Monday, September 01, 2008

Dan Quayle Moment, TR Moment, or Harry Truman Moment

John McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin as his VP is already being called a Dan Quayle moment. Maybe it is, and then again, maybe it isn’t. It’s certainly a rush to judgment moment – but pundits bad calls do not collect and haut them, so they can continuously make them with no regard for how many times they are wrong.

Joe Biden was a safe choice for Obama. His only risk – other than Biden’s reputation for political malapropisms – is charges he compromised his Change campaign by selecting an old Senator. We can only wait to see if McCain showed that his first major executive decision was as bad as Bush senior made for his running mate.

Maybe the recentness of the Quayle decision colors all unlikely VP choices today, but history has other unlikely VP choices that later proved to be rather outstanding.

Of course, Theodore Roosevelt was not McKinley’s choice but a party decision to satisfy a very powerful New York party bigwig. They wanted to get him out of the governor’s office in New York where he was causing the party bosses problems. They didn’t expect McKinley to get his self assassinated – by a terrorist no less. Roosevelt had a little more executive experience that Palin, and he had lead men in battle – not that that has anything to do with leading a nation, but we all like to cite that sort of stuff whenever we talk such as this.

The closer analogy would be the other Roosevelt’s selection of Harry Truman as his VP in 1944. Whatever reason he made the decision – something to do with cleaning up his image and Truman’s rising reputation for rooting out government waste during the war – all the pundits questioned Truman’s ability to lead after FDR died. Now, he is thought of as one of the better Presidents. Bush, the younger, looks at how Truman’s reputation has changed when he considers his own legacy.

How wise a decision was choosing Palin for VP only time will tell, but the political wisdom is already apparent. It has changed the whole political punditry. For no matter how little executive experience Palin has had, that is more than Obama has had and so the Dems can’t criticize her too much with out significant blow back. And the talk is about Palin’s and Obama’s lack of experience and not about McCain’s anything. He is not being discussed by the constantly commenting talking heads. Point McCain.

As to Palin lack of national exposure and the supposedly greater chance of making a political gaffe, Biden is the odds on favorite to toss out the first campaign threatening flub. And we will go round and round about that – again point McCain.

But first we must see how McCain handles Gustav and the Republican National Convention. VP selection may be all but forgotten in how the ghost of political blunders past is visited on the Republicans while they party at their party’s love fest.
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