Friday, August 29, 2008

Five Reasons Why Sarah Palin Will Elect President John McCain

If there is anything other than weeping, gnashing of teeth and rending of garments tonight in the headquarters of the Democratic Party of the United States of America then that Party is in even worse trouble than it already appears. If they are tearing their hair out at least they realise the task ahead; if they are not, they’re in for an even greater tonking at the polls because they don’t know what’s going to hit them.

When the Democrats shot themselves in the foot by not picking the best candidate for the job, Senator Clinton, your thoughtful correspondent and avaricious watcher of world affairs invested a small sum at 7/4 on a McCain win. Now that Senator McCain has destroyed any chance of a post-Convention bounce for Senator Obama by sensationally nominating Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska as his running mate, An Spailpín Fánach is reasonably certain that, barring catastrophe, John McCain will be the 44th President of the United States.

Palin’s nomination is a masterstroke, a move of genius, and a reminder that the Republicans play the political game better than anybody else. The Democrats, by contrast, are innocent as spring lambs. If they were a more reality based group, they would realise that while the Clinton family might not be The Waltons, Senator Clinton represented the Democrats’ greatest chance to beat the Republicans in the election. Senator Clinton had been working on this for thirty-five years and there is no defeat, no setback, no humiliation that she did not overcome. This meant that she was bullet proof, bombproof and flame-retardant for everything, everything, that the Republicans could throw at her.

What was her reward? She was smacked in the small of the back by her own, by a man who has done nothing except talk about himself (the fundamental emptiness of the Obama candidacy is exposed by Charles Krauthammer in the Washington Post this morning rather better than I could ever manage. You go, Chuck). Senator Clinton even said it herself – she had prepared for everything except the prospect of being seriously challenged for the nomination. By the time she realised the danger and recalibrated her guns, it was too late.

The Republicans, by contrast, are fully alive to the danger, and have had time to prepare their arsenal. It will be substantial, as today’s masterstroke proved.

What has the nomination of Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska, done in terms of the Presidential race? It has done five things.

Firstly, it denied a post-convention bounce to Senator Obama after the Democratic Convention in Denver. It’s an interesting thing too about Senator Obama, and something the Democrats themselves must have noticed – every time Senator Obama was expected to finally sweep Senator Clinton away in the Primaries, she always came back. He’s always threatened, but never delivered. With the press fawning over his every move, Senator Obama should be ahead, not be neck and neck in the polls – he needed the bounce as much as John Kerry did four years ago (for all the good it did Kerry, of course). Now that’s gone – this weekend will be all about Senator Palin, who she is, her career, her favourite cookie recipes, and endless soul-searching from the feminist movement about where a sister’s duty lies.

Which is victory number two for the McCain campaign. RTÉ’s very able Washington Correspondent, Robert Shortt, said on the nine o’clock news just now that it would be naïve to expect all of the Clinton Democrats to switch sides for a sister, and this is correct. But some of them by golly will, and this is enough for the Republicans. They know they won’t win over the bloc, but they will break it up, and that’s just as good.

The third victory of the Palin nomination is that she will neutralise or destroy the Democrats’ Senator Biden in the Vice Presidential debate unless she is an utter dummy, which is unlikely. Senator Biden, you may remember, is an uninspiring figure whose only purpose was to be Obama’s heavy when the fighting got dirty. Biden was to wield the knuckle-duster. But he can’t do that if he’s debating with a woman. Cultures don’t change overnight, and the spectacle of a man trying to bully a woman will have only winner when the voters are making up their minds – especially the white blue collar voters who are left so very cold by Senator Obama. And if Governor Palin takes Senator Biden in the debate, instead of just holding her own – well, my goodness.

The fourth victory of the McCain campaign is one that was missed by Robert Shortt on the Nine O’Clock News, and by Krauthammer in the Washington Post’s snap reaction pages. Both men maintain the fact that Governor Palin is three years younger than Senator Obama will negate the Republicans’ attacks of inexperience against Obama. But experience isn’t about age, it’s about achievement. While Senator Obama has done nothing, Ms Palin has governed Alaska. For a little less than two years, granted, but she has had hands-on gubernatorial experience.

No Senator has been elected President of the United States since John F. Kennedy in 1960; everyone else has been either a former VP, an incumbent or a Governor. Nixon and Reagan were Governors of California, Jimmy Carter was Governor of Georgia and Bill Clinton was Governor of Arkansas. So, instead of giving the Democrats an let-off on the experience stakes, the Republican ticket is even more experienced, not less. Krauthammer’s point about Sarah Palin’s being a heartbeat away from the Presidency damaging the McCain campaign is negated somewhat by the fact that Dan Quayle was Vice President for four years.

The fifth victory is a superficial one, but significant none the less. And that is that Senator McCain now looks younger, because any man in the company of a good looking woman always looks more vital. It’s not terribly rational, but the human condition is not always governed by the rational. During a weekend when the Democrats should have been listening to their engines revving, they’ve only found out just how terribly high the mountain ahead is to climb.

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