Sen. McCain and the Politics of Misdirection

Sen. John McCain has run his entire campaign against Sen. Barack Obama based on the oft stated belief that Obama lacks the experience to lead this country. The McCain campaign has repeatedly discounted Obama’s demonstrated knowledge of domestic and foreign policy and characterized the Harvard Law School graduate as a political neophyte.

Just three weeks ago on Face The Nation, Republican strategist Karl Rove opined that he expected the then presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama to choose a running mate based on political expediency, not the person’s readiness for the job.

“I think he’s going to make an intensely political choice, not a governing choice,” Rove said. “He’s going to view this through the prism of a candidate, not through the prism of president; that is to say, he’s going to pick somebody that he thinks will on the margin help him in a state like Indiana or Missouri or Virginia. He’s not going to be thinking big and broad about the responsibilities of president.”

Rove then proceeded to single out Virginia governor Tim Kaine, who was also a guest on Face The Nation as an example of such a disastrous and ill-thought out selection for a vice presidential running mate, saying of and to Gov. Kaine (the man was sitting right there), “With all due respect again to Governor Kaine, he’s been a governor for three years, he’s been able but undistinguished. I don’t think people could really name a big, important thing that he’s done. He was mayor of the 105th largest city in America.”

Funny, but I do believe that I could substitute Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin for Kaine and not have to change another word in Rove’s statement. Oops! I’m wrong, Palin was the mayor of Wasilla, population in 2007, according to the U.S. census–9,780. (The 105th largest city of which Kaine was once mayor is Richmond,VA., population of 200,123 in 2007, according to the U.S. census.) I’m not certain as to where Wasilla ranks in population among U.S. cities but somehow I think that it is substantially less than 105th.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that having experience as mayor of a tiny town and only 20 months as governor of a state not known for being densely populated means that one is not qualified for the office of vice president. Nor am I flat out stating that Palin’s anti-choice, pro-NRA, positions don’t exactly make her the poster woman for the women’s movement. Nor am I questioning the wisdom of selecting a running mate with whom McCain’s own camp confirms he had only met once before selecting her to be on his ticket; a running mate who could feasibly find herself in the position of having to actually step into the oval office, given the age and prior health issues that have beset Sen. McCain. I’m just fascinated with the difference in attitude that the Republican party has towards its own choices and the choices of the Democratic party.

That’s what led me to ponder why McCain selected Gov. Palin as his running mate. While I was busy pondering, headlines in newspapers and talking heads on my television explained it to me in terms that even a four year old could understand. The basic message appears to be that in selecting Gov. Palin, the McCain campaign has strengthened its position with women voters. All of the Hillary Clinton supporters, who were only voting for Hillary because she was a woman, will tumble for John McCain, and give up the vote.

With apologies to village idiots everywhere, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Senator John McCain, is a class-A idiot if he really thinks that people supported Hillary Clinton because she is a woman. They supported Senator Clinton because she is intelligent, capable, and has leadership qualities; the same reasons that Obama’s supporters support him. What an insult to every person who supported Hillary to assume that they will fall over themselves to jump on the McCain bandwagon just because he has a female running mate.

I have no more patience with those who continue to assert that Obama supporters do so because he has a black father or that Hillary’s followers supported her because she was a woman. Get over yourselves and stop clinging to the belief that the only possible explanation for Obama’s or Hillary Clinton’s successes in this presidential campaign is because all black people support Obama and white women (feminists to boot!) support Hillary Clinton. Guess what, old white men are not the only, nor the best choice for leading everything. It’s a new world in the United States of America, and it’s about damn time.

Other countries have been able to broaden their horizons to encompass leadership that isn’t dependent on having a penis–India, Pakistan, Great Britain, and Israel are just a few modern governments that come to mind. As for race, it should be the shame of this country, founded on the proposition that, “all men are created equal,” that it has only seen fit to allow white males to ascend to the leadership of the allegedly most powerful nation in the free world.

Palin is a woman, and I certainly don’t disparage her for her gender, but neither am I going to do cartwheels over her selection. (Btw, I proudly identify myself as a feminist.) I’m choosing to have faith in the ability of the majority of women to think rationally and I am refusing to succumb to any concern that the rest of my gender is going to fall down and worship at the altar of McCain simply because he has Palin at his side.

If you must vote for McCain, let it be because you don’t believe that addressing the needs of the 47 million uninsured Americans is a priority, let it be because you believe that the wealthiest one percent of the population are entitled to even more tax breaks, let it be because you support an energy strategy that involves off shore drilling as a solution to the energy crisis, or because you agree with his position of staying in Iraq indefinitely, but for heaven’s sake, don’t fall for his Houdini-style misdirection act of selecting a woman as a running mate.

One of my favorite actresses is Bette Davis. I love Kim Carnes 1980s hit, Bette Davis Eyes. I know that Bette would never fall for some obvious manipulative ploy.

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9 responses to “Sen. McCain and the Politics of Misdirection

  1. Have we come to the place in this country where we can critique a person’s fitness for the presidency based on something other than race or gender? If so, then why is it OK for feminist pro-abortion women to run but not those who think differently? I mean if gender or color don’t matter then why is it not OK for Palin to run? In this case, Palin has more experience in just about every skill needed to run a bureaucracy than Obama and Biden. Are you going to tell me that it isn’t OK for Republicans to choose someone they feel represent them according to their standards?

  2. I AGREE WITH YOU!

  3. Hi JLFuller,
    Just want to make it clear, I never said that the problem with Palin is her gender or her race. I just don’t agree with you that she has picked up the skills to run a bureacracy via her stint as mayor of a very small town and her 20 months on the job as governor. Are you telling me that the Republicans don’t have anyone, male or female with better credentials? I’m not a Republican, but even I find that insulting to the Republican party. If you drop back by, please do list all of Gov. Palin’s qualifications and experience. Perhaps I’m just unaware of them. I’ve searched the Net, but haven’t had any luck so far.

  4. Sheria
    I don’t know if you have experience working within government but I do. Twenty five years worth. And as a government employee one has to know the difference between doing what you want and doing what your highly political job dictates you do. One is not his/her own boss regardless of what your position is and that includes governor. May especially governor. another aspect is just the day-to-0day running of a diverse organization. Working with a budget set by someone else according to their values and priorities. But the most taxing part of a government administrators job is personel challenges. You can’t always hire or even approach the people yoiu may want. Often you “settle” for who is there or you are required to hire. But you are always accocuntable for how successful the organization is as a whole. That requires a different mindset than being a business owner or executive in private enterprise. It is a different world thanbeing a community activist or legislator who has no one oe or thing he is responsible for on a daily basis. In Obama’s case, he has an office manager who does all the nitty gritty personel stuff and he has aninsignificant budget. He works on committees with staff who handle all the tough stuff while he is free to pick and choose what he does and who he works with. It is not so in the real world. Legislators live an insular life. Governors, mayors and the president have to know how the organization operates and how to motivate, provide guidance, set prioroties and monitor them. That is the down and dirty daily things a mayor, governor must learn and execute well in order to be effective. They are skill sets that require time to develope. Legislators are never faced with such things.

  5. I appologize for not running that piece through spell check.

  6. Some above asked who I thought would have been a better VP. Actually I think Romney would have. Palin maybe but he is an unknown to me. Any one who has successfully navigated the waters of a large governorship is preferable to one who only ran a small one. But then I am a bureaucrat at heart. Whatever it takes to get the job done. The key has to be whether your organization can run just as effectively without you as with you. If it does then you are a success. That means staff and subordinate administrators have been empowered properly, know where they are going and where the boundries are. They also know what success is supposed to look like. YOu would be surprised how many political people have no idea what success looks like. I think legislators fit that bill nicely.

  7. I meant to say Pawlenty not Palin. The jury is out on her too.

  8. You asked if I was happy with Palin. The answer is no. But I am not happy with the Obama either. Obama is absolutely not qualified to run a government. That is just the facts. You must have had experience actually doing something that even remotley resembles being responsible for a large organization. That also leaves Hillary out. It leaves McCain out too.

    The ideal candidate , in both parties, would have been an agency head, governor, general or admiral or big business person. It leaves out teachers, union activists, preachers, gray and blue collar workers and pizza shop night managers.

  9. Just read this post (been out of cyberspace for a bit). I touched on some of the same ideas in a bit I just posted so I wont inflict them on you here. Just wanted you to know that you said it so much better that if I had read this post first I would have just referred people here and left it at that.

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