Saturday, October 18, 2008

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Palin?

It was pretty obvious to many political observers, back when Republican’t presidential nominee John “100 Years War” McCain chose Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate, that she wasn’t qualified to be vice president and would eventually prove to be a millstone around McCain’s neck. But it apparently took a few weeks for everybody else to recognize the problem. The Huffington Post’s Thomas B. Edsell charts “the Palin Plunge”:
The more voters learn about Sarah Palin, the more wary they become. Once the focus of post-convention Republican euphoria, the Alaska Governor is now viewed as a serious liability to the McCain campaign.

As it stands, Palin’s polling numbers are daunting: with the unfolding economic crisis, her favorable to unfavorable ratings have switched from a positive 40-30, according to a September 12-16 New York Times survey, to a negative 32-41 in an October 10-13 survey.

Palin is, additionally, costing McCain newspaper endorsements. Editor and Publisher calculated that as of Oct. 18, Barack Obama led McCain 58-16 in the competition for the backing of newspapers. Many of the endorsements cited Palin as a factor in their rejection of McCain. The Salt Lake Tribune, which supported George W. Bush in 2004, commented that “out of nowhere, and without proper vetting, the impetuous McCain picked Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate. She quickly proved grievously under-equipped to step into the presidency should McCain, at 72 and with a history of health problems, die in office. More than any single factor, McCain’s bad judgment in choosing the inarticulate, insular and ethically challenged Palin disqualifies him for the presidency.” The Kansas City Star, in turn, described Palin as “unqualified.”

Brookings Senior Fellow Thomas Mann told the Huffington Post that initially, Palin both built conservative enthusiasm for McCain and drew widespread interest among voters who had not been closely following the race. But those benefits soon evanesced:

“Within weeks, she became a liability, primarily as a highly visible indicator of McCain’s impulsiveness and recklessness in picking someone who is patently unqualified to serve as president and commander-in-chief. McCain’s only chance of making this election competitive was to contrast his readiness to serve with Obama’s inexperience and naiveté. The Palin choice was the first clear sign (others followed) that McCain could not win that comparison.”
Palin is probably a smart person, maybe even a good person. But she’s a dishonest and hateful campaigner, knowingly promoting false and nefarious ties between Barack Obama and a onetime militant turned respected educator, inciting ugly exchanges at her political rallies, and suggesting that voters who oppose the McCain-Palin ticket are anti-American. More than a few Republican’t commentators have said that Palin will be a real force in their party four years from now, when President Obama is running for re-election. It’s hard to imagine, though, how--after being instrumental in McCain’s 2008 loss and being derided by news organizations for her mean-spirited tactics--she can mount a presidential bid in 2012. She represents quick clearly the intolerance suffusing today’s GOP. In four more years, after trying to recover their stature, it seems unlikely Republican’ts will want her as their standard bearer, a woman who will only remind Americans why they threw McCain and his fellow GOPers out into the cold in 2008. But stranger things have happened.

READ MORE:The Palin Factor,” by Mustang Bobby (The Reaction); “Palin’s Staffers Keep Her Away from the News to Avoid Being ‘Depressed,’” by Katherine Zaleski (The Huffington Post); “Palin in 2012: The Argument,” by Marc Ambinder (The Atlantic).

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