Friday, August 29, 2008

Let's Get Political

Alright, now the election season is starting to get very exciting. John McCain announced Republican Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate, making her the first woman vice-presidential candidate in Republican party history. It is a very bold move. It might also be a very dangerous move.

Before I chime in on Palin, let me make a few points about Joe Biden:

The Good:
- He has experience.
- He is pretty respected in political circles
- He is not Hillary

The Bad:
- He has experience
- He is pretty respected in political circles
- He is not Hillary

As someone who is campaigning as a candidate of change, Obama risks backfiring by choosing a running mate who has served as a US Senator since 1972 and is tangled with many political alliances. Some people were hoping for a "Super-ticket" of Obama and Hillary, but I understand why Obama did not do that. For most of GW Bush's presidency, I felt that he was sometimes overshadowed by Dick Cheney, that is was Cheney calling many of the shots. Had Obama nominated Hillary, I think people would have wondered who the real President was.

Now Sarah:
It seems like she has done a pretty good job of governor of Alaska. I got a good impression of her while I was in Alaska. She appears to be in touch with the constituents, personable, pretty and smart. She's advocated for Alaska and, for all my knowledge, seems like an effective governor. McCain is the maverick, the candidate not confined by the Beltway. To prove that, he chose a running mate from another country. Okay, I know, Alaska is not another country... but how many Americans know that (not my student who was arguing that there were 53 states in our country)?

McCain also knows that there are a lot of Clinton voters who are not happy with Obama and many of those voters are women. Here is a chance to steal some votes. Did you see the interviews of the Democrats that were still upset about Hillary losing in the primaries? They were all women. To me it means that: a) women are more passionate/opinionated or b) they're not mad their candidate lost, they are mad their WOMAN candidate lost. (btw, voting for Hillary because she is a woman is stupid. Or voting Republican because McCain brought a woman is stupid. Stupid is also voting for Obama because he is black. As is voting McCain because he is 80 and white)

How could this historic and bold pick hurt McCain and the Republicans? Off the top of my head, two things: Ted Stevens and experience. Ted Stevens is the Republican US Senator from Alaska who has been federally indicted for shady dealings with oil contractors. He is a mainstay of American politics as he is currently the longest serving US Senator, chaired the Senate Appropriations committee and is beloved by many Alaskans for his ability to bring beaucoup of federal money to Alaska (ex: the infamous Bridge to Nowhere). I don't think the Democrats need to necessarily smear Palin, they just have to make it known that Palin is the Republican Governor from a state whose senior Senator, a Republican, just got indicted and also has a host of other ethical issues. As an uniformed electorate, we won't want to know anything else. Why bother checking facts, the connection is enough. Amazingly, despite indictment, Stevens won the Republican primary in Alaska and will be on the ballot for re-election in November.

Experience is the other issue that has to concern the Republicans. For months, they have attacked Obama's experience in national and, especially international, politics because his only major political experience is 4 years in the US Senate (not including 8 years in Illinois State Senate) . And you know something, the campaign has been working as McCain has closed the gap considerably. But it's hard to criticize the Obama-Biden ticket now since Biden brings over a quarter century of US Senate experience and the McCain-Palin ticket includes a candidate, who despite being a star (sound familiar?), only has been elected to two offices: 6 years as Mayor of Wasilla (population 5,469 in 2000 Census) and Governor of Alaska (who's entire population is less than Brooklyn, NY) for 2 years. John McCain turned 72 today (29 Aug). I can see the commercial now... what if McCain's health took a turn for the worse? The next president would be a 44 year old lady (two years younger than Obama) with only 2 years of major office experience and no foreign policy experience (even though Alaska is a foreign country).

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