h1

McCain’s Pander Pick For VP

August 29, 2008

As the overdose of punditry over the selection of Sarah Palin as McCain’s running mate overwhelms casual readers everywhere, I thought I might as well add my own take on the matter.  And if there is a single word that immediately comes to mind, it would be “pander”.

I mean, is there really any other way to look at it?   I’m no political scientist, but it seems to me that there are three rationales at work when a presidential candidate selects a running mate, and it would come down to a) who helps one’s chances getting elected, b) who would help one govern effectively, and c) who would be a logical successor to the presidency.   On the surface the selection of Sarah Palin would satisfy (a), and that’s about it.   

Why (a)? 

-Well, first, you’ve got a presidential candidate that, throughout the primaries, was derided by the Rush’s and Hannity’s of the world as not being conservative enough.  So, check the box for the conservative pander, since it would appear that Palin is solidly on that side of the fence. 

-Second, as I’ve pointed out with a few posts on the PUMA’s, there is a certain percentage of the female voting block that would be inclined to fill the feminist gap now that Hillary is out of the race, and/or is bitter, having viewed the campaign (or the media coverage thereof) as sexist, or whatever.  For voters out there who wanted to cast their vote for a woman, Palin picks up the baton from Clinton.  So, check the box for the female pander. 

-Third, in Palin you have something that is slightly less tangible, but possibly more powerful than the first two.  Much of political campaigning involves principles of marketing, and marketing 101 students learn about the principle of liking and attractiveness:

Liking. “People prefer to say yes to individuals they know and like,” Cialdini says. In negotiations and sales situations, one can influence the outcome by developing a kinship with prospective clients or being familiar to them. Being physically attractive is also a big advantage. Research shows that people attribute talent, kindness, honesty, and intelligence to people they find attractive. 

Palin, as a former runner-up in the Miss Alaska pageant, is still attractive at 44, and her “hockey mom” likability is likely what helped her win her own elections.  The McCain camp is probably counting on injecting this principle as an attempt to offset what Obama brings to the table in this regard.  So, I suppose one can say that they’re pandering to the emotional side of the electorate.

-Finally, there is something to be said about what Obama’s selection of Biden did to influence this pick.  We may be seeing a bit of political chess being played here, specifically with regard to the upcoming debates.  Someone in McCain’s circle probably figured that it won’t be hard for the fiery Biden to appear as a big bully when going one-on-one with the cute female Alaskan governor.  In the very least, this dynamic could serve to handcuff Biden in light of how the machine of spin and subsequent perception works.  A couple of 5 second clips could be all that is needed to cement this impression, and the opportunity to do so would be something that McCain’s people will be looking for.  If you expand on that theme and include treatment from the rest of the Obama camp, the punditry and the broader media, you can see where this might play into their hands.  It’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out, but some are already urging their fellow detractors to tread carefully.

Also, its conceivable that McCain went out of his way to select someone that wasn’t an opponent in the primaries, thereby avoiding the threat of past criticism and appearances of hypocrisy being used against him as we head towards November.  Again, political chess.

But do you notice that none of those considerations actually has anything to do with effectively running the country?  Say what you want about Biden (I have), but with Obama’s pick, at least one can say that there was more attention placed on the aforementioned (b) and (c), that’s for sure. 

It’s been pointed out that, given McCain’s advanced age, reliance solely on this rationale is risky (both politically and otherwise).   New Republic columnist Peter Scoblic opines that the selection even reveals a certain level of arrogance on McCain’s part.  I think he makes a pretty good point.   Let’s hope that the rest of America sees it that way as well. 

WordPress.com Political Blogger Alliance

Advertisements

9 comments

  1. Condensed version of Chen’s blog: Palin got the job solely because of tokenism and good looks with a lemon wedge served on the side of victomhood when she goes up against Biden.

    Am I wrong Chen?

    You would fare better to use a very basic tactic in argumentation. Bring up valid counter points and then try to at least neutralize them.

    Surely her rise to power in Alaska merits comment. A Republican who goes up against the entire Republican party in Alaska, cleaning up corruption. Her story is remarkable and deserves honorable mention by partisan Chen.

    Surely the fact she walks it like she talks merits comment. Pro life woman who knowingly gives birth to a retarded baby. A Mom who supports the war while seeing off a son to Iraq.

    Surely her approval ratings in Alaska merit comment. 80%

    Does 4 years in the senate somehow automatically trump two years as governor?

    Why would obvious pandering to the swing vote state Michigan with a pick of Romny be perfectly normal but pandering to women with a pick of Palin be heretical?

    I honestly don’t know what to make of her until I see her debate Biden.


  2. I mean this with no disrespect. Doesn’t it get boring to constantly shill for an individual politician? I could never do that, dude.


  3. I think you forgot one other point that works in McCain’s favor: D) Someone to keep the President in check. Definitely what we could have used these past 8 years.

    Although I suppose it’s always possible if he doesn’t like what she does or says, she’ll just be sent around the world on talks and appearances in place of the president. Somehow, I don’t see her as merely getting delegated as a spokesperson, as she’s a pretty no-bull person…and that could backfire for the Republicans if she’s let out on her own.


  4. rabbit-

    You would fare better to use a very basic tactic in argumentation. Bring up valid counter points and then try to at least neutralize them.

    Well, I have my own style, I suppose. I’m just going off my first impressions here. Besides, that’s why I have a comments section on this blog, and why I call it the Chamber. I offer up my own take to be challenged, and in doing so I shape my own understanding and my readers’.

    Surely the fact she walks it like she talks merits comment. Pro life woman who knowingly gives birth to a retarded baby. A Mom who supports the war while seeing off a son to Iraq.

    Strange to think of such things as being exceptional. You’ve just described most women.

    Does 4 years in the senate somehow automatically trump two years as governor?

    Of course this aspect is going to be brought up. Please understand that I don’t think we’re on the same page here. Obama is in the position he’s in because he received votes from millions of people. a real cynic would pose the argument that he’s there despite his thin resume because of elements of white guilt, media shilling, the perceived need to be involved in something historical, etc. So the underlying question the cynic is asking is “what were 18 million people thinking?”.

    I’m certainly playing the role of a cynic in this post, but in the context here the question is “what was McCain thinking?”. All things considered, I think I did a decent job dissecting it.

    Why would obvious pandering to the swing vote state Michigan with a pick of Romny be perfectly normal but pandering to women with a pick of Palin be heretical?

    Whatever electability gains the Romney would give McCain in MI would undoubtedly be offset by the anti-Mormon factor that exists out there. I don’t know if I’m sold on that “home state” rationale as equating to pandering anyway, at least in the magnitude that I’m talking about here. Everyone has a “home state”, after all. Plus I think my “pandering” argument is further bolstered by the fact that, like the rest of us, McCain barely knows this person.

    And I’m certainly not using the word “heretical”. I guess what I’m getting at is that McCain really outta reevaluate the whole “country first” slogan, ’cause this pick appears to be motivated by self preservation. And don’t get me wrong, from the perspective of (a), I don’t think that this is a dumb move on McCain’s part. In fact, I think what I’m arguing here is that it might actually work. Good for McCain, bad for the rest of us, basically.


  5. In your response to dead rabbit you’d do well to remember your #3 point about marketing etc. That is where the 18 million people that have voted for BO have come from and if you ask a majority of them today why ? they can only spit out the marketing lines.
    This election has absolutely sapped the passion I have for politics and America.


  6. Aw c’mon Alfie. This is what makes America great. Only here can an ex beauty pageant runner-up be nominated for VPOTUS, and only here can a nerdy half-black dude from Hawaii inspire millions.

    I’m just waiting for Palin to use the phrase “world peace”. Then it’ll come full circle.


  7. I don’t think that boiling down Palin to just another ‘pretty face’ is doing her justice. Yes she was in beauty pagents but then again how many beauty contestants then go on to be the Governor? She is not following in the footsteps of her husband, she is the exact example of feminism – a successful woman working outside the home and still holding down the family life.

    Palin risked making enemies to clean up Alaskian government in her own party and lives the Conservative lifestyle. She is her own woman.

    McCain made a wise choice, the female voting block is like 57% of the American voters, so picking a Conservative female with a good record as Governor is not a crime, or pandering….it is giving the people what they want. And the definition of pandering is recruiting people for sexual means.


  8. Christopher-

    I don’t think that boiling down Palin to just another ‘pretty face’ is doing her justice. Yes she was in beauty pagents but then again how many beauty contestants then go on to be the Governor? She is not following in the footsteps of her husband, she is the exact example of feminism – a successful woman working outside the home and still holding down the family life.

    Yet I can’t help but think of a typical feminists’ opinion of beauty pageants.

    Anyway, I suppose I should amend my post and clarify that I’m not sure if that particular aspect of the pander will be successful. PUMA’s aside, most women aren’t stupid. But the attempt seems pretty transparent to me.


  9. […] any comment (no matter how poignant) and turn it into sexism or some sort of gaffe (as I predicted), and scream it loudly.  If that narrative gains traction, it’d be a hole that’d be […]



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: