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 Monday, November 03, 2008

A Vote for McCain is a Vote for Palin

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Most people chosen to run and serve as Vice President cannot expect to be the next President in the succeeding election. Even in the corporate world, a long-serving VP cannot think for one moment that she is next in line for the highest position in the company.

The U.S. Vice-President is simply that – to take over in case the President is incapacitated, dies or cannot further serve.

Sarah Palin as the Republican Vice Presidential candidate is a very different political animal.

It would seem that voting for John McCain this Tuesday is voting for Palin in 2012.

Of course, there is no absolute certainty of this happening. But the great likelihood of this should send shivers or at least create some hesitation in voters.

Assuming McCain wins, to believe that Palin will sit idly by and perform traditional vice presidential functions of supporting the President in a wait-and-see attitude is naïve.

Palin will most likely promote herself as the next Commander in Chief, especially if McCain fumbles. She is using this election, win or lose, as an ultimate play for an even greater election in the coming years.

Women voters who might have felt disenfranchised or betrayed when the Democrats chose Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton may have initially jumped with joy when a woman was tasked to run for Vice President. As a class they may have felt elated, justified and vindicated that a lady governor was picked by McCain to run by his side. This was the trick in the McCain’s sleeve to woe Hillary Democrats.

The truth is that Sarah Palin is no Hillary Clinton – not by a very long mile.

To say that, if one can’t vote for Hillary because the Democrats chose Obama, then just vote for McCain since Palin is his VP pick, is totally absurd. Clinton is in a league of her own; Palin is an untested, media-dodging and seemingly vindictive political leader from the isolated state of Alaska.

It cannot be denied that when Palin hit the political scene two months ago, Hillary loyalists were presented with an amazing opportunity. To dramatize their point that Hillary should have been chosen by the party over Obama, they could side with McCain since he chose a female running mate. This is what McCain had been hoping for. The choice of Palin indeed brought a sense of uneasiness in the Obama political camp.

But after the political dust had settled, Hillary loyalists didn’t see much of Clinton in Palin.

She wasn’t the exact opposite but there were many issues on which they strongly differed. Sure, they’re both women but the comparison seems to end there. Palin was seen as ultra-conservative, a fanatic gun supporter, and with a drill-baby-drill philosophy. She’s starkly different from Hillary in terms of attitude, political experience, and fundamental beliefs.

In the weeks that followed her grand entry into mainstream politics, media cut Palin down and exposed her for who she truly is. From the tall image she initially projected as a reformer, foe of the status quo and independent-minded maverick, she was trimmed down to size. Media exposed her flaws, her vindictive side in the Troopergate scandal, her being an anti-maverick, and recently her wardrobe affairs.

It seems that being the “hottest governor from the coldest state” wasn’t good enough. In the Katie Couric interview she was discovered to be unprepared, unfit and uneducated about foreign policy and world affairs. In two other interviews she appeared strong on energy and on children with disabilities, but weak on other important topics like the economy and Wall Street meltdown, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Twice in a row, she misrepresented the official duties of the Vice President. She has been caught exaggerating claims on Obama such as his alleged “palling around with terrorists” and mouthing rhetoric without factual or substantial basis. She was found by the Alaska legislature to have dealt an unethical hand in the firing of the State Trooper. She was a prior supporter of the ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ before it became the object of a national lampoon, and is convinced that drilling Alaska's protected Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil is a great idea.

Palin is now both media’s darling and its favorite castaway. She successfully used the media by to launch her as a future Presidential prospect; it was also media that exposed her lack of experience and vulnerability. Tina Fey can make a good living impersonating her every week and talk show hosts can make constant headlines by interviewing her on important political matters that she hardly knows about.

Media made her an overnight star; the same media is trying to undo her now. That may be difficult. She can use the spotlight and celebrity glow she has attained anytime, anywhere. If Obama wins this Tuesday, perhaps media can cast her away and treat her as a one-hit wonder. But the star power she has initially drawn may still turn some heads.

There’s an age factor to consider when voting for McCain. At 72 he will be the oldest American to be sworn in as President if he wins. Assuming he is able to finish a four-year term given his health and ripe age, it’s possible that he will either not run for reelection in 2012 or the Republican Party might anoint Palin as the party’s standard bearer.

That’s a frightening possibility.

There’s a rumor in the media that the McCain and Palin camps are arguing and blaming each other. McCain’s camp, it is said, has tried to mold and manage Palin to make her more appealing to the voters and help the Republican ticket. Palin’s camp has argued that she was mismanaged, quartered off from the media, and pigeonholed. McCain’s camp denies this, saying that it’s hard to oversee a candidate clearly unprepared for the White House, who acts like a diva to boot.

Whatever the truth, there’s friction within the Republican Party today. If McCain wins, there would even be more friction in the White House. McCain is the strong, domineering type of leader who tells people what to do. Palin is the free-spirited youthful voice whose exuberance and smile always catch attention. She is also someone who can’t be told to just sit down and listen. She is indubitably ambitious and is ably making her own play for a future election.

Given the friction in the last few days to election, it would be an all-out war from 2009 until 2012 between McCain and Palin if the Republicans win. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Palin seeks the party’s nomination in 2012. And it wouldn’t be much of a surprise if the Republicans handily give her that nomination, whether McCain is still strong, polls well, or wants to run for a second term.

Thus, a vote for McCain now is a vote for Palin in 2012. Given how media was able to expose her for what she truly represents, Republican diehards and McCain enthusiasts, even Hillary Democrats, should think long and hard before Tuesday’s election where a lot is at stake.

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