The Palin Miscalculation

When John McCain announced Sarah Palin as his VP, all of us, including me, did the same calculation: woman, hunting after Hillary gender voters, plus do the Rovian move of cementing your base of fundamental religious types, throwing in an anti-environment spice rack as a teaser.

I have no doubt that the geniuses on McCain’s bus were doing the same math; indeed, they’ve already talked about it in public, on the record.

There’s only one problem: the two equations do no coexist inside the same human bodies; i.e., there are few if any Democratic women voters who would be caught in the same room with Palin, based on her politics and history (anti choice, anti enviro, anti endangered species act, pro oil, etc.).

This means that their only lift on the Hillary side will come from women who were independent or GOP, more likely who were strongly similar to Palin on the issues, who would be swung over to McCain by Palin’s inclusion. 

I don’t mean to infer that either a) there are not some women for whom gender trumps all issues, or b) there were not indie / GOP women who had come over to support Hillary.   (I expect the latter group is much larger, but have no data to back this up.)

But the real pickup for McCain will be the Rove stuff: he was so weak with his own base, that the idea of his VP (and a likely president) being more fundamentalist than he is (and more conservative) will no doubt help cement the base.

If this is the only real benefit, he could easily have done it with someone qualified to be president, in the case it becomes necessary.  As far as I can tell, no one has made that claim, seriously, about Palin.

In other words, he has already put the country at great risk, making a miscalculation that could be really disastrous, before he is even elected.  Worse, he apparently did not give Palin much thought until just before tapping her, and had only met her once, in passing.

While I don’t doubt she will be an effective foil to 72-yr-old McCain on the campaign trail, I do think this was a choice hastily made, and the result of a rather stupid miscalculation.

This level of decision-making should be reserved for buying pet food, and not for selecting potential U.S. presidents.