The Lesson Of Sarah Palin

Ross Douthat has the best take on the Sarah Palin brouhaha out there:

Palin’s popularity has as much to do with class as it does with ideology. In this sense, she really is the perfect foil for Barack Obama. Our president represents the meritocratic ideal — that anyone, from any background, can grow up to attend Columbia and Harvard Law School and become a great American success story. But Sarah Palin represents the democratic ideal — that anyone can grow up to be a great success story without graduating from Columbia and Harvard…

Here are lessons of the Sarah Palin experience, for any aspiring politician who shares her background and her sex. Your children will go through the tabloid wringer. Your religion will be mocked and misrepresented. Your political record will be distorted, to better parody your family and your faith. (And no, gentle reader, Palin did not insist on abstinence-only sex education, slash funds for special-needs children or inject creationism into public schools.)

Male commentators will attack you for parading your children. Female commentators will attack you for not staying home with them. You’ll be sneered at for how you talk and how many colleges you attended. You’ll endure gibes about your “slutty” looks and your “white trash concupiscence,” while a prominent female academic declares that your “greatest hypocrisy” is the “pretense” that you’re a woman. And eight months after the election, the professionals who pressed you into the service of a gimmicky, dreary, idea-free campaign will still be blaming you for their defeat.

All of this had something to do with ordinary partisan politics. But it had everything to do with Palin’s gender and her social class.

Douthat has it exactly right: Sarah Palin was despised by the left because she represents a culture that is alien to the left’s worldview. She’s a female, she’s attractive, she’s actively pro-life, she’s rural, she’s plain spoken, and she’s conservative. To the left, such a thing just should not be. She embodies values that stand in very clear contrast to those of the left, and were she to obtain national popularity she could be very influential.

The former governor was not prepared for the race in 2008, and the McCain campaign did an extremely poor job of preparing her for what she would face. Douthat is right that she would have been wise to turn down McCain’s offer, although it is understandable that she did not.

But, Douthat notes, Palin is still relatively popular. She has a net positive approval rating, even after 10 months of constant fire. If Palin wanted to return to politics—and perhaps she does not—a Sarah Palin that had spend some time learning policy and crafting her positions could still be a potent political force.

Right now the lesson of Sarah Palin is that if you’re not prepared for the national stage you will be eaten alive. But there is a possibility, however small, that the lesson down the road might very well be that counting Sarah Barricuda out is a very unwise idea.

The Fruits Of Netroots Hate

I’ve long argued that the “netroots” are not going to help the Democratic Party, and the evidence keeps mounting up. Today, one of Hillary’s top fundraisers publicly threw his support to McCain. His reasoning is especially interesting:

John Coale, a prominent Washington lawyer, husband of Fox TV host Greta Van Susteren and a supporter of Sen. Hillary Clinton, announced today that he was supporting John McCain for president. Coale, who traveled with Sen. Clinton, President Clinton and her family through out the primary season, complained of sexism, and said the Democratic Party is “being taken over by the types” in an exclusive interview with’s Tammy Haddad.

The netroot’s war with Hillary exposed a level of hatred that was frequently disturbing. The sort of thing that they called Ann Coulter names for became common within the netroots. Any decency appears to go out the window for those who don’t toe the party line of the Kos/Olberman/ crowd. Even fellow Democrats are not immune.

If there is any doubt of the disgusting hyper-partisanship and rank sexism of the radical left today, just watch how they’re treating the pregnancy of Bristol Palin, Gov. Palin’s 17-year-old daughter. Apparently feminism doesn’t matter if you’re not a “right-thinking” woman. The attacks will keep coming—after all, when you think that anyone who disagrees is downright evil and must be stopped at all costs, attacking a 17-year-old girl in a vulnerable time is perfectly acceptable. Some people in this country are so filled with a blind partisan rage that nothing else matters.

Gov. Palin’s family is not a political issue. Ms. Palin made a mistake, but she is not treating her baby as a “punishment” as some would have her do. Instead, she is taking responsibility for her actions, she is going to marry the father of her child, and they will be excellent parents. That is the way responsible people act, whether the “netroots” understand it or not.

The displays of naked sexism, vile partisanship, and the politics of personal destruction coming from the left these days can’t be swept under the rug forever. If Obama continues to underperform with female voters it will be in no small part due to the despicable attacks against Sen. Clinton, Gov. Palin, and Bristol Palin. The far left simply cannot stomach the idea that the most powerful woman in America could be a woman who doesn’t share their political dogma. In their attacks against these women, they’re showing their true colors. The more they spread their hatred, the more they will end up undermining their own cause.

UPDATE: Sen. Obama has wisely said that Gov. Palin’s family is out of bounds. The problem is that the extremists in the “netroots” are unlikely to listen.

Sarah Barracuda For Vice President

It’s official: Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is John McCain’s VP pick.

This is the best pick he could have made.

Earlier this year, I had her as a favorite, not really thinking that McCain would be so bold as to pick her. Looks like I underestimated Sen. McCain’s vision after all.

Alaska is as far away from Washington as it comes. Gov. Palin is tough, principled, well-spoken, and a great example of what a woman in America can be in the 21st Century. She is an inspired pick for McCain, and she will help him win in November.

UPDATE: Obama got BidOWNED…

Red State: EPIC WIN.

The Case For Lieberman

Bill Kristol makes the case for Sen. Joe Lieberman as McCain’s VP:

Lieberman could hold his own against Biden in a debate. He would reinforce McCain’s overall message of foreign policy experience and hawkishness. He’s a strong and disciplined candidate.

But he is pro-abortion rights, and having been a Democrat all his life, he has a moderately liberal voting record on lots of issues.

Now as a matter of governance, there’s no reason to think this would much matter. McCain has made clear his will be a pro-life administration. And as a one-off, quasi-national-unity ticket, with Lieberman renouncing any further ambition to run for the presidency, a McCain-Lieberman administration wouldn’t threaten the continuance of the G.O.P. as a pro-life party. In other areas, no one seriously thinks the policies of a McCain-Lieberman administration would be appreciably different from those, say, of a McCain-Pawlenty administration.

What Kristol doesn’t seem to understand is that the pro-life position of evangelical and Catholic voters is not a political one. It’s a moral position. They believe as a first principle that the termination of an innocent human life is morally unconscionable and government should not sanction such atrocities. A stridently pro-abortion candidate is going to be a non-starter, or at the very least will have a very tough sell.

Sen. Lieberman is a brave man and a patriot. He was right on the war, and his steadfastness is greatly appreciated. However, he is a doctrinaire liberal on nearly every other issue, and in a close Senate it is possible that he could break a tie vote. He should have a seat in a McCain administration, but not as the number two man.

Biden Is It

The word on the street is that Sen. Joe Biden will be Obama’s VP selection. The rumor mill states that Biden has already been assigned a Secret Service detail, and Gov. Kaine and Sen. Bayh have been informed that they will not be the pick.

Biden has some qualities that make him a good pick, but not enough to make up for his infamous lack of inner monologue. His tendency to put foot firmly in mouth is not something that makes him condusive to being a running mate to a neophyte politician.

Biden is a Washington insider, which goes against Obama’s message of change. He is someone who offers experience, but at a price. Of all the top contenders for Obama’s VP, he is perhaps one of the weakest.

Biden makes sense on a superficial level, but when it comes to who best complements Obama, he’s not the best choice that could be made.

On the other hand, it could be worse: Obama could have picked Clinton.

UPDATE: It’s official, Biden is it. At least the Obama people had the good sense to drop the bad news on the weekend.

Assessing The Veepstakes

Now that John McCain has the GOP nomination practically in hand, it’s time to start thinking about who should be his choice for Vice President. What McCain needs is someone who can reach out to the GOP base, be an effective attack dog against the Democrats, and complement McCain’s strengths while reducing his political vulnerabilities. In short, that means someone who has appeal with conservatives and evangelicals, but doesn’t alienate national security conservatives or fiscal conservatives. Here are some candidates who fit the bill:

Fred Thompson: No surprise that he’s be first on my list, but he should be first on McCain’s as well. Thompson’s got clout with conservatives. He’s got strong policy positions on key issues like immigration and taxes. He has appeal in the South. As an attack dog, he managed to rip Huckabee a new one—just imagine what he could do to someone like Bill Richardson or John Edwards in a Vice Presidential debate. Thompson and McCain get along well, and that ticket would reassure skittish conservative voters. The down side is that Thompson lacks executive experience and his campaign style leaves much to be desired. There’s also the question of whether he’d want the job. However, he would be a strong choice for McCain.

J.C. Watts: Watts has been outside of politics for a while, but he’s a strong conservative as well as someone who would add diversity to the GOP ticket. He’s right, Republicans don’t do nearly enough to appeal to African-American voters, and there could be a chance to take some of those votes away if Clinton gets the nomination. The downside is that he’s been away from politics for so long—but that might be an asset rather than a liability.

Michael Steele: Another principled African-American conservative. He’s strong on policy and would also help the GOP reach out to new voting groups without alienating conservatives. However, he doesn’t have the national recognition to be a real star pick—but that might not matter in the end.

Tom Coburn: The strongest fiscal conservative there is, the enemy of pork-barrel spenders everywhere. Solidly conservative, he would help McCain with the conservative vote. He’s also a relative unknown and another Senator, however.

Mike Huckabee: He would help McCain on economic issues and with evangelical outreach. The problem is that he annoys everyone else, and conservatives don’t like him at all. Since he’s still in the race, I think he’s signaling that he doesn’t want the job. There’s no sense staying in and challenging McCain if you want the #2 slot. I don’t see Huckabee as getting the pick now, and that’s something to be thankful for.

Tim Pawlenty: A moderate governor of a swing state. Wildly popular after the I-35W bridge collapse when he held the line on taxes (even though he wobbled on the issue). Won reelection in a GOP bloodbath. He appeals to the average Joe, because he is an average Joe. He supported McCain from the beginning, and loyalty counts for a great deal. The problem? Minnesota nice. I don’t see him as an attack dog. Then again, McCain can already do that himself. I’d say that Pawlenty is probably the top of the short list now.

Charlie Crist: Crist is the popular governor of Florida, another potential swing state. He brings many of the same advantages as Pawlenty does. However, he’s also fairly moderate and may not enthuse conservatives. Since Crist’s endorsement was key to McCain winning in Florida, I would not at all be surprised if he gets the VP slot in McCain’s campaign‐but it’s still wide open.

I do have one pick from left field, but the one person I think would be the single best pick for Sen. McCain in 2008:

Sarah Palin Photo

Sarah Palin: Sarah Palin is the most popular governor in the country, getting approval ratings of up to 90%. She won by a landslide in a difficult election. She’s principled on fiscal issues, she’s a fighter against corruption and she’s strongly pro-life. Throughout Juneau she’s known for being someone who can stand up to entrenched interests and win. In high school she was nicknamed “Sarah Barracuda” for her tenacity—and that same tenacity has marked her tenure as Governor of Alaska. She’s someone who can be an attack dog yet still keep her appeal. If Obama wins the nomination, she can help McCain with the female vote. If Clinton wins, she’s the anti-Clinton—if she will Bill Clinton’s wife, Bill Clinton would have been out on the curb with a boot in his ass years ago. She’s a hunter, an ice fisher, and a lifelong member of the NRA.

Palin’s disadvantages are her lack of name recognition and her relative lack of experience, having only been elected governor in 2006. At the same time, she’s one of the people who is likely to be a leader in the GOP, so it makes sense to put her in a strong public position now. Especially if McCain decides to run for only one term, it makes sense to have a strong successor there waiting in the wings.

Palin represents a new face for the GOP—and she’s no slouch on the issues either. She would be a surprising pick for McCain, but that’s exactly what he needs.

UPDATE: And now The Weekly Standard gets on the Palin for Veep bandwagon