Friday, August 29, 2008

The Paper Maverick

John McCain made a splash by naming little known Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate in Ohio. But a splash is about all he should get credit for as the John McCain I used to respect so much and have always viewed as a true independent thinker used his VP pick to retreat into the kind of expediency of typical politicians like the ones he claims to be different from.

There has been a lot of reaction to this pick. Some are calling it brilliant, some a risk, yet above all people are asking is Palin ready to be a heartbeat from the Presidency. If anyone asks this question about a VP pick, that means its a failure in my eyes.

In the inspiration for much of this blog Aaron Sorkin's West Wing, this situation came up once when they were debating replacing the sitting VP on the reelection ticket. Fictional President Bartlet said he would replace VP John Hoynes because of four words.

"Because I could die."

The VP job gets a lot of flack because much of the job is ceremonial and there are very few Constitutional responsibilities. Yet, the one most important responsibility is to be ready to assume the Presidency.

Above all McCain is getting credit for two things. First, keeping a secret exceptionally well and second, stealing some of the spotlight from the incredible Obama speech the night before. Americans deserve more from their Presidential Candidates than those that can keep secrets on Richard Branson-like publicity stunts.

Palin is a mysterious and intriguing pick who has and will continue to generate a lot of interest. That initial buzz will provide some that people will want to learn about and has the cover, or mirage of being a bold and Maverick-like move.

This move was not at all about being a Maverick, this move was a knee jerk reaction to the incredible convention that the Democrats staged in Denver. This was a desperate pick for a candidate that had spent much of the last month gaining ground. It goes against everything that caused me for years to say I could vote for John McCain.

McCain got the label Maverick by standing up to his own party, by putting his values and judgement before those of his party. In choosing Sarah Palin he abandoned that judgement in order to gamble both his candidacy and if he wins, his Presidency on a person he met only once before choosing her.

Now since I have graduated college I have worked on four campaigns, two advertising agencies, and my current employer. At none of those jobs did I ever have to go through less than three interviews. In some of them I have known the CEO's of the company since I was 14 years old. They viewed their companies or campaigns as too important to really make sure I was the right fit.

John McCain took the process so seriously that we learned last night that he had his most serious conversation with her the Thursday before the Friday announcement. With Hurricane season upon us do we need to be reminded of bad political appointments (Mike Brown) and that qualifications actually matter when it comes to jobs as important as FEMA, the Vice Presidency, or dare I say the Presidency.

People can always tell me that I follow issues more than most people and that most Americans want to relate to the candidates. But this is our country, is it too much to ask that our candidates thoroughly interview the person who would take over the Presidency should something happen to them.

As you may notice I didn't respond to this pick until today. My initial reaction was anger at McCain and I try to not write when I am angry. But anger that McCain has failed in his first test, picking someone of non debatable qualifications who would be able to succeed him.

My second bit of disappointment in him is that the Maverick went against what he really wanted to do. In the past couple days it was clear that he really wanted to take loyal soldiers and eminently qualified candidates in Joe Lieberman or Tom Ridge. Yet the radical right mistrusts McCains pro-life credentials so much that they threatened a floor fight against them because despite the fact they both would be qualified VP's they aren't for criminalization of abortion.

Again the ideology of the Republican party dictates the day.

The courageous McCain then sold out his own beliefs and judgement and made a decision that kissed the ass of the James Dobson, Rush Limbaughs, and Richard Lands of the Republican party. These are the people that don't appeal to the moderate or independent voters of this country and the people McCain made his 'Maverick' label by taking on.

The Republicans, and Joe Lieberman can say 'Maverick' all they want this week, but this pick is just the latest sell out move of the artist formerly known as 'The Maverick' John McCain.

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