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August 30, 2008



Welcome back.

Are you sure "Reckless" was an appropriate title for the first post on your new computer?

I mean, McCain did take the time to speak to Mrs. Palin once or twice before he made his choice.

Blowback, Day 1

Too too funny.

And welcome back to the internets, Hilzoy!

File under Welcome to the Big Leagues, Sarah Palin --

From the CNN link that br provided: In just her second appearance on the campaign trail with John McCain, newly-minted GOP running mate Sarah Palin was showered with boos on Saturday for attempting to praise Clinton’s trail-blazing bid to become the first female president.

Nice post. This pick also strikes me somewhat as Quayle redux -- a VP candidate who is in no danger of overshadowing the presidential candidate. We will see what kind of person Palin is, but right now she appears to be a lightweight. You have to ask why McCain didn't want a heavyweight on his ticket -- is he too insecure? Not a good sign of leadership.

"I mean, McCain did take the time to speak to Mrs. Palin once or twice before he made his choice."

Hey, he's reported to have spoken to her before finally deciding for a whole "couple of hours."

The whole story is interesting, assuming it's at least vaguely accurate, including this:

BC's Jan Crawford Greenburg reports: It wasn't until Sunday night that John McCain, after meeting with his four top advisers, finally decided he could not tap independent Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut to be his running mate. One adviser, tasked with taking the temperature of the conservative base, had strongly made the case to McCain that it would be a disaster for the party and that the base would revolt. McCain concluded he could not go that route.

The next day, McCain studied the three men at the top of his shortlist: Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge. All had different strengths and negatives, but McCain was not satisfied. None of them had what McCain believed he needed to do -- and would have done -- with Lieberman.

McCain wanted to shake up the ticket.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's name was in the mix as an unconventional choice for months, but she had not been considered a front-runner. So, over the next few days, with McCain continuing to believe he needed someone who had more of a maverick streak than his other choices, lawyers reviewed her vetting information. They kept their activities from even some in McCain's most senior inner circle.

Pawlenty had been the youthful pick advisers believed would represent a fresh direction -- and one they could use to argue the Republican VP pick was more experienced than the Democratic presidential nominee. But Pawlenty's flaw -- what cost him the VP -- was that he would not have stirred things up. He was safe, and McCain was not inclined to take the safe route.

So "reckless" is spun as a good thing, you see.

To what extent does anyone out there (hi, hilzoy!) believe that McCain made this decision? A lot of the discussion I'm seeing out on the 'nets takes for granted that the Palin decision reflects on McCain, as though he is not surrounded by a corps of advisors, handlers, PR folks, and whatevernot.

I hope we get to find out someday -- either via the tell-all books of the winners or the losers, either of which will bend the story of the campaign to fit the outcome -- how this decision was really arrived at, and specifically to what extent this was "McCain's transparently cynical choice" or "McCain's willingness to gamble" as opposed to "the McCain team's transparently cynical choice" or "the McCain team's willingness to gamble".

Maybe a quibble in the end, but so much about the flow of a campaign gets imputed to the figurehead, and I wonder how true that is in any given case. This (and many other decisions) could be about McCain only in so far as he allows them to be made in his name.

Good luck with the new computer. And may an incurable and painful RSI afflict the thief of your former one.

David, that's carrying "if only the tsar knew" a little far, which seems to be the standard way for pundits to treat McCain nowadays. Anything stupid or unprincipled surely couldn't come from the honorable St. John of POW. It must be those meddling advisers doing it without his knowledge!

Of course the choice of Palin reflects on McCain, whether he came up with the idea on his own or whether some adviser did and McCain approved it.

I think it would be a mistake to underestimate her potential appeal.

i've been saying this for the past 24 hours.

sure, she might be a lightweight in terms of experience, but she might come across as likable or smart or competent enough to overcome that. McCain might be reckless, but i don't think he's dumb - not on something like this.

McCain might be reckless, but i don't think he's dumb

Dude graduated near the bottom of his class at the naval academy. Never have I seen an interview with him where he struck me as having any insight into anything. I think he's dumb. And just to throw my cards on the table against OCSteve, I predict Palin is the end of his candidacy.

"I think he's dumb."

Many bright people tend to think that there are many kinds of intelligence.

It's very easy to sneer at people who are intelligent in ways that are different than our own. And it's even easier to do so at people whose views are very different than ours, or whose views we strongly dislike.

As to how dumb or not McCain is, I don't feel qualified to speak. Maybe he's a Senator and a presidential candidate just because of luck of birth and circumstance and wealth; he wouldn't be the first such person.

But I'd hesitate to be sure of that without really know someone personally, and closely, myself.

I'm just dumb that way.

Heck, I don't even think G. W. Bush is all that "dumb" in the way most people mean it; he definitely thinks differently than I do, but that's kinda different. And as I get older, despite my own strong prejudices towards viewing many other people as "dumb," I'm less and less confident in the rightness of my views.

Except for, you know, some people.

Dude graduated near the bottom of his class at the naval academy

Yeah? You have high standards for admission, and even the "dummies" in a class are still pretty sharp. (I, of course, speak as one who graduated a lot closer to the bottom of an elite university than to the top).

I don't think that one flies.

Dude graduated near the bottom of his class at the naval academy.

he's also managed to remain a Senator for decades.


You are the best. I mean that.

And you're right. That was a fly off the handle reaction. I don't know why exactly, but this Palin nomination has me so outraged! I'm usually a pretty infrequent poster, but the more I read about Palin and her background, the more angry I get at John McCain and the more I just feel the need to share.

It's a---ahem---dumb reaction... but that's what blog comment sections are for.

But, to briefly take issue with what gwangung said, I'm pretty sure McCain got into the Naval Academy as a legacy. His father was an admiral, after all.

That said, it was a dumb knee-jerk reaction of mine to post about how McCain is dumb.

sure, she might be a lightweight in terms of experience, but she might come across as likable or smart or competent enough to overcome that.

"Come across" to whom?

McCain might be reckless, but i don't think he's dumb - not on something like this.

The difference between reckless and dumb is hard to judge a priori. Throwing a Hail Mary is always reckless. It's not-dumb only when it offers the sole chance to avoid defeat. Maybe McCain is smart enough to know he was licked any other way.


"Come across" to whom?

the millions of low-info voters who are going to decide the election

Cleek, what do low-info voters know about Palin? One of the few things the GOP seems to want them to know is that she is a mother of five. We can of course try to turn low-info voters into somewhat-informed voters by bringing out other facts about her and her issue positions. But if we believe that low-info voters shall always be with us, and might decide the election, then it behooves us to cast the meager info they do have in a negative (to them) light.


The key with Palin will likely be access control. If the McCain campaign can keep her media exposure within her comfort zone and talents, she may not have much trouble making it to election day.

There's only, what, one VP debate? The media are likely to judge her the winner of that, no matter what happens, just because expectations will be so low. Just think of the Bush/Gore or Bush/Kerry debates, replacing Bush with an attractive woman who can speak without sounding like a petulant moron.

The thing about low information voters is that they have to be fired up to vote. I mentioned earlier that Obama at Saddleback was not an attempt to gain votes, but to assure evangelical Christians enough so they simply forgo voting. It's hard not to write that without using words like 'supressing' or 'trying to keep away from the ballot box', and it would be easy to take it out of context, but in some ways, it is the mirror of Rovian tactics, to fire up one's base, but leave the rest of the electorate so disgusted with the tactics that they just stay home. Palin will work if McCain's advisors have a free hand in defining her, so I think, rather than the notion that Obama simply ignore Palin, they are going to have to work at shaping how she is perceived, not to convince evangelicals to vote for Obama, but to simply not vote for McCain.

There was an ABC News story that basically pawned off the choice onto McCain personally - that it was something he more or less came up with on his own in the last week, and that he had her vetted secretly by "lawyers" behind the backs of his own top advisers. The gist was that he chose her because he thought she'd shake things up more than Pawlenty, and thus show what a maverick he was.

That may, of course, be bullshit, but it seems reasonable given what we know about McCain. Rove, et al, wanted him to pick Romney, I think. He himself, it seems, always hated Romney, and wanted to pick Lieberman until he was convinced that would be a disaster. Not being able to bring himself to go with Romney, and being bored with Pawlenty, he went for the crazy out of left field pick with Palin.

WaPo: Far from being a last-minute tactical move or a second choice when better known alternatives were eliminated, Palin was very much in McCain's thinking from the beginning of the selection process, according to McCain's advisers. The 44-year-old governor made every cut as the first list of candidates assembled last spring was slowly winnowed. The more McCain learned about her, the more attracted he was to her as someone who shared his maverick, anti-establishment instincts.

Also in the article, you’ll be shocked to learn that abortion played the key role in the selection process. Idiots.

The thing about low information voters is that they have to be fired up to vote.

Woman Vice President! How Exciting!

i was at a party last night where half the women thought McCain was pro-choice. they were happy to hear he chose a woman VP.

"There was an ABC News story that basically pawned"

That would be the story quoted at length above.

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