Friday, August 29, 2008

Sarah Palin - A Bridge Too Far

Not even 24 hours....barely 12 hours, in fact..., and the grown-ups in the Republican room are beginning to notice the obvious problem. By choosing the neophyte Sarah Palin, McCain has blunted his most effective argument against Senator Obama and has seriously damaged his own claim to prudent judgment.
Here's Ramesh Ponnuru:

. Palin has been governor for about two minutes. Thanks to McCain’s decision, Palin could be commander-in-chief next year. That may strike people as a reckless choice; it strikes me that way. And McCain's age raised the stakes on this issue.

As a political matter, it undercuts the case against Obama. Conservatives are pointing out that it is tricky for the Obama campaign to raise the issue of her inexperience given his own, and note that the presidency matters more than the vice-presidency. But that gets things backward. To the extent the experience, qualifications, and national-security arguments are taken off the table, Obama wins.

And David Frum
....But maybe (and at least as likely) it will reinforce a theme that I'd be pounding home if I were the Obama campaign: that it's John McCain for all his white hair who represents the risky choice, while it is Barack Obama who offers cautious, steady, predictable governance.

And Frum again:
Should John McCain lose in November, Sarah Palin has just pole-vaulted into front-runner status for 2012. Should Mr. McCain win, her grip on the next Republican nomination will become a lock.

So this is the future of the Republican party you are looking at: a future in which national security has bumped down the list of priorities behind abortion politics, gender politics, and energy politics. Ms. Palin is a bold pick, and probably a shrewd one. It's not nearly so clear that she is a responsible pick, or a wise one.

Don't get me wrong. I think Governor Palin is charming. I applaud the sincerity of her anti-abortion stance and I wish more of our political class were former beauty queens. Nor do I believe that a lengthy political career is necessary or even desirable in order to achieve high office. But for Senator McCain to deride Obama's supposed callow naivete and then try to burn this ball back implies a certain contempt for the electorate, as well as for his Party and the Nation. We'll see if such contempt is deserved.

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