Rovian Politics Chose Sarah Palin

What does it say about John McCain that he picked not only
the least experienced Vice Presidential nominee in America's history, but someone
he really doesn't know? Departing so far from any normal concept of
appropriate background, he should at least have had a sense of why this individual
is so special. Meeting Palin once at a Republican governors' conference and
having a single phone conversation on the eve of her selection just doesn't
pass muster-particularly for the oldest presidential candidate ever, who's
had four malignant melanomas.

What makes Palin such a cynical choice is that McCain doesn't
know her and doesn't know what drives her. Until she was selected by the Karl
Rove types running his campaign (like campaign manager and Rove protege Steve
Schmidt), McCain might not even have
recognized her on the street. Instead, she's a category selection, made for
the crassest reasons by the same kinds of political operatives who brought us
George W. Bush.

Their motives are obvious: Palin is an energetic and
attractive woman who just might pick up some disgruntled Hillary supporters.
She's a westerner and a hunter who might appeal to rural voters. She's
likely to energize a previously tepid base of hard-shell religious
conservatives through her opposition to abortion even in cases of rape or
incest: Hard-right king-maker James Dobson just said that because of her
he'd vote for McCain.

These attributes may indeed prove Palin's worth as a
vote-getter. But except for an abortion position that seems a stunning denial
of reality (and a major affront to women), they have no relation to
Palin's fitness for the job. McCain can't have any sense of what
lies beneath the facile marketing categories-like who Palin actually is,
what she could contribute to the Vice Presidential office, and what it would be
like to work together. He doesn't know her and has had no chance to. But
because she fits the Rovian categories, none of that matters. Echoing so much
that the Republicans have done for eight years and more, it's a choice likely
to produce grave consequences, yet based overwhelmingly on political expediency.

Leave aside all the other troubling questions about Palin: her
extreme abortion position; her
the infamous "Bridge to Nowhere" while campaigning for
governor, then later claiming to disavow it; her support for teaching
creationism as science; her Cheney-style vendetta
of firing the Alaska public safety director whorefused to fire
her former brother-in-law from his job as a state trooper; her laughing
during an interview
at the jokes of a radio shock jock who mocked one of
her political opponents (a cancer survivor) for her weight, and called the
woman a "bitch" and a "cancer" on the state.

You can even leave aside that in a week where Hurricane
Gustav threatens another Katrina and the Arctic ice cap separates from the
adjacent land for
the first time in human history
, Palin insists
that the jury is still out on whether humans are changing the weather of the

In fact, leave aside Palin's actual record, because
John McCain barely knows it. His vetters didn't
even bother
to go through the archives of her local newspaper or talk with
the former public safety director she fired. What choosing her shows most is a
politics that once again subordinates any greater common good to a raw pursuit
of power. It echoes McCain praising Jerry Falwell after once calling him an "agent
of intolerance." Or embracing Bush's campaign and administration after
Bush's political hitmen defeated him in South Carolina with Swift Boat-type lies. Or
when instead of challenging Obama's ideas, the McCain campaign tried to caricature
him as one step up from Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. Karl Rove's
minions may be smiling at the brazen gamesmanship of this pick; but if
Americans fall for it, we should know all too well what to expect.

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