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If selecting a running mate is a real test of a presidential candidate’s judgment, then John McCain’s decision to name Sarah Palin as his choice reveals a poor sense of astuteness and serves to underline his desperate political expediency.
Beyond the much taunted image of a maverick, his critics argue McCain’s decision has once again exposed his opportunistic tendencies.
They draw an unflattering profile of a spoiled son of a Navy admiral who misused the good name of his political guru and predecessor in the Senate, the late Barry Goldwater, and who callously left his first wife and children to marry into a $100 million fortune.
And this time, by choosing Palin, he betrayed all of that which he preached over the last 18 months – even 18 years.
“Barack Obama can start writing his inauguration speech,” wrote me an informed friend the night McCain held his first appearance with Governor Palin.
I am not sure I would go that far.
But I am no longer sceptical about an Obama victory in light of McCain’s decision to offer the vice presidency to the unknown and inexperienced governor of Alaska merely because she is a conservative woman.
If the McCain-Palin list survives the next two months with no dramatic surprises, the Republican nominee will suffer in the polls because of his hasty decision.
– Marwan looks at the progress of America and its Wars on Terror
The politics behind the decision is so “transparent” and “cynical”, that it left most female commentators around the country dismayed, bitter, an even insulted.
Calling Palin his “soul mate” has only added insult to injury.
Women might pay attention to the nomination, one commentator wrote, but they won’t give her the vote.
Palin who ran the Miss Alaska beauty contest has been ridiculed as a lucky bimbo.
She is seen as the “Miss Congeniality” governor who held her hair up and put on reading glasses to look serious.
Her anti-choice position on abortion will end up distancing most women who supported Hillary Clinton.
So why did McCain choose the young governor?
Well, she reflects will for fresh change on the part of the old McCain; she is popular in her state of Alaska especially after taking on corrupted officials – some from within her own Republican party.
She is an ardent supporter of offshore oil drilling which appears to be supported by three out of every four Americans in a year when energy has become an important election issue.
And unlike the other proposed choices, Palin is a Christian social conservative that appeals to most of the hardcore evangelical base of the Republican Party.
However, each and every one of those pluses is marginal compared to the downside of her candidacy.
Alaska is a small state with a population of 540,000 who receive annual checks from the state’s oil profits.
This week, each Alaskan young or old will receive a check for $1,130, their annual share of the oil wealth.
Palin’s popularity is best measured by the little over 100,000 votes she received to win the governorship, only a bit higher than the 85,000 that filled the stadium to listen to Obama on Thursday.
The offshore drilling, attached to her name, will not make much difference in the short-term and will not help make America energy-independent in the long-term.
It is more fantasy than fact to think America can dig its way to more consumption.
As for her conservative agenda, Palin is bound to distance women far more than she will attract them to the ticket.
McCain reckons Palin will energise the conservative base of the Republican party. But the party is reportedly so unpopular, so uncertain and so insecure that there is little chance of quick recovery.
Her supporters’ claim that she is the next Margaret Thatcher has already been ridiculed, while comparing her candidacy to Clinton is bound to blow up in her face.
As The New York Times Columnist Gail Collins wrote over the weekend, Joe Biden will easily destroy her chances of exploiting the friction between Obama and Clinton.
During their much anticipated debate, he will probably echo Lloyd Bentsen’s 1988 deadly response to then Dan Quayle by telling Palin: “I know Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton is a friend of mine, and governor, you’re no Hillary Clinton.”
Governor Palin is also under investigation and scrutiny for a number of charges that include deception and misuse of public office.
It’s the policy, stupid
|McCain may find his VP choice will come back to haunt him in November [AFP]|
I just don’t think McCain was at all reasonable in his choice.
The bottom line? Palin is an inexperienced politician who for most of her career and until merely 20 months ago, was on the council of a small town of 7300 residents.
It is not clear how many states on the mainland Palin visited as an adult, but she has never been outside North America except to an American military base in Kuwait.
She lacks any foreign policy experience or knowledge. Judging from her interests and record, I doubt she can find a number of countries on the map.
For long, McCain derided selfish politics and defended experience as indispensable for presiding over America as it leads in a volatile world. Now, he has turned around and chosen the least experienced person on his list of candidates for strictly narrow electoral calculations.
Which begs the question, how could the 72-year-old Vietnam vet with a poor health record choose a running mate with poor experience to be only a “heartbeat away from the presidency”?
Is it because he fancies himself a maverick who “thinks out of the box”? Or could the answer lie in his haste, unpredictability, opportunism and recklessness?
In November, Americans need to remember that their answer is a question of life and death for many around the world where the US is militarily active in over 100 countries.
The views expressed by the author are not necessarily those of Al Jazeera.