Under the pressure of the financial crisis, one presidential candidate is behaving like a flustered rookie playing in a league too high. It is not Barack Obama.
It is arguable that, because of his inexperience, Obama is not ready for the presidency. It is arguable that McCain, because of his boiling moralism and bottomless reservoir of certitudes, is not suited to the presidency. Unreadiness can be corrected, although perhaps at great cost, by experience. Can a dismaying temperament be fixed?
As we’ve seen and heard more from John McCain’s running mate, it is increasingly clear that Palin is a problem. Quick study or not, she doesn’t know enough about economics and foreign policy to make Americans comfortable with a President Palin should conditions warrant her promotion.
Palin’s recent interviews with Charles Gibson, Sean Hannity, and now Katie Couric have all revealed an attractive, earnest, confident candidate. Who Is Clearly Out Of Her League.
No one hates saying that more than I do. Like so many women, I’ve been pulling for Palin, wishing her the best, hoping she will perform brilliantly. I’ve also noticed that I watch her interviews with the held breath of an anxious parent, my finger poised over the mute button in case it gets too painful. Unfortunately, it often does. My cringe reflex is exhausted.
If BS were currency, Palin could bail out Wall Street herself.
Only Palin can save McCain, her party, and the country she loves. She can bow out for personal reasons, perhaps because she wants to spend more time with her newborn. No one would criticize a mother who puts her family first.
Do it for your country.
On second thought, maybe it’s a good thing that the McCain campaign is shielding Palin from the media. Her interview with Katie Couric was absolutely painful to watch. She clearly stumbled twice — when asked how McCain has fought to reform Wall Street and about Rick Davis’s ties to Freddie Mac. Her answer that not supporting a bailout could mean a Great Depression was off message and irresponsible. For the rest of the interview, it was just lots of tired cliches, and random jargon that made it seem as if she was reading off of mental index cards. I know a lot of conservatives like Sarah Palin and always rush to her defense. But it’s absolutely not meant as an insult to say that she simply is not ready to be a heartbeat away from the presidency.
In the current Weekly Standard, Steven Hayward argues that the nation’s founders wanted uncertified citizens to hold the highest offices in the land. They did not believe in a separate class of professional executives. They wanted rough and rooted people like Palin.
I would have more sympathy for this view if I hadn’t just lived through the last eight years. For if the Bush administration was anything, it was the anti-establishment attitude put into executive practice.
Sarah Palin has many virtues. If you wanted someone to destroy a corrupt establishment, she’d be your woman. But the constructive act of governance is another matter. She has not been engaged in national issues, does not have a repertoire of historic patterns and, like President Bush, she seems to compensate for her lack of experience with brashness and excessive decisiveness.
The most that can be said in [Palin’s] defense is that she kept her cool and avoided any brutal gaffes; other than that, she seemed about an inch deep on every issue outside her comfort zone. Yes, the questions were tougher than the ones that a Tim Kaine or Tim Pawlenty probably would have been handed, but they were all questions that a vice-presidential nominee needs to be able to answer. And there’s no way to look at her performance as anything save supporting evidence for the non-hysterical critique of her candidacy – that it’s just too much, too soon – and a splash of cold water for those of us with high hopes for her future on the national stage.
John McCain’s election campaign is all tactics, no message; all biography, no ideas. It’s a whirligig of devices and stratagems, all of which must have sounded brilliant at the expense-account lunch where they were concocted, but few of which make any difference to Americans hard pressed by the decline in housing values or the stagnation of middle-class incomes.
But other than on energy and national security, where McCain has won both the argument and the polls, McCain has done everything except articulate how a vote for him would make a difference in the life of any voter. He calls for “reform,” but does not explain what he would reform, or how, or why.
The dilemma of the McCain campaign was shrewdly predicted months ago by Obama campaign manager David Plouffe: “Their campaign is all about winning the news cycle.” What Plouffe meant was that the McCain campaign thinks that if they can somehow do or say something to gain headlines, that they must thereby gain votes.
But in a tough economic year like this one, voters are reading their mortgage statements more closely than the headlines, and are watching the net worth of their retirement accounts more closely than CNN. The American presidential election of 2008 is an election about big issues. It’s not going to be won by small manoeuvre.
Damned liberal media!