Op-Ed: How Much has Palin Damaged McCain?

The Political Cortex published a insightful op-ed today on how shortsighted the selection of Alaska Governor Saray Palin as the Republican vice presidential candidate has been for the GOP and the possible long term damage Gov. Palin has inflicted on Senator John McCain.

The Republican right proceeds at blinding speed to commit political suicide.

During an era when things so frequently went their way within the national political power structure, aided in no small part by a mainstream media that so often looked the other way or approved of atrocious electioneering and policymaking, right wing Republicans began to believe that power should be theirs, particularly the presidency, for the eternal taking.

How furious they became and how quickly already loose springs shattered from the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly when Bill Clinton had the rank audacity to not only run for president, but actually win it twice.  He countered the relentless bully machine with an effective instrument of his own in 1992 called the rapid response team, which met smear attacks with carefully crafted rebuttals.

McCain, after achieving the 2008 Republican nomination by pleasing the right by proudly asserting that he had voted with George Bush “90 percent of the time” ended up cornered by his own strategy when a differently structured general election beckoned.

The rightist forces that moved in his direction to enable him to overcome Republican primary challengers such as Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee reacted with angry vigilance when McCain expressed a preference for opting toward a vital center position going into the general election campaign, indicating a preference for the likes of either Joe Lieberman or Tim Pawlenty for the vice presidential slot.

Can any group in America stir up instant thunder faster than an angered Republican right?  McCain found himself in the midst of such hostility at the very thought of selecting a pro-choice running mate.  

So he acceded to the right’s wishes, Sarah Palin was selected, and the Alaskan proved to be a shaker and mover as her right wing supporters promised, but the volcanic eruptions that occurred put McCain’s campaign in an increasingly vulnerable position.

The drum beat continues to resound so loudly for Palin from the right that elements of the mainstream media, often the same sources who listened so intently to rumbles on the right through the years and looked the other way when the right’s policy proposals were draconian and damaging to the nation.

There is a current stir in the direction of asking if Sarah Palin should McCain lose emerge as the logical Republican frontrunner for the 2012 presidential nomination.

This reflection is occurring at a time when Palin’s negative rating, meaning numbers believing she is unqualified to currently serve as president, have reached 55 percent.  

Considering the often stated current political reality that under existing American political divisions it is hard for any nominee of either political party to dip below, at least to any appreciable extent, the 40 percent support mark, that 55 percent figure has probably peaked for this election season.

There are three important reasons why Palin will have rendered serious damage to McCain once the final tabulations are in for election 2008.  The first is that John McCain took the number one gut argument he could make to the electorate in these economically troubled times, whether one accepts it or not, and removed that piece from the electoral chessboard.

The argument was that he has far more political experience than Barack Obama and is a better choice during a period of turbulent uncertainty both at home and abroad.  

Once that Palin, an ill-equipped running mate who screamed foul over an easy question such as what newspapers she read, was selected, McCain was no longer in a position to play his experience card without the specter of his frequently lampooned running mate slapping him metaphorically in the face.

The second reason, that also resulted in a metaphorical slap in McCain’s face, was the hope that a Palin candidacy would resonate with women, particularly former supporters of Hillary Clinton.  That hopeful expectancy on the part of McCain and  Republican forces demonstrates how out of touch they are with the kind of pragmatic feminism Clinton and her supporters embrace.

The specter of a winking, flirtatious, shatter the traditional English language, tote your gun style of electioneering flies in the face of what Clinton style feminism represents.  

Too often feminists have seen winking, flirtatious, ill-equipped women obtain positions in the workplace through male chauvinism, while Palin seems to revel in perpetuating this image to the ultimate presentation level, hoping it will be accepted by large portions of the electorate.

The third reason why Palin has been such a disaster has been in accordance with an old phrase Reagan’s supporters used in connection with his movement.  The saying then was “let Reagan be Reagan” while in the case of the Alaskan it has lately become “I’m Palin and I’ll stick to being Palin.”

When a message was sent to her by McCain forces on points to make in a Florida appearance Palin was said to have shunned the instruction and followed instead the rhetorical course established by her warm-up act, right wing talk show star Elizabeth Hasselbeck.  She later denied having departed from the McCain central command’s message and made a reference to “our teams” which is not the way it is supposed to work.

Sarah either does not understand, or perhaps does not wish to comprehend, that a presidential and vice presidential duo is supposed to function as an integrated team.

The resulting flap prompted Sarah to be referred to by an operative from the McCain team calling her a “diva” while another negative comment erupted during that same rocky period that “Palin is a lightweight” and that Mitt Romney will become the Republican party’s chief spokesman “on November 5.”

Mind you that all this is happening a week before Election Day.

As for Sarah the free spirit, even minimal vetting from the McCain forces should have been enough to remove her from consideration for the vice presidency.  Her two years as Alaska’s governor have been marked by bickering and cronyism in which major positions have been frequently filled by ill-qualified long time Wasilla cronies.

On top of that, there is that sticky “Troopergate” investigation that will not seem to go away.  How could they have missed that?  If they saw it, how could they go forward with a Palin nomination for vice president?

All the while Democrats stand aside while Republicans engage in inter-party warfare.

How Much has Palin Damaged McCain?


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