Meditation on Biden and Palin

Not sure how much I agree with Spenger’s analysis, but it’s the best-thought-out I’ve read so far of Joe Biden (Obama’s pick for Vice President) and Sarah Palin (McCain’s pick for Vice President).    

My own thoughts have been based on Biden’s and Palin’s relative accomplishments.  Joe Biden would have gotten us out of Iraq and destroyed our enemies there (that is, won) years earlier.  Sarah Palin is hot.   I get the benefits of both, though both candidates could have done more by thinking outside the box.  If Obama wanted someone who really knew foreign policy, and was right on both Russia and Iraq, he should have gone with Hillary Clinton.  If McCain wanted a hot woman, but one who at least had a husband who could coach her on the right things to say, Hong Le Webb would be the perfect choice.

Spenger’s reaction, though, is deeper…

Asia Times Online :: Asian News, Business and Economy.
McCain doesn’t have a tenth of Obama’s synaptic fire-power, but he is a nasty old sailor who knows when to come about for a broadside. Given Obama’s defensive, even wimpy selection of a running-mate, McCain’s choice was obvious. He picked the available candidate most like himself: a maverick with impeccable reform credentials, a risk-seeking commercial fisherwoman and huntress married to a marathon snowmobile racer who carries a steelworkers union card. The Democratic order of battle was to tie McCain to the Bush administration and attack McCain by attacking Bush. With Palin on the ticket, McCain has re-emerged as the maverick he really is.

The young Alaskan governor, to be sure, hasn’t any business running for vice president of the United States with her thin resume. McCain and his people know this perfectly well, and that is precisely why they put her on the ticket. If Palin is unqualified to be vice president, all the less so is Obama qualified to be president.

McCain has certified his authenticity for the voters. He’s now the outsider, the reformer, the maverick, the war hero running next to the Alaskan amazon with a union steelworker spouse. Obama, who styled himself an agent of change, took his image for granted, and attempted to ensure himself victory by doing the cautious thing. He is trapped in a losing position, and there is nothing he can do to get out of it.

Obama, in short, is long on brains and short on guts. A Shibboleth of American politics holds that different tactics are required to win the party primaries as opposed to the general election, that is, by pandering to fringe groups with disproportionate influence in the primaries. But Obama did not compromise himself with extreme positions. He did not have to, for younger voters who greeted him with near-religious fervor did not require that he take any position other than his promise to change everything. Obama could have allied with the old guard, through an Obama-Clinton ticket, or he could have rejected the old guard by choosing the closest thing the Democrats had to a Sarah Palin. But fear paralyzed him, and he did neither.

In my February 26 profile, I called Obama “the political equivalent of a sociopath”, without any derogatory intent. A sociopath seeks the empathy of all around him while empathizing with no one. Obama has an almost magical ability to gain the confidence of those around him. Perhaps it was the adaptation of a bright and sensitive young boy who was abandoned by three parents – his Kenyan father Barack Obama Sr, who left his pregnant young bride; his Indonesian stepfather Lolo Soetero; and by his mother, Ann Dunham, who sent 10-year-old Obama to live with her parents while she pursued her career as an anthropologist.

I don’t think Obama is that smart, but otherwise Spengler seems sensible.  Obama is a cypher, a man with few friends, few positions, few accomplishments, and (critically for a failure-avoidant political system) few mistakes.  Biden continues Obama’s “try nothing, do nothing, change nothing” politics.  McCain’s pick is riskier.

(Hat-tip to Kiddington and Instapundit.)

32 thoughts on “Meditation on Biden and Palin”

  1. Obama has never taken a real stand or accomplished a tangible goal (other than advancement) at any point in his career. Instead, he has mostly sought out the politically expedient and unremarkable route at every point in his career (again, except when it comes to his advancement). Palin, in her paper-thin political career has at least not shied from controversy and has even, seemingly, accomplished a few things from it in terms of the governance of Alaska.

    The partition would have been a blood-bath had we tried it. Better a slow cleansing and defacto federalization that actually occurred than a replay of India/China. Such a policy would only have increased the number of outside players rushing in to check each other, particularly Turkey, Iran, and the Sunni bloc.

  2. Obama should have chosen Senator Webb.

    It was stupid of his staffers to bad mouth Webb. An Obama-Webb vs McCain-Palin election would have been interesting.

    Senator Webb covers everything Biden does plus more: exec experience as Navy Secretary; he is an outsider; was a combat Marine; is “youthful”. He is a maverick too!

    It is just a matter of time before Biden’s “big mouth” erupts again.

    As far as the partition plan, I would have been okay with it, if that was opur plan going into Iraq – that is if the goal had been to have Iraq cease to exist and to partition Iraq my US force as a warning to other terror supporting states (stop or we will dismember your state).

    Biden just saw it as a way to get out quickly.

  3. I forgot about the hotness of Webb’s wife. She would have neutralize the Palin effect partially. Oh well.

    Maybe McCain can off Webb the SecdDef role and bring him back to the fold? Heh.

  4. clueless brits betting against mccain:
    if i had some extra cash i’d take the other side.

    i’d also give odds that, barring a palin disaster at the vp debate, there WILL be a change on one of the tickets. someone with a history of a serious medical condition may experience a recurrence.

  5. “Joe Biden would have gotten us out of Iraq and destroyed our enemies there (that is, won) years earlier.” (Dan)

    I like the Biden plan too, but the foreign policy elites are very much against a federalist plan becuase it sets a bad precedent. These folks are adamantly against the idea of homogeneous ethno-states. The elites see homogeneous ethno-states as contrary to their vision of a neo-liberal-multicultural monstrosity. Ethno-States allow people of the same background to easily organize for their collective interests and this is VERY VERY dangerous if you’re trying to build a world where the economic/political interests of the global elite is the number one priority. Now in some cases they’ll “allow” separatism if its necessary to accomplish the larger mission. Kosovo was allowed to separate because that conflict allowed the US to weaken and destroy a State (Serbia) that was highly ethnocentric.

  6. “clueless brits betting against mccain”

    it is not just Brits. British bookmakers take bets from around the world. Tradesports is consistent with McCain at under 40 cents on the dollar.

    Aggregating massive amounts of disparate information is what markets are for, its what they do.

    The betting public has the election at 2 to 1 for Obama.

    There is no reason not to think this is the best predictor for the election’s outcome.

    That tells me a fact that I don’t like: Obama is going to win, barring something major happening.

  7. lex, sorry, i should have been more specific. i meant to reference in particular the quoted shrtening odds that mccain was going to throw palin under the bus. 1, brits kinda, and europeans especially, do not understand america is not post christian. 2, mccain absolutely CANNOT dump palin -now- he’s “stuck” with her to victory or defeat.

  8. purpleslog, there’s still time for webb, once biden has another “aneurysm.” replacing him w/ hillary now would seem “me too.”

  9. Be clear…my inner impartial analyst thinks Obama should have gone with Webb.

    My inner McCain voter is very glad that Obama picked Big Mouth Joe as his running mate!

  10. That Spenger piece was impressive. I don’t know that I agree that Obama “chose neither.” Biden seems rather old guard to me and while I don’t disagree that he was picked for the obvious reason of making up for Obama’s FP lacking, I think picking him was also a measure to reach out to “old guard” voters. Not every democratic voter fit’s in the 20-30 something demographic.

  11. Of course, Hong Le Webb is constitutionally ineligible to be President. But with Obama and Palin already on the tickets, adding that extra level of unqualification to the ticket were merely be adding another level of unreality to an already absurd election.

  12. “Biden continues Obama’s “try nothing, do nothing, change nothing” politics.”

    Looks like someone’s got their baseless talking points down.

  13. Jeffrey,

    If you substantively disagree me, go into any of the posts where I justify that allegation (you can search the blog for Obama and Establishment — that will introduce you to the base for the claim).

    Otherwise, don’t troll.

  14. I did as you said, and I wonder how many posts where you “justifiy that allegation” are limited to conservative publications (as exemplified in the following quote), as if one would expect them to champion Obama. I am not calling the publications inherently baseless, it is just that you and I know d*mn well what to expect from them.

    “The Wall Street Journal, The Weekly Standard and now Victor Davis Hanson have joined me in noting that Obama recalls no one so much as George W. Bush: An Obama Administration would probably be Bush’s third term:”

    That’s what I found on the first page, but unfortunately I am to much of a slacker to research the publications that you have used, so I am only limited to recalling my longterm memory the best I could. And don’t both pointing out the Hanson is a Democrat, since he is of the Zell Miller persuasion.

  15. I am just saying that I can just as simply grab something from Harper’s and The Nation and hold it as infallible truth as well.

  16. dan-

    After witnessing the Barracuda’s speech tonight, and then rereading the Spengler article, I think that Spengler is almost dead-on correct.

    I’m not willing to go on a limb and say that McCain will win, but one thing’s for sure: McCain and Palin are fighting like they want to win. Obama is just trying not to lose.

    The election still favors the democrats, structurally. Looking at the issues, and the electoral college map, Obama will still probably win. But it’s possible that McCain’s selection of Palin will shake things up enough to really put the contest into doubt.

  17. A most revealing moment proved to be on MSNBC, when after Palin’s speech, the shot came back to Cris Matthews who had the look on his face of a man who had just informed his corectal exam came back positive.

  18. While I’m not too excited about McCain, I must say that Palin’s speech was rather good. I especially like her accent. It sounds kinda like that principal from South Park or the people in the movie “Fargo.” Of course, I’m yet to her any Republican mention immigration or affirmative action? This is most likely an attempt to not sound “intolerant.” They did however mention Israel over and over. This leads me to believe that the GOP considers a foreign country more important than its own supporters? Then again, the GOP’s supporters might actually believe Israel to be more important than immigration or AA?

  19. “McCain and Palin are fighting like they want to win. Obama is just trying not to lose.”

    Obama is ahead and is trying to play it safe and eat up the clock.

    He did not expect McCain to go off-script and throw a barracuda into the swimming pool.

    It may not make him win, but it has sure livened things up.

  20. Smitten Eagle,

    McCain’s high-risk, high-pay-off strategy is analogous to what Mikhail Saakasvhilli does in Georgia, or Mao in China. Whether he is remembered as a genius or a fool depends entirely on whether he wins [1]

    Still, making a risky pick was the right call.

    I especially liked PurpleSlog’s [2] and zen’s [3] take on the speech, btw.


    Matthews is a less successful version of O’Reilly or Olberman. Seen in that context, he’s a lot less annoying.


    Affirmative action is a method of paying off group-losers so they don’t disrupt the larger economic system. It causes real problems [4], but ultimately is a question of accepting an injustice in order to grow.

    Fortunately, a lot of affirmative-action is done on the state level, so local civl rights initiatives can do a lot. [5]


    With the focus on Sarah, and not John and Barack, who does that help?

    Jeffrey’s engaged in an irrelevent metacritical monologue, and does not engage in the conjecture-refutation cycle that I value in comments. Therefore I’m moderating his comments in this thread in accordance with my policy on trolls. [6]


  21. tdaxp:
    “With the focus on Sarah, and not John and Barack, who does that help?”

    A valid question. It helps because it has supremely disrupted the Obama camps game plan. They without a doubt had strategies ready for the other possible picks by McCain and not Palin and now they’re flailing. In effect, McCain got within their OODA loop.

    However, this advantage will be short lived, so McCain must use it to go on the attack and refocus upon Obama and continue the theme of last night by characterizing him as 1) unaccomplished (besides personal advancement and 2) leftists (i.e. outside the mainstream) in political belief.
    Without highlighting it, they should let the American people judge how well Obama and crew deal with something they didn’t expect, because that is part of the Presidential job description.

    The Obama camp will want to refocus on McCain, because if they obsess on Palin it highlights their own weaknesses.

  22. “A most revealing moment proved to be on MSNBC, when after Palin’s speech, the shot came back to Cris Matthews who had the look on his face of a man who had just informed his corectal exam came back positive.”

    historyguy99, This made me snort soda out my nose!

    “hey did however mention Israel over and over.”

    Seerov, I don’t recall any mention of Israel by Gov. Palin. I couldn’t find it in this transcript either:

  23. “With the focus on Sarah, and not John and Barack, who does that help?”

    For now, it helps John.

    Over the next two months the focus will shift all over the place.

    Strap in tight, bumpy ride up ahead.

  24. Elam Bend

    However, this advantage will be short lived, so McCain must use it to go on the attack and refocus upon Obama and continue the theme of last night by characterizing him as 1) unaccomplished (besides personal advancement and 2) leftists (i.e. outside the mainstream) in political belief.

    Team McCain seems to be doing pretty well at campaign jiujitsu these days. I think that they should press harder on Obama’s complaint that Saracuda disrespected community organizers with a few days of asking “WTF is a community organizer? What were your accomplishments as a community organizer? Tell us more about ACORN.”

    While my knowledge of ACORN is not comprehensive, I did have some contact with them a few years ago and they strongly impressed me as the Scientologists of politics.

  25. Is the McCain campaign in the opening stages of setting up to use Palin as a straw(wo)man? I see ads comparing Obama and Palin. I see Obama defending himself against attacks by Palin based on her experience and political stance.

    As Lexington said, the focus could shift all over the place in the next two months, but how much damage could Obama absorb if the McCain campaign can keep the focus between Palin and Obama. (A no less bumpy alternative) Could this really be possible and could it give the McCain campaign a winning advantage?

  26. It is remarkable how well the McCain campaign is turning Obama against himself… first with the celebrity campaign [1] (which made Obama’s strength of drawing large crowds and enthusiastic support a negative) and now with the trap McCain set with Palin (in which Camp Obama stupidly began complaining about her lack of experience!)

    The second one is the most embarrassing, because it is of their own making.

    When the Obama campaign began complaining that Palin was inexperienced, it creates a natural Obama-Palin standard. McCain rises far above that standard. McCain comes across looking more Presidential — and he now has a better shot at being elected than he did before picking Palin.

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