Friday, August 29, 2008

McCain Picks Token Woman: Will It Play?

McCain's gamble seems to be: bring over disaffected Hillary supporters by picking a woman.

Will this play? While Howard Wolfson gives it credence, I don't think so.

After thinking about Palin for two minutes more (about the same time she's been in office), it's clear to me this wasn't a smart move at all. Here's why:

If Hillary voters weren't satisfied with Sebelius, how will they gander Palin, who has about two minutes electoral experience and is in the pockets of big oil and staunchly anti-choice?

The real gutsy candidate who would have persuaded Hillary supporters was Olympia Snowe: a woman with genuine experience, a genuine female trailblazer (first female member of the Senate Armed Services Committee) who also is a supporter of woman's issues, the most popular Senator in congress, and moderate enough to appeal to independent voters. THAT would have been the choice of the maverick McCain of 2000.

But this is a McCain that's totally boxed in by the right wing of his party, who would have defected over a Snowe or Lieberman on the ticket. While Obama had the leadership and force it took to win over disaffected Hillary supporters, McCain has decided to totally cave to his right-wing critics. This is the equivalent of Obama selecting Hillary: an easy but seemingly "exciting" choice that plays well to the base but brings much peril.

Why? Because I think Hillary supporters will see this choice for what it is, cynical tokenism. Even some conservatives see Palin as a mere token. If you compare Palin to Snowe, you'll see the choice had nothing to do with selecting a qualified candidate. Palin was put on the ticket SOLELY for her gender and because she wouldn't alienate the Republican base. McCain had to go all the way to Alaska to dig up someone who fit this resume.

While some conservatives will see this as brilliant, I think over time, Palin will not wear well. She will have the opposite effect of Biden. While Biden produced initial disappointment and concern, his worth became evident in the convention and will be increased and evident each and every day, all the way into the the White House. Palin will have the opposite effect: an exciting short term jolt as "outside-the-beltway" but over time, starting with the convention - when her story seems a bit flat and the presentation a cynical feminist appeal - she will become a stone dragging the candidate down.

It's very interesting here. Democrats nominated the BEST candidate on the ticket, who happened to be African American, *despite* the liability he obviously brings. And that candidate, Obama, avoided the token choice of picking Hillary or some other woman merely to appeal to a constituency but instead chose an older white man over a woman because that was the *best* selection for the chemistry of his ticket.

What did McCain do? He chose a woman merely for tokenism, rather than picking his best selection. It really exemplifies that he's stuck in the thinking of the past, very 1980's. (Who was his best choice - after conceding that McCain doesn't have the leadership over his party to make a winning choice like Snowe or Lieberman work? Well, if he was going to cave to the right-wing, he should have caved with Pawlenty. More experience, better on the issues, unified the party, and better personal chemistry. Still a lightweight against Biden but would have made more sense being a heartbeat away from the Presidency.)

If the selection of VP is the most important clue we get to the candidate's thinking and abilities, well, Obama clearly outshines McCain on this one.

I think this issue will come to haunt the McCain campaign. Suddenly, Democrats look like the party of personal achievement, and Republicans look like the party of tokenism. It's a stunning reversal that in the year 2008 will not sit well with libertarian independents.


Anonymous said...

My wife supported Hillary and seriously was struggling getting behind Barack.

Until this morning, she was immediately offended and saw it exploitation.

Three of the five women in my office thought the same, the other two are republicans.

This is going to hurt him.

Anonymous said...

I think you are wrong.

Unknown said...

thomas f. yep you're right some of my friends who are women are saying the same thing. I even know 4 republicans that say she's a token, or a cheerleader with no purpose but to praise McCain.