Thanks for your patience with the time between posts, folks. I could say I'm going to make sure I do better in the future, but we all know better than that.
I love this time of every four years. It's the time when people of all political persuasions get whooped up about one vice-presidential candidate or another, in preparation for forgetting they exist after the election. (Ok, Dick "five draft deferments" Cheney has achieved the same infamy as his boss, which itself is no mean feat, but that's the exception.)
There's Sarah Palin, of course (more on her in a moment), but before that was the selection of Joe Biden and the criticism from the right that his selection signals a lack of self-confidence in Obama. That criticism - which, like most extreme criticism by either side, gets the partisans energized but ultimately falls apart after, say, five seconds of thought - appears to suggest some kind of new business model: show how confident you are in your leadership abilities by bringing only unqualified yes-men into your organization. After eight years of that very thing, you'd think they'd have learned by now. Who was Obama supposed to pick, a latter-day Dan Quayle?
Palin herself is an interesting choice for McCain. A great public speaker - Obama's good, but so far Palin looks like the best of the four - with a zip and charm ideal for the age of sound bite logic. (The two biggest applause points in John McCain's nomination acceptance speech were his first mention of Sarah Palin, and when she came out at the end. What are we saying here?) Will she hold up under scrutiny? Time will tell, and we'll learn more about her and the others as the campaign rolls on. Handlers are already moaning that she's the only one not getting privileged treatment from the media. Perhaps what Phil Gramm meant to say a few weeks ago was "we've become a party of whiners." I'm not sure it would have gotten him into any less trouble, but at least it would have addressed this point.
My take to date on Palin is this: she's presents herself well, is not afraid to make decisions, and has packed a lot of executive experience into a fairly short time. Plus, she's a woman, as the photo-ops with Mrs. Bush and Mrs. McCain remind us. And remind us. And let's not forget this one: frame it how you will, all these admirable personal attributes have been, and will continue to be, used to push the same old mean-spirited right-wing agenda that has been such a big part of getting us into the current mess. A colorful personality doesn't change that. She was suggested to McCain by Newt Gingrich, for heaven's sake. What does that tell you?
Yes, I know. Palin-McCain, sorry, I meant McCain-Palin, say they're about change. But - campaign-season emotions notwithstanding - hasn't experience taught us that "change" would just be code for a new, slightly modified mean-spirited right wing agenda? Sometimes we get so enamored with someone's plain talking style that we forget to pay attention to what they're saying.
It's ironic, then, that I'm not convinced any of this really matters. History has shown us that at the final moment people vote for a presidential candidate, not for a running-mate. Everyone remembers Lloyd Bentson leaving Dan Quayle speechless with his "You're no John Kennedy" punch, arguably still the most famous remark made in any debate, ever. (I didn't say most important. I said most famous.) It was strong stuff. And come election day, the ticket Quayle was on won, and the ticket Bentson was on was never seen or heard from again.