Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin

I am so happy about this.

She is everything McCain is not:

* young
* female
* pro-life (vocally, unlike McCain, who is actually sound on his voting)
* pro-gun (vocally, she recently bagged a moose!)
* pro-oil drilling in ANWR
* has executive experience (not much, but more than Obama and Biden)
* against taxes, government spending, and the culture of boondoggles in Alaska

Also, critically important, she is probably the only person who can reconcile both the traditionalist conservatives and the libertarian conservatives, where both groups do not like McCain. Palin may be able to get them on board.

McCain is behind. He will probably lose. Ignore the polls. Look at Intrade. Look at the British oddsmakers. It is 2/1 for Obama and has been all along. The polls are noise around the signal. If McCain plays it safe, he loses for sure. He has to make high-risk, high-return plays. He has to throw Hail Mary passes. He needs put the board in play. This decision shows he understands that and is willing to act accordingly. You can’t play it safe when you are losing.

Still, I am shocked by this. I wanted it to be Palin. I saw no way he could win if he did not pick Palin. Two white guys in suits against Obama were going to lose, period. But I thought he would still do something “safer”, which would have doomed him. McCain is much bolder and much smarter than I gave him credit for.

In fact, as I think about it, this is the first moment when I have not been absolutely certain McCain would lose.

McCain is also showing, as he has generally, that he is very aggressive and confident, almost cocky. His congratulation message to Obama was classic. It showed class and it showed fearlessness, and a certain condescension to Obama. It reminds me of David Hackett Fischer’s depiction of the Backcountry selection process for leaders: Tanistry. The Border Scots selected a Thane based on age, strength and cunning, not mere seniority. McCain is a backcountryman by ancestry. They are wily and they are fighters. McCain already seems to be inside Obama’s OODA loop. Making this pick the day after the Donk convention, to steal the buzz, is tactically perfect.

Apparently Palin talks like a hick. She calls herself a “momma” unironically, instead of a mom or a mother. This will cause her to be mocked and jeered at in states the GOP is already going to lose. But it cannot hurt with blue collar voters in WV, OH, PA and MI, which are states Obama could lose.

Key moment: The Palin v. Biden debate. She has zero foreign policy experience. She will have a lot of homework to do.

According to Wikipedia “In 1984, Palin was second-place in the Miss Alaska beauty pageant”. I can believe it. The whole schtick of pretty-woman-with-dorky-glasses-and-hair-in-a-bun works for me. I think most adult heterosexual males would agree.

Finally, McCain is doing something very important for the GOP. If he loses, as he still probably will, and if Palin makes a good impression during the election, which she may, then we will be well-positioned to run a woman governor at the top of the ticket in 2112 against President Obama.

38 thoughts on “Sarah Palin”

  1. The hit against Palin is “lack of experience.” But in reality, her two years as governor represents two year MORE senior executive experience than ANY of the finalists–Obama, Hillary, McCain. Even her earlier experience running a small town is more of an executive assignment than running a Senate office staff.

  2. I am deeply skeptical of polls, I am so of Intrade, oddsmakers and so forth. It all seems scarcely removed from interpreting chicken entrails. Whence the faith in these oracles?

  3. Intrade and the oddsmakers are based on people putting money on the table. For major elections where there are a lot of bets they reflect “wisdom of crowds” effects, the same way that markets do, cumulating information. The 2004 race was predicted very well by Intrade and the oddsmakers. Bush was always a little bit ahead, just as he ended up. The polls were noise.

  4. She is pro gun and against taxes. Good enough for me, hot to boot.

    I am so happy that he didn’t pick Romney, like you said Lex, two white guys in suits were doomed. Now, I am not so sure. I still think Obama will win, but I think that it will be much closer now. Intrade was only impressed by the pick one point thus far, now 59-41. I think it was worth more than that, but then again, I don’t have money on the table in this either.

    Biden is a total jerk – he will have to be very careful in that debate not to look like a woman hater. It will be tough for him since he is totally cocky.

  5. There will be a huge amount of condescencion toward Palin because of her origins, her accent, her hunting, her “excessive” childbearing (the human-extinction crowd will surely loathe her particularly), her religion, etc. etc. The McCain campaign needs to collect every bit of video of such condescencion — it’s pure gold! Clip it into a bunch of 30-second ads and play them relentlessly in the Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Detroit, etc. media markets. Contempt for her is contempt for the most critical swing voters in this election. But yeah, all those Manhattan and Pacific Heights votes McCain had locked in are gone now!

  6. “Two white guys in suits against Obama were going to lose, period.”

    Lex, Obama can’t win against McCain and (you fill in a name that’s “right” of McCain himself). Obama is clearly`a socialist and a dissembler and we in flyover country won’t, I believe, find him palatable. It becomes clearer to more voters every day. Is it possible your Chicago social environs (I think I remember your live thereabouts) and major media have clouded your crystal ball?

  7. “Lex, Obama can’t win against McCain.”

    Mortgage your house. Bet the money on McCain at 2 to 1. There a lot of venues which will take your money for that bet. Then talk to me the day after the election.

  8. “married to a man of another race”

    Hadn’t even thought about that one.

    He looks like a regular white guy. But he’s part eskimo. Does that count as “another race”.

  9. Intrade still 60-40, seems like it is a non event to those with some bucks on the outcome. Oh well, the pick can’t hurt. Looking forward to seeing her on the campaign trail. I looked at a few youtubes of her and she really does speak like a simple person. Uses a lot of ‘n’s at the end of her words – fishin’, huntin’, etc. She also has a nasal tone which sounds upper Midwestern, even though she is from Idaho and Alaska. Very refreshing. I think a lot of people will identify with her.

  10. Lex: “Does that count as another race?” Ans: Only if you’re a Democrat.

    What Jim Bennett said!

    Best thing about Palin? Not afraid to take it to the lefties. Combative in a way that will be hard for the Donkey’s to counter without looking as if they’re “beating up on a woman.” Saaame advantage the Hill had before she went pants-suit-all-the-time. “Fiesty Repartee” indeed. (To steal the name of a former Louisiana female blogger attny’s blog)

  11. “McCain is also showing, as he has generally, that he is very aggressive and confident, almost cocky.”


    The guy was a fighter pilot! You’ve only just noticed?


  12. I like the Palin choice for a few reasons:

    1) She continues the McCain “maverick” tradition. She’s not an insider by any means; she’s known as a reformer and an outsider.

    2) She further differentiates McCain from Bush. The Obama campaign wants to paint McCain as Bush III, which has always been a little bit silly, but I think it becomes even sillier with Palin on the ticket. She’s not in bed with big oil, and she’s not a big-government type like Bush.

    3) She has some actual executive leadership experience, unlike Obama and Biden. I’d have liked someone with more experience, but I’m not sure Romney or any of the others had enough experience to overcome their own negatives…

    4) She’s a solid conservative, but hard to attack using traditional leftist attacks like “bigot”, “anti-woman”, etc. A lot of other choices bring big negatives with them; the main attack we’re likely to hear about Palin is that she’s inexperienced, which of course is easy to turn around toward the “community organizer” Barack Obama.


    Lex: are you suggesting the mortgage-and-bet-on-McCain strategy as a gamble, or as an investment strategy?

    The first rule of gambling is to never gamble with money you need, only with surplus. The first rule of investing is to diversify, to insulate yourself from unexpected consequences. Either way, it’s a bad idea — even if you’re 99% sure of a McCain win.

  13. I wouldn’t bother with British oddsmakers. Their record is so-so and they are probably relying on the British media, which doesn’t know squat.

  14. Gs:

    I don’t see what’s wrong with the view that

    “I don’t think there should be a prohibition against debate if it comes up in class. It doesn’t have to be part of the curriculum.”

    The fact is, when evolution comes up, people WILL debate it. Attempting to quash that debate through ridicule, legislation, etc. is counterproductive. Personally, I thought my high school teacher handled it quite well — he gave us a whole class day where people could promote alternatives to evolution, point out problems, etc. In the end, everyone felt like they’d been respected and they had their say, we all learned the science, and the hard-core creationism position showed itself as weak. (For the record, I was the creationist kid; I went on to do my masters work studying evolutionary genetics, in large part because of that teacher’s approach. So trust me when I say it’s a good approach.)

    Palin appears to be promoting a realistic solution: it’s a controversial subject, so let the kids argue about it and reason about it, but keep the curriculum truly scientific.

  15. Lotharbot, you said “Obama can’t win against McCain”.

    That is an unqualified statement.

    You also said I was wrong to think otherwise because unlike you I am deluded by my surroundings.

    People betting large sums of money think the odds are 2/1 against McCain. You are wrong, or they are.

    I made a preposterous suggestion to you to show that the level of confidence you claim to have is baseless, and that my assessment is in line with people who are actually putting money on the table, and not warped by my surroundings.

    What I hope will happen cannot ever be a datum in my analysis, or my analysis will be worthless.

  16. Take Intrade with a grain of salt.

    The charts for Republican VP choice are up on right now. Sarah Palin’s sat consistently in the low teens, dropping to single digits toward the end. Mitt Romney’s hovered consistently around 30%, spending the final few days in the 50-70% range. That’s a whole lot more damning than the current prices predicting an Obama win.

    And Google directs me to this commentary on Intrade’s accuracy.

    Intrade is a neat idea, but it’s a curiosity. Don’t take it too seriously.

  17. “I don’t think there should be a prohibition against debate if it comes up in class. It doesn’t have to be part of the curriculum.”

    Nothing’s wrong with that, Lotharbot, but let’s not forget what preceded it. Teach both. You know, don’t be afraid of information. Healthy debate is so important, and it’s so valuable in our schools. I am a proponent of teaching both.

    I’m unpersuaded by that.

    Thanks for describing your personal experience, which counts with me. I respect Charles Johnson and if he’s mollified, I am too, somewhat.

    Even so, I hope that Palin clarifies the matter. I suspect she’ll have to.

  18. I think the Iowa electronic market has been a better predictor than Intrade, but all my old records are stored deep on another computer, so I can’t prove it. Can we post links here? The graph is at

    I tracked it during the 2004 race and it was uncanny. Every gaffe by Kerry was reflected, and the minute Teresa Heinz Kerry opened her mouth, the trend started going against him, never to recover.

    I’m going to dig into my poorly-sorted archives to look for the annotated graph I printed. From memory, I’d say Kerry looked better at the end of August ’04 than Obama does now.

  19. I must second LotharBot’s statement about the value of discussing creationism. I too came from a creationist family and went on to study biology with a special interest in evolutionary theory. If nothing else, I found that debating creationist sharpened my understanding evolutionary theory by making me really think about how I knew something was true rather than just assuming it was true because scientific authorities said so.

  20. As an Alaskan I really dont pay much heed to national politics, we only have one E.C. vote, and most of the time the winner of the election has been pretty much determined before our polls even close.
    I dont care for the lower 48 and all of your assninities, our your sticking your noses into our states business.
    That being said, I am glad Sarah Palin was chosen.
    I wasn’t too happy with left leaning McCain, and the others, a commie and a colored would have only been a little better that the the anti-man anti-white Billary.
    Only an Alaskan President can save this rotting corpse of a once great nation.
    But then again, what do we care, just stay in the lower 48, the lot of you, just leave us alone and don’t bother us with your ‘cultural problems’ and we’ll be better cousins than brothers.
    Sarah’s biggest fault is that she isn’t on the AIP ( Alaska Independence Party) ticket.
    ‘Remember Joe Vogler!’

  21. Palin is not qualified to be leader of the free world. She has neither the government experience nor the sophistication to deal with the issues that America faces to day. (I don’t care how fierce “Sarah Barracuda” was on the high school basketball court.) HOWEVER, from a tactical perspective, she was a brilliant choice. She really does address most of McCain’s need in a VP running-mate, from her conservative credentials to her age to her gender and photogenic appearance. Even if Biden is “right” when he debates her, he will fall into the same trap that he (and Obama et al.) did when debating Hillary Clinton. He will appear to be bullying a competent, professional, accomplished woman. So, I worry about her as president or vice president, but I congratulate McCain on his very clever, calculated choice.

  22. Dove wrote:
    Intrade is a neat idea, but it’s a curiosity. Don’t take it too seriously.

    I strongly disagree with this assessment. Intrade and the other bookmakers are not always right, but they have an excellent predictive record on elections as compared to most opinion polls. (I suspect that the private polls run by political campaigns are at least as accurate as Intrade, but 1) the results of such polls are not available to us and 2) to the extent that such polls predict election outcomes well it is probably for the same reason that Intrade does: the people calculating the odds have a strong personal interest in their accuracy.)

    The blog post to which Dove links (here) makes a good point about Intrade’s reliability around the day of an election, but this point is irrelevant to our discussion. The more important question is whether Intrade provides accurate odds in the weeks and months before an election. I think that in most cases it does.

    On Intrade, McCain’s odds of being elected President have never been higher than where they are now, around 40%. I don’t know if this number is accurate, but McCain’s radical VP choice suggests that he believes himself to be in a weak situation in which such bold, risky decisions are necessary if he is to win.

    (N.B. that 40% is an odds estimate for an overall election victory, not an estimate of the percentage of voters who will vote for McCain. The race may actually be very close in terms of vote percentages in the handful of states that will determine the overall election outcome.)

  23. Gs: “I respect Charles Johnson and if he’s mollified, I am too, somewhat.”

    Charles has gone a little bit off the deep end with his “OMG ID is teh scary” thing recently, to the point of (IMO) seeing the creationist bogeyman in places it’s not. If even he can say her position doesn’t cause him any discomfort, there’s no reason to worry.

    Along those lines, read these recent comments by me on LGF:
    How to talk about evolution with creationists
    My story, including my teacher’s approach.
    (Interestingly enough, in that same thread, I linked to the Chicagoboyz roundtable on Boyd/OODA.)

  24. “He looks like a regular white guy. But he’s part eskimo. Does that count as “another race”.”

    These days — probably. After all, Barack’s half-white, too.

  25. LotharBot, thanks for the links and your responses. (Thanks to Shannon Love as well.)

    You had an exceptional teacher, and you and Shannon were exceptional students.

    That doesn’t address the cases of dull students or bad teachers or teachers with agendas to undermine the conventional wisdom they should be teaching.

    Nevertheless, if Palin said that school curricula are matters for local control, I’d probably find her stand acceptable. I’d feel sorry for kids whose access to the biotech professions was impeded by flawed educations, but IMO federal intervention is not warranted for most imperfections in society.

    If Palin wanted to use the Education Department to abet the introduction of creationism and the like into public-school curricula, that would be a completely different matter. I doubt I could support her for office, even given an unpalatable alternative like Obama.

    Although I still want Palin to clarify her position, unless evidence appears to the contrary I assume my concerns are hypothetical.

    Thanks again for your responses.

  26. Ignoring the bizarre comment above, I wanted to return to this point:

    “Intrade and the oddsmakers are based on people putting money on the table.”

    And today, they’ve been putting their money on the table for McCain right around the 46.0 mark, way up from the mid-30s the contracts had been in when this thread started. One transaction today hit 50.5. There’s a definite shift in perception out there among people with money on the table.

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