By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

The conservative case against Palin

Charles Krauthammer makes it cogently. And I’ll add this: If McCain had, say, talked Condoleezza Rice into being his running mate, don’t you think McCain could spend the rest of the campaign writing his inaugural address? Even despite her deep involvement in Bush’s failures?

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The grand anticlimax


Media reaction to McCain’s speech


  1. Sean Roche

    Uh, no.

  2. Ryan

    NOThis concludes another round of simple questions, simple answers.

  3. Dan Kennedy

    Sean and Ryan: I think we fundamentally disagree about the dynamics of this race. We shall see.

  4. mike_b1

    Couldn’t make it past this line: “…least experienced, least qualified, least prepared presidential nominee in living memory.”The operative term being “in living memory.” Certainly JFK was no more experienced or qualified, and certainly not as prepared as Obama, whose pure intellect and preparation clearly outranks any president in the past 100 years except Clinton. Nixon, on the other hand, the best corollary to McCain, was a man who spent a career in Washington and his entire administration was a complete disaster, unless you consider countless felonies and jail time just part of doing business. His sole legacy — widespread distrust of the office — remains today.But let’s compare Obama to a man whose name was invoked several times this week: Lincoln. Would Lincoln be a Republican today? And would Republicans consider Lincoln experienced, qualified, and prepared to be president? No and no.

  5. Dan Kennedy

    Mike: I’m not sure why you and others keep citing John Kennedy. He was a congressman for six years and a senator for eight. Unless you want to say that serving in Congress is of no value at all (and I know you don’t), Kennedy strikes me as being fairly well experienced before running for president.

  6. Sean Roche

    How often did Sarah Palin, Rudy Guiliani, and Fred Thompson mention the name “George Bush” on Wednesday night?Who is frequently described as George Bush’s best friend and political and policy confidante?Who played a central (and by all accounts ineffective role) in the unquestionably dismal planning and execution of the Iraq War’s initial years?Who wrote a notable foreign policy essay about the danger of state actors when Clinton administration officials and holdovers were trying to get Bush administration officials to focus on non-state actors?Who received a high-level security briefing about the danger of Al Qeada weeks before 9/11?By the way, the answer to all but the last question is a classical piano-playing single woman whose previous job was as an academic at an elite west-coast university — an academic administrator no less — whose appeal to the right-to-life movement is neutral, at best.Yup, we have a different understanding of the dynamics of this race.

  7. Sean Roche

    Also, the construction “If MCCain had, say, talked Condoleezza Rice into being his running mate” suggests that McCain approached her and she demurred. If that’s the case, it’s news to me.I suspect the correct phrasing might be “If McCain had, say, talked the culture warriors who hold the Republican party hostage into letting him approach Condoleezza Rice about being his running mate …”

  8. Steve

    Do we even know whether Rice is supporting McCain over Obama for President?

  9. Dan Kennedy

    Sean: You are correct that Rice’s name never came up except as a hypothetical. And Steve … no, we don’t, do we?

  10. mike_b1

    Mea culpa: I forgot JFK served three terms in the House. Thought it was just one. That gives him 14 years of legislative experience. Obama has 10.

  11. Aaron Read

    Kennedy strikes me as being fairly well experienced before running for president.I also wonder how much just being a Kennedy prepares one for office. The family clearly was one of political dynasty. For better or worse, those kids are trained almost from birth to be destined for great things, usually along the lines of political office.Granted, if you accept that argument, you have to accept that Dubya also had a certain measure of experience simply by being a Bush. I wonder, though…the new Oliver Stone “W.” documentary’s trailer seems to indicate that Bush was often viewed as a fuckup who wasn’t living up to the family name, but this is Oliver Stone we’re talking about, so you have to take it with a grain of salt.On the other hand, was JFK viewed as a fuckup who wasn’t living up to the family name, and then turned his life around to become a powerful political figure? I always had the impression that JFK had his eyes on the Presidency pretty much from puberty onward.

  12. Mike F

    I’d be interested to know what you think the dynamics of this race are. I don’t see how in the world McCain directly tying himself to the Bush administration would be anything but disastrous. I suppose McCain could very well spend the rest of the campaign writing his inaugural address – not that he’d ever be able to use it, but he’d certainly have the time on his hands, having ceded the race to Obama.

  13. John Doherty

    Can you imagine an ad featuring Condoleezza before the 9/11 Commission admitting that, “Well, yes, we did get a memo the month before about Osama Bin Ladin determined to strike in the US…and yes, there was a memo in the 90s saying terrorists might use planes as bombs to strike US high profile building targets…but other than that, how could we have predicted?”also, her face is “branded” with the failed Iraq policy. But this is all idle fantasy: Rice is pro-choice, and they’d never accept a pro choice nominee. It would be the reverse of the enthusiasm of the Palin pick.

  14. Dan Kennedy

    Aaron: The short version —Not an Oliver Stone fan, but he’s absolutely right about GWB. I think Bush has spoken about that himself. George was the drunken screw-up, Jeb was the golden boy. Now George is the sober screw-up.As for JFK, the family was explicitly grooming his brother Joe for a political career. But following Joe’s death and Jack’s heroism in World War II, it all shifted to Jack. And he was still very young at that point. So it’s not like he woke up at 42, like GWB.

  15. Dan Kennedy

    Mike F: Never, ever, ever underestimate the Republicans’ ability to exploit voters’ fears of terrorism and concerns about national security. Despite McCain’s poor judgment about Iraq and his scary rhetoric about Russia, polls show voters continue to give him far higher marks than Obama on war and foreign policy.Do you think we’re going to make it to Election Day without some sort of incident that allows McCain to show off his credentials? I don’t. And consider how the media praised him for his stand on Russia and Georgia, even though it began with Georgian troops shooting at Russian peacekeepers on the other side of the border.That’s the dynamic of the race. It’s iron-clad. Don’t lose sight of it.

  16. mike_b1

    Dan, you left out one thing: Obama’s black. That may end up the biggest factor of all.

  17. Dan Kennedy

    Mike: Candidly, I’m trying not to go there. But it’s often on my mind.

  18. Gladys Kravitz

    People like Palin because they don’t know her. And they will only have 8 weeks to get to know her. So chances are, unless she really screws up, lots of people will still like her on the way to the voting booth.On the other hand, everyone has had lots of time to get to know Rice and form an opinion – which isn’t always a good thing… .

  19. io saturnalia!

    The thing I was most struck by, post-McCain’s speech, was how often conventioneers cited “safety” as the reason for their confidence in McCain.I fear (no pun intended) that the Republicans have been extremely effective at keeping Americans’ afraid of their own shadows or, more specifically, of another terrorist attack. For that reason, I believe actually dislodging the Republicans from the White House is unlikely, for all their proven blunders.

  20. acf

    If the Republicans are not evicted from the White House in November, this country will be screwed for the next two generations, at least. Think about that as you sit across the table from your children at dinner tonight. They will be suffering the results of a McCain presidency. McCain cannot be allowed to win.

  21. Bill Baar

    If McCain wins Liberalism as it’s come to be preached by Democrats will be screwed and for longer than the next two generations.It will be a tough going for Liberalism even if Obama elected but it’s clearly the end if McCain Obama get elected.

  22. Mike F

    Dan, no argument from me on the Republicans’ willingness or ability to use fear to win votes. And I think that McCain’s chances hinge largely on his ability to convince voters that they will only be safe from terrorist attack if he is elected President. I think, though, that McCain has been remarkably successful at blurring his support of President Bush’s Iraq war (even, at times, while in the midst of lauding him,) while maintaining a hawkish, strong-on-defense appeal (it doesn’t hurt that the Republicans have established a perception that they are the party that’s strong on defense, almost regardless of who the candidate is.) Adding Rice to the ticket would have been a blatant, irrefutable, and, perhaps most importantly, visual connection to George Bush’s failures. The McCain camp has kept the twice-elected current President on the sidelines for a reason.As poor a choice as Sarah Palin may be, she does go a long way towards disassociating McCain from the current Republican regime, and re-positioning him as the good old maverick the independents loved.

  23. tvoh

    Yeah, Go Condi,”What’s the difference between a policy wonk and a pit bull?” Wow Dan, I get those Chris Matthews leg chills just thinking about it.Sarah’s speech was twaddle (as are most), but she is effective. How do we know she is effective? The lass has become Dan’s obsession.If she dragged the ticket to oblivion, Dan would be blogging about how human she was and accepting of her daughter despite the pregnancy and religious values. mike_b1 said…”Dan, you left out one thing: Obama’s black. That may end up the biggest factor of all. Dan Kennedy said…Mike: Candidly, I’m trying not to go there. But it’s often on my mind.”Ceteris paribus if there were no difference between the candidates, black people vote for a black person and white people vote white. When there are differences, many people of both races do the it.Why is this news and what are you afraid of Dan, being sent to the Hague for crimes against humanity.

  24. tvoh

    re my last comment,When there are differences, many people of both races do the it.I meant many people of both races still do it.Mea culpa.

  25. mike_b1

    McCain is just another warmonger who believes we’re still fighting the Cold War against the USSR and the commies in Vietnam. It’s not his fault: he simply lacks the judgment or intelligence to know any better. Soldiers fight wars. It’s all they know. It’s telling that while a the GOP was able to round up a few demented vets to stand on the stage with McCain, all the generals were with Obama. They know waging endless war simply isn’t worth the cost.

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