Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Chase for Change 2008: John McCain’s VP Pick - McCain Admits Obama is Ready to Lead as President!

I’ll talk in the next post about what I think specifically about Sarah Palin as VP, but first I should say that I think the Obama camp’s initial response to it has been foolish. Right out of the gate they put out a press release saying Sarah Palin has little to no experience and no foreign policy experience and therefore she shouldn’t be a “heartbeat away” from the Presidency. I think Obama would do well to disavow the press release. Not to mention the release didn’t mention the historic nature of the pick, experience has been the central argument AGAINST Obama. Obama is just not going to win that argument. He’d be MUCH better to say “I believe Sarah Palin has the qualifications to be President, but I think it’s time for John McCain to stop the smears and admit that everyone on our tickets do – the American people deserve better”. If Obama and his supporters want to argue Palin is too inexperienced I think they’ll regret it and it will just end up in McCain ads. Sure Obama has more years of experience and more foreign policy experience, but Palin has executive experience which you really can’t deny is important (sure it’s only 2 years as a governor and being a mayor of a small town but it’s no coincidence there’s been very few Senators who have won the Presidency). Sure there were more experienced women (like Rice) McCain could have chosen as well but I don’t see how Obama benefits from making these arguments.

If Obama just cedes the argument that Palin has the qualifications necessary than what do the Republicans have left? I’m sure the plan for the RNC was to have speaker after speaker say Obama is “not ready to lead”, well it’s hard to argue that, if all agree that Palin is ready, that Obama isn’t. I know the Republicans are saying she has more exec experience, but the argument was always about Obama’s lack of foreign policy experience so they can’t change their arguments credibly this far in the game.

So I hope the U.S. media does its job and calls John McCain on this question and just asks point blank “if you think Sarah Palin is ready to lead, how can you say Obama isn’t?” After spending so much on ads saying Obama is not ready to lead, I wonder what he’ll say?

If experience is no longer an election issue then change, judgment and the actual policy stances become the bigger issues. Palin definitely brings the change card, but Republicans trying to win on that is like Liberals in Canada saying they want an election to be all about crime, it’s just not their strong suit, just like national security remains a Republican strong suit whether Obama likes it or not (hence why I thought the 3 AM ads were dumb because it was trying to elevate an issue that Democrats lose on). Then there’s judgment, also where Obama wins and same with policy stances.

That said, Democrats would do well not to underestimate what Palin brings to the ticket. She’s very charismatic, is an extremely popular governor and her life story will appeal to many Americans. Rather than go after her experience which is dumb, they ought to focus on where she stands on the issues and point out what kind of President she’d be. That’s the topic of the next post here.

Other Liberals have commented on the Palin pick here, here, here, here, here, here, and here

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