3 sep. 2008

The Palin Count Down

To show what a Republican is worth in current politics, it is a pleasure to take the measures of Sarah Palin, who is, according to Republican standards, the most qualified after McCain to be President of the United States of America.
Pointer presents a series of aspects, selected from the media, to see what and how long this image can endure, a count down. This dossier of articles is labeled The Palin COUNT DOWN and you can select the articles apart from the others by selecting that label.

Sarah Palin was named John McCain's vice presidential nominee just three days ago, yet it seems that weeks have passed in terms of the mountains of controversy it has stirred up. An overwhelming amount of negative publicity and sometimes shocking information has come out about her and her relatively short political career.
Choosing Palin has been called alternately a brilliant stroke that reinforces McCain's maverick image and a desperate, irresponsible "Hail Mary" pass in the face of an almost sure defeat in November. The fundamental question being raised: Why Palin? True, her personal narrative has lots of color: former fisherman, NRA hunter, mother of five, small-town mayor, short-term governor of a state with a small population, etc. But that does not qualify her to be a heartbeat away from the presidency.
Anathema to Moderates, Liberals and Progressives
George Lakoff, in an accompanying article, lists some of the issues swirling around Palin:
She is inexperienced, knowing little or nothing about foreign policy or national issues; she is really an anti-feminist, wanting the government to enter women's lives to block abortion, but not wanting the government to guarantee equal pay for equal work, or provide adequate child health coverage, or child care, or early childhood education; she shills for the oil and gas industry on drilling; she denies the scientific truths of global warming and evolution; she misuses her political authority; she opposes sex education and her daughter is pregnant; and, rather than being a maverick, she is on the whole a radical right-wing ideologue.
Part of the shock that many are grappling with: How could a 72-year-old man with bouts of cancer choose someone who appears to be completely unqualified to become president? Thus, McCain's age and health become central issues in the campaign, as does his judgment, although it may be tricky for Democrats to raise these issues without creating some backlash.
As Democratic strategist Paul Begala notes: "It is interesting that McCain passed over Tom Ridge, a decorated combat hero, a Cabinet secretary and the former two-term governor of the large, complex state of Pennsylvania; Mitt Romney, who ran a big state, Massachusetts, a big company, Bain Capital, and a big event, the Olympics; and Kay Bailey Hutchison, the Texas senator who is knowledgeable about the military, good on television and -- obviously -- a woman."
Not Good in the Polls
Republican pollster Frank Luntz, working with the AARP, did some focus groups of "undecided" voters and found some bad news for John McCain:
They don't like his choice of Sarah Palin for vice president. Only one person said Palin made him more likely to vote for McCain; about half the 25-member group raised their hands when asked if Palin made them less likely to vote for McCain. They had a negative impression of Palin by a 2-1 margin ... a fact that was reinforced when they were given hand-dials and asked to react to Palin's speech at her first appearance with McCain on Friday -- the dials remained totally neutral as Palin went through her heart-warming(?) biography, and only blipped upward when she said she opposed the Bridge to Nowhere -- which wasn't quite the truth, as we now know.
Then there was this, from a woman named Teresa, who went to the Democratic convention as a Hillary delegate and is leaning toward voting for McCain -- obviously the target audience for the Palin pick: "His age didn't really bother me until he picked Palin. What if he dies in office and leaves us with her as president? Also she leans toward the rigid right, and I always thought he was a moderate. ... You know, I change my mind almost every day, but right now I'm wondering where the John McCain I really liked in 2000 went. What happened to the moderate? This John McCain has the look of someone who is being manipulated -- probably by Karl Rove."
A commentator to the article appearing on the Time Magazine blog BlankSlate wrote:
Only someone in the throes of a serious mental condition could have make a pick this astonishing. This focus group confirms the Rasmussen Reports polling that, among undecided voters, the Palin pick makes 6 percent more likely to vote for McCain and 31 percent less likely to vote for McCain. About 59 percent of these undecided voters do not think Palin is qualified to be president. It is a stunt gone terribly amiss. And the hilarious thing is that the right wing really believes that this is going to turn everything around. Amazing, amazing, amazing.
Local Media Unhappy with Palin
Greg Mitchell, the editor of Editor & Publisher, checked out the Alaska newspapers to see how they felt about their governor. He found that they were nervous to say the least:
The pages and Web sites of the two leading papers up there have raised all sorts of issues surrounding Palin, from her ethics problems to general lack of readiness for this big step up. Right now the top story on the Anchorage Daily News Web site looks at new info in what it calls "troopergate" and opens: "Alaska's former commissioner of public safety says Gov. Sarah Palin, John McCain's pick to be vice president, personally talked to him on two occasions about a state trooper who was locked in a bitter custody battle with the governor's sister."
A reporter for the Anchorage Daily News, Gregg Erickson, even did an online chat with the Washington Post in which he revealed that Palin's approval rating in the state was not the much-touted 80 percent, but rather 65 percent and sinking -- and that among journalists who followed her, it might be in the "teens." He added: "I have a hard time seeing how her qualifications stack up against the duties and responsibilities of being president."
His paper found a number of leading Republican officeholders in the state who mocked Palin's qualifications. "She's not prepared to be governor. How can she be prepared to be vice president or president?" said Lyda Green, the president of the state senate, a Republican from Palin's hometown of Wasilla. "Look at what she's done to this state. What would she do to the nation?"
And from the editorial in the Anchorage Daily News: "It's stunning that someone with so little national and international experience might be heartbeat away from the presidency."
What's Next?
With the Republican National Convention delayed by Hurricane Gustav's arrival on U.S. shores, there must be lots of discussion and soul-searching going on in Republican circles as to how the Palin candidacy will hold up over the next two months. The biggest question perhaps is whether the McCain inner circle, perhaps in a major concession to the extreme right wing, which hasn't been friendly to McCain, has made a drastic error to woo its support. Or in fact, as some would suggest, McCain is crazy like a fox. Under that scenario, Palin will weather the initial avalanche of negative publicity that paints her far outside of the political mainstream, and she undermines many of McCain's efforts to appear to be the maverick moderate. Palin becomes a strong campaigner, and her extreme positions get lost in her efforts to support McCain.