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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Life imitates art

Geez John. If you'd wanted a TV sportscaster I think Lesley Visser has far more experience. Or how about Geena Davis, who's already played this role on television?

A mere 24 years after Geraldine Ferraro broke the gender barrier for a major party ticket, John McCain's decision to select the female governor of Alaska as his running mate seems a tad late.

Like one day after the Democratic Party nominated an African-American man for the top of the ticket following a spirited campaign against a highly qualified woman.

With all due respect to the half-term governor of a state where people outnumber moose by only a 4-1 margin, the selection of Sarah Palin outlines the deep problems faced by the McCain campaign: the need to define himself as a maverick and a need to shore up a base that still doesn't wholeheartedly embrace him.

The McCain team certainly was listening to Democrat speeches that noted he voted with George Bush 90 percent of the time. His finessing on key issues such as taxes, immigration and the conservative base's less-than solid assurance he was with them on choice put him in a precarious situation.

With Palin, McCain certainly has some sizzle: a hard right woman sure to make the evangelical base fall in love.

But as every one and their grandmother has already pointed out, by choosing a woman who ran a 8,000-person city and is halfway through her term as head of a 670,000-person state, McCain has forfeited the strongest argument the GOP has been making against Barack Obama.

The right's retort that her qualifications are no different that Virginia Gov. and former Richmond Mayor Tim Kaine misses one major point: Obama did not pick Kaine. Probably just because of those experience issues.

Obama's 3 1/2 years in the Senate and a seat on the Foreign Relations Committee look decidedly more powerful than hers as titular head of the Alaska National Guard. I know relations with Russia have turned rocky, but I don't think the Alaska Guard is going to be our nation's first line of defense.

Palin brings with her an image of an outdoorswoman from an oil-rich state who is unafraid of drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Reserve. Think that's an accident?

Then there are the red meat issues. I have great respect for the choice made by Palin and her husband to carry a Down's syndrome child to term. The key word of course is "choice," something she and the GOP base want to deny to other women.

And of course there's the blatantly obvious pander in the belated nod to women in the aftermath of the Clinton kerfuffle. Only it's downright insulting to women to think they will select a "hockey mom" simply on gender and accept a man who opposes not only a woman's right to choose but also rejects equal pay for equal work.

The McCain team's timing and selection clearly will reduce thew Obama-Biden post-convention bounce. But as time goes on, the debate will focus on the qualifications of Palin to hold the No. 2 office in the land.

Hey, you want a positive comment? At least she's not Dick Cheney.

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