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Pondering Palin

It’s kind of amazing to watch the blogosphere react to the Palin pick.  This site is having more argument than we’ve seen in a while.  Sulivan is freaking out.  The various attack memes are emerging.  As I predicted, the Left are attacking her as a “beauty queen”.

Part of the furor is anger at McCain for stealing Obama’s thunder.  We were supposed to be spending the weekend talking about Obama’s luminous transcendent speech that shook both Heaven and Earth.  Instead we’re talking about Sarah Palin.

But a larger part is that conservatives—real conservatives at least—do not automatically fawn over every decision made by their leaders. We’re unwilling to automatically proclaim Palin to be the Best Vice President Ever, as the Left instantly did with Biden (and Lieberman, and Gore).  Indeed, the most cogent criticisms—the only ones that are affecting me—come from the Right. Frum, for example:

Here’s I fear the worst harm that may be done by this selection. The McCain campaign’s slogan is “country first.” It’s a good slogan, and it aptly describes John McCain, one of the most self-sacrificing, gallant, and honorable men ever to seek the presidency.

But question: If it were your decision, and you were putting your country first, would you put an untested small-town mayor a heartbeat away from the presidency?

Or Ponnoru:

I am not even sure that the pick will have quite the galvanizing effect on conservatives that it seems to be having now as it sinks in. The concerns I’ve mentioned here—about her readiness and her credentials—are the kind of thing that many conservative voters take seriously.

Now, as I said, there are pros too. Maybe Palin will be a terrific candidate and vice president. But let’s not underestimate the potential downside.

I’ll lay out a few of my random musing now that I’ve slept on it.

The inexperience angle both bothers me and doesn’t.  Obama is light on experience, as you may have noticed.  But he has also spent the last year meeting with foreign leaders, diving into think tanks and improving his credentials.  He also tapped a VP with tons of foreign policy experience.  Palin has never said anything about Iraq.  For all the talk of her being the only candidate with real executive experience, two years as Governor of Alaska does not exactly ring my bell.

On the other hand, this concern is predicated on the idea that McCain is going to pull a Harrison on us.  That seems unlikely.  There’s no reason not to expect that someone like Palin can become a foreign policy “expert” in the same amount of time Obama did.  And no, she didn’t really mean it when she claimed she didn’t know what the VP did.  And even if she did, no one really knows what the VP does.  The first Vice-President, John Adams, was extremely frustrated because he didn’t know what he was supposed to do.

Her stands on creatonism and abortion are, as you can imagine, very bothersome to me (although Allahpundit argues, rather unconvincingly, that’s she’s not that bad).  Her record on taxation is not that good.  However, her history of cracking down on corruption, even within her own party, is impressive.

Of course, some of the napalm being thrown at her is just stupid.  For example, I don’t think accepting the nomination makes Palin a bad mother.  If that were the case, every single mother in America would be a bad mother.  Moreover, I wish the Left would make up their minds on the meme to use.  They are claiming that McCain made an unserious choice because he only met her once in person.  Fair enough.  But then they turn around and claim that he chose her only because he was smitten with her looks (there, apparently, being no attractive women in Washington).  Make up your mind, guys.

All in all, I’m still slightly positive on the pick but have some concerns as to whether she’s ready for a national post, least of all the Presidency.  I’ve flogged Palin as the future of the GOP on this blog, but I was thinking more of 2012 or 2016, when she would have finished one or two terms as Governor and maybe taken that weevil Stevens’ place in the Senate.

I’ll withhold judgement until I see how she fares in the debates.  The general consensus is that BIden will make a meal of her (in the Lincoln-Douglas sense, not the Clinton sense).  That’s where we’ll really see her command of the issues, her grace under fire and her ability to step in should John McCain pull a Harrison.

Bonus Prediction:  By the end of the week, the Dems will be calling her the “Katherine Harris of Alaska”.

Update: A reason for optimism on the Palin pick?  The Left’s reaction.  If that many liberals dislike her, there must be something really good about her.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 08/30/08 at 08:03 AM in Election 2008 • Permalink

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