[Posted by WLS]
Some of the conventional wisdom coming from the dominant media punditocracy is that McCain has really stretched to select a small state governor in office only two years — a state with only 600,000 people –who before that was the mayor of a town of 9000.
The fact is that neither candidate picked a VP on the test that Bush established for himself — is my selection ready to step in as President on our first day in office together if the need arose?
I’m not suggesting this is the primary test that a candidate must apply — merely that it was clearly the test Bush applied since Cheney came from a state with only 3 electoral votes, while his dominant qualification for the position was 3 decades of executive branch leadership experience.
Bloviating Joe doesn’t satisfy that test — he’s been overwhelmingly rejected by the voters on the subject. 36 years of speechifying in the Senate is not a substitute for Executive authority — the Senate is the best place to hide from the responsibility of making decisions and then being held accountable. Its the best place there is for second guessing the leadership shown by people who really lead.
And I think its fair to say that Palin doesn’t satisfy the test.
Then what was the basis for their selection? Both candidates are guilty of trying to game the electorate — and I’m not saying there is anything wrong with that. The election is about who controls the gears and levers of the federal executive branch. Before you can get control of those gears and levers, you’ve got to win the election. So the candidate’s decision-making should always be guided by that goal. Otherwise a candidate will become simply another principled first runner-up.
So, from that perspective, which is the better choice? Here’s where I think the dominant media is simply being boneheaded.
Why did Obama chose Biden? Because for 7 months Obama has been unable to close the deal with blue-collar working class voters – the kind that gave Hillary Clinton huge margins over him in places like Pennsylvania and Ohio. These are swing voters, not generally considered to be in the “base” of either party since Reagan wrestled them away from Carter in 1980.
The Obama campaign knew as well as anyone that the only reason he won the nomination was that he out-organized Hillary at the micro-level of electioneering in caucus states — where simply having a few dozen or couple hundred more attendees at a caucus site can dictate the election outcome. They also know he got annihilated in most of the mass voterr primary states where a good ground game is usually outweighed by candidate stumping and paid media. And I suspect their polling showed that he lost by huge margins to Clinton among the blue-collar working-class voters in those primary states.
So he picks Biden on the belief that among all the VP choices — with the exception of Hillary who was DQ’d from the start — he could reach out to those voters on Obama’s behalf. So, the basis for the Biden pick was a fundamental weakness in Obama’s campaign appeal, one that Obama could not correct himself.
What about Palin? To whom does she appeal that warranted her pick?
She’s a social conservative so she appeals to the GOP base more than most of the rest of the VP candidates. She’s also a reform conservative — she challenged the corrupt GOP machine in Alaska and took out the sitting GOP governor in a primary. In that fashion she fits the McCain mold as a reformer, thereby appealing to independents.
But, more than anything, she’s an arrow aimed at women voters who to one degree or another still feel marginalized by the Obama campaign’s handling of the Hillary-factor. Not the feminist voters on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, or the salons of Santa Monica and San Francisco — but soccer moms. Working or stay at home mothers who saw Hillary Clinton as a trailblazer for women — not as a champion of left/liberal politics.
Can Biden attack Palin without alienating working class moms and suburban soccer moms?
Are they going to attack a mother of five, including a newborn with Down Syndrome, on the basis that she’s pro-life? Ardent Pro-Choicers might applaud — the vast middle of the country who are not in either hardcore camp will be mortified.
Biden — meant to shore up a clear Obama weakness which Obama couldn’t address on his own.
Palin — meant to attack Obama savagely on a weakness he made worse by not choosing Hillary.
Again, the GOP knows how to win elections, and the Dems know how to lose.
As Andy Sully would say, “Right out of the Rovian workbook”.