Palin Redux

As far as political convention speeches go, Sarah Palin did a good job last night. Considering that she had only days to prepare and was under enormous pressure, you could even call it outstanding.

She certainly has the base fired up. In this she is getting a lot of help from the media and the left-wing blogosphere, which recognizes the potential threat Palin creates and is determined to destroy her. This will surely backfire on them. Obama’s biggest advantage has been the moribund mood of the GOP faithful; now his own followers are stirring up a hornet’s nest. If Obama doesn’t get his followers under control soon, whatever lead he currently enjoys could vanish quickly.

I’m starting to like Palin. She seems genuine, she’s got a few good ideas, and she’s clearly a no-nonsense, get-things-done kind of leader. The problem is that she is still attached to John McCain, and we have no reason to think that she will have any particular influence on a McCain Administration’s policies. I fear she is being used as bait to draw the social conservatives back into the GOP fold and once in office McCain will revert back to his old ways. Daniel Larison is even more cynical:

Practically everything that you, the average conservative, like about Sarah Palin is opposed and negated by what John McCain stands for and has represented for pretty much his entire career, but still conservatives are reacting deliriously to a speech whose ultimate purpose is to co-opt them into backing a presidential candidate whose policies on vital national questions are antithetical to everything they value. Does her small-town ethos impress you and inspire some identification with her? McCain embraces the policies promoting globalization and mass immigration that are gradually transforming your small towns beyond recognition. Does her hostility to Washington elites please you? McCain serves and always has served the interests of those elites, and his immigration legislation was just the most recent and egregious form of this. Like the undead creature it resembles, the GOP establishment will feed off of every bit of the energy, vivacity and authenticity that Palin possesses in its bid to keep conservatives serving their goals. Do not help the creature to feed on its victim.

Likewise, Mark Shea points out that for all the good things we've seen, Palin seems to be in full agreement with John McCain's determination to continue the Bush/Cheney policy of endless war and prisoner torture. McCain remains someone who thinks it is perfectly OK to kill innocent children as long as they are invisible to the naked eye. Here's Mark:

I love Sarah Palin as a human being. I love her Capra-esque career. I think that, unlike so much of the GOP leadership, she's actually serious about prolife issues and has proven that in an intensely personal way. I think she's a sincere Christian who (with allowances made for her bad theological formation due to circumstance beyond her control) lives a life of integrity. But I also think she's also pretty much on the same page with McCain (and Bush) about Grand End to Evil ideology. I think that, like McCain, she will like talk the talk about torture but turn a blind eye to doing something about it as McCain has when actually confronted with a vote. She hasn't yet spoken to McCain's Lesser Cannibalization views, but (since she accepted the Veep position) it's obvious this will not get in the way of her supporting him. That doesn't necessarily mean she agrees with him and a Palin Presidency might show her to dissent from McCain. So I'm willing to wait on that.

Here is, I think, the best argument in favor of a McCain-Palin vote: it might put her in position to become president herself, one way or the other, and if that happens she might turn out to be someone who will do the right things most of the time. Anyway, Obama would be even worse. So the thinking goes. With all due respect to the people who think otherwise, I still can't buy it.

Leaving aside the fact that the lesser of two evils is still evil, there is a big risk for Palin and the pro-life movement. If McCain-Palin lose, the GOP establishment will need a scapegoat. There's a strong chance they will point the finger at Sarah Palin and those pesky pro-lifers. That will make it a lot easier for someone like Rudy Giuliani to get the nomination in 2012. Go ahead and laugh - but McCain differs from Giuliani only in degree, not in kind.

Conclusion: I like Sarah Palin, but the inescapable fact (for now) is that I cannot vote for her without also voting for John McCain. Since I can't trust McCain, it doesn't really matter how sound and reliable Palin is. She's still #2 to the guy who would much rather have had pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage Joe Lieberman at his side. I just don't see this prospect as anything to get excited about.

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