Saturday, August 30, 2008

Here's A Thought

John McCain picked Sarah Palin because he needed something to 1) change the narrative, 2) make it harder for Democrats to take the ticket, 3) do anything, anything to avoid choosing Mitt Romney, and 4) turn a probable small loss into a possible win / possible big loss.

Again, if McCain is smart, he will convince the Republican party to open things up so he can freely criticize the Bush administration and Congress, and position himself and Palin as the mavericks who can reform the party by bringing it back to conservative principles: small government, unapologetic foreign policy, family values, and personal honor. You absolutely castigate Bush/Rumsfeld for not listening to you earlier on troop levels, and you make the strongest case you can against torture. You throw in a few new moves, to challenge the party to move forward on global warming and energy conservation, and maybe, MAYBE, even on immigration, and try to show that even while individual Republicans have fouled things up, the Democrats don't have any new ideas other than to raise taxes, enlarge government, and castrate our military. That's how you win independents; not through tokenist appeals. The advantage of Palin is that she made her bones calling out fellow Republicans too, and she has no ties to the past administration. In fact, her only advantage besides her personal likability is her credentials as a reformer (which is why Troopergate is such a horrible blemish).

But I doubt the Republican establishment will free him up to do that, and here's why. First, once you start throwing blame around, it's hard to stop, and a lot of people have a lot invested in the Bush administration. McCain would regain his friends in the press and the conservative magazines would no doubt be thrilled, but to most of the people who actually work in politics, he'd be confirming their worst suspicions about him, that he will burn them to the ground if it enhances his stature.

The second point is that the group most excited about Palin as VP candidate isn't moderate women, it's anti-abortion conservatives -- and I imagine they will still be pretty excited even if McCain can't beat Obama this time around. Here's why. Instantly, Sarah Palin becomes one of the best known Republicans in the country. Presumably, she retains her likability even if people don't think she's ready to be in that office.

She instantly becomes the new face and voice for the anti-abortion movement. Quick -- who speaks for the anti-abortion movement now? A lot of white, unlikable preachers, batshit House Republicans, and crazy-ass Supreme Court justices. And in high-level government, the old face was Rick Santorum. Rick, man-on-dog, bigoted, rip-your-throat out, named a disgusting sex byproduct after him Santorum, who was easiest to villify when he would say things like "birth control is degrading to women." Now it's Sarah Palin, a likable, tough, career woman who actually probably has at least been presented with the choice to have an abortion, and who refused.

That's how you get your movement jump-started again, and that's how you stop the bleeding of young Christian women out of the Republican party. Even if McCain loses, they have a direction again.

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