Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Random Observations--Mainly about Our Sarah

1. Greetings from Boston. There’s a LOT of interest here in the alternative AMERICAN Political Science Association Meeting next year.

2. On our Sarah: She was a very realistic choice. It wasn’t made from desperation, but from a sober calculation about how to win the election. I said here on Thurs. that McCain’s main challenge is to bring back from Republicans who now call themselves Democrats and indpendents. She meets the challenge of bringing back some and energizing the turnout of "faith and family" voters. She gets the job does not by anything she says, but by WHO she is, just as McCain gets (some, at least) of the job done with the more nationalistic or national security voters by simply being WHO he is.

3. Palin didn’t "rock the house" in her introductory comments, but she didn’t shout, made good sense, and wonderfully displayed her character. She sold me that she’s an ordinary hockey mom who got involved in politics for the right reasons. Here’s the thing that unites Mac and her against Obama and Biden: They’re the anti-bobos (bourgeois bohemians). They have admirable lives, and so don’t need "lifestyles."

4. Mac does surrender the experience advantage against Obama, and he may have created some doubts about the authenticity of his judgments. He looked somewhat uncomfortable standing next to her. But my authentic view is that he picked better than he knew, and yesterday may well have been the beginning of a beautiful friendship. And Mac isn’t really about experience, he’s about character.

5. It’s impossible to overemphasize how happy the various kinds of social conservatives are here at the convention about the choice. I won’t name names, but I’m including famous professors at leading institutions. Many of them have never really liked or trusted McCain. Strangely enough, they trust her. And they now trust him more.

6. Biden--whom I’m on record as admiring--must be miserable. He can’t attack her, and he better not be condescending toward her. He better not say something "inappropriate" about Sarah or her family. His record on such matters is not encouraging.

7. I agreed with a distinguished professor of law at the election panel that it’s 80-90% likely that Obama would win the election. Paul Rahe (he won’t mind me using his name in a manly way) objected that McCain had already won the election because of Barack’s missteps. I think most in attendance wanted to be with Paul but actually agreed with me. The Sarah choice suggests that Mac actually would have tended to agree with me. Now I think the Sara choice--which, I admit, is pretty risky Berry--makes it about 70% likely that Obama prevails.

By the way, I met Pete at that panel; he’s as astute and witty in real life as he is in thread.

Discussions - 15 Comments

McCain has said dozens of times that the 'transcendent' issue of our times is the 'war' with Islamic extremism. Yet he chose a running mate who is a hockey mom. That just does not make sense. This move will embolden our enemies.

Dave P., who ought he have chosen? Every VP possibility had drawbacks. Sarah Palin is more than a hockey mom. Although, if she were going to have to run American foreign policy beginning in January, I would be worried, too. Is that going to happen?

Maybe as another multiparous mom I am too inclined to think Palin will still have her wits about her. She is going to have to grow and adapt. She looks capable of it. She appears to me at least as capable of high office as Obama is.

I am so looking forward to watching Biden trying not to be condescending or paternalistic towards Palin. Its going to be like asking the tide not to come in. The whole thing goes against nature.

Of course, the best thing from a personal point of view is the end of boredom with the race. I was so, so bored with this election. I was just sick of the whole long dreary thing. Now, I am interested and excited about the race. This is a whole new game starting up. I never expected to be enthused at this point and yet I am.

Look at this and tell me that experienced Washington hands can handle American foreign policy beautifully. No one is prepared to handle Russia right now. I might rather trust a hockey mom's instincts over the pro's of either party.

Mr Medvedev has accused the US of shipping weapons to Georgia along with aid, a claim dismissed as “ridiculous” by the White House. Why is it ridiculous? We ought to be doing that.

The soccer mom persona might make a kind of conservative populism for Mac more believable-her natural eympathy is a good counterbalance to his inner cranky old man...its hard for a former POW to feel our pain over, say, prices at the pump

Peter, let's here the reasoning for your shocking 80-90% odds on Obama at this point.

Kate, I agree with you more than 90% of the time, but not on sending weapons to Georgia. Indeed, it would be opinions like that would worry me about a Republican as inexperienced w/ foreign policy as Palin, even if my man McCain already seems to hold opinions as erroneous. Let's hope she had good history teachers.

And Delenda est the Iranian Bombo!

I just cannot believe how NLT has suddenly shifted. McCain spent months hammering Obama on war and security issues. If Palin the hockey mom is somehow prepared to run the war on terrorism, then so is a community organizer from Chicago. Is the war over to the degree that the republicans can choose moms to (possibly) run things? I read something on another site that I agree with: If Putin called Palin to discuss issues, within 5 minutes he would say: please put Cheney on the line.

OK, if Obama truly does have such high percentages at winning the Presidency, then how in the world could Palin as Republican VP embolden our enemies, especially in light of Obama's view of our enemies?

So far, I think the Palin choice is great. For those who want to see how she's functioned in Alaska politics, this anti-Palin blog can give you the mind-numbing state politics perspective. If thar be dirt, it's blogs like this one that will lead to it. On a quick skim, I can't see anything very troubling. Some lil' tempest about Palin appointees wanting to not disclose what they've said on "state-issued" Blackberries. I can see that Gov. Palin has been involved in negociating some heavy-duty $500million pipeline deal, having to weigh the voices of Exxon producers against the bids from a Canadian pipeline company, getting support from unions and so forth, in other words, being involved in the nitty-gritty of executive authority and big-money politics. And without the convenient lead of the Chicago gang on local issues and the Democratic Party on Senatorial ones. Way, way more experienced in raw governance, methinks, than Obama.

Anybody catch this on NR? When the individual running to uphold the Constitution is encouraging his minions to thwart free speech because he helped to squander $110 million in his brief stint as an executive...I think any "Troopergate" allegations are going to pale in comparison. I listened to the Milt Rosenberg show in question--it was a chilling experience.

Prof. Lawler... that was a very kind thing to write and it was an honor to meet you.

I'm not sure that the Palin pick cuts against the "experience" issue quite as much as some might think - at least as the experience issue is framed by the McCain campaign. The McCain campaign attacks specific Obama policies and statements and argues that they demonstrate that he is unprepared to be President. "He was wrong on the surge. He thinks Iran is tiny. He can't be trusted." For Obama to reply that "Yes, well your VP candidate has even less Washington experience than I do." is pretty weak. To the extent that he attacks Palin's record rather than McCain himself or rebuts McCain's attacks, Obama concedes the points. If the McCain campaign framed the experience issue in the vague unfocused way that the George H. W. Bush campaign tried to frame it against Bill Clinton in 1992 then yes, the Palin pick would have fully conceded that advantage.

What most interests me about the Palin pick is that the wisdon of the pick will be totally dependent on how Palin performs. That sounds like a truism, but it would not have been nearly as true of some of McCain's VP options. There was nothing that Joe Lieberman could have said or done that would have gotten people to forget that on domestic issues, Lieberman is closer to Obama than McCain. If Romney could have given a speech that made conservatives trust him and independents like him, he would have given it during the primaries. But since both are known quatities, a slip of the tongue would probably do them less damage. If Lieberman accidentaly says Iran when he meant Iraq, no fair minded person is going to conclude that Lieberman is ignorant of the differences between the two countries. Romney and Lieberman are already so defined that unless they said or did something truly horrible, their performances would have been of marginal importance. Palin is such an unkown to most people. If she comes across well (and there is very little room for error), McCain made a great pick. If she says or does anything embarrasing before people get to know her, then McCain did his campaign enormous and probably fatal damage. No pressure.

The Palin pick is a way for McCain to say "bring it on" with the experience motif. Obama is excellent at campaigning against a fellow Democrat--what else? Unfortunately excellence at campaigning is what the media want in their desire to push the permanent campaign. Running a modern campaign fits into their need to remain the "fourth estate." A successful campaign somehow proves Obama is "ready." As a politician (and former sportscaster) Palin surely knows how to deal with the media, but she entered into electoral politics. I suppose she thought it a more noble and legitimate way to deal public problems. Regarding political experience, holding elective office is something that is ultimately accountable to the people. Obama has this. But he has spent his time in office campaigning. Thus far he is simply a media darling who won the Senate because his opponent attended orgies with his ex-wife. Alan Keyes' candidacy--as great as he truly is--was a too-late desperate gimmick.

Palin is governor and was mayor. I don't think she is a gimmick or a sign of desperation. Of course, much will depend on her perfomance. It will be repeated that she was mayor of a town of merely 9,000, and the irrelevance of Alaska will pointed out too. Of course, the Democrats won't put it exactly this way--but they will put it so differently nonetheless. With this pick McCain is saying, let Obama run on his Ivy League degrees. Is a town of 9,000 really that much different than community organizing in Chicago? At least Palin was elected mayor--and thereby held to scrutiny by the voters and had to deal with the entire town. Obama did noble work on south side Chicago, but ultimately he had his Harvard law degree and U Chicago professorship to fall back on when he failed in his efforts--as he himself admits.

As far as the "transcendent" issue of our times, Palin may be inexperienced--but she seems to have good instincts. She went to Iraq before Obama, and she has those wonderful pictures (in my opinion) looking down the scope of a rifle! Obama would make John Kerry look like Rambo if he held a gun. Of course, there may be unfortunate racial reasons why he wishes not to be seen holding a gun.

Nonetheless, Palin is an inspired choice, but I agree with Mr. Lawler--it's the Democrats' year, even if now at 70%. It's a gamble--McCain was at 7 to 1 odds, now its 5 to 2.

My liberal friends--and unfortunately that's all I have--laugh that Palin claimed not to know what the VP does. However, I tried to point out that this only shows their own ignorance, because apart from presiding in the Senate (when the Senate wants it and the VP cares to show), and voting in cases of a Senate tie--the role VP office IS unclear. When old Tippacanoe died, it was uncertain if Tyler too should become president simply because he was VP. The 25th Amendment (as late as 1967) decisively answered this by explicitly making the VP a "heartbeat" away from the presidency--so that is the other part of the job. Otherwise, the VP is what the President wants it to be--whether it is simply going to state funerals or "re-inventing" government or being an integral part of the white house policy making staff. For evidence of confusion regarding the VP one need only look at Cheney. One minute he relies on executive privilege and the next he says that he is part of legislative branch. He's right in that it's both (though ultimately it is an executive office). What I tried to say to my friends was that perhaps too much is made of the VP.

At any rate, I would like to think the media will give Palin a chance. I for one will be rooting for her. Hopefully she comes off good. Hopefully McCain will warm up to her too! He did seem somewhat stiff standing next to her.

** Mac does surrender the experience advantage against Obama, and he may have created some doubts about the authenticity of his judgments. **

Only for people who confuse years of Beltway Windbaggery for experience. That would be political commentators and some poli sci profs, not most Americans thankfully.

She has more executive experience than anyone on either ticket.

McCain has always been stiff (can't raise arms very high due to being tortured in Vietnam). I think that compared to Palin, he appears even more stiff than normal.

The Palin pick was a homerun by McCain. The MSM and Pundits are blind along with the Liberals who now are running scared.

The American People are tired of all the games and rate Congress at less than 9% approval rating and Nobama's smoke and mirror's change we can believe in is being exposed for the phony scam that it really is.

Now with Palin, a real reformer with a real track record is the rebirth of the new Republican party that will push aside the RINO's, dead weight neo-cons and the old guard to bring in new blood for real change in Washington and the American People see it and will see more of it as time goes on.

The Barry/Biden Socialist/Marxist Express will be exposed for all to see and Real Change is coming that scares the left and confounds the RINO's.

Barry by 70%, no, he'll be lucky to take 3 or 4 States by Nov. 4

7. I agreed with a distinguished professor of law at the election panel that it's 80-90% likely that Obama would win the election.


It would be amusing to hear you and your distinguished professor articulate a theory of probability that would support your forecast on the outcome of this election.


Do your rest your predication on some sort of frequency theory applied to a long run of prior elections that are essentially the same as this one? I defy you to find just one election that was even superficially the same as this one.


I just shake my head and wonder how supposedly educated people can entertain such howling nonsense -- and even post it in public forums over their names.

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