Des d'avui tindrem un seguiment regular de les eleccions nordamericanes amb un corresponsal de luxe, un amic, nordamericà i resident a Washington DC. Crec que les seves aportacions poden ser molt interessants com a contrapunt a l'allau d'informació clarament pro Obama. L'autor prefereix signar simplement amb un pseudònim. Per qualsevol traducció no dubteu en posar-vos en contacte amb mí a firstname.lastname@example.org
My friend and former PhD classmate Andreu Orte recently asked me to offer a few thoughts on GOP vice president nominee Sarah Palin and the election in general. I welcome the opportunity and look forward to your comments in English, Spanish, or Catalan.
For Republicans, John McCain is a source of deeply mixed feelings. On the one hand, he is a true hero who endured and triumphed over unimaginable hardship during his years as a POW in Viet Nam and then stuck to deeply held principles during his years in the Senate. On the other hand, he is prickly, arrogant, hot-tempered, and apparently determined to stick it to conservatives when it really counts. Just one example is McCain's participation in the bi-partisan "Gang of 14" group that blocked some judicial nominations but allowed others to go through (in the US federal judges are nominated by the president but must be approved by the Senate; in the past 20-30 years the process has gotten very nasty with members of the Senate not even allowing votes on nominees with whom they disagree).
To McCain it was bipartisan leadership but to conservatives it was a ideological concession of the worst possible kind and confirmed their deepest skepticism about McCain's not sharing their values. With this in mind, it is understandable that many conservatives (and Republicans, for that matter) were utterly unexcited about McCain's presidency. When Barack Obama chose "Slow Joe" Biden as his running mate and the smart money was on Mitt Romney as McCain's running mate it looked like a relatively boring run to the finish with most folks figuring Obama would pull it out.
Then came Sarah Palin. It was a choice that was so bold it is impossible to predict how it will play out between now and election day and it has already shown the true colors of left-leaning major media players.
Here are some thoughts:
- For Americans living in any state that isn't Alaska, Alaska is frontier country. There simply isn't any comparable in Spain (it is as exotic as the Canarias but the islands do not have the rugged reputation). Frontier country implies a kind of self-reliance, physical toughness, and exoticness that go far beyond anything in "The Lower 48." The combination of Sarah Palin's "sexy librarian" good looks and Alaska qualifications (she eats mooseburgers, for heaven's sake!) is fascinating and deeply appealing.
- Despite the media's heavy emphasis on her being a small-town mayor, Palin is now (and has been for nearly two years) the governor of Alaska. This is major, meaningful executive experience that surpasses anything that either Obama or Biden brings to the table. Her life experience (five kids, one getting ready to go to Iraq and one new-born with Down's syndrome; her husband is a snowmobiler, union member, and blue collar worker; she worked her way up from city council member to governor; she has taken on corruption and won time and again) is also fare more interesting and representative than the resentful entitled whining of Michelle Obama.
- The mainstream media's piling on to the story of Bristol Palin (the hard-left New York Times had THREE front-page articles on it) is among the most despicable cases of journalistic malpractice that I can remember. Their inability to get the facts straight on the vetting process and other elements of her story is disgraceful. Their prediction that the Evangelical Christian wing of the Republican party would condemn Bristol Palin was deeply wrongheaded and shows how little they understand the Evangelical community.
- The response from the Republican base has been extraordinary. Massively energized by the boldness and chutzpah of the choice and thrilled by the pluck, smarts, and values of the nominee, conservative blogs (National Review, Hugh Hewitt, etc.) reporting a firestorm of new and passionate support for the McCain ticket. Money is flowing in, too, as previously uninterested voters express their excitement with their wallets.
- This nomination is a game-changer that introduces huge risks and huge opportunities for the Dems. Obama's risk is that he becomes the elitist who promises change but hasn't really done anything (one columnist joked that, "of course Obama is excited about the future: that's where all of his accomplishments are) compared with Palin. Palin has done change and her vigor and blue collar background viciously undercut his rhetoric and ability to stand apart from a grey and boring field of three boring white guys (which would have happened had McCain chosen Romney). Biden's opportunity is to be a voice of guiding experience that contrasts with what he could position as Palin's shallow exuberance; the risk is that he will come across as pedantic (which he is) and condescending, especially in the VP debate.
- Finally, Palin is, in many ways, the classic "Reagan Democrat" --union family, blue collar, from a "flyover" part of the country. She could split the Democratic party coalition (taking blue collar and union workers with her) and that may explain the nastiness of the left's response. (There are two main parties in the United States, for various reasons. Consequently, whereas parties usually form governing coalitions in Spain and many other parliamentary systems the two U.S. parties are de facto coalitions. The component parts of the coalitions can and do leave a party to join the other --particularly during presidential elections-- and some coalitions don't support either party at all. This means that major party candidates have the challenge of appealing to as broad a section of the electorate as possible --not an easy task!!).
There is much to be written and the trajectory or her and McCain's candidacy will, in large measure, be set by her speech tonight and the media's response to it.
Check back soon for more!