Menage politique a trois a la Sarah
reposted from Sydney Morning Herald
A great woman who worked with Ronald Reagan was on the phone shortly after Republican Senator John McCain turned the American political world on its head with his selection of Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska as his choice to be the next vice-president of the United States.
“Reagan loved McCain,” she said. “And John was a protege of Reagan. And John watched when Reagan was prevented by his staff, in his first run for the presidency in 1976, from going with his gut on his VP choice.
“Reagan wanted his old pal Paul Laxalt, a senator from Nevada. They were great together. But the staff said, ‘No, you have to go with another guy to bring the party together.’ Reagan resisted and then gave in, and he never forgot that and McCain didn’t either. And with Sarah Palin, he went with his gut and did it his way. And she’s going to be sensational. She’s going to connect with women in the west and in small towns who know real leadership when they see it.”
That’s what McCain did and this dynamo from Northern Exposure went incandescent on the floor of the Republican convention. The lions gorged on the red meat and felt they had a winner, a new American heroine, a change agent, a fighter, a smart and sassy no-nonsense cultural values cookie who would help throw the Democrats out of Washington and take no prisoners.
McCain threw the long ball and Palin scored.
But does this political ménage Palin joined with McCain to muscle Barack Obama – change the game?
Palin’s speech has made many of Obama’s strongest supporters, particularly African Americans, very nervous. Here they are on the cusp of the most profound change in American political history the election of a black man as president and they see this fireball from the land of shrinking ice floes and moose threatening to steal the very swing voters Obama needs to seal the deal and win in November.
An Obama ally assessed what Palin means.
“This is a turnout election and the right will now turn out. I still think this is Obama’s race to lose, but he could lose it unless our folks turn up the energy…Obama needs to help identify her over the weekend as a book burning fundamentalist with a secessionist husband, a wacky minister of her own and an appetite for pork barrelling. They need to marginalise her as a nice, but extreme, fringe, inexperienced and slightly less than honest politician. Right now she is America’s sweetheart … They have to demonstrate she is a radical conservative mannequin with a stylist.”
What Palin has done is energise the base of the Republican party which was lethargic until she went carpet bombing against the Democrats on national TV. Until then, the party was sleepwalking with McCain towards mediocrity as was so evident in McCain’s speech on Friday, which was pedestrian on policy, but riveting with his poignant, haunting story of captivity, torture, despair and resurrection. On taxes, energy, trade and national security, McCain offered nothing significantly different from the past two decades of Republican campaigns for power.
But at the end of the day, the choice is still between Obama and McCain, and not their VP choices.
In retelling the odyssey of his captivity, McCain said that, when he finally prevailed, “I wasn’t my own man any more. I was my country’s.”
Service, values, experience, trust: McCain tells us more about himself and what made him a hero. That’s what burns for McCain.
For Obama, the calling is more about people and where they are and where they want to go.
Service and honour. Change and transformation. An extraordinary election.
Four years ago, a new face exploded on the national scene with a riveting, dynamic speech to a national political convention. It was an instant sensation on the net. Many in the hall in Boston and watching on television that night thought, in the back of their minds, “President?” But no way it could be seriously considered then; the man needed time to emerge and prove himself. Last week, Sarah Palin delivered a powerful speech. A new face. And everyone knows she is standing, today, for vice-president. And the question mark still lingers in the air.