orthodoxy in Alaska from the Right. Both cultural and economic wingnuts love her passionately. And as I said in my last post, she crucially reinforces McCain's phony "maverick" image with her own phony maverick image.
Ignoring all that in favor of mocking her for what many Democrats are privately calling her "obvious" lack of credentials for the White House is a big and unnecessary gamble, and quite possibly a trap. We should all take pains to avoid it.