McCain wins political Darwin Award

by Djerrid

The Darwin Awards are given to people who kill themselves in spectacularly stupid ways. While Sen. Clinton committed a beautifully orchestrated ritualized political suicide a few nights ago, McCain shoots himself in the head with a nail gun.

No, doing yourself in with a nail gun is way too quick and clean. Choosing Gov. Sarah Palin to be his running mate is stupid on so many levels that it goes well beyond Kerry’s “before it before I was against it” or even Senator George Allen’s “macaca moment“. It is more akin to Noel Murphy’s “Murphy and the Bricks“.

When McCain “untied the rope” and announced his VP pick, a whole cascade of unfortunate events occurred.

First off, it completely negates McCain’s and the Republican’s arguments that experience, especially foreign experience, matters. Being 72 years old and a multiple cancer survivor makes his VP pick all the more important. She will need to be able to step in immediately to tackle international incidents and domestic catastrophes if the need should arise. But her political resume is extremely threadbare. Politico talked with presidential scholars who say “she appears to be the least experienced, least credentialed person to join a major-party ticket in the modern era.”

Second, it reeks of cynical political pandering. Choosing a socially conservative woman with very thin credentials as a running mate suggests that McCain is more interesting in “balancing the ticket” and winning the election than choosing someone competent and capable enough to handle the Oval Office. As the ultra-conservative National Review put it “Can anyone say with a straight face that Palin would have gotten picked if she were a man?”

One of the reasons that she was chosen was that she shares McCain’s maverick image. She outed a Republican colleague in the oil and gas commission for skimming off the top and used this to propel herself into the governor’s mansion. But while campaigning she went against McCain’s drive against pork barrel spending, especially the iconic “bridge to nowhere”,  by running on a “build-the-bridge” platform.

But when we look beyond her public life, we get into soap opera territory. An investigation is looking at her alleged abuse of power by firing a public safety commissioner because of his refusal to fire Palin’s ex-brother-in-law. Granted, her sister’s ex is a piece of work. He was reprimanded for tasering his step-son (Palin’s nephew) along with “violating nearly a dozen laws and departmental policies since December 2001.”

Want to go all the way down the rabbit hole? Social conservatives hail Palin’s decision to deliver her fifth baby after learning he had Down’s Syndrome. But the delivery keeps the muckraker’s heads scratching. While seven months pregnant and knowing that her child has Down’s Syndrome, she started leaking amniotic fluid. She was in Texas at the time and about to deliver a speech. Instead of going to a hospital then and there, she decided to deliver the speech, travel to the airport and fly all the way back to Alaska and then travel 50 minutes to a regional hospital before delivering the baby.

At this point liberal blogs started jumping on the story, claiming that the baby was actually Palin’s daughter’s. International outlets started to cover this angle and speculation built up so quickly that Palin just announced that her 17 year old daughter Bristol is now five months pregnant. Bristol is now planning on a shotgun wedding with the unnamed father to be.

The golden rule of choosing a running mate is “First, do no harm”. Choose someone that the American people can feel confident that they can take the helm if they need to, but otherwise should remain conspicuously boring. Instead, McCain will have to spend the next couple of months answering teen pregnancy, “bridge to nowhere” and ex-brother-in-law firing questions.

But after all of these sideshows have run their course, all of the spotlights will turn to McCain’s judgment. Failing on one of the biggest political decisions of his career does not bode well for how he will act on future decisions. And that will be in the front of voter’s minds come this November.

26 replies »

  1. Come November, we’ll have the answer to the modern-age question: how exactly do you eat words that aren’t on paper?

  2. I have a friend who used to be president of NACURH (National Association of College and University Residence Halls) as an undergrad at CU-Boulder. NACURH has more people in it than the entire state of Alaska, actually has to deal with a real budget (Alaska’s budget is an oil welfare farce), and has had to deal with a wider diversity of political, social, and cultural views than the state of Alaska has within its borders (tourists excepted). In my opinion, he’s not qualified to be President, and yet there’s no doubt in my mind that he’s better qualified than Sarah Palin.

  3. You know you’re fucked when you announce that your 17 year-old daughter is pregnant in order to do damage control. Seriously, when “I fucked a goat” is how you get OUT of a jam, you’re in it up to your eyeballs.

    These are not happy times for the GOP. The Big Dance should be beginning, but instead of being able to amp up an emotional response to last Thursday’s events in Denver, they’re now embroiled in bad reality TV with The Flailin’ Palins at the same time that Gustav forces America to recall one of the nastiest moments of a very nasty GOP administration.

    Short of McCain getting caught two-stepping in the Larry Craig Memorial Stall at the Minneapolis airport, it’s hard to imagine things being less optimal for the GOP than they are right now.

  4. My post was directed to McCain and his decision. But you also have to consider Palin’s judgment in throwing her not-so-Cleaver family into the national spotlight. Your unwed teenage daughter is in her second term and just your family knows. Do you really want her to be on the front page of the National Enquirer for the next six months?

  5. What really bothers the left about Palin is that, like Clarence Thomas, she doesn’t fit the left idea that blacks and women in power should be a product of liberalism. I guess she’s just not angry, whining, and ball busting enough. Despite what the Obama camp says, they are afraid of her, as she’s the real deal. She brings more executive experience to the table than the McCain, Biden, or Obama combined. The fact that she’s a Washington outsider should please many over here at S&R, who constantly refer to the ideals of Jefferson, with the citizen doing their public duty. I expect to see them to bring out the long knives with her, and give her a rough treatment that exceeds what Bork or Thomas ever got. However, they will get a bloody nose from her, as she’s a pretty tough customer. I’m sure that most of the typical left just heard about Sarah Palin last week….in conservative circles, we’ve known about her for a few years. She’s well liked, respected, and has a firm center. We like her, and she’s energized the right more than I’ve seen since Reagan.

    On another note, she really scares the hell out of the left. I regularly check out the whiners over at places like the Koz, and they’re just making stuff up about her over there. Their plan is to throw stuff against the wall, and if they throw enough bullshit, some of it might stick. I look forward to the VP debates, as I expect her to gut and fillet Biden. As for Biden’s blue collar roots, that too is an illusion. Here’s a nice piece.,0,7175933.column

  6. No, Jeff, what bugs me about Palin is what her selection says about John McCain. It tells me that he’s off his rocker and therefore utterly unfit to be President.

  7. Djerrid:

    I have no idea if you’re right. Only time will tell. But my guess is that the right has an infinite capacity for hypocrisy. They’ll rale against African-American women having children out of wedlock but, remember, this is a white girl. They won’t have any trouble justifying her pregnancy.

    I’m thinking we’ll start hearing about immaculate conception any moment now.

  8. Jeff, This “executive experience” the right has been speaking about is so over stated. Just last week Jon Corzine laughed when he was asked if being governor made one more qualified, and he’s been in both positions. In a way being in the Senate would better prepare you for getting things accomplished. There’s way more red tape, partisan bickering, ego stroking, and douchebaggery in the senate. Getting a piece of legislation passed is a lot easier if you know how the system works.

    Her most popular accomplishments to date have been getting rid or a jet, some cooks, and some extra staff. I remember someone who did something very similar when he got into office, oh yeah his name was Jimmy Carter.

    “We like her, and she’s energized the right more than I’ve seen since Reagan. ”

    Keep dreaming. I know the GOP is grasping, but this statement is just embarrassing.

    “I’m sure that most of the typical left just heard about Sarah Palin last week….in conservative circles, we’ve known about her for a few years.”

    About 90% of my hardcore conservative friends said the same thing most people did, WTF! People in conservative circles don’t really know her but are pretending like they do (not saying you don’t). I’ve already called out a lot of my conservative friends on this. Spending 5 minutes on wiki and listening to Rush doesn’t count, they rehash the same lame talking points.

    “I look forward to the VP debates, as I expect her to gut and fillet Biden.”

    Actually you may be half right. She’s going to come out looking better than anyone expected because so many people are already setting her up for an asswhooping. I expect her to stick to talking points, family and God. The corporate media will give her a pass and report that she won, or held her own. She will lose badly, but it will be squashed in the media by the “historic” nature of the event, and her life story. She should have a lot of ammo on Biden because of his long record, unfortunately for him he really doesn’t have much to bust her on except her support for the Bridge to nowhere. I predict she will say some “cute” things that will make everyone feel fuzzy. She will come across as the girl next door and say “cool” and “like” a lot. She will talk about her “First Dude” and her small town values. Meanwhile I don’t expect more than 2 meaningful questions in this debate, both of which will be asked to Biden.

    That being said, I think she’ll get the “would you have a beer with her vote”.

    I must steal a line from a Buffalo News article Sunday. The Presidential race has jumped the shark!

  9. Oh, she’s a “woman in power who’s not a product of liberalism.” That’s what I don’t like about her. Thanks for letting me know.

    I guess it has nothing to do with her being anti-choice, pro-capital punishment, anti-gay marriage, and oh yeah, in favor of spending even more of my tax dollars on abstinence-only sex education… because we should trust parents like her to do the right thing at home.

    And does the women’s rights movement for the last 150 years or so count as a liberal ideology? I’m only asking for clarification… because if it does, Sarah Palin certainly is a product of liberalism, whether or not she acknowledges her debt to those wacky feminists.

    Of course, I can’t pretend to speak for an entire poorly-defined and over-generalized group to which I don’t belong, but if conservatives think Sarah Palin is intimidating, fresh or a maverick, pickings must be slim at the ol’ GOP.

  10. Brian,

    I don’t see how McCain is off his rocker by picking Palin. The left is going to keep hitting this same talking point simply because of their well founded fears. This is just a method of trying to minimize McCain, and won’t work.

    I don’t think the hypocrisy thing works here. I don’t see any evidence of us ranting against African American’s born out of wedlock. After all, we didn’t rant about Obama being born out of wedlock, in fact, that has been a non-issue. Also, that Immaculate Conception snark…..I thought you were better than that.


    Keep up the talking points about executive experience, although you’re not helping your side.

    As for my statement being embarrassing, I don’t find it to be. Our side is energized, and that, you have to fear.

    As for your hardcore friends on the right……frankly, I seriously doubt that you have more than one conservative friend. Since “politics is everything” to people on the left, most exhibit little tolerance for conservatives….and this is not anecdotal. I find myself to be the one lone conservative that many of my liberal friends have.

    There are many other things being thrown out by the libs such as exaggerating her role in the Alaskan Independence Party, which is just another example of them throwing stuff against the wall to see what sticks.

    This really has to bother feminists that Palin’s a conservative woman who’s ready to grab the brass ring. I feel your pain.
    One thing that gives me great comfort for this election is the is the question D3 on the Battleground Poll(A bipartisan Poll). The Terrence Group and Lake Research Partners collaborate in selecting the questions, sample groups, etc. This is a poll that asks the same question, D3, in every poll, year in and year out.
    The question asks:

    “When thinking about politics and government, do you consider yourself to be…

    Very conservative…………………………20%

    Somewhat conservative………………..39%


    Somewhat liberal…………………………..27%

    Very liberal……………………………………9%

    Notice that only 2% identified themselves as moderate, which surprised me. If they didn’t understand the poll, they could answer unsure/refused, which 3% did.. Remember, this is a bipartisan poll done last April. The numbers of the answers to this question haven’t really budged that much in the last decade or so. I’m comforted by the fact that 60% of Americans are aligned with the conservative side, and when they get to the booth will vote for a Republican.

    It’s my guess that Obama’s people have read the internals of this poll and take it seriously, and that’s why one never hears a liberal like Obama call himself a liberal.

    To be fair, there are other results of that poll that bother me, and I’ll even post a link so you can beat me up

    Click to access Battleground-35-charts.pdf


  11. Jeff,

    Her lack of experience is beyond talking points. I’m sorry you can’t spin executive experience, and even conservatives know she is lacking. I was reading another blog today where someone listed every state department in Alaska and that was their “proof” of executive experience. I also heard 4 people in less then 1 hour on a conservative talk show talk about her foreign policy experience. Their example…………..You guessed it Alaska is next to Russia. If that’s the case then I should run because I live 20 minutes from Canada!

    No really, the conservative base is not really that excited. Any excitement will taper off after 2 weeks. I work with about 20 ditto heads and my in-laws are “born again”, so I’m well entrenched in neo- conservatism. In fact I bet at least 1/2 of the people I associate with are Christian conservatives, or fiscal conservatives. They hate this chick. Most people wanted Romney as the VP.

    If I were the Dems I wouldn’t touch Palin. The Dems seem to be leaving her a lone. The media (internet included) is really the ones stirring the pot over this pregnancy issue. A sex scandal is always going to sell when it involves righteous people. I think this is actually helping her. If enough people pound this story people will start feeling sorry for Sarah and her family.

    Don’t forget McCain gave a big F you to the media last week by sending them on a goose chase. The media has been pretty kind to McCain, I expect them to get much harsher after the convention.

    I don’t usually identity myself as conservative or liberal, but If I were I’d be more on the libertarian front than anything. None of the two candidates really talk about some of my core issues.

    On a separate note, does John McCain have Alzheimer’s? He was really bad on tv this week.

  12. While she may bring out the evangelical base, even that could backfire. I’ve read more than one comment concerning the fact that her first role is as a mother and she seems to have neglected that pretty seriously.

    One Alaskan commenter noted that she’s not on the ticket to get disgruntled female voters, but to bring out male voters. Apparently, her political strategy is to mostly bat her eyelashes and look “hot”. The Alaskan said, “Men swoon and women just roll their eyes.”

    I’m not a flaming liberal by any stretch of the imagination, nor do i think that there is really any experience that really prepares you to be president. But it doesn’t take too much looking to realize that she’s a political basket case waiting to happen. My guess is that she’ll end up pushing more independent types away than drawing them in…unless the “she’s hot” trick works.

    On the other hand, she’s got a deposition scheduled for October.

  13. Here’s a good quote from Slate’s “No Experience Necessary”

    The whole “experience” debate is silly. Under our system of government, there is only one job that gives you both executive and foreign-policy experience, and that’s the one McCain and Obama are running for. Nevertheless, it’s a hardy perennial: If your opponent is a governor, you accuse him or her of lacking foreign-policy experience. If he or she is a member of Congress, you say this person has never run anything. And if, by any chance, your opponent has done both, you say that he or she is a “professional politician.” When Republicans aren’t complaining about someone’s lack of experience, they are calling for term limits.

  14. Darrell,

    I’ll have to disagree with you about the excitement of the Republican base. Whereas you only offer opinions, I will offer the fact that McCain has raised more money in the past four days than he did all August. He raised over 47 million dollars. I’ve even written a couple of checks. I’ve gotten 30 e-mails from different parts of the party discussing Palin and raising money. My conservative friends are pretty stoked, and my local congressman (who’s a friend) told me that he’s hearing of much excitement out in the district.

    I wouldn’t consider “Ditto heads” or evangelicals to be neo-cons, nor would anyone else. You might want to brush up on your definitions, and learn what a neo-con is before throwing that term around. If you work with 20 Ditto heads, I feel your pain… mist really have a pud job to be surrounded by 20 Ditto heads?

    Your malice is evidenced when you made the Alzheimers snark. McCain has more brain cells intact than you or I do.

    However, the left keeps slamming Palin, and throwing shit against the wall. She must really bother the feminists with her conservatism, values, intellect, and beauty. Her good looks have to drive the feminists crazy. Feminism, and the left as a whole isn’t noted for women who look good. Before I get slammed on that, one merely has to look at the pictures of women who are cosmetically challenged in S&R during the DNC, and look at the protesters. Although “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” I didn’t see any beautiful women at the weed rally or the marches.


  15. Feminism, and the left as a whole isn’t noted for women who look good. Before I get slammed on that, one merely has to look at the pictures of women who are cosmetically challenged in S&R during the DNC, and look at the protesters. Although “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” I didn’t see any beautiful women at the weed rally or the marches.

    This borders on trolling, and I can only hope you’re joking.

    You know where I grew up and you know where I wound up, which means that you know I’ve had ample opportunity to see and meet lots of women who are feminists and lots more who aren’t. I’ve never done a scientific analysis of the physical beauty between political groups, but I’ve never noticed that non-Fems were less attractive than feminists on the whole. Some of the most beautiful women I’ve ever met were feminists, in fact, and in that group I include my wife. Most who know her think she’s gorgeous.

    Maybe what you meant to say is that the feminist STEREOTYPE isn’t known for beauty. Well, no – because the feminist movement is about depth, not lipstick. So yeah, you have to be trolling here – you have to be, because I know from experience that you’re too smart to actually believe this horsewax.

    Now, about the protesters and feminine beauty. You may not have seen a lot of pretty women in that crowd, but your view is pretty uninformed here. For one thing, you weren’t in the crowd and didn’t have a firsthand view from which to make an assessment. Second, I’ve seen the major media coverage that you had access to, and it was … ummm … less than comprehensive.

    I, on the other hand, WAS in the crowd. IN the crowd, for a good portion of the march. If I were a single guy looking for a date, I saw a lot of women there who’s have caught my eye, including the one you hear toward the end of the “Sequence” clip in my report from the march. Not just pretty – a LOT pretty.

    Of course, now we’ve been suckered into a really corrosive 18th Century kinda frame, haven’t we? The value of a woman is about her looks, right?

    And if enough people buy this, the Republic will be immeasurably better off….

  16. First let me say that Sam’s wife is beautiful, and smart, and funny and incredibly nice. So as far as I can tell she has no negative points under “feminists are ugly/man-haters/unable to get married” insults. She is one of many pretty “liberals” or “feminists” I can name. My sister is a liberal/feminist and she was a model in her teenage years and is still a dancer.

    I saw this appointment as pure pandering. She’s an unknown governor from a low population state. The only thing that stuck out from her speech was dropping Hillary Clinton’s name with such enthusiasm I expected Hillary to come out from the wings to shake her hand. The Republican party has made a big deal about Obama’s lack of experience, but pick for the one-heart-attack-from-the-presidency a woman who has been in office for 20 months, and is already under investigation for trying to strong arm another office.

    Lara Amber

  17. Lara, you’re absolutely right about Sam’s wife.

    Unfortunately for my sisters in struggle, I did, in fact, only become a feminist because I couldn’t get a man. There it is.

  18. Sam,

    I wasn’t trolling when I said that statement, which I truly believe. If that bordered on trolling, I’m sorry.


  19. Jeff, I let Sam respond that time because I thought it was too childish and silly to address, but here’s my last word to you. Take it as you like – it’s more kindly meant than you’ll believe.

    You may be incapable of seeing yourself clearly- most of us are, to one degree or another – but on any topic other than economics, you routinely come across as arrogant, boastful, insensitive, self-aggrandizing and myopic. All of these characteristics are signs of monumental insecurity, the kind that interferes with rational thought and clarity of vision, particularly in understanding and empathizing with those who are different from ourselves. Having read some of your personal writing as well, I strongly suspect that you also generate this impression in person, and probably dismiss others’ reactions as jealousy or inferiority. It’s not. The common denominator is you.

    If you haven’t sought professional help, you might consider it. Lately you appear to have spiraled even further into irrationality and sheer nastiness; there’s no shame in looking for an expert to help deal with a situation for which no one is prepared, and you might discover some deeper issues that could make your life better than you can imagine.

    Or you can just dismiss all this as a vicious personal attack due to my intellectual inferiority and inability to counter your brilliant arguments. It’s up to you.

  20. Ann,

    Having met you I am sure he would disagree with you on that and say he gained as much as you in the pairing.