Palin Is Your Worst Pick

September 15, 2008

By Stephen Noriega

I have given myself pause after the convention, after the initial excitement and after the first interview to give my humble opinion on the Sarah Palin pick for Vice President. I must admit that when I first heard of the pick, I thought to myself, “What in the heck we’re you thinking?” After long deliberation and after looking at all the possible future permutations of your campaign, Senator McCain, I have just one thing to say.

What in the heck we’re you thinking?

This piece is not a hatchet job on Sarah Palin. Sarah Palin is a politician that has risen to a high office and deserves the respect of that accomplishment. This obviously will not be a worship piece on her either. Once the ether wears off and people begin to study her, they will rally to her less. Becoming the governor of Alaska is no small task. For this, Palin should be commended. As a flash of interest and short-term strategy, Governor Palin was a brilliant pick by the Republicans. However, the time of her brilliance and her reality had better be more than fifty-some days if the Republicans don’t want to be embarrassed this November.

It is silly to attack Governor Palin for being a mother and future grandmother. I couldn’t care less about that stuff. If I ever cared about anyone’s family obligations and their ability to serve, I would advocate for candidates to only have one child (in college or older) before they could run for a higher office. That just doesn’t compute. Nancy Pelosi has five children and seven grandchildren. She does just fine. This may sound harsh but I could care less (except for historical curiosity) that she is female. We have been taught that men and women should have equal chances in all avenues of life. Thus, I have no reason to like or dislike the pick based solely on gender.

There are three reasons why Palin is a horrible choice.

First, she will only solidify part the base in the end.

I know that she has induced a spike in likely female voters. This looks promising but I believe that women voters are the most educated, issue-aware segment of the voting population. When some of her stances on choice, education and health care become evident, that spike will disappear. Palin has energized the far-right base right now. However, even fellow conservative have knocked the choice. David Frum said about Palin’s experience, “Ms. Palin’s experience in government makes Barack Obama look like George C. Marshall.” Of course, Frum’s statements, the first time Obama has been compared with the author of the Marshall Plan, could be dismissed as conservative chauvinism. Not this one. Dr. Laura Schlessinger sharply criticized the Palin pick from a conservative viewpoint of female roles and the family. I could not disagree more with her position but I think it might erode at some conservative voters when they really start thinking about Palin’s situation. McCain might think he can strip away some PUMA voters. This group is like any typical protest voting block. Andrew Dice Clay could be McCain’s pick and the PUMA’s would still vote for him because of how Obama treated Hillary. Thus, Palin does not do much to pick up votes there.

Some of Governor Palin’s conservative credentials will simply not pan out. She claims to be an enemy of earmarks, rebuking the Bridge to Nowhere and bragging about Alaskans building things for themselves. The truth, well-known now, is that Palin initially supported the Bridge to Nowhere.

News.Spreadit.org, 9/2008

The truth about earmarks and Alaska is simple. Alaska receives more earmark dollars per capita than any other state in the union. According to Mark Murray of MSNBC, Palin as Governor requested hundreds of millions in earmarks every year. Fiscal conservatives would not be happy to know this. Social conservatives may not be super happy to know that she smoked marijuana when it was legal in Alaska (Anchorage Daily News, 8/6/2006 – http://dwb.adn.com/news/politics/elections/governor06/story/8049298p-7942233c.html). Of course she said she didn’t really like it and certainly does not currently use it because it would be a bad influence on her kids. Religious conservatives might be in love with Palin now. However, when some of her church stuff gets out there, some might hesitate. Some clips from the Assemblies of God Church in Wasilla seem to imply that Alaska has a special role to play in evangelizing the world. The evangelists in Missouri that believe the rapture will begin in Jefferson City might have a real problem with that! But seriously, she might be put in a position to renounce something her church says and then the Right might start to peel away from her. Some of Palin’s political stances will totally line up with the far-right of the Republican Party. However, the Political Middle and the GDI (God Dang (another word) Independents) will not eventually be comfortable with her stances. She has an absolute stance on abortion. She believes it should not be legal in cases of incest or rape. Governor Palin also believes that intelligent design should be taught along side evolution in schools. According to On The Issues (http://www.ontheissues.org/Sarah_Palin.htm ), Governor Palin strongly favors teacher-led prayer in school. I’m sure that is under the assumption that the teacher will lead the students in a Christian prayer! The independents will become less and less likely to follow her. America is often characterized as center-right. The center will not subscribe to these beliefs in the end.

The second reason Governor Palin is a poor choice is her inexperience. I concede that experience is not the main characteristic necessary for getting elected and even being a successful president or vice president. However, sometimes inexperience has a dreadful outcome. For every John F. Kennedy there is a Jimmy Carter. As far as inexperienced Vice Presidential candidates, for every Harry S. Truman there is a James Stockdale.

Dan Quayle was questioned on his apparent inexperience even tough he had been elected twice to the U.S. House and twice to the U.S. Senate. Dan Quayle ended up serving as a perfect Vice President, at least for Saturday Night Live and the pototo(e) industry. Barack Obama is getting shelled constantly on the experience question. This is a valid argument. It is an argument of strength for McCain. However, he turns around and selects an inexperienced running mate. The campaign hid this inexperience through rehearsed speeches and catch-phrases. However, in her first, edited, fairly easy interview, Palin showed her inexperience through rote answers and she showed her ignorance by simply not knowing what the Bush Doctrine was. The legitimate press will tear at her experience like the tabloids will feast on her daughter’s pregnancy. She will either have to avoid shows like Hardball, Meet the Press and Face the Nation or hope that she is an incredibly fast study on matters she has never had to worry about.

There were other, more experienced women from whom to pick. Senators Olympia Snowe and Kay Bailey Hutchinson are respected Republicans. I know, I know, John McCain needs a non-senator. How about Elaine Chao, the Secretary of Labor? She has great experience and has helped with overtime reform. Perhaps McCain feels he needs a true executive. How about Governor Jodi Rell from Connecticut or Governor Linda Lingle from Hawaii? Lingle is a Republican Governor in an extremely Democratic state, with an approval rating of 71%! All of these women have more experience than Palin.

The third reason this is a bad choice is that Palin totally outshines McCain. One of the funnier lines on Saturday Night Live was, “The race is tightening up. McCain now finds himself only six points behind Sarah Palin.” (SNL – 9/13/2008)

Palin is on the cover of TIME, Us Magazine, People, The National Enquirer, etc. She is everywhere. Aliens, foreigners and those who spend most of their lives in caves know Palin but not McCain, the twenty-six year veteran of the Senate. Sarah Palin is a huge media phenomenon right now. Pictures of them together look Palin look even better, and McCain even older.

Newsbusters.com, 2008

However, if her star fades, McCain will have no comparable light to keep the attention on him. If Palin had accomplished something outside Alaska, her brilliance would be less vulnerable to a press that likes watching heroes fall even more than falsely giving rise to them.

Now I know that everyone is currently in love with Sarah Palin. She is looking like the smartest V.P. pick since Thomas Jefferson. I know that the polls have bumped in her and McCain’s favor. Reality and Saturday Night Live will have something to say about Palin and McCain. The reality is that home foreclosures are still destroying the housing market. The Dow Jones just sank 500 points in one day. Hurricane Ike might result in gas going up from the imagined affordable level of four dollars a gallon. Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy. All three American auto makers are teetering on the verge of oblivion. Unemployment is at a five year high. Inflation is rising while relative income is shrinking. These are not Democrat talking points. These are economic facts that could become Teflon coated spears for the shiny object – Palin and her older sidekick McCain.

If reality doesn’t work, and it doesn’t always for voters, the LIBERAL MEDIA might. The LIBERAL MEDIA might start asking Governor Palin about things beyond her personal story in an attempt to discover if she is truly qualified to be president just in case a 72 year-old man doesn’t make it through a rigorous presidency. Ever see how fast presidents age? Tina Fey will do her best to satirize Governor Palin. This may seem small but I remember how Chevy Chase ‘framed’ Gerald Ford. People may not listen much to CBS and the New York Times but many do listen to SNL, Colbert and Stewart.

John McCain, you once said about Iraq that you would rather lose an election than see our country lose a war. Are you now ready to lose an election in order to win an election? We’ll see if your pick was insane genius or desperate politics soon enough.


Is Biden Good for McCain?

August 28, 2008

So now that the Democratic National Convention is in full swing, buzzing with promising speeches, celebrities and well-meaning anarchists, let’s talk about the Republican. John McCain, and the rest of us, now knows who the vice presidential candidate will be. Barack Obama announced Joe Biden as his running mate at 3:00 in the morning (Saturday) in a texting blitz to his closest trillion followers. Joe Biden is an interesting and strategic pick for Obama. Biden’s acceptance speech at the DNC was serviceable, almost paling in comparison to his touching biography and introduction by his son, Beau Biden. Joe Biden looked really happy to be the candidate for Vice President and his energy and smile looked younger than his years. For McCain, there are openings to go at Biden as a VP choice but some serious pitfalls as well.

AP Photo by Charles Rex Arbogast – 8/7/2007

Joe Biden is a seasoned senator and politician with decades of experience in Washington. This length of experience is jaded less by the fact that he really seems to be a good, Catholic family man, avoiding the personal scandals of many of his colleagues. Joe Biden is a gray haired (Hair Club for Men?) sage character with plenty of spring left in his step and lots of wind left in his lungs.

That is where McCain can get him. Joe Biden has probably said more words while in the Senate than any other politician. Ever. He is famous and infamous for his verbosity which at times has run him afoul of the press, the people and even his own party. Some patience should be required but Biden will probably say some things that get him in trouble. He will know how many houses he owns but he will also end up offending the Realtor Association and immigrant house contractors.

Gary Markstein, Copley

McCain shouldn’t think that one episode of Biden’s foot-in-mouth disease will carry him through to the election. Biden is quite capable of apologizing for remarks (something he has had to do many times) and his friendly charm gets him forgiven quickly, often within a news week (Monday at 8:00 to Friday at 3:00)

Another caution McCain should take is not to extrapolate Biden’s loose tongue and treat him like a dolt. Actually, McCain has known Biden since the beginning of the Triassic and he will not underestimate him. If his campaign does, they will pay the price. Joe Biden is an expert on international affairs. He talked about the federalism of Iraq before others and worried about Afghanistan when most eyes were still in Baghdad. His acumen and experience might make him an insider but he is a very capable compliment to Obama’s fresh look and perceived inexperience. Biden is a classic lawyer and has kept his debating knives sharp and serrated for any unprepared schmuck that might face him on television in the fall.

The McCain campaign must use four things against Biden to neutralize him as an effective vice presidential candidate.

  1. Biden’s mouth.
  2. Biden’s time in government.
  3. Biden’s plagiarism trouble in the past.
  4. Biden’s hair (for radio pundits only)

We have already discussed his mouth, so just wait and play when he oververbosifies.

Joe Biden won his first election to the Senate in 1972, making him one of the most senior members. He sits on very prestigious committees, like the Foreign Relations Committee. Sometimes this is good to demonstrate experience. This can also be held as a walking symptom of government that does not work, crushed by the weight of career politicians. At the same time, McCain must be painted as the Maverick or else the same argument can be hoisted upon him

Joe Biden “borrowed” a speech written by a British politician (Neil Kinnock) in 1987 during his first presidential campaign. That pretty much ruined his run at the white house (http://www.famousplagiarists.com/politics.htm). In his first year in the Syracuse Law School, Biden was accused of plagiarism on a paper. He was not disciplined as far as the records indicate but the suspicions can carry their own weight (http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2008/08/joe_bidens_plagiarism_problem.html).

This can be brought up again to erode at his credibility, especially if he happens to give a great speech. The attack dogs can wonder out loud, “Geez, I wonder where he got that one?”

Biden has some interesting hair. He is obviously bald when viewed from the back. However, he had a nice, gray bird’s nest in front. Who knows if those are plugs or a runaway comb-over or what. The official campaign should leave it alone but if any intelligence comes in about bit, it should be disseminated to the Limbaugh network. The comedian/pundits will tie the comb-over in with insincerity and “follicle plagiarism” if they can.

The McCain campaign should not go after him as an elitist or some rich guy with a trophy wife. Joe Biden has a very good reputation for working for the common person and less wealthy groups. He also championed the National Domestic Violence Volunteer Act in 2007 (Huffington Post, 2007), something that McCain and others voted against. Joe Biden lost his first wife and daughter in a car accident in 1972. He remarried after an appropriate time of mourning in 1977. Joe Biden goes to church, for real. His wife is attractive, but not right out of high school (Thompson) or looking like she’s worth 300 million dollars (McCain).

Dr. Jill Biden – flickr.com

So McCain can neutralize Biden but must be smart about it. Joe Biden could be a valuable asset for Barack Obama. If he can keep his feet on the floor and out of his mouth, his value rises past any strategy on McCain’s part. If he does slip, then his other faults can be exploited and the McCain campaign can drag Obama down by the tongue of his vice presidential pick. So far, in five and a half days of campaigning, he hasn’t left an opening for the McCain camp.

Stephen Noriega – The McBeat


Don’t Act Like Him, Don’t Talk Like Him

August 14, 2008

Stephen Noriega – The McBeat

I just stopped watching John McCain give a press conference on the Georgia situation. He should be able to dominate Barack Obama in this. Obama released a less than inspiring release from Hawaii about the invasion by Russian forces into Georgia. For all of you who do not understand, yes, Russia is driving tanks down Peachtree Avenue, has captured Atlanta and only John McCain cares.

But seriously, John McCain looked good. He touted his experience with Georgia, his trips to that country, and his relationship with the leadership there. He almost had this in the bag until he mispronounced the name of the president.

New School Politics 2-2008

Now, Georgian names are not easy to pronounce for us English speakers. Josef Stalin was a Georgian and his original name was Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili. The Minister of Foreign Affairs is Ekaterine Tkeshelashvili. The President is Mikheil Saakashvili (Not Sashkavili or Shashkvili). The capital city is Tbilisi. This is translated from a writing system different from the Roman alphabet or the Cyrillic system used by the Russians. Still, it has become somewhat important to know these names.

McCain has now mispronounced his Georgian friend’s name at least four times in the media.

Normally this would not be a super huge deal. As Americans, we do not expect our leaders to give much linguistic respect to other states or their leaders. However, this election is a little different. This election might actually have to do with intellect, articulation and pronunciation.

It is a political given that the far left will make fun of McCain and the far right will make fun of Barack Obama for any gaff statements. Likewise these sides will defend their candidates to the very end. The Democrats and Republicans will not see massive defections. This is just not historically supported. The two campaigns need to focus on a particular group of people that have leaned to the right but make no promises for 2008.

The group that has awarded Bush in the last two elections for his personality more than his eloquence is the GDI – The God Damn Independents. They have looked at issues like national security, taxes (valid enough) and whether they would like to have a beer / go bowling with them (not so valid). Even with the GDI having major concerns about Iraq and a runaway deficit, they chose President Bush over Kerry. Kerry just was not one of them. While they worried about small business taxes and Al Qaeda, Kerry went windsurfing.

Amerika.nl 2004

In similar times, the dreaded elite label could drag Obama down. His snubbing of certain beverages and foods on the campaign trail while drinking organic teas and Starbuck potions could cost him much. His misguided and aloof comments in San Francisco about certain people clinging to guns and religion could be a death nail in 2004. However, in 2008, it is not.

Chicago Sun Times 2008

The GDI, as well as many more in the middle of political America, are less concerned about with whom we want to have a beer, or organic tea for that matter. The people in the middle have started to feel their own embarrassment glands ache as the world laughs at our leaders. It is not becoming enough to drink a beer with the President. The President needs to get things done. John McCain can fit the bill, but he must avoid looking silly. This is a rare time for any Republican candidate, trying to honor the brand of the party while still trying not to appear too much like the outgoing, two-term president.

Huffington Post 2008

I am willing to bet that Barack Obama, on his way back from Hawaii, is practicing names like Medvedev, Saakashvili and Tbilisi. McCain better do the same unless he wants a highlight reel like the one below. Unfortunately, McCain’s reel will be shorter because he will pay better attention or because he will lose the election.