September 7, 2008


I really need to be better at responding to your comments, because I truly enjoy reading them and finding out what you think. So thank you for commenting, and I'm just going to respond in this new post in case some of you don't go back and check old posts for responses.

I too feel warmer toward Palin after having a teeny bit of exposure to her. I loved her convention speech. I walked away from that really liking her (emotionally) a lot. Sure she has a great speechwriter, but so do all the rest of them. And even with a great script, you need some skill for delivery. For example, her comedic timing for the "lipstick" joke was perfect. The way she paused for a second, pointed to her lips, and said the word quickly and with hard emphasis on the "K," all done with a serious expression on her face. That takes talent, and that's just one trivial example.

That said, here are my concerns:

I don't want to prematurely throw my full support behind a person because they give a good speech. Every politician at that level gives a good speech. Guiliani gave one of funniest, most forceful political speeches I've heard, but that doesn't necessarily make him the best presidential candidate. Don't forget, all you Obama haters, the primary thing that people love about Obama.

Also, I am a big fan of her ideology. But she has very minimal big-league experience (isn't that our problem with Obama?) and could very easily end up in the big chair before the next 4 years are over. And I think a bit too much is made of her record by conservative spinners. She's done a few cool things (taking on same party corruption, rejecting certain earmarks, selling the governor's jet, etc.) and while those things are important and necessary to good conservative leadership, they are largely symbolic, rather than methodically reformative. I want someone who has tackled and solved major problems. Like, say, oh, I don't know, maybe the Olympics or a Fortune company, or healthcare or just something like that. Jk, just about the last sentence, but not the preceding one. Don't get me wrong, I think symbolic actions are very important because they let you know where a person stands. They give you a glimpse into their character, courage, and worldview. But they are only the first level of leadership. The second, and exponentially more difficult, level is deep, thorough, large-scale action. Does the person have the intelligence, judgment, steel, objectivity, awareness, managerial talent, experience, and vision to turn crisis into opportunity and create positive, lasting change. Obama and Palin are full of the first, but neither have shown the second yet. It's not their fault, as they haven't really had the time or opportunity to do so. But that's the point. It's a huge gamble to put them in a position that requires what they haven't yet had the opportunity to produce, and simply hope they have what it takes.
Also, while it's easy to be excited about the entire ticket because we like Palin, but not McCain, I just don't think she'll have much say. VPs rarely do. The last two have had more than any others in history, but that is, by definition, rare, and no one's going to pull any strings on Ol' McCain (especially someone whose political ideology is 20 clicks to the right of the guy who has built his entire brand around being an independent, moderate "maverick"), like Cheney did with Bush. But I guess one can still be excited to have her set up for a presidential run in a term or two, even if she isn't effecting much as VP in the meantime.

I'm not trying to be a hater. I just see a lot of people getting caught up in this Palin fever (She kills moose! She has 5 kids! She's hot and sassy!), after a week of exposure, the same way people quickly became infected with the Obama bug (He's so articulate! He REALLY wants change! He's black!), through a lot of goose-pimpling hype but little substance. But I really do like her so far and hope she turns out to be all she's cracked up to be.

Tell me where you disagree.


Macy said...

I sooo agree, Chris. I really like her too, but am not going to give her my full support after one impressive speech...which I did really enjoy too. I think she was a really random choice, and maybe in the end will be a great choice, but I guess for me, I don't like McCain too much, and so his vp pick had to be super good for me to get on board with him. We will see I guess, huh.

Braden and Meredith said...

I'm totally with you and bugged you beat me to this post, which I was composing in my head this am on my way to church.

I feel like the Dems are idiots for thinking that Obama is really different. They really believe he is going to change the world.

Well, the Republicans (myself included for a week) are doing the same thing with Palin and it's probably the same form of irrational excitment.

The way we pick our leaders with these conventions is almost set up to get great speakers who get us excited but not much else.

Ryan said...

There are really two questions here, and I think you're offering arguments on both of them without distinguishing the two.

First, was Palin a good VP pick?

Second, will I/you/the country vote be more likely to vote for the Republican ticket because Palin's name is on it.

There are a lot of good arguments on the first question, and you made several of them in your last post. It has shades of pandering and of superficiality and hastiness, which are disconcerting. Also, the experience thing, as you've noted.

But the experience thing, which you raise again here, doesn't, I think, go to the second question. As you note anyone complaining about Palin's experience has to concede that Obama has the same liability, and the argument ALWAYS has to end up favoring the Republicans. Thus, I don't think the experience point is very relevant to the second question. Running against Obama, she really can't be a liability because she's a novice, can she? If not, then that issue is moot and you move on to the next one.

I like Sarah Palin. I don't really think I can tell you why. It's very likely you could give me a woman with the exact same resume and background and I'd hate here, given her party or attitude or some other tick of her personality. I think most people who like Sarah Palin feel that way. We like her, and it has something to do with the fact that she seems like good people. Does it make sense to have someone sitting second chair in leadership of the free world because she's good people? No, but maybe you assume that everyone that has reached these heights has already passed some basic tests of competency and intellectual adequacy, so then you just try to pick the one that's good people.

Of course, we must all agree that the last few elections we tried that very same thing and it kicked us back. But that's no reason not to favor good people.

Your arguments here, Kook, seem to push for the Romney/Kennedy/Roosevelt model of leadership, in which we should choose for our leaders a superman, someone who truly transcends the vast majority of humanity and can light the way for the lesser plebes. I am for that when possible, but I don't think we can always expect it. What we can expect is good people, who will lead by a basic sense of decency and old-school human values. That's what Sarah Palin would give us, and I'm pretty okay with that.

Andrea W. said...

I agree with Ry. I think sometimes you can have someone who on paper has everything you'd want, but for whatever reason I just don't trust. A certain amount of experience and credibility is important for me, but also there just has to be something more basic, in my gut, that makes me trust and like them. I think it's that x-factor which have people excited about her and how many feel about Obama.

I am cautiously optimisitic that she'll live up to what she showed the other night.

Davis said...

I'm actally pretty angry about Palin. I agree, she's a talented speaker. She delivers a joke far better than your average politician.

That said, I don't trust her one bit. Alaska is a corrupt, backward state, and I'm confident there is plenty yet to come out about her involvement in its politics.

McCain's selection of her has practically ensured I will vote for Obama. I cannot countenance the idea of a 72 year-old cancer survivor choosing someone with so little regard for its impact on the governance of the country. McCain sold his soul to the devil to win the election. His choice is simply not a serious one.

Davis said...

Furthermore, I dislike her sarcasm. It was funny, I admit, but off-putting. She lacks the standing to be so dismissive of the Dems.

I hope Biden eats her for breakfast.

I am more angry about this than I have been about anything in politics for a long time.


Macy said...

I agree. Alaska is a really weird state. I kind don't trust anyone from there. Take it from me, there isn't one good congressman from Alaska. It worries me a little bit.

Aubrey, Josh, and Caden said...

To be perfectly honest, I'm not exactly thrilled about any candidate this election, but you can bet that I am definitely not putting anyone into office that is going to be pro-abortion, going to practically take away our right to bear arms, is running around with a "spiritual advisor" that is basically openly racist, and wants to raise my taxes to support all of the laziest people of our country. That might sound harsh, but I couldn't in good conscience vote for someone whose moral compass is pointed in the opposite direction of my beliefs. I am thrilled that a candidate that seems to have good family values, some sort of a conscience (granted a politian's), and decent track record (no matter how limited) is anywhere on the least then I can have the HOPE that someone will have a positive influence on the country...

hasselboff said...

davis, if you choose obama because mccain selected palin, you'd be cutting off your nose to spite your face. obama doesn't represent the policies or principles that you support. and while the uncertainty of palin, given her lack of experience, does make the idea of her becoming president somewhat scary, aren't we faced with the same problem with obama?

if you can't get behind mccain because you don't like the ticket or don't trust palin, it seems more appropriate not to vote at all, rather than vote for someone who doesn't represent your personal position on a number of important issues.

Christian said...

Mace, was it Ted Stevens you worked for in DC?

Bird, you're an honest man.

Ry, Palin does seem like good people. Also seems like kind of redneck people. Can't decide which. And you are right that I expect a near superhuman as President. Intuitively, that doesn't seem like a tall order, given the 300 million people that live in this prosperous country that produced some of the finest minds in the world. But empirically, I guess one can only expect that person to make it to that level every 20 or 30 years.

Davis. Ditto. Not quite as mad as you, but share all the same feelings.

Ange, i think most of us vote a lot with out gut for people we just like. But that did get us 8 years of W, which I think wasn't a good thing. No one is better people than W.

Aubrey and Hass: Ditto. Obama seems the much greater of the two weavels to me.

Greg said...

I was really quite impressed with McCain, too. I think Palin is thin on experience. I wonder if his maverick instincts got to him. Don't think this choice will wear well, but maybe he knows something we don't. You're a good thinker, for sure.

Braden and Meredith said...

I've been thinking about what Dave said--that she lacked the standing to attack the Dems so sharply and that her sarcasm was off-putting.

I disagree with that. This woman was savaged almost immediately after McCain announced her as his running mate. Her family and kids were dragged through mud. She was mocked and toasted--all this before her speech.

For her to come out and deliver some sharp retorts seem totally kosher to me from a moral perspective--and totally necessary from a political one.

Jake and Emily Hutchings Family said...

okay, true i don't think that she is the best candidate in the world, but she pulled the party together which is more than can be said for mccain. also, i'd rather have a vp without valid experience than a pres without valid experience. frankly, there's no perfect choice this election but i now feel like there's one that's much better than the other, thanks to palin.