Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Inverse Power of the Palin Pick

The brilliance of John McCain's selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as running mate can be measured by the inverse proportion of the reaction her nomination has generated. The "less experienced" she's alleged to be, the more intense the reaction against her.

I'd thought I'd heard most of the potential avenues of attack, but the Politico reports that experts on the presidency are focusing on the presumed thinness of Palin's resume:

John McCain was aiming to make history with his pick of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, and historians say he succeeded.

Presidential scholars say she appears to be the least experienced, least credentialed person to join a major-party ticket in the modern era.

So unconventional was McCain’s choice that it left students of the presidency literally “stunned,” in the words of Joel Goldstein, a St. Louis University law professor and scholar of the vice presidency. “Being governor of a small state for less than two years is not consistent with the normal criteria for determining who’s of presidential caliber,” said Goldstein.

“I think she is the most inexperienced person on a major-party ticket in modern history,” said presidential historian Matthew Dallek.

That includes Spiro T. Agnew, Richard Nixon’s first vice president, who was governor of a medium-sized state, Maryland, for two years, and before that, executive of suburban Baltimore County, the expansive jurisdiction that borders and exceeds in population the city of Baltimore.

It also includes George H.W. Bush’s vice president, Indiana Sen. Dan Quayle, who had served in the House and Senate for 12 years before taking office. And it also includes New York Rep. Geraldine Ferraro, who served three terms in the House before Walter Mondale chose her in 1984 as the first female candidate on a major-party ticket.

“It would be one thing if she had only been governor for a year and a half, but prior to that she had not had major experience in public life,” Dallek said of Palin. “The fact that he would have to go to somebody who is clearly unqualified to be president makes Obama look like an elder statesman.”
Obama an "elder statesman"?

Captain Ed ripped such thinking to shreds in responding to attacks that go like this: "Why would he put a small-town mayor a heartbeat away from the presidency?"

This is a real laugher. By the same logic, why would the Democrats make a state legislator the actual president? The answer is that Obama is a U.S. Senator of three years experience, and Palin is a governor of 20 months’ experience. Only Barack Obama has spent two of those three years not in the Senate doing his job but running for President. Before starting his bid, he had a grand total of less than 150 days in session in the Senate. Palin, on the other hand, has run her state for more than triple that time.

And let’s remember that Obama is running for the top job, while Palin’s running for VP.
But note something else that's been overlooked so far: Palin was the regulatory commissioner of Alaska's oil industry, a tenure that not only elevated her stature as a rising star in state politics, but gives her unrivaled expertise on arguably the top inter-mestic issue of the campaign: energy politics.

Palin's got another key asset:
She's faced harsh criticism of inexperience previously, when she ran for governor in 2006. She not only emerged victorious, but she crushed two veterans of Alaskan politics in the process: in the primary she beat incumbent Governor Frank Murkowski, who had been a member of the U.S. Senate for 22 years, and she defeated former Democratic Governor Tony Knowles in the general election, who had served previously in the Alaska statehouse for eight years.

Today, Palin is the most popular governor in the United States.

In tapping Sarah Palin, John McCain could hardly have done anything more powerful in firing up the GOP conservative base. Indeed, Jonathan Martin, who has covered the Republican nominating contests all year, confesses:

I have never seen a crowd with the energy that I witnessed yesterday at the Erwin Nutter Center in Dayton, Ohio.
Palin is going to wow the delegates at next week's GOP national convention in Minneapolis. Once she delivers her acceptance speech, it won't be just conservative activists who are absolutely ecstatic about the phenomenal nomination of Alaska's Governor to be the next Vice President of the United States.