Not a Palin Imitation

A few weeks ago, I touted Palin as the strongest VP pick on David Gregory’s television program. And I didn’t even remember how many children she had! Well, she has five, the oldest whom, Track, is, like Joe Biden’s son Beau, heading to Iraq in the fall. Ross has been making the case for Palin for a while now as well, and pretty persuasively at that. Ross sums up some key points:

This could, of course, turn out to be an enormous debacle if she isn’t ready for prime time. But for now, Sarah Palin looks like a perfect face for the sort of Republican Party I want to support: She’s a pro-life working mom; she’s tough on corruption and government waste without being a doctrinaire Norquistian on taxes; she’s more supportive of gay rights than the current GOP orthodoxy (while stopping short of backing same-sex marriage); she has a more conservationist record than your typical GOP pol, but supports drilling in ANWR; she’s an evangelical but she isn’t a southern evangelical … and if McCain loses, she can run at the top of a Palin-Jindal ticket in 2012!

And she passes my key test — Noah Millman likes the pick.


(1) She was the mayor of a fast-growing suburban town. As someone who is obsessed with quality of life issues and, as Patrick Ruffini has described it, the politics of the cost of living, this strikes me as very worthwhile. She can talk convincingly about pocketbook issues beyond the income tax burden. And she’ll stick up for American who drive, not Americans who, like me, use Amtrak all the time. For the record, I can’t even drive a damn car. Class interest clearly compels me to vote for my fellow passenger rail endurer.

(2) As Ross suggests, Palin is not an excessively regional choice. One of Obama’s great strengths, believe it or not, is his blurred regional identity — he’s been a national figure from the start. The same isn’t true of John Kerry or Mike Huckabee, both of whom, unfairly in my view, repel people from other regions and other traditions. Alaska, as a frontier state, hasn’t been around long enough to stir deep antipathy among lower 48ers.

(3) McCain’s vice presidential selection was always going to reinforce a certain message. Howard Wolfson hilariously claimed that any pro-life pick would mean that McCain is a maverick no more — clearly Wolfson is doing penance for being a Fox News hatchet man in the eyes of the Democratic base. Well, Palin took on a corrupt Republican establishment. She is, like McCain, a different kind of Republican — a different different kind of Republican, a (to dredge up a now ancient trope) champion of bread-and-butter lower-middle-reform, not goo-goo upper-middle-reform. That’s always been a danger for McCain. In April 2006, I wrote:

This isn’t to suggest that all hope is lost for McCain. Far from it. He can blunt the Romney challenge by broadening the scope of his reformist ambitions. For example, he would be wise to articulate a “family-friendly” economic message. But McCain is famously stubborn, and it’s by no means clear that he appreciates the bind he’s in.

Well, it turns out that Romney wasn’t the reformer voters were looking for. But now, maybe McCain is. We’ll see.


(1) Does this undermine the experience message? It might. Palin actually has had executive experience, and her life to date has involved overcoming a lot of familiar challenges for American families. But choosing a more familiar candidate with executive experience might have helped strengthen McCain’s policy profile, particular on economic issues.

(2) [Crickets chirping.]

Overall, A+. Far, far more impressive than we had any right to expect.