Tuesday, September 09, 2008


Oh Lor! Palin Proves to be an Asset and not a Liability

When I heard McCain had selected a much younger woman as running mate I wasn't surprised: he needed both youth and gender to help counteract Obama's appeal. Her views on gun control and other bits of the Bushite religious right package seemed to me so appalling they could not be true. Then came the stories about the family and the possible hypocrisy over condemning of lobbying for federal aid when she had done the same when mayor of her home town. It seemed like the Repblicans had not checked her out and, although I hate the mudslinging part of US politics, I was hoping even more would be exposed to make her a liability rather thn an asset.

Yet the convention crowd loved her, especially her defiance of the allegedly liberal media, and my hopes of her negative contribution have now dwindled away. The Republican right love her, I guess, because people like me find her so awful. She balances McCain for them, not because he is old and male but because he is a bit of a maverick and has often flirted with bipartisanship. Some of the stories about her- that she was once a member of an Alaskan independence party and that her latest baby was in reality her daughter's- proved wrong, reinforcing her rants about the leftist media. She is proving, within her own national context, to be a considerable politician.

As Simon Tisdall comments in The Guardian today:

The fact that Palin not only survived this baptism of fire but came out punching, smiling joyously, is worrying for the Democrats. Her evident toughness, her ability to work a crowd, and her unusual line (among American politicians) in sarky, sardonic put-downs are skills likely to impress in the small towns of the battleground states where the McCain campaign plans to send her.

Palin stands as a standard bearer for the reigious right which has by no means gone away in the US, as Stryker McGuire pointed out in The Observer last Sunday. The Democrats lead the Republicans by 12 points in the polls yet Obama and McCain are running nack and neck in the head to head ones with some showing the older man several points in front. With Bush it was the religious right who herded votes into the the ballot boxes; with McCain, it may prove to be the culture wars between the 'liberals' and the religious, anti tax and big government, anti abortion, sexual freedom and gay marriage brigade. God help us if the Republicans get in again, but the bet looks about evens right now.

Sadly, I'd say less than even, especially if the contention (advanced by the Economist writers in their book "The Right Nation") that the US is a more right-wing country is true. Unbelievably, McCain is looking like a winner and the Democrats seem to be unable to counter him and Palin.

I do wonder, though, if McCain hasn't queered the pitch for himself should he win. The Republican base is fired up to fight for HER election, not his - will his authority as a president be overshadowed by the fact that it is his Vice-President who effectively has the party in her hand? The fact that they have been doing so many joint appearances, too, is a sign of his weakness as a campaigner. He's created a political Frankenstein here, and he'll never put her back in the box!

As for the Democrats' attack strategy, there is a letter from Alaska circulating the US blogs that details her less than happy tax record as mayor and governor - it may be time to look more closely at her methods of governing and her policies in so doing, for there might be her Achilles' heel. As a one nation Tory, though, I am appalled at her sudden ascendancy.
My response might appear beforfe your own comment does but I fear I agree with you on all fronts. I think my sister has sent me a copy of that letter circulating blogs in US. From it emrges a picture of a ghaslty woman who makes Maggie seem like Mother Theresa by comparison.
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