Thursday, September 04, 2008

On Sarah Palin: Tina Fey, David Brooks and Gossip Girl

Watching coverage of Palin's speech today, I couldn't help but think, Sarah Palin looks just like Tina Fey.

More seriously, David Brooks renewed my faith in him with an excellent analysis of the Sarah Palin pick. I too would have preferred someone with better domestic policy experience.

But my own first thought though was that she is more symbol than substance (like Dan Quayle, but also like Obama). I like the fact he picked a woman, but was hoping for maybe Christy Whitman (former NJ Governor) though she is pro-choice, and been out of the picture for some time) so that rules her out. Though as a tactical move, I see it as genius. Though newspapers initially says this ruins the original message, that Obama doesn't have enough experience, in my view, it does the opposite. It has made all the Democrats look ridiculous for attacking Palin's lack of experience (she has more executive experience than Obama and Biden combined), and every time a Democrat decries Palin's lack of experience, it highlights even more for public attention, Obama's own lack. Genius.

As an aside, and without a hint of sarcasm, I really love how pretentious her kids names are (Bristol, Trig, Track, Piper, Willow). They're like the names of the stars of Gossip Girl (Blake, Leighton, Penn, Chace). The new Muffy and Bunny of the current generation. I know these names are snooty and elitist, but I happen to like them.


hcduvall said...

Ha! That is the best out of Brooks in a while. I think everyone was caught a little after the announcement lingering on the Hillary issues, and the notion that Palin was a play for her supporters. Obviously, it was a great pick to energize the base to an astonishing degree more.

Brooks lays out one of the reasons I like Obama more, he's a policy wonk vs. personally inspiring McCain. While I think he oversells Palin's relatability (I don't think think she's nearly as representative of America as he does--upper middle class Alaska is not much like anywhere else)--I thik he undersells her political acumen. Earmarks are fine while mayor, bad when govenor, and so on. That's pretty good system play right there. Not so far from Obama actually. While I don't think he's had a misstep like that (whether attributed to generally different values, or the long-view present in presidential hopefuls), he's very much a reform who does it by using the system itself better than pretty much everyone.

I'm not too persuaded by Palin's executive experience--Alaska has 90 days when is legislature is in session, and no, a town of less than 10,000 is nothing like New York. There are high schools in this country more complicated--but I will say this: running a campaign is major executive work and it's good indicator of generalship chops. Witness Gore and Kerry and Clinton's debacles. Obama has created one magnificent organization. One that beat an incumbent with all the machine and money she could've have wanted. McCain has performed well, but out of crisis and not from the get go. Too early to say (like everyone else, I'm waiting for the debates), but Palin in 4-8 years...if she can run a campaign, she's got the charisma to go a long ways if she wants it.

hcduvall said...

I also don't think a reasonable democrat thinks McCain is Bush. But is a half strategy that McCain has had to emply, and it's certainly a good one for the democrats to mine if they can. Least liked president since Hoover and all that.

HoBs said...

yeah, so i'm not sure if policy wonk is a good thing or not. i used to, but not so sure anymore. like in business, it is unclear that you want the best engineer to be the manager or ceo.

and agreed that palin's experience is thin, but it is hard to say that obama has more experience (other than as a campaigner). Thus highlights how thin obama's is, which before palin had slipped out of the spotlight as a campaign issue.

obama hasn't had a misstep partly because he hasn't done anything. he has never been held accountable.

and i agree, mayor of a small town doesn't count for much, but it counts more than community organizer, which the obama campaign touts all the time.

and sure obama does seem to campaign well, but that seems to be a tenuous qualification for president.

hcduvall said...

Well, I definitely think that a stronger than gut grasp of policy is a good thing, if for no other reason than accountability. I'm tired of the notion that a president can approach average but have an array of advisers to help shape policy (and take the blame as necessary).

And I think campaigning is just an extra thing, it's not the reason I'm going to be voting for him, Obama's campaigning has been exceptional because he's built one of the best campaigns ever, very much recognizing and using modern technologies , and changing the shape of the voter rolls even. Wonkish CEO of the campaign even.

It's not a deep history, but Chicago politics is a much deeper thing than Alaskan mayoral races, Senate races more than govenorships--and because he isn't running against Palin (though good play on their part, that so much mileage on this train is around), Obama's climb from family with a single mother from an interracial relationship should be just as a compelling a story as McCain's war hero from a family of military men. Funny how the one from the single parent home is the elitist, no?

He's got the sort of charisma that inspires folk like Reagan did, he's got the signs of a great politician wonk-wise if he had sat and waited his turn (which even after governing Reagan never did), he's got the state senate tenure that to me beat Hillary's president by osmosis experience and without her carpetbaggery power positioning...

I leave it with this. "Values"-wise I know where my leans take me, but every other election where I've had a choice it's come down to my guy is alright, and I don't want the other person elected. I actually want Obama, him specifically, to win. Considering the sort of political fatigue (in feat in a well-informed and politically thoughtful set of circles), mental fatigue, and--sigh,. in my slow turn away from cynicism toward earnestness and the "cult of sincerity" (heh, little joke there), the fact I'm excited, enthusiastic, and care beyond some sort of procedural wonkiness, the man's inspired me. I can talk reasonableness of resumes forever, because of course that's mattered, but I care about his success in a zeitgesity kind of way. Not willfully blind to flaws or foibles, but still genuinely hopeful. It counts for a lot, at least for me.

HoBs said...

"Funny how the one from the single parent home is the elitist, no?"

Bah. I'm much more from a single parent home than Obama is. His mom was only single for a few years. And both his parents have PhD's. It is utter nonsense whenever people make that out to be a hardship. (that said, that is one of the reasons why I do identify with him, but to call it a hardship is nonsense).

And you cite his Senatorial experience over Governor, but really, if you look at recent US presidents, they are all Governors. (Bush, Clinton, Bush, Reagan, Carter). Come now, Clinton was govenror of Arkansas and Carter governor of georgia? was it. And you deride being governor of Alaska.

But I do agree, he inspires the hell out of me too.

And that's probably a good thing. Just not sure whether inspiration should be the main qualification for president. Otherwise, we'd have more movie stars and olympic athletes. Most us presidents aren't esp inspirational, and I don't see that as a bad thing.