Sarah Palin: Alaska governor has re-energized the Republican Party going into the
homestretch of the presidential campaign. Anchorage Press Photo
The selection of Palin, with her agenda
of tax cuts (except in her town, where she raised them), limited
government definition (except in matters of our sexual lives), and a
strange, exuberant, over-the-top enthusiasm for drilling for oil, lit a
fire under a party that seemed all but ready to stay home and let
Barack Obama coast into the White House. Now the GOP leaves its
national convention in St. Paul, Minn., eager to wage jihad against the
Democrats (and the media, which seems determined to Drill, Baby, Drill
into Palin’s record).
When John McCain stepped up, just after
the Democrats left Denver, to name Gov. Palin as his running mate, what
he gave was not a nominating speech but a concession speech. After
years of trying to preserve the image of independence from the
Christian Taliban wing of the Republican party, McCain threw in the
towel. It was a remarkable concession coming so early in the campaign.
It was a desperation call from the Karl
Rove playbook. Clearly Palin’s main attributes are her ability to draw
out the Christian conservative vote in key areas like southern Ohio,
and the NRA vote in the new swing state of Colorado. The choice has
very little to do with governing, and everything to do with hoping to
draw in the fringe of the party.
Palin, with her Tina Fey looks and
matching experience in national government, is red meat for the right
wing of the party. She showed in Minnesota that she has Ronald Reagan’s
gift of telling a story so well that she actually appears to believe
it’s true. (Her proud recitation of how she said “thanks, but no
thanks” to federal funds for the Bridge to Nowhere was eerie—since she
knows full well that she took the money.) The triumphal jubilation of
the party faithful in St. Paul underscored the point that the social
conservatives have been making all along: It’s our party, and you can’t
win without us.
Apparently John the Maverick has bought
into the argument that only the old Republican guard, the heirs of Pat
Robertson and Jerry Falwell, can get him the 270 electoral votes he
needs. Anyone who thought that he represented something different in
Republican politics can forget it. The notion that he can run to the
middle and pick up the independent vote is history. It’s red states vs.
blue states, find and exploit the wedge issues all over again.
Had Connecticut Sen. Lieberman been the
running mate, we might have had a serious debate on the war in Iraq. If
Mitt Romney had won the silver medal, the state of the economy could
have been discussed and the two party’s divergent views on how to deal
with it addressed. Instead we have Sarah Palin, and a campaign that
even McCain advisers acknowledge will turn on personal stories.
The early stories out of Alaska,
unfortunately, focused mostly on her family, on her divorced sister’s
ex and her high school daughter’s pregnancy. Amid all the noise that
greeted the news about the latest addition to the Palin family, there
was actually one moment that offered a ray of hope.
When asked to comment on the pending
Palin grandbaby, Obama got it just right: He let it be known that the
issue of 17-year-old Bristol Palin having a baby was a purely personal,
family matter. In other words, politics should have nothing to do with
it. Neither Palin nor McCain acknowledged this gracious remark. Instead
they acted as if the Democrats and the press were hounding her unfairly
by asking questions about her record and his judgment.
To acknowledge the wisdom in Obama’s
remark would have opened a can of worms for the nominees. Family
matters are private, and should be. What’s good for her daughter and
her family is good for my daughter and my family, and yours as well.
Leave politics out of it. This girl made a choice. Let her live with it.
If only Gov. Palin and Sen. McCain could acknowledge that this should remain the law of the land. Now that would be a new day.