Thursday, September 4, 2008

Palen's Appeal.

This week I'm house and cat sitting for two friends up in Rosendale, about an hour and a half north of the city. The deer come by in the evening, the woodpeckers punctuate the afternoon with their bug search, the birds chirp happily all day long. It's quiet and dreamy.

But the best part is that I've got cable and, much to the detriment of the task list I came up here with, I'm watching the RNC coverage and monitoring my favorite internet sites at the same time - I'm politically overstimulated!

Who is voting or McCain?

There are three ways in which one can be a conservative: economically, socially, and foreign policy-wise. The economic and social conservatives have their great overlap when it comes to social services. Conservatives don't want to see their hard earned money doled out to the folks who just refuse to get jobs. They don't want the government telling them what to do (but telling women how to make decisions about their bodies is perfectly acceptible, the whores!) so they support a reduction in social services like welfare and scream socialism as soon as a government program offers to care for minorities or the less well off.

We're all Americans when a hurricane strikes but when it comes to education, health care, welfare, reproductive rights and the like, well, we're on our own, according to the conservatives.

Where the economic conservatives differ is in their practicality. If the economy takes a dump, they have to face the facts that not helping the unemployed get jobs is not going to raise productivity. They have to look at the fact that energy resources are killing the economy and that lack of solid education reduces our country's chances to compete globally. And they have to consider that even if those folks who locked themselves into ridiculous mortgages may be whiners, they effect the world economy when foreclosure comes around. Economic conservatives may not want to pay more taxes but they do now (finally) realize that wealth does not trickle down.

This morning I had an interesting conversation with a friend at Morgan Stanley. He's a little older than I am by less than 10 years and has been a VP at his office for a good while. Politically he has voted on both sides of the fence. I asked him about Palin and he immediately said that he has always liked John McCain, but that he was not comfortable with a person as inexperienced as Palin a "heart beat" away from the Presidency. I'd bet that some of his discomfort comes from her lack of economic experience; doubt of a leader causes doubt in the market.

The market is slip-sliding and I believe that the discomfort level that many conservatives and middle-of-the-roaders have with Palin might pan out to votes for Obama unless they school her convincingly and quickly. And even if they do, the schooling will show; she hasn't addressed the economy or foreign policy, the concerns that are moving this election, at all.

I don't have to comment on how many foreign policy conservatives (neocons) there are voting this election cycle. Sure, the flag-wavers love the "let's kick Russia's ass" shit but they're strongly in the McCain tank anyway. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are not issues the conservatives want to debate on this go-round. Real shame that McCain's POW/war-time participation can't really help with a nation tired of an unjustified war.

Even if the conservatives could muster a viable argument on foreign policy, can you imagine Palin staring down Putin? Ahmadinejad? Ending toruture? Protecting the constitution? (She thinks the founding father's wrote the pledge of allegience, for god's sake!)

I was naively hoping for a lot of screw ups in the speech last night but realized that what we got was two times better. She cancelled out two concerns for the Obama campaign: she will not be a victim and Joe can leave his kid gloves off with her, which means we'll get a real debate on real issues that will show her real inexperience (see what Biden did with Guiliani?); and she's not going to appeal to the independent women out there (who have absurdly not been able to yet make up their voting minds) because she is too shrill (women hate bitchy, know-it-all women) and because she is more socially conservative than the Hillary-supporters or undecideds. Thanks to her pregnant daughter, questions about her stance on women's rights have been brought to the fore and not skirted by the campaign's sequestering. Women who think women should take care of their family don't like Palen's flaunting of her kids with her candidacy. Women who support women's rights turn up their noses at her bible-thumping, pro-life ways.

McCain made a few great tactical errors with this pick. Palin shores up the base and provides the enthusiasm - and funds - that his ticket was grossly lacking but that base has drastically shrunk over the past decade. The old white folks may still say that abortion is a sin, global warming isn't man-made, queers (and the poor!) are going to hell and are not entitled to the rights of other citizens, that America is the moral and military leader of the world, but the majority of the population knows that this is all small-minded grandstanding that hasn't helped our country excel. The conservatives don't even have traction on immigration this year, what with an increasing percentage of the US population being "minorities."

(Incidentally, try to count the number of differences of position that McCain and Palin have. While I admit that McCain's run to the right these last four years makes this difficult, consider drilling in ANWR, immigration, women's rights.)

He also erred in thinking that the "making of history" would help, that he could poach women from Obama by adding a woman to the ticket. Palin's pick sorely emphasizes the fact that the Dems put a woman on the ticket 28 years ago and had a women run for president this year. She does not espouse the social and political views of Hillary's supporters and she sadly shows how minority-less the GOP is these days. The pandering doesn't work.

McCain has also undermined his strongest argument against Obama. While Obama picked Biden, McCain picked an inexperienced person that had little or no name recognition. Hard to slap the "inexperienced" up-and-comer with your own upstart. If Palen is the pit bull with lipstick going after Obama, she is sturdily chained to her own questionable credibility as an experienced candidate. Black kettle stuff. Did you watch her last night and think "Presidential?" (Following Guiliani didn't help this! He's the undisciplined asshole who keeps on giving.)

Which brings me to my own gut reaction when watching Palin's fine performance last night. She was a sports news anchor for a while and clearly knows what to do with an audience and a teleprompter. As I mention above, she came out sneering and mocking and didn't let up. Her handlers let her play the sarcastic shrew. It didn't work for the credible Clinton, that woman with the tone, and it certainly won't work for the less-than-credile Palin. You're only afriad of the barking dog when you know his chain is long enough to reach you, lipstick or not.

As more comes to light about Palin, thanks to her dis of the media and the hungry tabloids, her inexperience and wrong tone last night will give more doubt than they dispell. She and McCain took the wrong tone, the wrong tactic, the wrong audience, and the wrong side on the facts. I'm having a great time watching.



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