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Pick a Standard—ANY Standard

September 2nd, 2008 · 5 Comments

Despite fairly serious reservations, I’m leaning Obamaward in the upcoming election. Still, I think it’s absolutely fair for Republicans to focus on his relative lack of experience in making their case against him. But it does seem that you can’t simultaneously do that, and then say things like this when the question turns to Sarah Palin’s qualifications for the heartbeat-away gig:

Palin as #2 represents the triumph of Apolitical America in Presidential politics in extremis. Elitists on both sides are asking ‘Who is this woman?’ To them, Palin is the ultimate arriviste, having leapfrogged several more-pedigreed candidates on the Republican side, and offending the Democratic sensibility that the Presidency is something you arrive at mostly through long study in Senate hearing rooms and law libraries.

This is why I ultimately think the attacks on Palin will backfire. As the Politico notes, everything about her life experience reinforces the narrative that she is not an all-consumming political animal, and has an active family life. That is not a bad place to be with the electorate.

So, Democrats are the party of elitism. But questioning a candidate’s political experience and pedigree is also elitist. Also, Obama is dangerously inexperienced. These three concepts are kept in a state of constant rotation about each other by means of advanced Republican cognitive technology, achieving a precarious state known as an Escher Equilibrium. Or so I assume.

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5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Phoenician in a time of Romans // Sep 2, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    offending the Democratic sensibility that the Presidency is something you arrive at mostly through long study in Senate hearing rooms and law libraries.

    Gee – can’t imagine what about the last eight years might have made people value candidates who actually have a clue about what’s going on…

  • 2 Franklin Harris // Sep 2, 2008 at 7:02 pm

    I think this is how Capt. Kirk used to get tyrannical computer overlords to self-destruct.

  • 3 Glen // Sep 3, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    I think the Democrats are playing the same game — affirming the importance of experience when attacking Palin, then denying it when defending Obama.

  • 4 asg // Sep 4, 2008 at 1:16 pm

    You don’t think the fact that they are applying for two different jobs justifies two different standards?

  • 5 Jesse // Sep 6, 2008 at 8:31 am

    Yes, but perhaps not in the direction that you seem to suspect. In fact, it’s easy to argue that “Stolid Experience to Charismatic Vision” ratio should be _higher_ for your VP than your P, as Obama-Biden has it. After all, the modern VP has 3 roles: 1) a utility advisor, 2) formal proxy, and 3) person who becomes P in the event of something terrible happening, which pretty much ensures that their presidency will be almost entirely reactive and about completing the former P’s legacy. Now, like McCain, you can replace “advisor” with “understudy”, and except for the worries about 3, Palin can seem like a coherent pick. But I don’t think it’s a slam-dunk argument either way.

    Then, there’s the fact that the closer you look at their two records, the better Obama’s and the worse Palin’s experience look, until you realize they’re on two discrete levels. (Admittedly, not only are Obama and McCain/Biden two on discrete levels, but there’s a couple in between them, too.) Palin’s mayorship left her previously debt-free town in $22 million of debt; being governor of Alaska, as far as I can tell, is like playing SimGovernor—when you know the cheat which lets you gain $1,000,000 every time you hold down the Option key and type “OIL”. That’s about all she’s got, and unlike Obama, she hasn’t been preparing for this thing for the last 4 years: meeting with experts, learning the ropes of foreign policy, thinking seriously about big issues, etc.

    Now, if McCain had actually been grooming Palin all this time—if, when she had become governor, he had met with her and told her to study up because he’s running in 2008 and if he gets the nod he wants her as his VP—well, then the man would have been a genius; it’s more likely than not that she’s capable of becoming an impressive national-level figure. But he didn’t—and he didn’t pick Jindal instead, whom you suspect started prepping for his own bid at some point in the Reagan administration—so she’s just not even close to ready yet. I understand why McCain’s rolling the dice on Culture War Part XVIII, and it might work. I also understand why Obama’s callowness is a minus; I’d prefer the candidate he’d be in four or eight years, too. But Palin’s is going to prove catastrophic. I only hope it’s before November.

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