A blog by the magazine's editors and contributors


Picking Palin: McCain's Folly, or "crazy like a fox"?

John McCain has certainly revived his maverick label bypicking--or plucking from obscurity--freshmanAlaska governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. (WaPo coverage here, and NYT coverage here.) Like every candidate, there are pluses and minuses.

On the plus side, Christian conservatives (as God-o-Meter knows and shows), are going to be delighted with Palin. She is a self-described "hockey mom" who is pro-life and a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association. She is a moose-hunting mother of five, her latest--born just last April--has Down syndrome, and she wouldnever consider abortion, which she opposes personally and as a legal option. She has bucked the scandal-plagued GOP establishment in Alaska, and has shown a mild green streak without really undermining her state's interests in mining and Big Oil. She is against taxes (except, apparently, when it came to building stuff in her own town), and against gay marriage. Check, check, check.She is a sweetheart, a 44-year-old fresh face who is as far outside the Beltway as you can possibly get without being Russian. And she is so attractive the Obama camp will have to be careful not to look like they're bullying her, or patronizing her.And those things are also major risks in the general election. Will someone like Palin really pull in those supposedly disaffected Hillary supporters? Not likely, not after Bill's show-stopping speech and policy differences between Palin voters and Hillary voters.Moreover, how can the McCain camp work the "inexperienced" wedge against Obama when Sarah Palin will be a heartbeat away from an Oval Office that would be occupied by John McCain, who would be the oldest man ever elected president? She has less than two years as governor, and before that the sum total of her governing experience was as mayor of Wasilla, a town of less than 7,000.If Obama has been painted as little more than a good-looking Esquire cover guy, how about Palin, a former beauty queen who was runner-up in 1984 as Miss Alaska? Some will think McCain picked his daughter, others his third wife. (What is it with Republicans and beauty pageants, anyway?) Palin is sharper than Dan Quayle, but still...Imagine the Biden-Palin VP debate. Voters want change, but they also want ballast. And they want someone who can step in. Sure, Palin is a wonderfulmom. But she is the mother of FIVE, and the last a special needs infant born just FOUR MONTHS ago. She'll have to haveMary Poppins and a couple Super Nannys with911on speed-dial if she hopes to fill the 24/7 job as Vice-President.Her environmental cred may not stretch too far, either. Check out the dissection by the HuffPost's Chris Kellyof her Polar Bear record and her JanuaryNYTimes op-ed in which she said all was well with the big critters. Now that the polar bears are actually swimming across hundreds of miles of open water looking for receding ice floes, you can imagine the video in the camapign ads to come.And while she has a reputation as a whistle-blower on ethics, she is also under investigation for a firing and other machinations related to penalties against her estranged ex-brother-in-law, astate trooper. Add to that the fact that the dominant Republican Party in Alaska is a cesspool of scandals and indictments, and Palin's odor of sanctity may not endure.So what does the choice of Palin say toall those "new" evangelicals? Will her fresh faceattract them? Or will she come across as the oldreligious rightin a new guise? Palin could prove to be McCain's salvation, and a necessary gamble given his own weaknesses. (Funny, McCain's people were saying the other day that the choice of Biden pointed up Obama's weaknesses, and did not compensate for them...) But the audacity (nice word) of his choice could also smack of desperation.My sense is that the positives balance out the negatives, yetMcCain can't afford a "wash" in terms of gains and losses.Palin will reassure the Religious Right, and surely draw in those voters, especially Christian "soccer moms," who see her as "one of us," only with a hockey stick. But with all voters growing in their suspicion ofthe use of religion in politics, as shown by the latest Pew poll, Palin's best weapon may be firing blanks.PS: I wasn't sure, but it's pronounced PAY-lin.We'll all know that soon enough.(Cross-posted with Progressive Revival.)

About the Author

David Gibson is a national reporter for Religion News Service and author of The Coming Catholic Church (HarperOne) and The Rule of Benedict (HarperOne). He blogs at dotCommonweal.



Commenting Guidelines

  • All

I know that the NRO crowd love her. But they're part of the progressive religious right (if I can add a new term). How many of the rank-and-file who constitute part of the Religious Right actually believe women should be in political leadership roles --particularly commander in chief of the armed forces? A wife and mother of five leaving her family to do this job--will that actually sit well with social conservatives on the ground? My tour of conservative catholic pro-family blogs didn't exactly suggest a broad belief that women with lots of kids ought to have demanding jobs too.Or has feminism really permeated the country to this extent?I think this is good news for Senator Obama. I don't think it will help with the religious right (rank and file), it's not going to swing Hilary supporters, and the worries about whether she can step into McCain's shoes should he prematurely leave them behind are significant. Jean Raber, how will this play with your fundamentalist relatives?

Don't kid yourselves--although the Democrats are already saying that this lays to rest the issue of "inexperience" (which they never before acknowledged), the American people are smart enough to know that the Denmocrats have put the inexperienced one at the head of their ticket while the Republic ticket is led by the very experienced McCain ... meanwhile, Palin has been mayor of a small town and is a highly respected reform-minded governor who holds a roughly 90-percent apporoval rating in her state. Her personal story is also compelling: "hockey mom" mother of 5 including one son in the army who is heaidng to Iraq on Sept. 11 (thus negating any benefit that Obama/Biden could hope for from Biden's son's upcoming tour of duty there ... plus tragically her youngesty child has Down syndrome, which will definitely resonate with married women across the nation .. add in a certain number of Hillary supporters who feel their candidate was "dissed" by not being vetted, as well as many women voters (except for the hard-core abortionites) who will see this as the year to support a woman candidate and it all looks VERY good for McCain/PalinWhat's Biden going to do: lecture a woman about abortion?

Cathleen said: "How many of the rank-and-file who constitute part of the Religious Right actually believe women should be in political leadership roles particularly commander in chief of the armed forces?"I understand most here have very stong personal feelings regarding Senator Obama, so let me preface what I am about to say that in no way whatsoever do I mean to make any value judgements whatsoever regarding his character, his family, race, creed, or anything whatsoever. The following are my own opinions only and are not meant to reflect anything other than that. That being said, while I am certainly not a fundamentalist, I think, certainly with respect to the judicial and cultural issues, as a subscriber to First Things, inter alia, I would be considered by many here to be a member of the Religious Right. That said, I would say, again, speaking only for myself and making no value judgements regarding Serator Obama whatsoever, I personally can personally tell you (1) given my perception of the two Democratic Senators' views on the Constitution - the role of government versus individuals acting collectively through exercise of their individual liberty, (2) my perception of the Democratic Senators' views on abortion, embryonic stem cell research, people with disabilities, and euthanasis, (3) my perception of Senator Biden's handling of the Justice Thomas and Robert Bork confirmation hearings, (4) my perception of Senator McCain's voting reccord regarding abortion, (5) my perception of McCain family's adoption of a handicap child from Mother Theresa's orphanage, (6) my perception of Governor Palin's opposition to abortion, and (6) my perception Governor's decision to raise a child with Down syndrom, that I am extremely enthused about this selection. The above is only representative of my personal opinions and is based on my personal perceptions (which I freely admit may be very, very wrong) and again, in no way, is meant to cast any value judgements on Senator Obama.Therefore, returning to the title of the posting, speaking for myself, I see it more as "crazy like a fox".

As an outsider, who predicted Palin I think it was a wise move. The reality is that the federal gov't is in fact broke. It sounds like a slogan but it is true (true in Canada too). There needs to be fundamental change in the way business is conducted.I thought Palin's line about declineing the bridge to nowhere was spot on. I think that the Democrats have to be very careful in their criticism as there is a strong contingency of elites governing the party (although I don't consider Obama and elite I am not sure he is grounded enough not to be seduced by them). I like Obama and think that he should hold his own counsel. The Clinton's it needs to be said are a liability to the party.And DAvid give me a break about the vp role. Clinton was president and had time to sleep with the help engage in phone sex and who knows what else (ON WORK TIME).If I were in the US I would be an undecided at this point. I watched the convention and thought Obama had a great speech. Tough, resolved, hopeful, full of heart. He does seem like a good man. Biden seems like a good man too.I grew up in the north and just happened to see Palin with a rifle in one picture. You can tell that there was confidence and no problem with it. I really believe she has been hunting (unlike Kerry four years ago).Bottom line if I was in the US i would agree that there needs to be change. Real change, real fundamental change and that is going to take strength. The best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour so the record is important. Palin's resume is thin but it does appear that she does have more of a record on reform than Obama or even Biden.But Obama does have the gift to move a nation. Might need a workhorse in there though.Anyway,,,,colour me undecided......

In terms of experience, I don't think Palin is as risky a choice as some might think. It is an "enter at your own peril" zone for Obama to criticize Palin for a lack of experience. And the argument itself has too many contingencies as it goes, "IF McCain dies while in office, this woman who has about as much experience as Obama will become president. So vote for me instead?" Obama offers the inverse ticket with the presidential nominee having little experience and the vp nominee having a heck of a lot. In the end I think the order people are more comfortable with is the one McCain has gone for.

I don't think it's a choice between folly and "crazy like a fox." Sarah Palin seems to be an attractive candidate to me. From the little I know of her biography, she seems to have been active in the pro-life movement before she was in politics, and to use a cliche, she hasn't just talked the talk, she's walked the walk. (Even Bill Mazella will find it difficult to claim she doesn't really care about the issue!) She has the advantage of being a Republican who actually had to fight the Republican Party in Alaska to get elected. As I said elsewhere, I think a Palin-McCain ticket would be more attractive than a McCain Palin ticket. Having said that, I would also have to say that I can't think of a realistic situation that would result in me voting Republicans into the White House. If there are disgruntled Hillary supporters out there who will now vote for McCain because he has chosen a woman as his running mate, I cannot even begin to imagine what is going on inside their heads, if anything.

i was away for 2 weeks. where did all these ???? come from. I'm outa here til after ter election.

Okay--which undecided demographic groups does she help with?

I think it is an unfortunate choice, even though I suspect Gov Palin is someone with whom I agree on most things. She would be a good choice - in 8 years or so. In fact, the more I read about her, I could see a Jindal-Palin or Palin-Jindal in 2016 as pretty appealing.Given her shallow experience, it seems like he is playing the dem's game with identity politics. But that shouldn't be a surprise - it's vintage McCain.The idea that conservatives - even the Religious Right (whatever that means) - won't vote for a woman is based a narrow and stereotypical view. Ask conservatives who their top 10 favorite political figures of the last 50 years are and you will see a lot of Maggie Thatchers and Golda Maiers on those lists. I don't think conservatives have nearly the angst that liberals think they do with this issue. So it won't hurt him with conservatives, especially given her track record on the issues.I agree it won't help him with most Hillary voters, but it might with some. There are a lot of women out there who were voting for her simply because she is a woman - I certainly know some.Even though this might blunt the experience issue for McCain, that the Obama camp is already using this as an attack angle themselves is a hoot. As little experience as she has, it is at least as much as Obama, and in my opinion more qualifying than his (since apparently she actually has been performing her job - not easy to vote absent when you are in charge). And - by the way - she is at least running for Vice President.As for polar bears - must not be too critical a situation since there are more now than in years, and their numbers continue to grow - swimming videos, notwithstanding. The sturm und drang about them is based on questionable studies (including early predictions that haven't proven correct) that their populations may decrease in the future due to global warming. Another good example of not letting the facts get in the way of a good (and growingly profitable) theory.

Okay. . . it's a narrow and stereoptypical view to say that religious right voters won't vote for a woman just because she's a woman but to say women will vote for a woman just because she's a woman is. . . just fine. . because. . .why?To suspect that some members of the religious right might actually have a problem with women in leadership roles, when an important strand of their normative teaching runs in that direction is not to trade in stereotypes. . . it's taking seriously the way the Bible is interpreted in that setting, and the implications of that interpretation for public authority. If you believe that God created men to be leaders, and women to be followers, men to be active, women to be passive, men to be tough, women to be nurturers, then it stands to reason you're likely to have a problem with a woman commander in chief. So I'd like to see some polling data --not of highly educated Eastern elite conservatives, but of the Bible Belt voters. To say that women are going to vote for a woman simply because she's a woman is to say that ideas don't matter--simple identity does. It seems to me to be much more insulting.But I'd like to see polling data here too.

The reactions so far suprise me. David Gibson, forgive me if I comment on a couple of your observations. To wit:"Sure, Palin is a wonderful mom. But she is the mother of FIVE, and the last a special needs infant born just FOUR MONTHS ago. Shell have to have Mary Poppins and a couple Super Nannys with 911 on speed-dial if she hopes to fill the 24/7 job as Vice-President."David ...? . Is it unprecedented for a Veep to have children? Or is there something about being a woman that makes it different? She's married, isn't she? Let him stay home for a few years."If Obama has been painted as little more than a good-looking Esquire cover guy, how about Palin, a former beauty queen who was runner-up in 1984 as Miss Alaska? Some will think McCain picked his daughter, others his third wife."So she's the political equivalent of the trophy wife? Also ... a feminist and staunch Democrat (to whom I happen to be married) called me when the news broke and yelled into the phone, "She should be staying home with those kids!". Well, she didn't exactly yell, but the line was delivered con brio. This from a woman who has managed to come to terms with all of our children spending lengthy periods of time in day care and after-school care.I think all of us, especially Democrats, need to tread carefully - the rhetorical moose pies are there to be stepped in.

Choosing Palin: Attracting voters is a very short-term gain, but perhaps McCain is considering that he can fill his cabinet with much more experienced Washingtonians.I am curious to see how the vice-presidential debate will go. It could prove very pivotal this time.Women's vote: In my state, Liddy Dole is up for re-election against Kay Hagan, a state senator. I am curious to see whether issues will be discussed or if anyone will make any kind of comment that they will sit out because neither woman should be elected. North Carolina's Democratic Lieutenant Governor Beverly Perdue is running for the governor's seat against the present mayor of Charlotte, Pat McCrory. I can only imagine that he would not want to address her experience because he lacks experience on the state level.Back to the presidential race, I know that the race in NC will be close, but I do not know if Palin's addition to the ticket will sway voters in the GOP direction, as if to say that minds are already made up no matter who the running mate is. I wonder how many states out there will have voters who would be swayed.

"The idea that conservatives - even the Religious Right (whatever that means) - wont vote for a woman is based a narrow and stereotypical view. Ask conservatives who their top 10 favorite political figures of the last 50 years are and you will see a lot of Maggie Thatchers and Golda Maiers on those lists. I dont think conservatives have nearly the angst that liberals think they do with this issue. So it wont hurt him with conservatives, especially given her track record on the issues."I think this is right. I'm sure there are some conservatives who won't vote for a woman. Thankfully, they seem to be few.

The truth is that McCain's selection of Palin wasn't really aimed at attracting disaffected Hillary voters. It was aimed at those who are undecided about the election, who haven't already drunk the Obama Kool-Aid but may be less than enthused about McCain's candidacy.The pick was also aimed at those who are sympathetic to Obama's call for change -- a theme that rightly resonated with many voters. She too is a change candidate, having successfully challenged the corruption of her own party in Alaska.Pehaps more than any of this, however, the pick was aimed at those who may not openly identify themselves as "pro-life" (seeing how vilified "anti-choice" figures are by the media) but who know in their hearts that abortion is wrong because it deliberately ends the life of a developing human being. Robert Reid is right. Her witness on this issue will be especially powerful. She won't have to resort to tortured readings of St. Augustine as an excuse for her position on abortion. She should instead be able to offer her own reasoned account for her opposition to abortion (both personal and legal) and point to her own life story to show that she does not lack the courage of her convictions.Finally, whereas Obama's pick of Biden was solid and conventional (shoring up his thin foreign affairs credentials) McCain's pick of Palin (although not without some drawbacks) has some "Wow!" factor to it. Obama's nomination was a truly historic moment, one that all Americans should be proud of -- a moment that far outstrips Geraldine Ferraro's nomination for vice president in 1984. Still, the selection of Palin for the Republican ticket is a momentous event -- another crack in the glass ceiling. Reports are already surfacing that Tony Perkins and other Evangelical leaders are overjoyed at the selection of Palin, so Cathy Kaveny's suggestion that McCain's pick may not be well received by grassroots conservatives will, I think, prove to be wrong.

I hope John Breen is right. I hope all Americans, liberal and conservative, now agree that women with children who judge they have a vocation both to their families and to public service (or a profession) deserve to be honored rather than criticized.

I think there is a difference between the two. First, if you will note, I said it wouldn't matter to most Hillary voters. I know some women - including some fairly conservative women - however, who were rooting for Hillary despite their differences because they thought "it was time." I also know a lot of people, at least in my state, who vote for a Kennedy because he is a Kennedy even when they disagree with him on just about everything. There is a lot of irrationality out there.

My goodness, I leave the country for 3 weeks and look what happens! Just think: once McBush steps down after 4 years (if elected) as has been intimated that he will do, or has an unfortunate health situation that prevents his filling his elected term, Palin will be tne presumptive POTUS nominee in 2012! Ain't THAT food for thought?

Interesting roundup...My sense is she'll work well with those inclined to vote for McCain, and maybe not so well for the rest. But just maybe. I really think it will depend on how she comes off on the big stage. She could be the charm and daring McCain needs to put him over the top. Though I think issues will come to the fore as the campaign wears on. That said, the "experience" factor can be overrated--McCain has "experience," and I'd be terrified to have him in the Oval Office. Bush had no experience, and I am terrified having him in the Oval Office. JFK, etc, all sorts come in without experience and know how to perform well. Look at Laura Roslin on Battlestar Galactica! (I'm now a geek, thanks to a recent gift of DVDs from a friend.) Mary McDonnel was, like, 22nd in line when the Cylons destoyed the government and she became the accidentla leader of the remantns of humankind. For like five seasons. What will be key is whether Palin stands up to the rigors and scrutiny of the campaign, and is seen to be able to handle it. Jim Pauwels, as for my cracks about her needing nannies, well, as a father of one toddler I'm probably oversensitive, but I think raising five would take both spouses a good deal of work, though it sounds as though at least one is grown enough to go off and fight. But she does come from a conservative Christian culture where women are expected to take care of their kids at home--and I think we all feel that to a degree, no matter how much my own wife has sought to re-educate me. So again, she is part of a political culture that puts these traditional roles in play, but then tweaks them as she likes. Sure, she could take the Ronald Reagan approach to governing. Lots of time for parenting that way. (Or golf.) But I think it might diminish some of the "working mom" cred--five kids, one a newborn, but they are taken care of because you can afford extra help and to have your spouse stay home and you have a mansion in Washington with a six-figure salary, mega-bennies and all the perks. Not exactly the "lived experience" of most working moms, I think. I do think those same conservatives are more than happy to have a female commander-in-chief. I'd agree with those who made this point above. I'd always thought--and Hillary almost proved me wrong--that America's first woman prez would be a Republican. Thatcher, Golda, Meir, Indira Gandhi--conservatives love a woman leader if she's an "Iron Lady." But Obama is almost too fey for GOP voters. She may not be the political equivalent of a trophy wife, but clearly McCain picked her for more than her political experience. I think she is supposed to appeal to a certain bloc of voters. I think it'll work. (Her fans will play up her governing record, but really, I just don't see it.) In any case, the McCainiacs have been playing Obama as the superficial celeb, and McCain goes and picks a beauty pageant runner-up with a thin resume? They'll have to come up with a better rationale than usual why they should be exempt from their own medicine. But I do think attacking Palin too hard is going to be tough. You can swift Boat John Kerry or tar and feather Obama, but raise any questions about McCain and you'll have a POW flag wrapped around your mouth. And the mother of five? "How DARE you talk about her record when she's trying to diaper her newborn!" Is it identity politics? Sure. So be it. Evangelicals have embraced McCain, who is not one of them in any theological or religious way. But he seems like a member of the tribe. It's politics. If he does what they want him to do, great. Two questions, both of which seem major but remain unclear:ONE: Is she Catholic? I thought she was an evangelical, and was claimed by them as such. But some seem to indicate she is/was Catholic. Intel?TWO What is her stand, if any, on the Iraq War? That will likely be important. That also goes to another benefit of her selection--she is largely a blank slate, so no track record on lots of issues to haunt her.

As to question ONE: Apparently she is a "nondenomitaional Protestant," as CNS notes: I think some outlets are confused because there is a very enthusiastic recpetion for her from many Catholic groups, like Fidelis. So go figure: The only acceptable Catholic candidate is an Evangelical Protestant!

I'm wondering about the judgement of John McCain that Obama spoke so well about last night. I will not vote for someone who could likely leave the presidency to someone who hasn't had the time to figure out what has been going on "on the world stage". How can someone who has run the state of Alaska for 1.5 years at a population of 600,000 or so, possible run the United States of America burgeoning on a population of more that 300 million? Come on!!!! McCain has just lost this Repulican vote, and I hope he has lost many more. It's time for Obama, who has chosen a great running mate who could run the country, to step up to the plate and show the tired Republicans how to get it right.

McCain does deserve credit for choosing the first woman Republican Vice Presidential candidate. It will be very interesting how this plays out. It is true that I give her more credit than celibate clergy and opportunistic fundamentalists on the A issue. Palin does get credit for taxing the oil companies and sending a rebate ($1200) to every Alaskan. She even took on the Republican establishment in her State. She is a maverick like McCain. No doubt a lot of Republicans don't like this ticket. Even if I don't vote for her I will give her a hard look.I look with amusement as to how Palin deals with Carl Rove.

I think there's more to David Gibson's view of her as a "trophy vice president" than first appears. It's morally and humanly admirable that she has five children, including one with Down's Syndrome. I'm sure she's a morally admirable person. She seems very well-rounded, and grounded. But being a fabulous person is not necessarily the only qualification for vice president --unless you're seeking purely a role model, a symbol. She is a symbol of goodness in many ways. But a VP can't only be a symbol. A "trophy" anything is someone who is meant to appear in a certain way, to symbolize something rather than to participate in a joint project. It's possible, of course, that's she's both a symbol and a partner. But then, we need to know, what does she bring to the table in terms of experience, wisdom and advice for this job that she wants? What experience can she share with McCain? What advice can she give him? What advice does he want from her? What was McCain seeking in making her vice president? What can she tell him? How does he see her role in his administration? Whether you like Obama or not, he addressed a perceived lack in his skill set in choosing Biden. I can see him consulting Biden on foreign policy. Furthermore, and most importantly, I can see Biden as President--I can't see her as President--at least now. Maybe later, with some national and international experience. I really wonder whether there will be vice-presidential debates.

Obama called him out last night. McCain has a temper but he isn't facing him head on. He is mixing up the field. He is putting a lot of questions on the table rocking progressives back. Democrats want to come to the foreign policy table (and make some good arguments). He is going domestic. People are going to have to ask some real fundamental questions about their values. This goes to the role of gov't, elitism, and a whole host of deep value questions. Here is a woman with working class roots married to a working class man (i.e. she is a hick married to a redneck). Yucky I know but tell me that this is not what some progressives are thinking.Or.Jim's wife visceral reaction is a reaction of a lot of women subtly guilting other women. Guilty about pursuing a vocation in public life with a family. Feeling (or being made to feel) like they have to choose.. Palin extended an olive branch. This is a big moment for women. I hate to sound stereotypical but many are reacting emotionally (positive and negative). We will see how the sister of the travelling pant suits respond

I lived in Michigan's Upper Peninsula where I knew scores of hockey moms, and I would say it's unwise to write one off or antagonize one.If Palin runs true to type, she will tend to see things as fair or foul without any gray areas in between, have supreme confidence in her own sense of right and wrong, expect everyone around her to share her own drive to win, and will balk at being scripted. McCain may have bitten off more than he can handle, and I think he will regret the choice.

Ms. Kaveny -Considering your criteria for VP regarding Palin's record, would you have used the same for Geraldine Ferraro? Was five years in the House of Representatives enough? I seem to remember that Diane Feinstein was on the short list as well that year, and she was the Mayor of San Francisico. Would you have seen fit to find her not up to par? Although that may be a moot point, considering the fact that Mondale did not choose Feinstein.

After having read several conservative / religious right blogs over the past several hours, it cannot be overstated how invigorated the "base" seems to be by this selection, with the most common item being mentioned as Gov. Palin's commitment to raise a child with Down syndrome juxtaposed. I would juxtapose that with Senator Obama's selection of Senator Biden as a VP candidate on the same voters, where the Senator's time as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee overseeing the nominations of Robert Bork and Justice Thomas seems to be a particularly emotional topic.

MAT, thanks for that report from the evangelical/fundamentalist blogs.I'll be interested to see what my evangelical and fundamentalist in-laws have to say. My guess is that my brothers-in-law and nephews will see Palin as a kind of Joan of Arc beauty queen with a gun--like Rush says, "We've got the babe on the ticket!"--with props to the husband for "letting" her accept McCain's nomination. My sisters-in-law and nieces will be less enthusiastic, but they'll keep their mouths shut.

FYI, I think Andrew Sullivan has a number of good posts and comments in his roundup:

Cathy, you wrote,"Whether you like Obama or not, he addressed a perceived lack in his skill set in choosing Biden. I can see him consulting Biden on foreign policy. Furthermore, and most importantly, I can see Biden as PresidentI cant see her as Presidentat least now. Maybe later, with some national and international experience. "Palin has as much experience as Obama. So where is the logic in the above? Would you prefer her to head the ticket? But then everyone else seems to be waxing political, so why be different? Even the brightest can become illogical. Except me, of course. Like Caesar "I am constant as the northern star,Of whose true-fix'd and resting qualityThere is no fellow in the firmament."After these words Caesar is stabbed. At least according to Shakespeare. This is why theater is so great. It solves everything and critics pontificate on its great meaning. It is a great escape.

David, Just two words on the wacky male psychology of this pick: Harriet Miers. For the Supreme Court.

I have to seriously question David Gibson's political acumen when I read his judgment that Gov. Palin is a "sweetheart" who is "so attractive." Her heavy Republican makeup does not disguise the fact that her facial bone structure is no better than average, and the five kids have clearly taken a toll on the physique.Now, that Gov. Jennifer Granholm of ours here in Michigan, she is one quality babe--a sweetheart indeed--although Catholics must fault her for her pro-choice stance. Too bad Jen was born in Canada and therefore out of the game of presidential politics. Surely this prohibition ought to be changed if only in the interest of getting better-looking people as presidential and vice-presidential candidates.

And while she has a reputation as a whistle-blower on ethics, she is also under investigation for a firing and other machinations related to penalties against her estranged ex-brother-in-law, a state trooper. Add to that the fact that the dominant Republican Party in Alaska is a cesspool of scandals and indictments, and Palins odor of sanctity may not endure.Interesting tactic, to criticize Palin for trying to have a scumbag cop fired:

Palin "is pro-life and a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association." Which calls into question the extent of her support of "life." She picks and chooses the circumstances where she regards life to be of primary importance. She appears to be "pro-choice" in the proper sense of that term which describes freedom to choose, not necessarily freedom to kill/abort.

I'm sorry -- I don't accept the view that Palin has as much background or experience as Obama. I don't believe her broader experience matches his--experience on the national front --counts a lot in my book. I also believe his educational background--he's a lawyer--contributes to his qualifications. In terms of leadership skills--she was plucked from obscurity--He ran, and won, his own national campaign.I think the choice of her as VP gives serious reason to question McCain's judgment.So let me ask the blunt question, because this is what's scaring me: How does an entirely laudable commitment to have and raise a baby with Down's Syndrome qualify you to be leader of the free world? Is this the person you want making decisions about Iraq, Iran, Israel-Palestine, universal health care, energy policy? Would you want her as your heart surgeon? As your lawyer if you were charged with a capital case? As your investment analyst (Assuming she met the basic qualifications, of course--MD or JD)? And if you wouldn't want her as your heart surgeon, your lawyer, or your investment analyst, why would you think she could be your president?

Had someone suggested in January that Palin run for the GOP presidential nomination, people would have just laughed. She's no more qualified now. She's a shallow constellation of things that McCain's election handlers thinks he lacks. She's a bone for the evangelicals who has never been a real player in the national Republican organization.The tactic is more of the same from the GOP; politics as usual in support of a Bush clone presidential candidate. I can see that many Republicans may think of her as an attempt to get back to their "roots" such as they are; she's a paleocon. But she has no power within the party itself and there is a reason for that. Is this the GOP's answer to Hillary Clinton?

That Governor Palin is not a lawyer will be seen by many as a plus.I remember that Bill Clinton boasted that his cabinet would "look like America," but almost all of them were millionaires, almost all of them were lawyers.

Cathy Kaveny asks: "How does an entirely laudable commitment to have and raise a baby with Downs Syndrome qualify you to be leader of the free world? Is this the person you want making decisions about Iraq, Iran, Israel-Palestine, universal health care, energy policy?"In doing so she challenges the tableau of modern American presidential elections, namely, biography. According to this tableau, the outlines of one's life are thought to demonstrate the values that one would bring to the office.There is a lot of merit in this challenge, but if it's taken seriously it ought to be done so even-handedly. So, one might raise the same question "How doe an entirely laudable commitment to work as a community activist on the South Side of Chicago qualify you to be the leader of the free world? Is this the person you want managing the economy in the office of president, making decisions about Iraq, Iran, Israel and Palestine, universal health care and energy policy?"

Would you want her as your heart surgeon? As your lawyer if you were charged with a capital case? As your investment analyst (Assuming she met the basic qualifications, of courseMD or JD)? And if you wouldnt want her as your heart surgeon, your lawyer, or your investment analyst, why would you think she could be your president?That strikes me as an awfully odd standard. But I'll bite: No, I wouldn't want Palin as my heart surgeon or capital lawyer or investment analyst (the average analyst underperforms the market anyway). But neither, for that matter, would I want Obama as my heart surgeon or capital lawyer. Or McCain. Or Biden. Or any politician. Myself, I'd prefer a specialist.

I dont believe her broader experience matches hisexperience on the national front counts a lot in my book. On the question of national-level experience, Dick Cheney was miles ahead of Bill Clinton, no question about it.

Whatever one's opinion this campaign has gotten a dynamic which is history making with variables and similarities yet to be appreciated. Palin has the charm which has been a huge factor in the Obama phenomenon. She has that ability to give people hope, that intangible which seems to have gotten Caroline Kennedy hooked. She is new and therefore does not have as many enemies, which has been a plus for Obama also. She is not that easily definable as Obama has not either. Time will tell but here are some pluses that, it seems to me, she has. You can talk philosophy, theology, gun control etc. But women will look for a way they can vote for her. Palin did cite Hillary and Geraldine as forerunners. That cannot be overlooked. She vetoed a bill which would have refused benefits to same sex partners. Sure, she gave a feeble response that she thought it was unconstitutional and that she would consider amending the constitution. But this is significant. W would not have hesitated for a second in signing it. Finally, she has confronted the oil companies in a concrete situation. Can anyone cite a specific action like this on Obama's part?Being Governor is more akin to the presidency than a Senator. This might be the reason so few Senators make it to the White House.All this and the American people have not met her yet. Gonna be interesting.

To answer Cathy's question, I think evangelicals will vote for a woman who espouses their beliefs, partly because, like it or not, most of us soak up pervasive majoritarian attitudes to some extent. Unless you live in a cave, you interact with and see women in positions of power and it's impossible to deny that women can be capable. Moreover, evangelicals are not so different as we believe or they would like us to believe. They live in the USA, and thus, many evangelical families must have a working wife to get by. If that results in an incongruity of practice over belief, all I can say is, it's been going on for quite some time now. Phyllis Schlafly has always seemed to me a walking and talking contradiction in the fundamental terms of her core beliefs.I think the harder thing to gauge is how evangelical voters, especially women, will view Palin's willingness to sacrifice her role as mother, when at least one of her children is so young. Don't flame me -- a VP who takes the job seriously will not be a hands on "hockey mom" anymore. The demands of working anywhere near the WH are so overwhelming that most people literally can't stand it for more than one term. I think McCain had better options -- Heather Wilson occurred to me as someone who has more national experience, more gravitas generally (former military) and who really might have appealed to disaffected Hillary voters, and perhaps give McCain another state (NM) that Bush won but that is really trending D. Maybe they thought that was too SW in focus.

Here's an interesting quote from the Washington Post's editorial today on Sarah Palin:

Not long ago, no less a Republican strategist than Karl Rove belittled Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine as a potential running mate for Barack Obama, noting that picking him would appear "intensely political" because Mr. Kaine's experience consisted of only three years as governor preceded by the mayoralty of Richmond, which Mr. Rove called "not a big town." Using Mr. Rove's criteria, Ms. Palin would not fare well. Her executive experience consists of less than two years as governor of her sparsely populated state, plus six years as mayor of Wasilla (pop. 8,471). . . .

Always interesting to see what the hometown folks who know Palin best might say.Here are three op eds from the Anchorage Daily News about Palin as running mate that may be of interest.State Dem says she's a lightweight, that her victories against corruption and pork were largely won by the legislature: Palin can run Alaska, with it's bizarro population, she can run the U.S., according to a female columnist, but she isn't going to draw disaffected Hillary supporters: history prof says the pick puts Alaska on the map, but Palin's inexperience isn't going to help McCain possible significance, the AP reported in Sept. 2006 that Palin failed to show up for a gubernatorial debate in favor of a photo op with deploying troops. She sent her running mate instead. This opened her to charges that she was out of her depth in debates. Her opponent said, "You've got a business crowd that traditionally demands serious answers to serious challenges," he said. "I've been on the campaign trail and she talks in glittering generalities and this a crowd doesn't buy into glittering generalities."And let's not forget the Vogue fashion shoot in Wasilla last December. Vogue photogs went to Wasilla to photograph the governor with three of her daughters. Palin apparently agreed to the shoot to raise Alaska's visibility. That story, in part: "Palin struck a pose for Vogue, a fashion magazine that spent Wednesday morning at her Wasilla home.She's well suited for the magazine, attractive as she is accomplished. The 43-year-old Palin's high cheekbones could rival any runway model's; she's well-dressed, and often wears her brown hair with gold highlights fashionably swept up.In a state where residents are not shy about voicing their political opinions, Internet blogs also don't ignore this aspect of the current occupant of the governor's office. One proclaims Alaska and Palin 'Coldest State, Hottest Governor.'"Wikipedia, for what that's worth, also has a beefed up bio of Palin.

Oh, and Palin has a bachelor of science in journalism, so, no I would not want her representing me in court or doing my heart surgery. She attended college on a scholarship awarded to her in one of her beauty pageants.

On the experience front, there is a world of difference between being the most junior member of a legislative body of 100 people - even if it is on a "national level." Also, in terms of executive experience, Alaska provides experience in ways that being the governor of oh, say, Arkansas, doesn't. It is physically the largest state in the union. It is economically diverse in ways that most states aren't. The government of Alaska must interface with the federal government in ways most states don't. Most of its land, in fact belongs to the feds. It has some of the most important military installations in the country and probably the most extensive fisheries and US Coast Guard operations in the country - not to mention oil and gas. it has a significant Native population with all of the interface with the federal government that involves. Basically, Gov Palin has already had to deal with the executive departments she would have to deal with as VP - Defense, Interior, Homeland Security, etc. - in a much more extensive way than Obama has as a subcommittee chair.Don't get me wrong, she's not dripping with experience, but that's certainly not a card Obama should play. He is after all, on the top of the ticket. Also, as far as experience, I care far less about his - and even McCain's experience as legislators - since IMHO it is generally lousy experience for an executive. Having worked for an executive agency most of my life, I find that when Congress gets involved they are like seagulls - they fly in unexpectedly, make a lot of noise, take what they want, crap all over the place, and then disappear to let others deal with the mess.As for his being a lawyer - being a memeber of the profession - there is no group that so overestimates their importance and their ability to "fix" problems. We need leaders not lawyers.

"Also, in terms of executive experience, Alaska provides experience in ways that being the governor of oh, say, Arkansas, doesnt. It is physically the largest state in the union."Spin away.No one would have thought of her as a possible presidential candidate a year ago. And she isn't presidential material now.The reason that one can see that she's just a plug for all of McCain's grass roots holes is that she has no power in the national party. This is what makes her different from all of the other more qualified women that McCain could have chosen. The national leadership knew that the would have to put some sort of evangelical paleo-con to bolster McCain. What they didn't want is to put someone who is connected enough in the national party to tip it away from the control of the neo-cons in case she actually becomes president. She's no more and no less than an election ploy for the neo-cons that want to hold on to power, both to continue Bush's policies and to keep their corruption chickens from coming home to roost.

Also, in terms of executive experience, Alaska provides experience in ways that being the governor of oh, say, Arkansas, doesnt.Sean,Might it not be argued, though, that one would gain more experience in being governor of Arkansas from, say, January 1979 to January 1981 and then from January 1983 to December 1992 (to pick some dates randomly) than from being governor of Alaska from December 2006 to the present? You're already on record expressing disappointment with McCain's choice and saying Palin would make a good candidate not now but in 8 years. I don't understand why you would bother, then, to make arguments that seem to imply Palin's experience is superior to Bill Clinton's. There are many arguments that can plausibly be made about the choice. For example, one might argue that a McCain-Palin ticket is superior to an Obama-Biden ticket, and that in fact a McCain-Anyone (say McCain-Cindy McCain, or McCain-Limbaugh, or McCain-Larry Craig) would be superior to Obama-McCain. Or one might argue that Palin is a good choice because she will help McCain win. But the question at the moment is whether Sarah Palin is a good pick to be vice-president considering that she may very well have to step in and serve as acting president. And does anyone think she's ready to be president?What are her thoughts on Iraq?

Joe K: I think the argument that a law degree--knowledge of and formal training in the law --- is a disadvantage to doing one's job, when one's job, as the nation's chief executive, centrally includes enforcing the law (and administering agencies that interpret it as well as enforce it), is rather like the argument that that having a degree or formal training in Christian theology is a disadvantage when it comes to assuming a role of pastoral and institutional responsibility in the Church.I don't find either argument very compelling.

Again, I am not saying that she has extensive experience, I am a little disappointed. But I will state that I don't think she is substantially less experienced, if at all, than the top of the Democrat ticket, and their using it as an argument is a loser. I will grant you that Clinton had more executive experience than Palin, but I do think I would weight the experience she has - particularly as it relates to understanding the federal governemnt - more highly for the time spent - that's all."Experience" as people seem to be using it is overrated. Some of our great Presidents lacked "experience." Look at Lincoln. And some of our least successful Presidents were dripping with legislative and diplomatic experience - JQ Adams - James Buchanan. My problem with Obama is not his lack of experience, but a lack of substance. Experience can show what substance is there - even if it is brief. In that regard, I see Palin as having more substance.As for her coming from nowhere - no one in 1859 would have predicted Abraham Lincoln would be the nominee in 1860 either. Sometimes things work out. We'll see.

As to John Breen's point: I think Obama has spent the last twenty months preparing himself for this role of president. I think he has assembled a very fine team around him. I think he knows a lot more, even about foreign policy, than she does. I think he's a quicker study (I take very seriously the intellectual chops it takes to get on the Harvard Law Review, and to be elected its president). I am an elitist in that I think having a president who did very well academically in that high pressure environment is an advantage, not a disadvantage. I think he has shown, by his pick of Biden, a colleague with experience that he doesn't have, his ability to see that change can't occur in a vacuum and that successful change requires prudential judgment. I think he has the sophistication and nuance to deal with a pluralistic society in a dangerous world. I see in him a possibility of disciplined change.

Cathy: Did your pre-existent soul miss the school bus the day God was distributing a sense of humor?

I'll vouch for Cathleen's sense of humor. Assuming anyone has said anything humorous.As far as I can see we know that Sarah can bring home the moose meat, fry it up in a pan, raise five kids, and never let you forget you're a man (to mangle the old song).Those are admirable traits in small-town Alaska, but do they give her enough experience to serve as McCain's life insurance policy? Especially since he's an elderly man with a history of cancer?I see an experience gap between somebody who fired the Wasilla librarian and chief of police and has been governor of Alaska for two years, and someone who has run local community help programs and served in the United States Senate.I see an education gap between someone with a bachelor's degree in journalism from Idaho, and somebody with a law degree from Harvard.And I see a judgment gap between somebody who thought it would be a good idea to put Alaska on the map by dressing herself and her daughters up pretty, and someone who weighed the evidence to invade Iraq and found it wanting.In his weird way David Raber (no blood relation) has made the point that there are other pretty young women with good moral values who have more creds than Sarah Palin. Assuming McCain wants to offset Obama's GQ good looks with his own eye candy. That this is McCain's first decision as a would-be prez is not a heartening sign.

With respect to Cathy Kavenys comment that Obama has spent the last twenty months preparing himself for this role of president, I dont have any doubt that this is true. Indeed, at least for the past twenty months. One would hope this to be the case for someone who is in fact running for president something that Palin hasnt been doing, and as a technical matter, still isnt doing, though her preparation for other elective office will no doubt commence at break-neck speed hence forth. (Although her basis for saying so isnt clear, Cathy opines that Obama is a quicker study than Palin. How quick a study Palin is should become clear in the next two months. In suggesting that Obama has learned a lot about foreign policy during these past twenty months, is she conceding that he knew little about the subject beforehand, when he was a state senator here in Illinois?).But I think all of this only goes to show that Cathy has now changed the question with which she began, namely, How does an entirely laudable commitment to have and raise a baby with Downs Syndrome qualify you to be leader of the free world? If, as Cathy suggests, this biographical data is not a relevant qualification to being president, is it any less so than being a community organizer, son of an immigrant, raised by a single mom, etc., all the other details we heard about Obama during the convention and over the last several months?I dont mean to dismiss these or rather, if we are to be dismissive of biography, lets do so on an equal opportunity basis. Moreover, if we decide to pick and choose as to whether or not to treat different aspects of a candidates life story as relevant, lets be clear about what we are doing and why.Cathy is right, I think, to admire Obamas intelligence, but intellect is not the only quality that one needs to possess in order to be a leader . . . especially a leader of change. Bobby Kennedy said that moral courage is one of the rarest qualities in the world today. By this measure I would say that Palin is at least the equal of Obama. It takes a lot of courage today to give birth to not abort a child who suffers from Downs Syndrome when a host of medical professionals and the culture at large are encouraging you do so indeed, when they criticize the decision not to abort as cruel and inhumane. The courage to go against the cultural grain is undoubtedly even greater when this decision takes place on the public stage. I dare say it took a lot more courage to do this than to run for president of the Harvard Law Review. Likewise, it surely took courage for Palin to challenge the corruption of the Republican Party in Alaska, both as a candidate and once in office. Is there anything in Obamas record as a legislator either in Illinois or in Washington that would hint at any similar courage? Cathy ends her post saying I see in [Obama] the possibility of disciplined change. I wish this were the case. Sadly, the change that she perceives is, I believe, chimerical. Where she sees sophistication and nuance I see sophistry and obfuscation a quality, I would suggest, on fine display in an especially powerful way in his answers to questions regarding abortion, both as a general matter and with respect to his voting record in particular. Indeed, where Cathy sees the possibility of disciplined change I see the near certainty of more of the same. I wish it were otherwise.

Good discussion, for the most part, about a thought-provoking event. Beats Britney blather. (And that is no crack about how Palin stacks up.) I realized partway thru the thread that of course I had been redundant in my too-clever-by-half title, since Seward's Folly--the purchase of Alaska--turned out to be a rather wise investment. (Until now, some might say.) Couple of opinions: I just don't buy the purpoted experience equivalnecy between Obama and Palin, and I think the argument against such equivalency--or anything close--has been made quite well above. It is almost amusing that party types like Rove can use criticisms against their foes one day then turn on a dime and use them on behalf of their friends. I mean, the critique of Obama as an amateur when the GOP put Bush in office? There is an evil genius at work that can turn George W. Bush into a patriot and noble warrior (along with an entire adminitration of chicken hawks) and John Kerry into a weasel, along with wounded vets like Max McClellan and the entire Democratic party. I'm kind of in awe. That goes to another point: WHO IS SARAH PALIN? Better still, what does she stand for? In all the discussion, the gushing is all about her personal story and her role as a mom and her evangelical faith. No one has yet said anything--because nothing is known, and she herself appears not to know--what she thinks about Iraq, foreign policy, abortion policy, economic policy, health care, etc etc. That gets to an interesting point that was raised, whether humorously or not, by Komonochak & Kaveny, as to whether Obama's impressive--by any standards--academic and professional background count when it comes to being qualified for office. And I think that may go to the differnece between Protestant (and specifically evangelical) preferences for the spirit-filled Christian being preferable to the professionally-trained, casuistic "priest" who will govern but not inspire. A stretch? Our Catholic priests are covered by ex opere operato (or "operante?" Someone will correct me). But the efficacy of evangelical/pentecostal leaders is based on the purity of their character and soul. Americans just love the talented amateur, the citizen soldier, or Cincinnatus, if you will, who comes out of nowhere, and by dint of a spark of hope and faith, beats all those highly-trained "professionals"--none worse, of course, than the professional pol. (Witness the appeal of "American Idol.") Another difference between the New World and the Old World. So we elect a George W. Bush because we like their character. It's a gamble as to whether they're any good at what they are elected to do, of course. Character and integrity are always important, of course. But we seem as a culture to put so much weight on that purity, and the reaction to the Palin pick seems to be the apotheosis of that trend. But it is rooted in our history. No? Also, when character and one's connection to the "average American" becomes so important, does that fuel the ugly politics that has reigned recently? In other words, if perosnal appeal is supreme, then you have to tear that down--or build it up, at all costs. ALSO: Perhaps Palin is a quick study. But the larger concern is that we, the voting public, may not be. There are just two months between now and Election Day. There may be (I expect there will be) just one vice-presidential debate, and between Palin will be in the bubble of a camapign, on the road, turning on the charm, and reading speeches prepared by McCain's staff. Sure, candidates pick VPs for political reasons. But they often pick relatively well-known, even stodgy figures, because real presidents know that things happen. Bill Clinton picked Al Gore, a man much like himself, regionally and politically. Didn't make much sense to pundits, but as Clinton said, "I could die. Someone has to take over." Turned out he just couldn't keep it in his pants, but nearly the same result.As the WaPo editorial stated, the single qualification for being VP is are they ready to take over?

Again, John, I think she's personally admirable. But I don't think she's anywhere near qualified to be president.There are different gifts, but the same Spirit. I wouldn't vote for Mother Theresa, or Pope Benedict for president either (assuming they were American). I think he has more prudence, and practical wisdom, than she does. I think getting along in the Senate--when one's job is to work with /against the Congress as president--is far more important than being a governor of a small, out-of-the way state, particularly for such a small period of time. And now, as people look into how the state is actually governed, it's becoming even more apparent that she didn't have a tremendously complicated task on her hands. I think she'll appeal to those who think abortion and conservative social issues are the main concerns in this election. But they were already in McCain's corner.I think the way it will play outside that demographic --especially among young voters--is shown by the Daily Show and Colbert clips.

Joe, my pre-existent soul was home-schooled. It didn't take the bus.

Another thought for discussion (though may be I should start another thread)...Many interesting parallels for thinking of Palin, or "typing" her, hate to say, have been suggested, with different levels of disdain or praise: Dan Quayle, Harriet Meiers. I think the Clarence Thomas example may be apropos. How about Condoleeza Rice?

Perhaps Palin is a quick study. But the larger concern is that we, the voting public, may not be. There are just two months between now and Election Day. There may be (I expect there will be) just one vice-presidential debate, and between Palin will be in the bubble of a camapign, on the road, turning on the charm, and reading speeches prepared by McCains staff. David Gibson,The vice-presidential debate will be October 2 and will be moderated by Gwen Ifill. She just said on last night's episode of Washington Week that she can't wait to do it.The little that has been found so far regarding Palin's foreign policy is an embarrassment, not that state governors should necessarily be foreign policy experts, but rather governors you pick for vice-president should at least have a clue: Palin may be a quick study, but she would have to be something even more extraordinary to prepare for a nationally televised debate in a month and do anything more than memorize information and positions provided by the McCain campaign. Don't expect to hear Sarah Palin's view on foreign policy on October 2. For those who are concerned about McCain's temperament and fear he may be too eager to fight wars, a vice-presidential pick of someone else less belligerent might have served to moderate the ticket. But now we can expect anything having to do with foreign policy to be totally originating with McCain.

There is another question here. Why did, or does, she think she can be an effective vice president? As the clip from the Daily Show shows, a month ago, she wasn't even sure what the job was?Is it a good thing--a mark of courage--to accept a job which you're arguably not prepared for--or is rashness?

Cathy K:Yes, prudence, an important quality for political leaders, no doubt about it. Im sure that it was prudent from a certain point of view for Obama to have voted present during certain votes involving abortion in the Illinois General Assembly. It preserved his image, at least for a time, as someone who was not as radical on this issue as he truly is.Prudence indeed.Im still waiting, however, for an example of his courage. You know, the kind of courage necessary to go against the grain, when doing so may bring unwelcome consequences. The kind of political courage needed to bring about real change. As for the other figures you mentioned (and bearing in mind Joe Komonchaks welcome advice), well why would you vote for Mother Theresa or Pope Benedict for president when you can vote for Barack Obama? Cmon, all together now, Yes we can! In fact, I hear his cause for canonization has actually leap-frogged the Saint of the Gutters, at least in certain quarters.

John I don't like the divinization of Obama in some quarters very much either--I already have a lord and savior--I'm picking a presidential candidate. I don't think the majority of people who voted for him see him as a savior. I think they see him as an inspired leader. By the same turn, I don't think the remedy is to pick a vice-presidential candidate because she's got Marian qualities either! I'll be blunt: I on't think her decision to have a baby with Down's Syndrome says anything about her capacity to exercise prudence and courage in the political realm. If you want to read inspiring stories about Obama, read his biography. He has overcome his share of adversity too.

As for the other figures you mentioned (and bearing in mind Joe Komonchaks welcome advice), well why would you vote for Mother Theresa or Pope Benedict for president when you can vote for Barack Obama? Didn't you mean "why wouldn't you vote?Im still waiting, however, for an example of his courage. You know, the kind of courage necessary to go against the grain, when doing so may bring unwelcome consequences. The kind of political courage needed to bring about real change. Obama spoke out against the Iraq war from the beginning, when the war was overwhelmingly approved by the American people.

Cathy:Ill be blunt too.First, Im glad to hear that your Lord and Savior comes from Palestine, not Hawaii. Im surprised, however, to hear you say that the admiration that many people have for him, while not hagiography or divinization, isnt something more that mere inspiration. More like the reaction of high school girls at Shea Stadium when the Beatles first arrived.Second, I was inspired too when I first heard his soaring rhetoric, and as a life long Democrat Ive desperately wanted to find a party candidate to support. But behind the rhetoric are a host of policy positions that are anything but inspiring. Some are simply morbid. Indeed, some are (and Im sorry you dont like the phrase) part and parcel of the culture of death.Third, Im familiar with Obamas autobiography, thanks. But Im confused . . . Obamas story of rising above adversity as told in the book shows why he has the character necessary to serve in national office but her story of adversity doesnt? I understand that they are different stories, but personal character is just that, right? Its a quality (better yet, a host of integrated virtues) of the person.Finally, I dont believe that either his autobiography or his subsequent campaign book offer any real evidence of the kind of political courage necessary for the kind of change that you, and I, and so many others are looking for. If you are aware of any incident in which he showed real political courage, where he risked his own political career on some point of principle, and where the consequences of that decision were clear, Id be delighted to hear it.

John Breen: Your views are welcome but your tone and content in recent posts is nothing but ad hominem bordering on a rant. It's too easy to point to examples of Obama's courage equal to McCain's, or Palin's. But your comments are so subjective as to elude argument. Thanks.

Palin's faith update: Mark Stricherz at GetReligion has the best roundup I've found, and it turns out Palin was baptized Catholic as an infant but family raised her in Pentecostal churches, where she was baptized as a teenager. She attends several churches but describes herself simply as a "bible-believing Christian." From a TIME mag Q&A:Whats your religion?Christian.Any particular. . .?No. Bible-believing Christian.What church do you attend?A non-denominational Bible church. I was baptized Catholic as a newborn and then my family started going to non-denominational churches throughout our life.

David Gibson:Im glad to hear that my contributions are welcome. I certainly dont want the discussion on this or any other thread to be anything other than civil. However, I dont see where my remarks have been any more subjective than those Ive responded to, and my tone has been akin to the tone of other contributors. Nor do I see where my comments are ad hominem. Im happy to amend my ways if you can tell me where Ive gone astray, either on the blog or in a private e-mail if you wish. You say that it is easy to point to examples of Obamas courage. Then providing such examples shouldnt be difficult.While having a serious conversation on the topic, I would suggest that we all try to take to heart Father Komonchaks advice about having some sense of humor.David Nichol:As to your first comment, I think that my grammar was correct, though maybe the humor fell flat.As to your second comment, I applaud Obama for the position he took in opposing the Iraq War. I think it was the correct decision. To my mind, this showed strong judgment, the kind of judgment one would want in a president . . . yet the kind of judgment that hasnt been so much on display since his arrival in the U.S. Senate.At the same time, I think that this decision, however correct, did not show the kind of courage that you claim for it to show. Recall that while support for the war (or more properly, the resolution authorizing the President to use force against Iraq) was widespread, there was substantial opposition to it as well. Obama was at the time a state senator from Hyde Park on the South Side of Chicago. Given the constituency of his office, his opposition to the measure was not a maverick idea. Although correct, it wasnt a particularly courageous stance politically. Im not aware of any Democratic Party leaders in Illinois pulling him aside and telling him Dont do this. Youll be throwing your career away. Indeed, Dick Durbin, Illinois senior U.S. Senator and Obamas close ally, opposed the Iraq authorization resolution. So, I fully agree that Barack Obama should be given credit for opposing the war. Whether it was a truly courageous act is another matter. Now if Joe Biden had taken that stand in the United States Senate . . .

Well, John, I have to say that I don't put a lot of stock -- period -- in overcoming personal adversity stories, whosever they are. You asked for comparable stories of a personal nature showing courage, and I pointed you to them. For me it's about intelligence, competence, judgment, and nuance. Not about growing up fatherless, per se, or giving birth to a baby with a handicap, per se. I trust that Obama has thought deeply and widely about domestic and policy issues. I appreciate his nuance on everything from his stance on health care to his stance on what we do with evil (sometimes, he said, rightly, in fighting evil we perpetrate it). I sense he knows his own limitations--the Biden choice showed that. This suggests he will listen to sound advice, rather than simply go with his "gut." In contrast, I don't think Palin knows what the job requires-- she just admitted that she didn't even know what the VP position entailed less than a month ago. I do question the judgment of someone who is taking a position like this, with the potential to affect so many lives, when she seems to me obviously not ready to do so. She has no foreign policy positions, for God's sake! It seems hubristic. I question McCain's judgment in appointing her.If she were his candidate for secretary of HEW, that would be great. But not VP.And finally, John--where's the humor? You strike me as deadly serious.

Cathy:The bulk of my remarks have been serious as have yours.As for humor, I thought that you had acknowledged this in our little exchange (the would be divinization of Obama vs. Palins would be Marian traits). At least thats how I took it.As for other humor, high school girls at Shea Stadium when the Beatles first arrived was intentionally over the top. Perhaps this is what David Nichols found to be ad hominem. If so, that was not my intent. Sometimes humor by exaggeration misses the mark.

A question we have not raised is did Obama make a mistake in not choosing Hillary as his VP.

Cathleen said: " She has no foreign policy positions, for Gods sake! It seems hubristic. I question McCains judgment in appointing her."You mean you are not aware of her positions or are you saying you do not think she has any foreign policy views? But why is Senator McCain's judgement any more questionable than Senator Obama's? For example, one of Senator Obama's marketing strategies is to say he is bi-partisan/post-partisan but he picked the 3rd most liberal person, from a legislative body I might add, that has an even lower approval rating than the President, to be his running mate and the man who has the distinction of turning the culture wars in this country nuclear (to keep the war metaphor going) by his evisceration of Robert Bork and Justice Thomas. I believe the term he used at the time was "destroy" not eviscerate, but I have to double-check.And on foreign policy, where Senator Obama is advertising himself as having superior judgement, he picked a Senator ( Biden) for his VP whose own foreign policy judgements have included voting *against* the first Gulf War in 1991 and General Petraeus's current counter-insurgency strategy in Iraq and advocating for the dismemberment of Iraq into 3 autonomous regions. I think most non-aligned voters would think those judgements on 2 of the 3 largest military engagements this country has undertaken in the last 20 years was not in agreement with what they would have liked. And I just don't think non-aligned Americans think of foreign policy this way anyway - I don't think they care whether Kosovo should be admitted into the EU or Georgia into NATO, etc. They want the federal government to perform the two jobs outlined for it to do in the Constitution - provide for the common defense and regulate interstate commerce as necessary. They want their families to be safe and to know whether they can trust the president / VP to do that. I think Governor Palin can get the public comfortable that she is both able and willing to do that, but only time will tell. While the Religious Right may fret about genocide in Sudan, the liberals about population control in sub-Sarahan Africa, and the NeoCons about a nuclear Iran, for example, I do not really think most Americans care about these specifics, and if they do, they want to understand temperament and philosophy more than some type of IQ test. Anyway, wasn't this election about the economy and pocketbook issues as of Thursday? As a former union member and small business owner, married to a union-member blue collar worker, with a family of 5 children and who has managed the budget for a town as mayor and state with the same population as Senator Biden's home state (such as Governor Palin), I think many non-aligned Americans would feel certainly as comfortable, if not more so, that she can step in day one to run our economy and address the issues American families are concerned about these days, as they would feel with Senator Obama or Senator Biden. The McCain team wants to make this election about continuing to keep us safe, especially from non-state actors and state sponsored terrorists, and on the domestic front about low taxation, reducing government corruption, government's fiduciary responsibilities to taxpayers, and energy policy (healthcare would come under the first 2 categories). Whether you agree with that or not is another matter entirely of course, but that is what they want their vision to encompass and Governor Palin, given this domestic marketing scheme, is perfectly suited to that based on her accomplishments and bopgraphy. I don't think it's a secret you disagree with many of Senator McCain's policies and philosophy, but Governor Palin is certainly not an outrageous choice to strengthen all of these points. My bet (and I have absolutely no inside knowledge here) is that it was between Governor Palin and Governor Jindal and that the former became the choice after Senator Obama did not pick Senator Clinton. I should also note that the last 2 times the GOP picked an unknown VP (Agnew and Quale), they won both elections.

Alaska has the same population as Memphis, TN. I wouldn't think the Mayor of Memphis should be the VP either. Nor, for that matter, should the governor of Delaware. Mayor of NYC is a different thing--it would also have brought some regional balance. I'd have been happier with Michael Bloomberg.You move from married to a blue collar worker to a mother of five to managing the budget of a small group of people to . .. managing the economy and the defense of the whole country. Does she understand the banking crisis? (I don't. . . but I don't think I'm qualified to be president.) Has she taken a basic course in economics . . . either in school or by independent study? (I haven't. . . and I don't think I should be president.) So while I support Obama, and his policies more than McCain and his, I do think about what the McCain campaign says about the country. VP is normally not a crucial choice, but given his age, and his health, it's particularly important this year. The question it raises for me is this is this. .. . Do most people think someone just like them should be the leader of the free world? I don't.

John Breen: Perhaps you can point me to the parts where you were being funny. All I see are over-the-top assertions that Palin (and McCain) have moral and political courage and Obama (and Biden) do not. Because someone does something you like does not necessarily make them courageous. Nor does it make them an effective leader. The examples of John McCain's past scandals (S&Ls), cozying up to lobbyists, his embrace of a religious bloc he once blasted--could all indicate moral failures, or at best political expediency. Motives are complex. In Alaska's culture it may be quite a good bit easier to say one is pro-life, or to be against gay rights, or even to take on an unpopular political dynasty, than it is other places. Likewise, the "maverick" label can be seen as just another political ploy. John McCain has been a "maverick." Barack Obama, too, in that he took on Hillary Clinton. A blog is naturally a place where opinions and biases will be displayed, but I expect some rational argumentation to leaven it, or at least to refrain from apoplectic assertion.

Cathleen: I would note that AK has a budget with total funds from all sources of $13 billion in FY08, AR's budget has $14 billion in revenues. Senator Obama has not managed a budgetary economy of any size. What am I missing? We will disagree here, but in my view, Senator Obama's supposed vast experience over Governor Palin is due to the fact that he has been running for president for 4 years, while she has not. That's a valid argument, but outside of the party faithful, I don't know if people will see that as much of an "experience gap" over the Governor, if you will. Of course, that can be tempered by looking at Senator Obama's education, his selection of Senator Biden as VP, who would be in his cabinet, etc., but now you are not talking about experience, but a more general opinion of character, temperament, judgement, etc. - we are no longer talking about experience per se but about intangibles, which I would argue Presidential elections are all about. I imagine many of Senator Obama's current supporters would have voted for Vermont Governor Howard Dean in 2004 over President Bush, for example, and his state has literally the smallest GDP in the entire union and a population 2nd smallest. I can rattle off a list of respected, experienced people who endorsed him, if you think this is questionable. Why then would they vote for him? Education, temperament, philosophy, he likely could have picked a very "experienced" VP, etc. I could say the same thing for General Clark, who has never held elected office in his life. Does that show some beyond-the-pale irrationality on their part? I don't think so.

In contrast, I dont think Palin knows what the job requires she just admittedthat she didnt even know what the VP position entailed less than a month ago.I think that if you watch the actual video for yourself -- , at about 3:00 -- it seems pretty clear that she was merely posing a rhetorical question, as a means of making the further point that she would be interested only if as VP she would get to do something of substance. (Politicians should never ask rhetorical questions; too easy for enemies to distort.) As for the question of experience, who had more foreign policy experience in 2004, Obama or Cheney? Cheney by light years. Therefore, Cheney was correct as to the Iraq War. Right? Indeed, while Biden has lots of foreign policy experience, it doesn't seem to have lessened his ability to come up with stupid ideas. As the New Republic reported in Oct. 2001:

At the Tuesday-morning meeting with committee staffers, Biden launches into a stream-of-consciousness monologue about what his committee should be doing, before he finally admits the obvious: "I'm groping here." Then he hits on an idea: America needs to show the Arab world that we're not bent on its destruction. "Seems to me this would be a good time to send, no strings attached, a check for $200 million to Iran," Biden declares. He surveys the table with raised eyebrows, a How do ya like that? look on his face.The staffers sit in silence. Finally somebody ventures a response: "I think they'd send it back." Then another aide speaks up delicately: "The thing I would worry about is that it would almost look like a publicity stunt."

Sending $200 million to Iran with no strings attached was his first idea of how to respond to 9/11? Again, experience doesn't equal judgment.

Back to what subject at hand? Everyone has been talking about Palin. Anyway, not that I expect to persuade the Obama campaign staffers here, but Tom Smith (law prof. at San Diego, and former Rhodes Scholar, for whatever little that's worth) has an interesting take:

Saying Palin's 20 months as governor in Alaska is not much experience in government is like saying 20 months as marshal in Dodge City is not much experience in law enforcement. It's long enough for some things, like finding out if you are made of the right stuff or not. Obama also spent time as a public servant in a jurisdiction, Chicago, notorious for its corruption, but all I know he accomplished there was getting himself a really nice house at a great price, and moving on to a higher office.

"I would note that AK has a budget with total funds from all sources of $13 billion in FY08, ARs budget has $14 billion in revenues. Senator Obama has not managed a budgetary economy of any size. What am I missing?"This would go for McCain too. So what's your point?If one votes for the Republican ticket, one is going to get Republican policies, which in this case are explicitly Bush's policies. If you like Bush's policies, vote for McCain. If you don't, vote for Obama. The "who has more experience" thing is a red herring. Whatever McCain's "experience" level is, he is going to use it to continue Bush's policies wherever he can.

What is intriguing--well, frustrating--is that Palin's partisans here are not responding to simple, direct questions. (I suspect part of that may be because there are no answers. Hence the desire to focus on "intangibles.") I think as Grant's post noted, there are many conservatives with many varied concerns. That seems healthy.

Look, no one is saying experience is everything. Experience doesn't overcome sheer moral perversity. It makes it worse. Frankly-that's how I view Cheney. Read Jane Mayer's book, The Dark Side, for Cheny's opportunism about the war.I want someone who can see opportunists and fight them. I want someone very smart, very controlled, very well educated, and not naive. I support Obama as president--I oppose MCain-and the continuation of the past eight years of republican politics. BUT--as an American who contemplates the possibility of a McCain presidency--the presidency of a 72 year old man with significant health problems, the fact that she is the possible VP deeply disturbs me. It makes me less comfortable with the idea of a McCain presidency, not more. In contrast, although I already supported Obama, I supported him more because of the Biden choice. My guess is that lots of older swing Democratic Catholics aren't going to swing to the Republicans because of her. They are going to think he's crazy.

David G., there's just not that much there to respond to at this point. Palin's made one brief appearance with McCain, and the only national venue she's been featured in was that Vogue fashion spread, which doesn't strike me as the strategy of a woman who wants to be taken seriously. But, then, I'm not the demographic the GOP is trying to reach.One last tidbit from me, and then I'll go away and bother people on some other thread:In looking up the links I posted to the Anchorage Daily News above, I found a comment by William Kristol made June 29 in which he raised the possibility of Palin as a running mate. This suggests that McCain's handlers had been vetting her for at least a couple of months. So perhaps there's more substance than is apparent. I have to say she's made the race a lot more interesting.

Jean: You may be right. The Washington Post has the best piece (at least that I've found) so far on the vetting process: Yet there is an equally in-depth piece on Palin's "Troopergate" (wasn't that "gate" already taken under Clinton?) that could prove problematic, despite all the vetting:

David, the Anchorage op-ed pieces don't seem to think much can be made of this.However, I'm still curious about why, as mayor of Wasilla, she fired the Wasilla library director, having been a public library trustee myself and had run-ins with religious conservatives agitating to get certain books taken off the shelves. There could be many other reasons she fired the library director, of course, but I'd like to be satisfied that she's as respectful of First Amendment rights as she is those of the Second Amendment. The firing of the director and chief of police started a recall movement that fizzled--hard to find out a lot of info about stuff that happened 10 years ago in a dinky little town without going there and talking to the locals.The chief later sued for wrongful dismissal, and the court ruled Palin, as mayor, had a right to fire him even on purely political grounds. Whether she had other justifications for firing him, I don't know.

Unagidon said: "This would go for McCain too. So whats your point?"My point is exactly what you have stated, that this "experience" issue is a "red herring". But Cathleen, for example, thinks Governor Palin's experience is so limited as to rise to the level of insanity on Senator McCain's part. I just think that's a bit much and I think the American public is smart enough to realize that the helpful suggestions regarding who McCain *should* have picked from partisan Democrats in the media and elsewhere is taken with quite a bit of skepticism. Frankly, I think the Democrats have been caught quite off guard and are scrambling around to find a game plan of attack for the Governor - say what you will about Senator McCain and his staff but, by definition, they know how to win elections and they know Senator Biden was the inventor of "Borking" for goodness sake and they outsmarted him at his own game and they are a bit stung.

David Gibson:Contrary to your assertion, in the foregoing posts I made no claims whatsoever about McCain. Not one. This calls into question the care with which you have read what I actually wrote. It suggests that you may have read my posts through a skewed lens of your own making. Likewise I made no claims about Biden, other than to point out that he voted for the Iraq war resolution.As for the posts regarding Palin and Obama, Ill let them speak for themselves. I doubt, however, that most readers would regard them as apoplectic even as they might reasonably disagree with the substance of what I said. That you chose to label my remarks in this manner seems to be a move aimed at shouting down a point of view with which you disagree. Rather than respond in kind, Ill simply sign off.

Again, I'm very late here - probably dissuaded by some of the usual partisan commentary.While I think Ms. Palin is admirable in the family sense, I don't care if she's a hockey mom or a barracuda ort a former beauty queen or any of that other stuff.Her political performance on issues should be what matters, not those kind of easy externals much bantered about here.I've got to wonder about her as a former supporter of Pat Buchanan and a supporter of teaching creationism in public school.(Thank God for the Sunday NYT -see the letters on teaching evolution there. Beyond that see Sarah Vowell's excellent o-ed on how issues affect real folks- not Maureen Dowd's rant - as opposed to William Safire's clever(psuedo clever?) anti -Obama piece. At bottom, I think it reflects the bankruptcy of the Republican campaign which focuses on image and image attack and has little to offer issue wise except the usual tax arguments, the war in Iraq, and, I almost forgot for this crowd here, the numero uno issue, abortion.)Unfortunately, I think Ms. Palin fits that description.Well, maybe we can have another thread, away from gender, as to what it means to be a "maverick" That would fit right in with the depth of discourse in this campaign.

Grant: Thanks for that very representative sampling of conservative opinion on the Governor Palin pick - very informative. You probably just didn't realize it, but the National Review had an editorial statement about the pick: Tom Gross's essay, also in the National Review:'s also a magazine called The Weekly Standard which is considered the flagship publication of the NeoConservative movement and they had a few essays on the pick as well (below is a small selection, a few others can be found at their website, F. Hayes: (by William Kristol): Barnett: Barnes:

Jean: The ADN may be right, but then again, what is small-bore, run-of-the-mill stuff in Alaska or, for the sake of argument, Arkansas, can become a bigger deal in a national campaign.As for Librarygate--this quote from the Vogue piece may be the key:I wish theyd stick with the issues instead of discussing my black go-go boots...A reporter once asked me about it during the campaign, and I assured him I was trying to be as frumpy as I could by wearing my hair on top of my head and these schoolmarm glasses.Maybe she thought Wasilla was only big enough for one librarian-looking lady? John Breen: I would never want to shout anyone down, and don't think I have in this case. But if you are going to sulk when you receive criticism that carries a mere hint of what you are dishing out, then your decision is probably a good one. Thanks. Feel free to return when you are feeling better.

And thanks to you, MAT, for helping to round out conservative opinions of Palin on this thread, which had been sorely lacking defenses of Palin before your intervention.

I think the main motive for the selection has to be that she's female - as an effort to garner those among Hillary's supporters who remain disaffected."Womam for VP!" might just work with some of them...

Hillar-ites I know who are disaffected enough to vote for McCain--and there aren't many of them--had already made that decision before Palin was selected.To suggest there's some sort of genitalia vote is absurd and insulting.

Statistically women are among the groups Clinton did especailly well with. That's simply information. It's also true that Obama does especially well with blacks.Ideally, gender and racial information would be meaningless to how people vote, but it isn't.

In contrast, I dont think Palin knows what the job requires she just admittedthat she didnt even know what the VP position entailed less than a month ago.I think that if you watch the actual video for yourself , at about 3:00 it seems pretty clear that she was merely posing a rhetorical question, as a means of making the further point that she would be interested only if as VP she would get to do something of substance.Incidentally, this shows why it might not be a good idea to get too much of one's information from the Comedy Channel. The Colbert Report showed Palin saying the words that evidently bothered you, but didn't continue with the context to show that she was just asking a rhetorical question.

Stuart t you need to distinguish between illustration and proof. Obviously the Comedy Central clip encapsulates the problem with her candidacy it doesn't prove it. I simply don't buy the "executive" in Alaska is worth more than time in the U.S.Senate argument. Taken to its logical conclusion, that would mean that a superannuated former student body president of the University of Notre Dame (larger student body than her town) is better prepared to be president than a U.S. Congressman, by virtue of his or her executive experience. Surely the league and context matters as much as the position.

Stuart,Palin was attempting to give the same type of answer almost any politician would have given under the circumstances, but she failed to display the level of rhetorical skills one would expect of someone involved in politics at the national level. Of course, what matters most nowadays is not rational, informed judgement, but spin. So it can be argued that it's refreshing she didn't sound like a typical Washington politician, because that's what's wrong with this country: Washington politicians! Good tip about not getting too much of one's information from Comedy Central.

Well, we know Obama has the rhetoric down.I understood exacly what she was saying, however - I don't want to be VP unless I know it's a real job. Besides, other than being President of the Senate and at the ready in case the President dies, what does a VP do? What the President says he, or she, does. That was the point. No one knows what the job is except the guy picking her. Every president is different. A perfectly valid point, and stretching it to mean she doesn't know what is involved is downright disengenuous.I didn't realize that the Student Body President of Notre Dame was responsible for governing a land mass of over 650,000 square miles, with a GDP of nearly $14billion, appointed judges, oversaw a dozen executive agencies, and was a chief law enforcement officer. Precocious youngsters those Domers.I am the first to admit that I am not impressed by her experience. But come on, all the people who are now saying McCain showed poor judgment in picking who are supporting Obama. I get it, he went to Harvard, he's really smart, he gives a great speech. But what has he done? His supporters are in no position to criticize anyone's judgment on this score until they look to their own.

Stuart t you need to distinguish between illustration and proof. Obviously the Comedy Central clip encapsulates the problem with her candidacy it doesnt prove it.The quotation (in which she asks the rhetorical question what a VP would do for McCain) is neither "illustration" nor "proof" of anything. Bottom line, Comedy Central truncated a clip so that it seemed to mean the opposite, and you fell for it. Again, that's why politicians should never ask rhetorical questions, because enemies have too easy a time editing a clip to make it seem as if the politician was asking a naive question.

Stuart, there are different types of literature, which have to be interpreted in a manner appropriate to their genre. You are insisting--wrongly--on dealing literally with a genre that isn't literal. Satire illustrates, it caricatures, it sharply reveals a point already believed in an inchoate manner by the audience.If it doesn't, somewhere, latch onto a truth already perceived, it will fall flat. The same clip, of Biden saying the same thing, or Obama saying the same thing, wouldn't have the same effect. Part of it was her tone, frankly.Satire can sharpen an underlying perception, but it can't create one. So the reason that the Republicans should worry about the Daily Show and Colbert is not that they're making stuff up that isn't there--it's because they're exaggerating, to god effect, something that is.I would have been much more impressed if the question she asked herself was, "Assuming VP is a real job, am I the right person for it?"''

Stuart, before looking at the full full YouTube clip, I foolishly believed that it supported your case. But I just watched it, and it certainly does not. Obviously Larry Kudlow understood Palin's question to be at least not fully rhetorical, because he answered it. So you're not even remotely justified in suggesting that Cathy was duped or--worse--that she gets "too much" of her news from Comedy Central. I'm sure you can figure out a way to disagree with Cathy and others here without being so insulting about it.

Satire illustrates, it caricatures, it sharply reveals a point already believed in an inchoate manner by the audience.If it doesnt, somewhere, latch onto a truth already perceived, it will fall flat.So it's OK to be dishonest in depicting someone who had asked a rhetorical question, because it fits with the audience's preexisting beliefs. By that standard, it's fair to have a dishonest depiction of Obama that presents him as having made a messianic claim, because that would fit with preexisting beliefs of an audience as well. Hmm. Grant -- you're clearly wrong. In fact, it was a question that was specifically aimed at how McCain views the VP role. Here's the transcript:

As for that VP talk all the time, Ill tell you, I still cant answer that question until somebody answers for me what is it exactly that the VP does every day? Im used to being very productive and working real hard in an administration. We want to make sure that that VP slot would be a fruitful type of position, especially for Alaskans and for the things that were trying to accomplish up here for the rest of the U.S., before I can even start addressing that question.

Palin emphasized the words "for me." Given that I don't work for the Obama campaign and given that I'm not straining to depict Palin in the worst possible light, I perceive that she was specifically referring to McCain here. In other words, for McCain what does the VP role include? Palin poses the question, and then says that she would want to "make sure that the VP slot would be a fruitful type of position" -- which I take to mean not that Palin is waiting for someone to inform her what the Vice-President of the United States does under the U.S. Constitution, but that she wants to "make sure" that it would be a significant role (not just a figurehead) in a McCain administration. As one blogger said (and I agree):

It is pellucidly clear that the "question" was rhetorical. The day-to-day role of the veep is largely dependent on how large or small a role the President wants them to play, and no one but a total idiot could possibly watch that clip and not immediate understand her to be saying that she didn't want the job without reassurances (presumably received since then) that she would have an actual job where she could actually accomplish things.

Oh, by the way, I think Kudlow is an idiot, which means that I'm not impressed with any argument that relies exclusively on how Kudlow interpreted something.

Thanks, Grant. I tend to take an interlocutor's descent into ad hominem arguments as a sign of desperation.

FYI, "ad hominem" refers to an argument of the following form: "You are a bad person, therefore your argument is wrong." I have made no such argument, ever.

It seems to me to be a huge mistake to focus in on Palin when the real issue is an administration which has insulted the American people, mocked its disagreement with it, flouting international standards, denied human rights, advocated torture, started a preemptive war, encouraged corporate greed and malfeasance etc. The focus has to be on real issues, not on this and other "window dressing" issues we also spend too much time on.

Stuart, not quite. An ad hominem argument is a general category of argument which focuses on an irrelevant alleged aspect of the interlocutor's person or habits, thereby hoping to distract attention from the actual matter under debate.So, to the extent that you suggested that I get all my news from TV, you're shifting attention to me--and my (alleged) lack of knowledge of current events, thereby dismissing me and others who find Comedy Central's video powerfully true as satire. But I understand. You really don't have any other options.

[Eagle Forum 2006 Questionnaire]: Are you offended by the phrase Under God in the Pledge of Allegiance? Why or why not?[Palin's response]: Not on your life. If it was good enough for the founding fathers, its good enough for me and Ill fight in defense of our Pledge of Allegiance.Stuart,Explain this one. :-)

Well, Stuart, you'll have to share your list of idiots with the rest of us so that we can know whom to rely on exclusively when responding to your objective observations.My point was simple: it's eminently possible to view Palin's response to Kudlow as not rhetorical. (She even declares that she wants to know how the VP slot could benefit Alaskans--if she's referring to oil dividends, I'd like to know more.) That you can't see such a possibility says more about your objectivity than mine. Neither is anyone on this blog attempting to depict Palin in the worst possible light. That is happening elsewhere. Not here. And how many times do you plan on misrepresenting what Cathy and I do for the Obama campaign? For those who are interested in facts, we do not work for it, nor are we staffers. We volunteer our time as unpaid advisers.

It appears that one of Palin's first big applause lines is based on something other than fact.

"I told Congress, 'Thanks, but no thanks,' on that bridge to nowhere," Palin said Friday in Ohio, using the critics' dismissive name of the project. "'If our state wanted a bridge,' I said, 'we'd build it ourselves.'"While running for governor in 2006, though, Palin backed federal funding for the infamous bridge, which McCain helped make a symbol of pork barrel excess.'s a paragraph from a Reuters story:

In the city Ketchikan, the planned site of the so-called "Bridge to Nowhere," political leaders of both parties said the claim was false and a betrayal of their community, because she had supported the bridge and the earmark for it secured by Alaska's Congressional delegation during her run for governor. ready for prime time? Or typical truth-bending politician?

, thereby dismissing me and others who find Comedy Centrals video powerfully true as satire. But I understand. You really dont have any other options.I don't have any other options? What projection. I'm the only one who has explicated in detail what Palin obviously meant (not that it should have needed explication). You're the one who has nothing -- no alternative interpretation of Palin's words, and no excuse for relying on a truncated quote, other than the implausible theory that it's OK to truncate a quote as long as the audience is predisposed to believe it. My point was simple: its eminently possible to view Palins response to Kudlow as not rhetorical. It's not, however, eminently possible, or possible at all, to view Palin's response to Kudlow in the way that Cathy and the Comedy Channel portrayed her . . . i.e., as having been a total naif about the office of the Vice President. In other words, Cathy and the Comedy Channel tried to suggest that Palin said something like this: "Gee, I've never heard of the office of Vice President before! What does such a person do? Oh, gee, you mean he gets to break ties when the Senate votes? Do tell me more, I've never imagined such a thing." Whereas it's indisputably obvious that Palin was really saying, "For me, what would be the role of Vice President? I don't want to jump in unless I know it's something substantive." Put it this way. Suppose a law firm approached Cathy and said, "We'd like to take you on in an 'Of Counsel' role." Cathy might respond, "I cant answer that question until somebody answers, for me, what would an 'Of Counsel' do? Im used to being very productive and working real hard, and I wouldn't want a figurehead role." Now imagine that someone takes a video clip and cuts out the question, "What would an 'Of Counsel' do," with the sole intent of making Cathy look like a ivory-towered fool who has never heard of an "Of Counsel" slot and who has no knowledge of law practice. I bet she wouldn't defend such dishonest truncation as defensible "satire" that played along with the audience's stereotypes of law professors. Clearly, the rest of the quote would have made clear that she was aware that different firms have different roles for an "Of Counsel," and she were just asking how this particular firm would view her specific role. And how many times do you plan on misrepresenting what Cathy and I do for the Obama campaign? For those who are interested in facts, we do not work for it, nor are we staffers. We volunteer our time as unpaid advisers.Fair enough. Much apologies. Nonetheless, you have an ax to grind here. And this sort of accusation is the equivalent of conservatives who ridicule Obama for suggesting that there are 57 states. Well, I think that's not fair either . . . Obama obviously knows how many states there are, just as Palin obviously knows that there is such a thing as a "Vice-President." Every politician says things that are unclear, and that can be ripped out of context and distorted by partisan enemies.

That should have been "she was just asking . . . ." I initially addressed that paragraph directly to Cathy (with "you" scattered throughout), and then realized I was responding to Grant's comment, and so changed "you" to "she." Some verb tenses obviously didn't make the change.

If she were his candidate for secretary of HEW, that would be great. But not VP.By the way, Cathy, this isn't a huge point, but there's no such thing as "HEW." That department became "Health and Human Services" as of 1980. (Which goes to show that anyone can say something that's less than perfectly clear and accurate, even when they're not on live TV.)

David Nickol: I'm not sure I understand your question. Lincoln and Washington used the phrase "under God." See

Stuart,Surely you're not pretending that--whatever Palin may have meant--her response to the question about "under God" in the Pledge didn't make it sound like she thought the Pledge, with "under God" in it, went all the way back to the Founders. This, by the way, was not an oral response, but a response to a questionnaire. It can't be argued that she was thinking on her feet.This and the remark about the vice presidency are instances that show Palin giving very weak, not-ready-for-prime-time responses to nonchallenging questions. It's perhaps kind of you to put the most charitable interpretation you can come up with on each response. And I am sure at some point you will be saying how refreshing it is to have someone who doesn't think and talk like a Washington politician. But if she performs at this level for the next two months, she may ruin whatever changes McCain has to be elected.

Lincoln and Washington used the phrase . . . Stuart,I forgot to point out that Lincoln was not one of the Founding Fathers.

Well, there are actually law profs who write articles about how the Civil War was really a Second Founding, that reconstituted the American order in terms of the balance of federal vs. state relations, race equality, etc. But yes, I'll admit that this was probably not on Palin's mind.

Stuart, context, context, context!Thanks for the correction about HEW. It was a slip of the pen--I was reading the Hyde Amendment funding cases, and was back in that time era. Now, you could try to satirize my slip of the pen. It probably wouldn't stick, though, since I practiced health care law at Ropes & Gray for several years in the 1990s, and read more than a few DHHS regs in my time. Satirize me on my complete absence of knowledge of the tax code -that's a different matter.So, with Obama--you can't make the president of the Harvard Law Review look unintelligent. And you couldn't make Palin look as if she shy or not spunky--no satire would stick. So the question is, will this satire of her as less than very prepared to take over as leader for the free world stick or not. My guess is it will.But I want to be clear here, since each the prudence of each of us is publicly on the line here. What kind of judgment do you have? The basic question is Palin's fitness to serve. That's the bottom line question. I have significant reservations about Palin's ability to take over for McCain as President. I dont' think she's ready for the national scene. I think any number of Republican VPs would have been better for the country. That's my best exercise of political prudence. What's your best exercise of political prudence? I read you as saying that you yourself have no worries about her abilities to take over for McCain if he should be (God forbid this for any president) incapacitated in his second year of office? You think she is a GOOD choice for VP--to serve as VP for the whole country, not just to win the election for the the Republican party by appealing to extraneous considerations. Is that correct? Is that your best exercise of political prudence? Is that the political judgment you want the this corner of the blogosphere judging you on? Would it be fair to say, "Oh, Stuart Buck thinks Palin could easily step into the shoes of the President in June 2010."

Well, let's not change the subject quite yet. Do you still think it's fair and honest to truncate Palin's quote so as to make her appear utterly ignorant, when she plainly was just saying that she would want to be sure that McCain viewed it as a substantive role? I'm not interested in whether such distortion and dishonesty would "stick" -- it probably would. Dishonesty is not improved by its success.

MAT said: "Frankly, I think the Democrats have been caught quite off guard and are scrambling around to find a game plan of attack for the Governor - say what you will about Senator McCain and his staff but, by definition, they know how to win elections and they know Senator Biden was the inventor of Borking for goodness sake and they outsmarted him at his own game and they are a bit stung."Guess I spoke to soon and I stand corrected. Senator Biden is indeed the master (

Yikes! The Declaration of Independence, (it was understood that a Constitution Of The United States Of America would follow) refers to God as which the Law's of Nature and of Nature's God...(that would be, well, God, not to mention the fact that God is capitalized would mean that those that founded our Nation were refering to God and not some other, well, god, which is not to say that I am an expert on capitalization or punctuation for that matter...P.S., Cathleen, regarding ad hominein, I think I get your drift.

The Declaration of Independence, (it was understood that a Constitution Of The United States Of America would follow) refers to God as well . . .Actually, there was the Articles of Confederation (1781) first, and when that proved inadequate, the Constitution (written 1787, ratified 1788, in effect 1789).

Guess I spoke to soon and I stand corrected. Senator Biden is indeed the master ( there was anything at the link you proved for Dailykos, it is not there now.

David, regarding your comment at 1:23, this is true ,but it does not change the fact that the founding Fathers did mention God. We all know they considered God, ( that is the God with the capital G ) to be the Creator of the Universe, so we all know they were refering to God,aka,The Creator, in the bit that states: We hold these Truths(capitalized) to be self-evident, that all Men (capitalized) are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator (capitalized) with certain unalienable Rights, (also capitalized) that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness...(capitalized, capitalized, capitalized, capitalized)Just so you know, David, this is not an attempt at ad hominein but rather a little satire. Peace.

[...] for office, thank heaven, so at the risk of incurring such wrath (but what the heck–check out the earlier Palin thread!)it raises many other questions, beyond the obvious hole in the Palins’ holier-than-thou [...]

Add new comment

You may login with your assigned e-mail address.
The password field is case sensitive.

Or log in with...

Add new comment