Sunday, August 31, 2008

My thoughts on the McCain VP pick

Someone asked me to post my thoughts on McCain's choice of Gov. Sarah Palin as VP.

The last two Vice Presidents have been unusual because of their powerful roles in the White House. Gore as a member of Clinton's advising staff, and Cheney for doing a little bit of everything in the executive branch and being the most powerful VP in history. On cue, an article today in the NY Times.
"Historians will debate Mr. Cheney for decades. Critics say he has set a dangerous precedent; former Vice President Walter F. Mondale, a Democrat, said the Cheney model posed “disturbing risks.” Indeed, Mr. Cheney loomed large over Senators Barack Obama and John McCain as they picked their running mates."
So, the first thing that struck me was that McCain is returning the VP back to its traditional role-- doing nothing. Palin will be a Dan Quayle. Lindsey Graham quoted in the same article:
“If someone said that your vice president is like Dick Cheney, you’ve got a Dick Cheney model in place, I don’t know if that’s something you would want or not,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Republican who is a close ally of Mr. McCain. The McCain model will be “more traditional,” Mr. Graham said, adding, “there will be no doubt nobody else is pulling the strings.”
So, that's refreshing to me.
In contrast, Joe Biden would likely have a huge role in an Obama administration-- he's the Senate veteran that would get things pushed through, he's the foreign policy wonk. But, he's also more liberal than Obama appears to be and will likely greatly affect policy.

What I don't understand is all the high-fiving taking place in conservative circles over the pick of Palin. Do they not understand McCain's desire to return the VP to its proper Constitutional role of doing nothing? Given that's his goal, why get excited about a person who does nothing? It's essentially like voting for McCain because he now wears a really cool necktie.

I also don't understand the "Oh, okay, now I'll believe a McCain administration is pro-life because his VP pick definitely is." Anybody who thinks McCain would alienate the conservative base by appointing liberal judges is just dumb. And that's the only thing he has to try and combat abortion (though it hasn't worked so far with the newly conservative court!) Like he said at Saddleback, "Life begins at conception... strict Constitutionalist judges...etc."
Anyone who thinks abortion will be outlawed at any point in this country and that the President has any power whatsoever over this is simply deluding themself (wow, I just criticized a huge swath of people). Even if McCain stacked the bench with conservative judges, the best that can happen is that it will be left up to States to decide.
Obama made the point last week-- abortions have increased despite election of staunchly pro-life Presidents. None of them have done anything to create incentives to reduce abortions.

I understand the "Palin is cool because she's an NRA member and did rifle training in Kuwait and hunts and fishes and her husband is a purple heart vet and she's smokin' hot." But, this isn't American Idol. And doesn't the McCain camp criticize Obama for his celebrity appeal backed with minimal experience?

Palin has had about the same political experience as Obama. She also instituted a windfall profits tax on oil companies, something that the Republicans villified Hillary Clinton for proposing. She's also a self-proclaimed "maverick" in her party, isn't that what conservatives hate about McCain? I guess "Pro-Life Female" is the tree that keeps people from seeing the forest.

McCain reportedly wanted to pick Joe Lieberman, but the conservative backlash would have been bad, despite the appeal it would have been for independent voters. Palin is the better choice because, whether it makes logical sense or not, the conservative base is now excited about his ticket.

*UPDATE*(HT: Sok): "(James) Dobson, the head of Focus on the Family, vowed earlier this year never to support McCain. However, within hours of Palin’s addition to the G.O.P. ticket, he had changed his tune, saying, he had “not been so excited about a political candidate since Ronald Reagan.
Again--Dobson's change of mind due to a powerless VP makes no sense to me.


Charity said...

I was actually very curious about your thoughts on this. Thanks for sharing. I'm pretty confused on this election stuff, so I like reading what you have to say, as you seem to be very educated on all of it. Thanks! Hope your first week of teaching went well... Maybe a post on life as an economics teacher? =)

JTapp said...

Thanks, Charity. I try, and people are free to share their disagreements.
I probably won't post on teaching until I've gotten a better handle on it. I'm just trying to stay one step ahead of my students right now!