Can we please stop hearing from the media about how brilliant Karl Rove and Steve Schmidt are? John McCain is forced by the brilliantly-staged and historic Democratic convention...
His TV audience nearly doubled the amount of people who watched John Kerry accept the Democratic nomination to run against President Bush four years ago. Kerry's speech was seen by just over 20 million people.…to pick an obscure, untested and unknown woman when we all know McCain wanted Lieberman and was willing to settle for Pawlenty. Instead:
“No one knows anything about her,” complained one GOP strategist, who spoke on the condition that he not be identified. “I don’t know anyone who has even met her.”Palin will win a news cycle, quickly be obscured by Gustav, and be a long term failure as a pick. Not that that's entirely McCain's fault; the rest of his weak GOP bench would have been failures of different sorts. What we wound up with was the grumpy old guy and the charming creationist cheerleader. But let's be clear about what happened and why: McCain sensed he was going to lose and therefore threw the Hail Mary pass to try and win.
McCain succeeded in keeping his pick a secret until this morning, but the secrecy came at a cost: Surrogates who might have been counted on to sing Palin’s praises were caught flat-footed and unprepared instead.
“I don’t know much about her,” Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison told CNN this morning. “I don't know Sarah Palin."
Is he entitled? Surely he is. But this was a move out of desperation, not out of genius. Not every conservative commentator fell in line and hailed the choice. And not every party official was thrilled.
Though it was high in shock value, the Palin pick left bruised feelings among the short-list contenders who were not picked -- and infuriated some Republican officials who privately said McCain had gone out on a limb, unnecessarily, without laying the groundwork for such an unknown. Two senior Republican officials close to Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty said they had both been rudely strung along and now "feel manipulated."This was a tactical win and a strategic disaster. And all the pre-confirmation chatter was true. For all the 24-hour distraction, this is an unserious and lightweight choice which will not address any of the major and multiple problems this country faces. She has neither economic nor foreign policy chops, and is not ready to step up and be President (I haven't seen anyone who agrees she is, outside of the Bushbots like Healther Wilson). And given that that's the most important and vital role of a VP, and given McCain's 72 years of age, that's a game breaker.
She has strengths, certainly. She's new, unknown, charming, and from the West, and can talk credibly about energy [Big Oil]. Most importantly, it's a historic thing for the GOP to put a woman on the ticket. But she is not a qualified woman. She simply doesn't measure up where it counts. More background from Gregg Erickson, Columnist and Reporter, Anchorage Daily News and Editor at Large, Alaska Budget Report :
About her strengths and weaknesses: “She is smart, vivacious and energetic; she tends to oversimplify complex issues, has had difficulty delegating authority, and clearly has difficulty distinguishing the line between her public responsibilities and private wishes. She is under legislative investigation on this, the so-called "troopergate” issue, in which she is said to have used improper influence to try to get her sister’s ex-husband fired from the state troopers."3 a.m.? I don't think so. And using her to go after the Clinton voters? Not if you know the record.
About her approval ratings: “Her approval ratings are high–65 percent, or so–but down from 80 percent earlier in her term. Most Alaskan’s haven’t watched her as closely as most reporters or legislators. If you took a poll of reporters and legislators I expect her approval rating would be down in the teens or twenties."
She said she felt kind of bad she couldn't support a woman, but she didn't like Clinton's "whining."No doubt, voters will note those comments come the fall, along with her abuse of power issues, 2000 Pat Buchanan support and her hard-right creationism. Those characteristics will not play well in the suburbs. Debbie Wasserman Schultz called this "colossally bad judgment" on McCain's part. She's absolutely right. This was a weak and embarrassing pick, and McCain has failed his first executive decision. But for now, don't lose sight of the fact that this happened because McCain was losing.