August 29th, 2008
03:40 PM ET

Cold water on Palin

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/08/29/art.palin.waves.jpg caption="Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, waves to supporters as she is introduced as the Republican Vice Presidential candidate by Sen. John McCain in Dayton, Ohio."]Ramesh Ponnuru
National Review Senior Editor

Editor's Note: Ramesh Ponnuru, Senior Editor for National Review, considers Sen. John McCain's vice presidential pick, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

The pros:

She’s a pro-life conservative reformer from outside Washington, and a woman. The pick signals a boldness and willingness to mix things up that the McCain campaign, like Republicans generally, need.

The cons:

Inexperience. Palin has been governor for about two minutes. Thanks to McCain’s decision, Palin could be commander-in-chief next year. That may strike people as a reckless choice; it strikes me that way. And McCain's age raised the stakes on this issue.

As a political matter, it undercuts the case against Obama. Conservatives are pointing out that it is tricky for the Obama campaign to raise the issue of her inexperience given his own, and note that the presidency matters more than the vice-presidency. But that gets things backward. To the extent the experience, qualifications, and national-security arguments are taken off the table, Obama wins.

And it’s not just foreign policy. Palin has no experience dealing with national domestic issues, either. (On the other hand, as Kate O’Beirne just told me, we know that Palin will be ready for that 3 a.m. phone call: She’ll already be up with her baby.)

Tokenism. Can anyone say with a straight face that Palin would have gotten picked if she were a man?


Filed under: John McCain • Raw Politics • Sarah Palin
soundoff (81 Responses)
  1. Susan Wilcox

    Sarah Palin is George Bush! From the reports of her decision making, she makes decisions from her own right mind out of her OWN sense of righteousness. This has worked for her considering the ethics areas where she has shined. And, she can accept some new ideas. BUT, she clearly (like GWB) does not have the complexity of thinking to tackle multi-layered issues. This is seen in her stand on creationism and global warming. See how she is not yet able in her own development to separate science from mythology. This is a developmental issue, the same one that GWB has.

    However, like GWB, the popularity of one who can communicate this sense of righteousness is very attractive in uncertain times.

    August 30, 2008 at 4:33 pm |
  2. Nancy Workman

    As a woman who defines herself as an independent and is registered as such, I had not made a final decision on whom to vote for. As usual, there are things I like and dislike about both candidates. However, John McCain's choice for Vice-President has made my decision easy – I will now vote for Barrack Obama.

    I was originally a supporter of Hillary Clinton, not because she was a women, but because I thought her to be smart and with the necesary toughness and experience to be president – and I did believe she could handle Bill.

    John McCain has made a choice for purley politcal reasons, hoping to sway the female voters who supported Hillary to vote for her solely because she is a women and would 'shake things up'. I can see no other reason to have selected her and I find it insulting that he believes that gender alone is enought to garner my vote. There were more experienced women who could have been selected that might have made my decision go the other way...Kay Bailey Hutchison, for example.

    Living in a town of about 16,000, I can tell you that our mayor is nowhere near two years away from being president! I have no doubt that she is smart and capable, but her inexperience is downright scary, especially since John McCain is the age he is. Were she fours years from now in experience, I might have thought differently, but to me she is unproven. John McCain did not make his choice for the good of the Amerian people, but simply to get himself elected. He has very quickly reduced the respect I have always had for him with one quick move.

    And give me a break, but John McCain might have as well have said, 'and isn't she just so darn cute?'.

    August 30, 2008 at 3:56 pm |
  3. mv

    Palin supports the teaching of creationism as science in public schools. Still afraid of Obama?

    August 30, 2008 at 3:51 am |
  4. Melissa, Los Angeles

    @ Uma you've said so eloquently what I've been trying to say for so long. As much as I don't like aborting children – there are circumstances such as yours which is why I can never be Pro-Life. How many of these Pro-Lifer's have actually adopted an orphan or fostered a child?

    I find it interesting that these so called feminists who demand equal pay and treatment still expect a man to pay for dates, buy them gifts, etc. yet not do the same in return because they're a woman. You can't pick and choose what you want to be treated equally in and what not.

    August 30, 2008 at 2:22 am |
  5. Amanda-Michigan

    Obama is as likely to die tomorrow as McCain. McCain's VP choice has more hands on experience than Obama himself.

    As a mother of four, a nurse, and a conservative, I am thrilled with Palin. I will definitely vote for John McCain now because I feel that Sarah Palin will keep him grounded.

    Palin appears to be a real go-getter. She will encourage energy independence, she will put an end to wasteful spending, and she seems to be a down to earth, no nonsense type of woman.

    August 30, 2008 at 12:22 am |
  6. Anthony, NJ

    All I know is what I see everyday...I live in a state that is the most taxed in the nation which is ran by Democrats. Spend Spend Spend is all they know. I wouldn't mind the high taxes but it breaks my heart to see the violence in my major cities, where people can't afford medication or healthcare even with all of the money pouring into the state. Want to see what our country will look like with Obama in office just take a look at New Jersey.

    What has congress done over the past two years...you cannot tell me it is all because of Bush. Don't get me wrong I am not saying that he had nothing to do with it but let’s be realistic.

    McCain made a great pick for his VP. As her record shows she will go against even her own party for the betterment of the people. God bless McCain and God bless Palin. May they make history and bring the United States to the height and power it once was.

    August 29, 2008 at 11:37 pm |
  7. Derek

    I am a life long Alaskan, and love this great state. Gov. Palin has been a great contributor to this state and now will be to this great country. She has done many great things in this state and I don't believe that you need to have all the experience in the world to make a great leader. All you will have to do is wait and hold on Washington, she is going to be a change a big change and that is what this country needs, not somebody that just follows suit. She will be great, just wait and watch!!!!

    August 29, 2008 at 11:32 pm |
  8. kiran from PA

    THANKS MCCAIN, you just gave us the white house!!! God bless this silly move by the GOPS. let's ask the bushies and the conservatives if they will be patriotic to this country and our new president Obama?? Then this will give us Dems a chance to say " you are not patriotic because you do not agree with our president". This is the tactic the GOPS used all along this past 8yrs on Dems and Independents during the tyranny of the bush regime.

    August 29, 2008 at 10:58 pm |
  9. Annie Kate

    I wonder if McCain didn't want to upstage the Democrats so badly after their convention if he would have picked Palin? I truly wonder about his motivation on this decision. I'm truly not impressed with it.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    August 29, 2008 at 10:49 pm |
  10. Ron , Berkeley , Ca.

    Just more proof , that women are`nt held in very high regard by those nasty Republicans.... McBush chose Sarah Palin , just because she is a woman,,,,, he thinks thats how he will get the female vote. I`m no genius , but I give the AMERICAN WOMEN way more credit !!!!!
    I think this time around , even the Republican Women will not be fooled again by those sly old foxes...
    Old John McBush would have done better if he`d of put a Skirt and Lipstick on Mitt Romney....

    August 29, 2008 at 10:10 pm |
  11. Amanda Norton


    Campaign for the slaughter of the innocent in your own homeland will ya! This is America, where the moral majority understands that God gives life and making ourselves judge over that child's right to life only brings retribution to our blessed land.

    August 29, 2008 at 10:03 pm |
  12. Dave-Pa.

    Could it be that the true candidate of "change" is the "grey haired old dude"? Reaching out all the way to Alaska, he snatches what appears to be a shiny gem in a snow bank. A common sense feminist with traditional values, with whom most middle class Americans can relate. Now that is new and different. That is "change". She comes from about as far away from the beltway as one can get. A true outsider, and definately not a charter member of the Good Ol' Boys club. The purported "change" candidate picks a VP who has been inside the Beltway since the Beltway was a two-lane. I'm inclined to believe that by now Mr. Biden is pretty set in his ways, and change is something he will accept only grudgingly. For the Dems, it appears change is suddenly becoming an empty rally cry.
    They better do something, and fast, or this election is going to slip right through their fingers. Like him or not, John McCain is a master politician. He knows how to win an election as well as anyone. This VP pick is evidence of his keen political sense. No one saw it coming, not even the conservative talking heads, and most all of them agree the pick was brilliant.

    Old age and treachery trumps youth and skill. I think young Obama is about to get schooled on how win an election.

    August 29, 2008 at 10:02 pm |
  13. Amanda Norton


    Were you deprived of oxygen in the birth canal? Do you understand that having a gun at you're side greatly reduces the liklihood that Joe criminal is going to mess with you?

    There is absolutely no comparison between defending oneself and one's family against violent crime and deliberately choosing to murder the defenseless.

    Over 40 million infants have been slaughtered in this country since 1973, in the name of personal convenience. In case you are unaware, that is more than were killed in the Halocaust. There is no contradiction between the Second Amendment and the Sixth Commandment.

    Although, I am wildly impressed with Bay Buchanan after tonight, Sarah Palin has sealed the deal for me!

    August 29, 2008 at 9:54 pm |
  14. Dan

    Excellent choice at a time when women are asking "When is it our turn?" She will pull a lot of the female vote, especially the disenchanted Hillary voters, with little risk. Her background and credentials indicate she takes tough conservative-minded positions that are struck with constituents at heart.

    As for the age thing, three comments:
    1) While it may seem that the lack of experience could be a risk, America has demonstrated their acceptance of that risk when they nominated Obama whose background as an executive is worse than hers (A US Senator does not perform in the executive role like a governor is).
    2) At a time when energy is at the forefront, the R's nominated a VP from the state that likely has the most to offer and is closest to understanding the largest elements of the problem
    3) Corporate America has demonstrated a penchant for going after younger and younger CEOs and top executives for almost two decades. If that's a problem, then why does the practice continue? You aren't suggesting that one so young running the most powerful nation and military might be as disastrous as ONES SO YOUNG running corporate America and its economy (into the ground) are you?

    I say take your cake and eat it too. Those that now complain about Palin can't then turn around and raise Obama on their backs. Her credentials stack up at least as good as his and even better if you consider his Ivy League education and what that failed leadership has been spitting out for Presidential nominees of late!

    August 29, 2008 at 9:50 pm |
  15. Nikki

    Gosh...What was McCain thinking? I am a hard core Barack Obama supporter. Thanks McCain, you have certainly made this campaign a little easier to win.

    August 29, 2008 at 9:46 pm |
  16. Uma, Liverpool, UK

    @ Bridget-Michigan: I'm a 'real feminist'. I was pregnant by my incestuous father several times, before I was 16. I could have jumped in front of a subway train, and killed both of us, when it happened again at 16. I thought about it - often. I finally did an abortion on myself, because when I asked him for the money, though he knew full well it was his, my father called me slut, and whore, and said 'make the father pay'.

    During the abortion, I intentionally mutilated my uterus sufficiently badly that though he could still make me pregnant, I never stayed pregnant. I must have had a miscarriage every couple of months for the three years it took, for me to graduate from high school and get away from him.

    YOU DON'T KNOW what it's like, so you say sh– like you did! YOU DON'T KNOW what it's like, to read sh– like you said!

    Until ALL girls and women can REALISTICALLY say 'no', we MUST have safe, legal, and ideally free abortions, with no parental notification!

    I'm not 'pro-abortion'. I'm against forced pregnancies. I'm against unwanted children. I'm against what happens to unwanted children.
    I am pro-WOMEN.

    BTW, what have you done lately about the men who push their pregnant girlfriends and wives down stairs, or punch them in the gut, or stab them in the womb? It's ok when the MAN chooses to end the pregnancy? I've never heard a single 'pro-life' person mention those men, when they're picketing (or shooting at) abortionists.

    PS He died of cancer 20 years ago. I never had a chance to 'make the father pay'.

    August 29, 2008 at 8:53 pm |
  17. Uma, Liverpool, UK

    Looks like John McCain doing prezel-like back-bends to NOT choose another oldish, baldish, white guy.

    It won't help.

    McCain managed to find a female person with nominal political credentials (though a junior State Senator from Colorado has more actual responsibility, and more issues to deal with - for that matter, so does a Borough President from Brooklyn, NY) who is as far out there on the Christian Extremist branch as he is. He's further out than BUSH! (No abortions, EVEN in cases of rape and incest).

    I love the irony these idiots (all fanatics are idiots, including Christian ones) miss: they're AGAINST equal rights for women, but FOR equal rights for embryos. So, a female foetus is equal to an adult man, in their eyes, UNTIL she is born!

    Women who think this way obviously haven't... thought, that is. Their heads would spin around and they would turn inside-out if they actually tried to work out their reasoning. Oh, right. Fanatics don't do reason.

    Anyway... Palin. ROFLOL.

    August 29, 2008 at 8:46 pm |
  18. Chandra

    I am getting tired of seeing bumper stickers that say "I support the NRA" and "Pro-Life" all on the same vehicle. How hypocritical.

    August 29, 2008 at 8:28 pm |
  19. Chandra


    I guess you have women in your office whose intelligence wasn't insulted. McCain could have choose an EXPERIANCED pro-life gun toting woman. Instead, he picked a woman he met once prior to his selection to be VP. McCain has had Cancer several times, he is old and if something happens to him the best he could choose as a VP is Palin? Can you honestly say that was smart?

    Its a shame gender and race is fueling the election. If Obama was white the deomocrates would be winning be a landslide and McCain would not had choosen a woman. I know America loves to tap dance around it. But Racism is alive and well in America.

    August 29, 2008 at 8:27 pm |
  20. Mark Nibbelin

    Didn't Alaska enact a windfall profits tax on oil profits that will pay each Alaskan citizen $1200 this year. Sounds like Obama's plan.

    August 29, 2008 at 8:14 pm |
  21. Trish

    The question of judgement has been answered – John McCain has none. This is grossly unfair to American Republicans, indeed all of the electorate, and to Governor Palin. (Although I fault her as well for accepting.) When a Vice Presidential candidate has to include being on the PTA as part of her resume – this country is in trouble. This decision is desperate and dangerous – Senator MCain is trying anything to get elected at the risk of the country.

    Obama will be the next president and deserves to be – Senator McCain has proven himself unworthy.

    August 29, 2008 at 7:54 pm |
  22. C Mils _ Houston

    McCain's choice will go down like the choice of Quayle by the senior Bush. What a babe she is , though!!! She may be inexperienced but I'd love to put some love goo on the VPILF's face...OH YEAH!!! Bada Bing, baby.

    August 29, 2008 at 7:54 pm |
  23. John Mendenhall

    I love how all the hard core right wingers love to regurgitate information just because someone else said it and it sounded cool. For instance: Palin has more "executive experience" than Obama. Really? Wow, I guess if you consider being mayor of a hunting village and 2 years as governor over a state with a population less than most major US cities as "more experience" than sure. If the key term here is "executive" than I'm sure you could find that Obama was president of a Chess club or something during his lifetime. There. Now we're even.

    August 29, 2008 at 7:29 pm |
  24. Joy

    Agree with Bridget – Palin more like average working soccer moms with kids like me. Obama can't relate to us – The Punahou, Harvard elite types – they don't get it anyway. Have you ever worked for attorneys they always talk a good talk.

    August 29, 2008 at 7:27 pm |
  25. anom

    Given that she is just a heart beat away from become VP – is this how McCain puts his country first?
    Are we, the American women, so very stupid that he thinks we loved Hillary for her gender? I find McCain's stop gap selfish choice of a woman VP both, offensive and unpatriotic.

    August 29, 2008 at 7:19 pm |
  26. Mike

    Mccain picking Palin solidifies his position in the white house, Mccain and Palin will mop the floor with Barrack Obapolis and Biden in the debate just you wait!!!

    August 29, 2008 at 7:13 pm |
  27. Sonke

    I am an independent voter gearing toward the Republicant. Thanks to McCain's VP selection, I am confirmed that Obama/biden is the only vote that I will cast now.

    McCain! McCain, what in the world were you thinking! I've been a great supporter but...........it is all history now.

    August 29, 2008 at 7:04 pm |
  28. Linda

    My intelligence is insulted! If there had not been 18 million mad Hillary voters up for grabs do we really believe McCain would have picked a woman for the VP spot? I'll NEVER believe that! This is politics at its slimiest! I saw a reporter on TV say today "what does Sarah Palin bring to the ticket?" I can answer that easy. A VAGINA! McCain needed a woman to simply make him look good! I am a 53 yr. old middle-class white woman that supported Hillary but NOT simply because she was a woman. I don't vote for a man or a woman, for white or black or by religion – I vote for the person I feel is the most intelligent with the best ideas for the country with the most sincere intent for the good of the people & the future that would be a strong leader! THAT IS BARRACK OBAMA! At John McCain's age he may not make his entire 4 yr term should he win the election & that would put this woman in the Oval Office.(?) Oh my God! This woman is still raising children, a baby with disabilities that needs special attention. If she had to be President how is she going to divide her time, her energy, her heart & her mind? I have a grandson w/ special needs – I understand the huge commitment, the energy & time this requires! Either the country or the child will be sacrificed! Rather McCain picked a woman for the VP spot or not does not change his Bush views & Bush politics! I pray Hillary supporters won't forget that! And this woman is extremely conservative. I beg people NOT to vote for a gender or a race but to think about how their lives have changed for the WORSE in the last 8 years! WE DESPERATELY NEED CHANGE! McCain choosing a woman doesn't change his blind views to the common American citizen! I hope people see this as the political trick it is just to get the left over Hillary votes! If every Hillary supporter would have jumped on the Obama train McCain would have a MAN VP right now!! How can people not see what he is doing? I'm sure Mrs. Palin is a lovely person, I of course do not know her personally so I have nothing bad to say other than she is way too conservative for me after listening & reading about her all day but I know in my heart John McCain & his camp are using her!!! I guess he knew he was losing the battle. The politics he has stood for with G. Bush has thrown the average citizen & the respectful standing of America to the rest of the world in the toliet with NO regard so he needed a diversion! I'm damn tired of the rich getting richer at the expense of everyone else! I want their political foot off my back so I can get up again! MY VOTE IS STILL WITH OBAMA!!!

    August 29, 2008 at 7:04 pm |
  29. David Jenkins

    Mayor of 5000 citizens 2000 – 2006, governor of 600K citizens 2006 – 2008 VS. State Representative of Illinois Population 12 million 1997 to 2004, US Senator 2004 – 2008. Palin's political experience compared to Obama's is not even close. Palin can't even figure out when to stop having babies. Being the VP of a whole country is not the same as being the governor of one of the least populated states in our union, when all you have to do is make sure the oil executives don't steal and hand out the Alaskan Permanent Fund checks. I get tired of leaders that pray for God to give them answers when they have to make a tough decision, that's what our current President has done. Maybe if those same leaders would look at the facts in the first place they wouldn't have to pray to God for answers.

    August 29, 2008 at 6:35 pm |
  30. Greg-Hayward, CA

    As a business owner I generally agree with the Republicans more than the Democrats. However I am registered as an Independent and have voted my conscience in the past. I can proudly say that I did not vote for Bush either time.

    In the past I have believed in McCain, but the more I have learned about him, the less I like him. His latest choice in picking a woman for VP was a smart idea to pull away the Hillary supporters. However it was an insult to the same voters he was trying to attract by choosing somebody with so little experience. There are so many other Republican women who would have been a better choice. Aside from the negatives in being associated with Bush, Condi Rice is many more times qualified than Pallin to be VP. She is probably more qualified than McCain to be President. What McCain's choice tells me is that is judgement and decision making is impulsve and flawed. I am going to do more research on Obama as I am not convinced that he can turn his ideas into results. His lack of practical experience in the Senate makes it hard to determine his actual track record of accomplishments. With Biden as his VP, I do think that it will compliment Obama's lack of experience. I would have voted for Hillary, but I'm not sure about Obama yet. One thing that I am sure of is that my vote will not go to McCain.

    August 29, 2008 at 6:06 pm |
  31. KJ Western, MA

    Look at all the people who are so upset because some individuals are proud the VP is a woman. I believe people were crying last night because it was such a historical night- why??? Was it because two men were on the ticket?

    I doubt that. Why is it ok to celebrate and back the first African American for President but not get support a woman for Vice President?

    The truth is, if the Dem. really wanted to win in Nov. then he would have put Hillary as his VP.

    I liked Obama, I just can not get behind his views on abortion. I also do not like the way Hillary was treated. McCain can win now. So we can see what it is like in 2012 with Hillary vs Palin.

    August 29, 2008 at 6:04 pm |
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