Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Sarah Palin factor

Many conservative pundits are blaming the MSM for John McCain's loss of the presidential race to Barack Obama. There is no doubt that the MSM picked Obama very early on when he became a real contender against Hillary Clinton and paved his way to the White House with largely uncritical and unexamined coverage. I have seen the same sort of thing happen in Canada, notably with the media cornation of the late Pierre Elliott Trudeau.

It is a tribute to the discernment of the American voters that Obama only won by 5% of the popular vote, although he swept the electoral college vote. Obama outspent McCain by a much larger margin than the results would warrant, about $10 per vote versus $6 per vote. Additionally, McCain's campaign was a bit of a shambles, seeming to lurch all over the place with no clear message about what he would do to fix the U.S. On the other side, Obama's campaign came off as flawlessly as a space shuttle launch. His only flub was when he let his guard down and referred to people in the northern midwest as losers "clinging to their guns and their religion." But even in those states he did well.

I always thought that Obama was a good-looking guy, in a $1,500 suit, with a great speaking voice and a good command of English, who was overly ambitious, given his thin credentials. If he had a counterpart in Canada, who publicly reeks personal ambition, it would be Jack Layton, leader of the NDP.

His record of public service in government was very slight and not without question marks. Some of the people he was associated with were dubious characters and I thought his remark about his grandmother's racism when she was still alive to hear it was disgraceful.

It remains to be seen whether his presidency can match his rhetoric. For the sake of the United States and the world, I sincerely hope so.

For my part, I thought the turning point in the election was McCain bringing in Sarah Palin as the VP candidate. After initially giving a shot of adrenaline to the GOP campaign, she quickly became an albatross. It was the Katie Couric interview that caused many people to say, "She said what?"

Up to that point McCain had a clear edge in putting himself forward as a much more experienced guy than Obama, and his age was not then telling against him. Once Palin entered the picture, people began to think about his age and the chance that he might not finish his term in office and (shudder)Palin might be the decision maker. She effectively removed Obama's Achilles' heel, the inexperience factor, and replaced it with the ageism concern.

It was not the MSM that created Sarah Palin, she sank the GOP campaign all on her own, with her lack of general knowlege, her inarticulate syntax, and her country bumpkin colloquialisms and saucy little winks. Simply by pronouncing the "g" on the words ending in "ing" would have gone a long way to boost her apparent intelligence factor.

If she was supposed to appeal to the Christian right wing with her "end of days" beliefs, why didn't McCain pick Mike Huckabee, a very credible candidate from that end of the political spectrum, and equally as folksy and likeable, but without the "how dumb can she be" question hanging over his head?

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