Editorial: Palin renews McCain’s maverick image, but is clearly unqualified
September 1, 2008
Source: Mercury News
Twelve hours after Democrats ended their national convention in Denver with fireworks and a stirring ovation for presidential nominee Barack Obama, Republican John McCain stole back the spotlight and some of their thunder. But his wild-card choice of the unknown and untested Sarah Palin as his vice president will backfire if voters see through it.
Picking an obscure first-term small-state governor was bold, and it may prove to be shrewd. But for the sake of the country should McCain win, it was unwise.
The decision was quintessential McCain. Hemmed in by Washington wags who warned him not to choose the vice president he liked — Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman — and urged him to choose one he didn’t — primary nemesis Mitt Romney — McCain defied them with an anti-establishment conservative from outside their orbit.
The solidly anti-abortion mother of five may please the social conservatives who had doubts about McCain. And Palin made it clear that she will go right after women voters still loyal to Democratic Sen. Hillary Clinton, even though she lacks Clinton’s depth and knowledge, and disagrees with her on nearly everything. As an activist who took on her state’s corrupt Republican old guard, she reinvigorates McCain’s maverick image, which he has largely repressed over the past year.
But her selection mocks a primary argument for McCain’s candidacy, that foreign threats demand a seasoned, serious
commander in chief. In potentially putting her in a position to become president at a moment’s notice, it brings attention to his health and his age. It calls his judgment into question. Palin may have small-town spunk and kitchen-table common sense, but she’s patently unqualified for the office.
Republicans will argue that Palin is no less experienced than Obama. That’s ridiculous. In the Senate, in organizing a stunningly successful national campaign and through 18 months of hard campaigning for the nomination, Obama proved to be as capable, articulate and knowledgeable as anyone in Congress — and certainly the equal of McCain.
This week, Republicans will make the case that McCain has re-emerged as the candidate of change. That, of course, depends on the definition. McCain may talk about bipartisanship, but he has made most of President Bush’s policies his own, and he has an old warrior’s Cold War view of the world. Many of Palin’s positions, such as favoring oil drilling in sensitive wilderness areas and teaching creationism in schools, are even more regressive.
On Thursday, Obama laid out a contrasting vision that appeals to Americans’ optimism and desire for approaches to health care, energy and the economy that differ sharply from the current course. Speaking to a captivated audience and a united party in his acceptance speech, Obama forcefully answered those who have dismissed him as all eloquence and no substance.
The Republican convention is set to open on Monday, with a new supporting cast and a twist in the plot. But Denver will be a tough act to follow.