Wow, a lot’s happened in the past 24 hours.
Vladimir Putin (President of Russia, not Germany) has accused the US of starting the war in Georgia, to benefit “a political candidate.” For once, I’m going to have to give the White House the benefit of the doubt on this: as crazy as George Bush is with starting wars, Vladimir Putin seems even more out of his mind these days. It seems as if Russia started the war with Georgia, not that the US got Georgia to start a war with Russia. (And besides, if it were done to “benefit a presidential candidate,” it seems to have backfired, as most of the US realized it wasn’t the US state of Georgia and immediately dismissed the news.)
Obama gave his acceptance speech last night. I haven’t watched it in full yet, but the consensus seems to be that it was a good speech, but that the rest of the event was a snooze. Many have reported that the convention turned Denver into a police state, apparently resulting in an ABC news anchor being arrested for… filming a news broadcast in public? Obama had an insanely huge crowd at Invesco.
The news of today, though, is that McCain has picked Sarah Palin, the current Arkansas Governor, as his running mate. As I referenced in my previous post, I don’t know her full background yet, but she strikes me as a good complement to McCain: she’s young (you might even call her good-looking), has a track record of exposing corruption in the Republican party. She’s married to an Eskimo, making her pick doubly not a “white boys club” pick. Her eldest son enlisted in the Marines last year at age 18, and her youngest son has Down Syndrome. (From Wikipedia: “Palin refused to let the results of prenatal genetic testing change her decision to have the baby. ‘I’m looking at him right now, and I see perfection,’ Palin said.”) She’s aggressive on fighting wasteful spending (my friend Chris says she’s the one that canned the Alaskan “Bridge to Nowhere“), but isn’t the sort of insane, “No taxes at all, close down everything” person that makes fiscal conservatism look bad. She’s opposed GOP porkbarrel spending, and pushed for ethics reform. Her most recent approval rating as Governor was 80%, which seems awfully high for any politician. She opposes gay marriage, and yet says she has homosexual friends and strongly opposes discrimination; her first veto killed a bill that would have banned the Alaskan government from providing benefits to same-sex partners of government employees.
I still want to look more into her stance on energy, as the Wikipedia page makes it sound like she’s gone out of her way to not become a Big Oil Crony, but I don’t see a lot about alternative energy; given her proximity to ANWR in particular, I’d like to know more.
But I still think the, “Oh crap” I got from a fellow Dem in a text message is exactly the right reply. I wasn’t enthused about Biden. He’s a good guy, with a good track record, but that’s about all I have to say about him. Not bad, but there’s nothing exciting. (I’ll call him “plain,” if only because I keep typo-ing “Palin” as “Plain,” which I think might better describe Biden than Palin.
Of course, we’re electing a President, not a VP, and I’m only growing more confident that Obama’s the best pick. I’m not even sure that running mates are normally that big a deal. But if I were an undecided voter? Palin, I think, is a superb answer to Obama. He’s new, he’s young, he’s bringing fresh change and excitement and a promise of a “clean” (as in, “Not insanely corrupt”) government. I don’t see any of that in McCain. Palin almost brings a lot of Obama’s qualities, but packaged as a Republican.
Where I think this might make a huge difference is over the sizeable number of people in the center. They might be truly independent, or they might even be center-left Republicans. They’d fed up with George Bush and status quo. They think Obama can change that, but they don’t want to vote Democrat, or they’re scared about what they’ve been told (mostly lies, but I digress) about how Obama’s going to raise taxes, and so forth. McCain claims to be a maverick, but tends to vote in step with Bush. (And enjoyed a birthday party on the airport tarmac with him in the wake of Katrina.) They see a lot of hope and possibility in Obama, but still aren’t keen on voting blue. Palin, I think, can bring a lot of what those people like about Obama into a Republican. And with the two candidates neck-and-neck, it might be enough to let McCain pull ahead.
And then there’s the Hillary-for-McCain people. I really don’t believe that the “Hillary Supporters for McCain” camp is half as big as they make it out to be. And I do not mean to suggest that the average Hillary supporter was a crazy feminist who only supported her because of gender, though that’s kind of how these people are coming across today. But I’m quite sure that McCain’s campaign had these people (what’s the acronym they use again?) on their mind (at the very least, on the back burner) when picking Palin. Not only is she a woman, but she’s going to give them good justification: McCain and Hillary may be diametrically opposed on everything, but Hillary and Palin, while still taking opposite sides on most issues, are at least a little closer on the issues.
So I don’t know enough about Palin yet, but I have to admit that I’m kind of impressed with the little bit I’ve seen. As a Democrat, I’m kind of scared. But as an American, I’m kind of pleased: even if it’s McCain-Palin who take office in 2009, I think 2009-2012 might be better than 2000-2009. But do remember that we’re electing a President, not a VP: while Palin counters a lot of what gives me pause about McCain, I’d still take Obama over McCain.