Sunday, August 31, 2008

McCain Hits a Home Run

The Democratic National Convention is over. By all accounts it was a resounding success. The soaring rhetoric, the message of hope, the image of decisiveness and leadership and the excitement of a stadium filled to capacity cheering him on made for a pretty impressive sight.

So too did a string of retired generals and admirals who came out to support Obama – along with a number of ‘just plain folk’.

Obama gave a very strong and, impassioned speech. But if you analyze what he said, the utopia he envisions for the US is long on promises and short on details. All those great programs he promised cost big money. Closing a few loopholes in the tax code to pay for them is at best naive. Kind of like his idea about solving the gas shortage by making sure car tires are inflated.

At worst it is a cynical attempt to fool the public. Especially if you include his promise to cut taxes to 95% of the population.

But that was probably lost on most people. They just saw a great show by a man promising them the world while prattling on about how bad things are now and how great they’ll be with him as President.

That said, I still think it was a powerful image and the entire 'show' was reminiscent of the JFK era. Very impressive. And it will probably boost Obama’s numbers in the polls significantly. For me - well frankly I was a lot more impressed by what Bill Clinton said than by what Barrack Obama said.

I don't know how the Republicans can top this spectacle - which it truly was. Especially with the press fawning all over the Democratic convention and treating Obama like the Messiah. It was a spectacle. Obama is a great and inspiring speaker. He's the new 'Rock star' of Democratic politics. But he's no savior. That myth is what the Republicans need to explode if they are going to have any chance of success come November.

But though things seem to be going according to the game plan in the Democratic Party, things are not that bleak for McCain. Here’s why.

One of the things emphasized at the Democratic convention was the progress for women made by Hillary Clinton in breaking new ground. Many of the speakers spoke of her trailblazing efforts. Indeed she almost pulled off being the first female candidate for the Presidency by a major political party. Everyone paid tribute to her - from her husband, the former President - to Michelle Obama - to Barrack Obama himself.

Indeed she did blaze a new trail. But her supporters were disappointed in the end that she didn’t get the nomination, feeling somewhat robbed of it. Of course all the speakers including Mrs. Clinton herself strongly urged all of her supporters to vote for Barrack Obama in the fall.

There was a lot of talk pre-convention about her supporters being so upset that many of them considered voting for McCain! But by the end of the convention that seemed to be taken care of. The image conveyed was one of unity. But it remains to be seen just how many voters who supported Senator Clinton will now actually vote for Obama.

And there is an additional fly in the Democratic ointment. All the rhetoric about the advances of women in the party still left Mrs. Clinton standing at the door. Not only didn’t she win the nomination for the Presidency, she was not chosen as a running mate on a ‘dream ticket’ either. She was never even seriously considered. Joe Biden was chosen for that job. Obama-Biden. Hardly my idea of a dream team.

So her supporters are probably not all that happy right now. That’s not good for Obama. He needs the female demographic if he is to have any chance of winning in the fall.

Well, that may yet happen - but not if Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has anything to say about it. John McCain in what I consider a brilliant political move has chosen a woman as his running mate. Talk about glass ceilings! She is a perfect candidate for him. She is conservative politically to offset the lukewarm conservatism of McCain. She will energize the conservative Republican base which McCain needs if there is any chance for him to win.

Governor Palin will appeal to many disgruntled Clinton supporters as well. Just how much will she take of the Clinton vote - remains to be seen. Much of Senator Clinton’s appeal was to hard core feminists, hardly a Republican constituency. They will not vote for a woman who is not ‘one of them’. But many female Clinton supporters were not hard core feminists. That is obvious by all the talk of Clinton voters defecting to McCain. And now with Governor Palin on the ticket that increases the chances for defection. Many Clinton supporters may actually vote for McCain now.

I can’t wait to see the VP debate between smarmy Biden and the tough as nails Palin. I don’t think he has a chance. He may have a lot of foreign policy experience, but I think she’s smarter than he is. Besides experience - we’ve been told - is not what is important. Good judgment is.

But that hasn't stopped the Obama people from bringing up her lack of experience. I hope they keep doing it. I'll take an inexperienced number two on the Republican ticket over an inexperienced number one on the Democratic ticket any day of the week.

What else does she bring to the tiket? Here is a partial list. She's a successful reformer who went against her own Republican party in Alaska to establish new ethical standards. She is a religious woman with religious values - a mother of five who decided to knowingly give birth to a Downs syndrome baby instead of aborting it. She and her husband are union members. She supports off shore drilling for oil and even supports drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Reverve (ANWR) in her own state. And her roots are firmly and recently middle class. Her entry into politics - just a few short years ago - was joining the PTA. She can easily identify with those struggling to balance a family budget. She supports the McCain position in Iraq and her son is about to be deployed there.

How will this play out at the polls in November? I don’t know. A lot can happen to change things in either direction. But this was a great move.