McCain, Palin and the “Diversity Racket”

Here’s a different take on the Palin Pick by Heather MacDonald of the conservative Manhattan Institute. If she’s right, irony lives: GOP Puts End to White-Male Tickets.   

 Thanks a lot, John McCain. With his selection of an unknown, two-year female governor as his running mate, he has just ensured that the diversity racket will be an essential component of presidential politics forever more. Had the 44-year-old Sarah Palin, whose greatest political accomplishment before being elected Alaska’s governor in 2006 was serving as mayor of Wasilla (population 9,780), been named Stanley, she would have had exactly zero chance of ending up in the Oval Office in the next four years. But from now on, any presidential ticket that consists solely of white males—no matter their qualifications—will likely be dead in the water.

Of course, Democrats have been playing the identity-politics game to the hilt this election cycle; it’s what they do. And it will be amusing to watch them twist themselves into knots to avoid criticizing the Palin pick for what it is: a diversity ploy. As short-term political strategy, the Palin selection has diabolical appeal. Prevented from stating the obvious—Palin was chosen because she was a woman—the Democrats will instead have to seize on her lack of experience. They are right to do so, but then they have to explain why Barack Obama is so much more qualified for the top of the ticket, let alone the number two spot.

Read her whole piece here  if you like.


Unionized, Moose-Eating, Working-Class Eskimos

Well, if nothing else, Palin is the face that launched a thousand conversations this week. Scanning her resume, this thought hit me: If lightning struck and Rev. Wright turned out to be Obama’s father  and the moon was in the Seventh House and McCain won, look who would be in the White House, or Blair House where the Veep lives, I guess:

1. A First Veep Husband who is one-quarter Eskimo;

2. Two members of labor unions

3. Weirdest of all in these times, a non-wealthy family who might actually need the Veep salary ($208,000) to get by. With five kids, her husband may need to, how shall we say, work to make ends meet, so he won’t be able to make many of those Rose Garden teas. Guess they can dock their seaplane on the Potomac.

It’s turvy-topsy indeed when the Republicans might bring the first unionized, moose-eating Eskimo-loving basketball star  to the White House.


Does Palin Ruin the “Experience” Argument?

Having picked my jaw up from the floor re McCain’s VP pick. . .  

We’ll see whether the move  brings in more voters than it loses, but my first reaction was it would deprive Mccain of the “experience” argument, which I think is valid and which was working against Obama; in fact, I think it’s the main reason the polls have stayed pretty tight in what ought to be a heavy Democratic year. 
I think despite Obama’s many plusses, an awful lot of voters in late October would be saying, “He sure is bright and inspiring, but is he ready?”
 I guess McCain can still use the experience argument in reduced form, saying, well, our presidential candidate is experienced, and my VP will learn fast–but it won’t be as potent as it was.
On the other hand, it’s not as if Romney and Pawlenty had a wealth of “When I was conferring with Musharaf” stories, either.
On yet another  hand, this move may just leave the experience argument at a stalemate on both sides. Obama and Biden can’t play the card against Palin too hard, I would think, or they’ll be contradicting what Obama has said all along–that it isn’t experience but judgment that counts most.
And here’s a completely different possibility: It may be that Obama has succeeded all too well in weakening the experience argument this year. Hillary had far more experience, and he beat her. The whole thrust of his campaign may have prepared the electorate for someone with a lighter resume.

Palin? Alaska? Who? Where? Is He Serious?

Quick Gut Reaction: As a longtime pol watcher who reads 2-3 papers a day, I have to say…Who? Who is Gov. Palin of Alaska? She’s a woman, I infer, and that may help some, but there goes the Experience argument. Think Obama has a thin resume? Who’s this One Heartbeat Away?

Part of this has to be the result of our Reg’lar Guy Fantasy. We like to pretend that somehow our leaders are jus’ folks like us, the kind of people you’d see in the morning at Dunkin Donuts or standing in line to buy a mower at Sears.  With McCain already damned for Too Many Houses, he probably backed off on Romney, another person who’d be deemed excessively rich.  More as this develops. Meanwhile, I’m using Google Maps to find this woman.

Fear of Muslim Violence Again Stifles Speech

Lost in the hoopla over the conventions is a deeply troubling incident that may say more about our future than any number of 10-Point Plans for Somehow Lowering Gas Prices and Punishing Greedy Oil Barons.  Publishing giant Random House has decided not to publish The Jewel of Medina, Sherry Jones’ novel about the Prophet Muhammed’s child bride. Why? Remember the recent violence over the “Muhammed cartoons,” which many American publications refused to reprint? You got it.

This isn’t a case of some rejected author crying that her tome was buried in the slush pile by cowardly interns. The book’s advances had been paid, pub date was set for August, and book tours were planned. That all came to a halt, Reuters reported, after the company received “cautionary advice not only that the publication of this book might be offensive to some in the Muslim community, but also that it could incite acts of violence by a small, radical segment.” 

 Writing in The New York Times,  the esteemed and usually thoughtful  Stanley Fish flatly misses the point.  Fish takes the legalistic line that no real “censorship” was involved when Random House decided to kill the book–i.e., no government agency spiked the novel, ergo no censorship. By that narrow definition, of course, there hasn’t been any government censorship since long before the Feds tried to block publication of The Pentagon Papers.

OK. So it wasn’t government censorship that caused Random House to back down.  It was self-censorship bred by fear, fear of Muslim fanatics, fear of seeming politically incorrect, fear of screaming picketers and maybe far worse.

There’s a pattern here, alas, and things are even worse in countries that have no constitutional protection for free speech. It’s a  pattern that includes the shameful prosecution of Brigitte Bardot for saying things offensive to Muslims, a pattern that includes the trial of Canadian journalist Mark Steyn for, again, saying things offensive to Muslims.

If Barack Obama can reach out and build bridges to people like these hypersensitive fanatics,  he’s the miracle worker his fans proclaim him to be.

It would be nice if in tonight’s coronation speech , in his litany praising the people who have touched his life as he has traveled this great country and learned so much about the faith and the families and the communities that make up this gorgeous mosaic that is the last best hope of mankind,  Obama included a line denouncing this kind of intellectual terrorism, but I won’t stay up late waiting for it, even though, come to think of it, that would bury the “He’s a secret Muslim” garbage forever.