I had chosen the topic for the response paper about the choice of Sarah Palin as the running mate for John McCain. In this position paper, I try to develop my position around the same topic and I would develop the paper around the choice and how it is affecting the presidential campaign. I use the response paper for the topic but only to that extent that I use it as a base. My main thrust in this paper would be on putting the nomination of Sarah Palin in perspective. Choice of Sarah Palin There was universal surprise when Sarah Palin was picked as the vice presidential nominee.
When everyone was expecting Joe Lieberman or someone else to be picked as the vice presidential nominee, the McCain camp pulled a rabbit from the hat in the form of Sarah Palin. This left many observers stumped and people were left wondering about the real reasons. There was intense speculation that this was part of a move to counter the Democratic campaign and the appeal of Hillary Clinton. With Hillary no longer in the reckoning, the perception was that Sarah Palin could draw away some of Hillary’s supporters into the Republican fold. Others saw it as a kind of maverick stunt that could upstage the rock star appeal of Barack Obama.
What no one could have anticipated is the electrifying effect that Sarah Palin had on the electorate immediately following her nomination. The entire campaign was energized by the “Palin Effect” and suddenly the Republicans were back in the reckoning. Her go-getter image along with her stylish attire has caught the imagination of the public. However, there is a sneaking suspicion that she is all glamour and not substance. She has the charm of a “Kennedy, Clinton or a Reagan” (Mayer, 2). She also can draw crowds and hold their attention.
It was this very ability that made the McCain camp plump for her to get the star appeal to the voters. Media Management Sarah Palin looks good on TV and she is the favorite of the right wing media. Though her appearances in the public rallies have been highlighted, what is also glaring is the fact that she has not given too many interviews and has not appeared on the popular talk shows like Larry King Live. And whatever chances she had with other networks, she turned in a less than favorable performance. In recent days, much has been made of her $150,000 attire and the way in which she has been “made up” with lot of effort.
However much this has been played up for the benefit of the voters, there are some who see this as mere gloss and unlikely to have an effect on the larger electorate. The Insider’s Choice? While there have been several articles in the media about how Sarah Palin has been a wild card, Jane Mayer of The New Yorker thinks otherwise. As I pointed out in my response paper about the article that she had written, where she had laid out the case for Sarah Palin being backed by influential members of the Republican Party, there is no conclusive point about Sarah Palin being an outsider.
But there are enough indications to indicate that she has been favored by the Republican insiders who wanted someone to counter the charismatic appeal of Obama. While the point of this position paper is not to contest the claim of Sarah Palin being selected or not by a power group, nonetheless it throws light on the happenings of the Republican Party as they went into election mode. It is indeed a powerful choice as reflected in the approval ratings after her nomination. Her “Star Power” is sure bound to get the ticket some badly needed swing votes in the upcoming election.
As we see in the next section, Sarah Palin has become what some commentators have been calling the “Attack Dog” of the Republican camp. Attack Dog In recent weeks, Sarah Palin has taken the attack to the Democratic camp. First, by portraying Obama as someone who is “palling around with terrorists” an apparent reference to his earlier friendships with Bill Ayers, a sixties left wing radical and then by proclaiming that Obama wants to turn America into a “socialist paradise”. These have left the Democrats seething with anger and the hard core among the Republican camp egging her on.
Of course, this has led to resentment among moderate Republicans and as the title of this article says Palin is diving more than uniting the faithful. Pro-life and family matters Sarah Palin’s pro-life stance has drawn attention towards her own family and her daughter in particular who is single and pregnant. This has provided ammunition for the Democrats though there was enough damage control exercise done. This raised the question of how much of vetting the McCain camp did before zeroing on her.
And this left many wondering whether the McCain camp had done their homework particularly after she was found to have used her position as Governor of Alaska to influence some decisions in her family’s favor. Economic Policies Even on the subject of the tax breaks or the other proposals to shore up the economy, Sarah Palin comes across as a shrill voice adding to the clamor on Capitol Hill. There is no fresh approach to the vexed question of how far and how much should the government intervene in bailing out Wall Street.
My way politics Most pertinently, Sarah Palin is practicing what can be called the “My Way” politics. In the words of one critic, Celtic Diva (17), “Palin is transforming her base into a lynch mob”. What she is effectively saying is that her way is the only way and her supporters are the true supporters and the like. Though this may appeal to the radical right, there are nonetheless large swathes of Republican voters who would not be comfortable with this kind of rhetoric.
And it is leaving an overall sense of polarization in the country. This makes for hardly good news for a country that is deeply divided in the aftermath of the presidential elections of 2000 and 2004. Liability for McCain? While the first sections of this paper examined how Palin became a star in the initial stages of the campaign, it is now apparent that unless she comes up with some new ideas, she would become a liability instead of the trump card that the McCain camp was hoping for.
Conclusion As I mentioned in the title of the article, Sarah Palin has increasingly come to divide the electorate rather than unite them. As Basu states, “Palin should aim to Unify rather than polarize”. Her strident approach towards Obama’s proposed policies and the trenchant criticism that she reserves for her opponents are just indications of a personality that thrives on divisive politics.
While this would have been tolerable in times gone by, what this country needs now, with all the economic crises and a war that has no end in sight, is a healing figure that can re-energize the country and make Americans look forward to their place in the world. As we head into the last days of the campaign, we can expect more of the rhetoric from Palin and an increasingly strident stance. It remains to be seen how the electorate would respond to this ticket as well as the Democratic ticket on Nov 4, 2008.