Aug. 29: National reaction to Palin

Today's news for the Last Frontier

August 29, 2008 

Links to and excerpts from national media and blog reaction to the Palin VP announcement:

Here's three stories from the financial press, with mixed reactions to the announcement:

> Palin Primer: What does she mean for Wall Street (Wall Street Journal)

You might think that the governor of Alaska would be a friend to the oil industry, but Palin may surprise you.

Her primary business dealings have, naturally, been with oil companies, and she has taken some hard lines. According to Bloomberg, she "threatened to evict Exxon Mobil Corp. and its partners BP PLC, Chevron Corp. and ConocoPhillips from a state-owned gas field, winning a promise from them to boost Alaska's natural-gas output by 17 percent."

> What Palin choice means for the market (U.S. News The Ticker)

She has a reputation as a reformer with common sense and has attacked corruption as Governor of Alaska. However, she has largely attacked individuals and limited punishment to specific people. This would be good for the market since it offers an opportunity for necessary reform without excessive regulation.

“Bold. But also dumb.” (Financial Times)

At a stroke, McCain has negated his most powerful argument - that Barack Obama is too inexperienced to be president. Sarah Palin has been governor of Alaska for less than two years. Six years ago, she was the mayor of a town of 9,000 people.

Her personal story is interesting and has a certain charm. But I winced as I heard her describe the valuable experience she had gained as a member of a Parent Teachers Association. And this is the person who might end up having to deal with the likes of Valdimir Putin and Hu Jintao?! And remember, McCain turned 72 today.

Other coverage:

> "Average hockey mom" a fierce competitor (Chicago Tribune)

Though she describes herself as an "average hockey mom," Palin has skillfully navigated her way through the rough and often corrupt Alaskan political thicket, striking an effective balance between self-promotion and challenging the Republican powers-that-be.form without excessive regulation

>Ed Rollins: Brilliant but risky choice (CNN)

I don't believe people vote for vice president but only for president. That said, I think she is every bit as good a choice as Biden. Alaska has three electoral votes and so does Delaware -- so that part ends up being a wash.

I think the potential for her to attract women voters is immense. And I am betting, win or lose or draw, she is a future star of a party in desperate need of young people and women role models.

Paul Begala: Is McCain out of his mind? (CNN)

John McCain needs what Kinky Friedman calls "a checkup from the neck up."

In choosing Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to be his running mate he is not thinking "outside the box," as some have said. More like out of his mind.

> McCain choice inspires evangelists (Washington Post On Faith blog)

The reaction of conservative evangelical leaders suggests a third option: Truly inspired.

"I think that the vice presidential choice that John McCain makes is probably the most important choice he's going to make in this entire campaign," Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said Aug. 8. "Because he has no room for error, no margin for doubt. If he picks a pro-choice running mate, it will confirm the unease and the mistrust that some evangelicals--and don't forget this, social conservative Catholics--feel about McCain.

> The Gene Pool: Sarah problem here? (Washington Post live chat)

Disastrous stumble or monstrous gaffe?

By my way of thinking, McCain loses across the board. He gets nothing electorally from someone in a small, already Republican state. She will pull not a single woman from Obama; even disaffected Hillary supporters will not stomach an ardent right-to-lifer. She is so inexperienced, she will worry anyone who is concerned about McCain's age. And lastly, she has just made it impossible for McCain to ever criticize Obama's lack of experience.

> Potential “kiss of death” (Politico)

From the "potential kiss of death" category comes this endorsement of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as John McCain's running mate by indicted GOP Sen. Ted Stevens (Alaska)

"It's a great day for the nation and Alaskans. Governor Palin has proven herself as a bright, energetic leader for our State and will bring the same energy to the vice presidency. She will serve our country with distinction - the first Alaskan and first woman on the Republican ticket. I share in the pride of all Alaskans," Stevens said in a statement released by his campaign.

Palin, who has built a reputation in Alaska as a reformer, has called on Stevens to give a fuller accounting of his relationship with VECO Corp., an oil services firm, and its former CEO, Bill Allen. Stevens was indicted recently for allegedly failing to disclose more than $250,000 in gifts, including home renovation, from Allen and VECO. Stevens has denied the charges, but his trial is scheduled to start next month.

> Ted Stevens "wary" relationship with Sarah Palin (MSNBC.com)

>Obama congratulates, campaign cites Palin's "zero experience" (AFP)

Barack Obama: "We send our congratulations to Governor Sarah Palin and her family on her designation as the Republican nominee for vice president. It is yet another encouraging sign that old barriers are falling in our politics," the statement said.

Campaign statement: "Today, John McCain put the former mayor of a town of 9,000 with zero foreign policy experience a heartbeat away from the presidency," campaign spokesman Bill Burton said in a statement.

>Sarah Palin is no Hillary Clinton (Kansas City Star)

Where do politicians get the idea that women, in lemming-like style, will vote for a presidential ticket because a woman is on it?

Women rallied to Hillary Clinton because they saw she'd paid her dues and because she'd earned her stripes in the Senate. And, lest we forget, Clinton supports the right to terminate a pregnancy.

Sarah Palin is no Hillary Clinton. She hasn't paid her dues yet. And she's adamately anti-abortion.

That's just an awfully big leap. Rather than seeing Palin as a draw, a lot of women are going to be insulted that John McCain thought we could be swayed so easily.

>See the announcement video here: (Washington Post Trail blog)

> Palin: "What exactly does a vice president do?" (see 1:55 in; Kudlow and Company)

> McCain running mate faces state probe in personnel case (Bloomberg News)

> Barbara Boxer on Sarah Palin: A harsh attack (Los Angeles Times Top of the Ticket blog)

> Palin's own staff surprised by the announcement (Washington Post, The Trail)

Original post begins here:

> The gamble that Sarah Palin represents (The New York Times)

> The Palin stunner (Washington Post's politics blog)

> Didn't see that one coming (Alanta Journal Constitution)

> Did Palin support a windfall profits tax? (Atlantic.com)

> Five reasons why Palin is a laugh-out-loud choice for VP (Dallas Morning News)

> Dumb. (Sooner Thought, a liberal political news blog)

> McCain's Hail Mary Pass (San Francisco Chronicle)

> Palin pluses (Detroit Free Press)

> Palin's promise (Forbes.com)

> The road ahead for Obama (Slate on Washington Post.com)

> She completely changes the narrative... (Politico)

Excerpts begin here:

> The gamble that Sarah Palin represents. (The New York Times)

The selection amounted to a gamble that an infusion of new leadership - and the novelty of the Republican Party's first female candidate for vice president - would more than compensate for the risk that Ms. Palin could undercut one of the McCain campaign's central arguments, its claim that Mr. Obama is too inexperienced to be president.

She opposes abortion rights, which could help pacify social conservatives in a party whose members were wary as rumors swirled that Mr. McCain might pick a running mate who supports those rights. But she differs with Mr. McCain on a controversial environmental issue that centers on her home state: she supports drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve. Mr. McCain's opposition to drilling - even after he changed positions and began advocating for off-shore oil drilling.

Social conservatives were relieved and highly pleased.

"They're beyond ecstatic," said Ralph Reed, the former head of the Christian Coalition. "This is a home run. She is a reformer governor who is solidly pro-life and a person of deep Christian faith. And she is really one of the bright shining new stars in the Republican firmament."

Ms. Palin is known to conservatives for choosing not to have an abortion after learning two years ago that she was carrying a child with Down's syndrome. "It is almost impossible to exaggerate how important that is to the conservative faith community," Mr. Reed said.

> The Palin stunner (Washington Post's politics blog)

The Palin pick gives McCain a counterweight to the historical nature of the Democratic ticket, which features the first African American nominee of either party. Palin is the first woman to serve as the Republican vice presidential pick; Democrats crossed that Rubicon in 1984 when Geraldine Ferraro was Minnesota Sen. Walter Mondale's running mate in an election where the Democratic ticket was swamped by President Ronald Reagan.

In choosing Palin, McCain also doubles down on the maverick argument; Palin is the face of reform in the Republican party nationally and is clearly not of Washington -- a key element of her biography given how negative voter sentiment toward the nation's capital is currently.

> Didn't see that one coming.... (Alanta Journal Constitution)

If true, that's a pretty stunning pick, and it suggests McCain had to reach pretty far down his list to find someone acceptable to his party's various interest groups. Palin may be very intelligent and well-grounded, and her youth and gender can certainly help McCain, but her inexperience in national and international affairs and her lack of exposure to big-time media demands make it a stretch in my opinion.

>Did Palin support a windfall profits tax? (Atlantic.com)

Citing an Aug. 10, 2008 story from the Seattle Times:

Republicans in Congress this June united to defeat a proposed windfall tax on oil companies, deriding it as a bad idea that would discourage investment in U.S. oil exploration.

Things worked out far differently in the GOP stronghold of Alaska, a state whose economic fate is closely tied to the oil industry.

Over the opposition of oil companies, Republican Gov. Sarah Palin and Alaska's Legislature last year approved a major increase in taxes on the oil industry -- a step that has generated stunning new wealth for the state as oil prices soared.

> Five reasons why Palin is a laugh-out-loud choice for VP (Dallas Morning News)

1. There goes McCain's best argument.

He cannot say Obama is not ready but she is. Obama started organizing his campaign for president the same month she was sworn in to lead the third-smallest state's government.

2. She has no base of support.

Obama won his senate seat with 3,597,456 votes, that's more than five times the population of Alaska. He has won more than 18 million votes in a long, tough primary that tested him and prepared him. How has she been tested? She lost her first bid for statewide office, then won the governor's office with 114,697 votes, not a majority, but enough to take office. And apparently, enough to set her up for the Oval Office.

3. The "woman card" will backfire.

She's no Hillary Clinton. And this is such an obvious ploy. It would be different if she were known to anyone or qualified or something.

4. Alaska, a corrupt hinterland.

Yes, she is a hard-nosed, tough reformer. But the McCain campaign will have to deal with the fact that Alaska seems like a foreign land as corrupt as Louisiana. It's longtime senator will stand trial smack dab in the middle of this campaign season, and McCain may have to vote to remove him from office. Yes, they can spin it that she is someone cleaning up the mess up there, but what Americans realize is that they don't know much about what goes on up there. Will they be comfortable with her?

5. Was this McCain's choice?

It seems clear that McCain wanted to go with Lieberman but was talked out of it by the right wing of his party. Rove admits calling Lieberman to ask him to pull his name out. Bush lost his way because he never stood up to Rove et. al. McCain is headed down the same path.

> Dumb. (Sooner Thought, a liberal political news blog)

At first blush, here are my reasons:

1. Alaska, long a rock-ribbed Red State, is reeling from longtime Republican Sen. Ted Stevens' alleged criminal misconduct, and is polling more "purple" than red these days. It's also not that big in electoral votes: only three--the same as Joe Biden's Delaware.

2. It's stunt casting. He picked the lightweight gov for the alleged "wow" factor of picking a woman. What does she really bring to the ticket beyond the novelty factor?

3. Maybe they think Joe will go easy on a female opponent in the debates? Don't count on it. He will be a gentleman, but he will take her and McSame apart, piece by piece with his logic and oratory skills.

4. Perhaps they think Palin will scoop up disaffected PUMA voters from Hillary? Don't count on it. The Cllintons blunted that movement with their dynamic endorsement speeches of Obama/Biden at the convention, I'd say.

Bottom Line: Nice try, Senator. Enjoy your retirement.

> "She completely changes the narrative..." (Politico)

Several GOP members of Congress say that the Palin pick was a watershed moment for the Republican party.

"Senator McCain made a bold choice that will provide a strong, balanced alternative to the competition offered by the other side," said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.). "Once again, Senator McCain has shown the sort of creative leadership and independent thinking that will serve us well in the White House. Every presidential race is one for the history books, but this truly is a watershed moment for our nation."

One senior GOP Senate aide said that even though everyone is surprised this morning, it's still a "smart pick, she completely changes the narrative."

And the aide played down the ongoing investigation into whether Palin improperly tried to have her ex brother in law, an Alaska state trooper, fired.

"Reformers love this pick," the aide said. "Obama needed to put experience on the ticket; McCain already had it. He had the luxury of being able to pick the candidate he wanted, not the one he needed."

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