10 October 2008

Sarah Palin-smashing the glass ceiling or running into a brick wall?

In selecting Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate, John McCainhas changed the whole dynamic of the 2008 election. It’s easy to imagine theObama team squirming with discomfort at the choice of a woman running againstthem, especially one who has already shown she is happy to use Hillary Clinton’sattempt to smash the ‘glass ceiling’ of male dominated American politics as aweapon with which to bash Obama. ClearlyGovernor Palin was chosen as a direct response to Clinton not being on theticket, a savvy move by the increasingly organised McCain campaign.

The biggest surprise is not that Palin was chosen, but whyshe wasn’t being talked about earlier. A pro-life, card-carrying member of theNRA whose son is about to serve in Iraq, she enjoys a near 80% approval ratingin Alaska. Furthermore, simply by beinga woman she has a chance to steal a significant minority of Clinton support,though her opposition to abortion rights may be a problem for many pro-choiceClinton followers. She is a potential antidote to what may seem like a ratherdull Republican convention in Minnesota after all the excitement in Denver. Expectto hear the phrases ‘Hockey mom’ and ‘Washington outsider’ a lot, as TheMcCain-Palin ticket tries to portray itself as a Maverick brand of experienceand change, on a mission to shake up Washington. However despite all thepositives of Palin she could also damage the Republican campaign. Not onlycould her Conservative track-record scare off some independents looking forbi-partisanship, but her thin resume could also cause a problem. As well asleaving a relatively inexperienced candidate a breath away from the Presidency,it also causes issues with McCain attacking Obama on experience. As well asthese issues she is also under-investigation in an ethics probe for dismissinga top law enforcement official seemingly because he failed to sack a statetrooper who had divorced her sister. Expect this issue to be exploited in anattempt to damage Palin’s reputation as a leader in the fights againstcorruption.

The Gallup Daily Tracking poll showed Obama eight points up nationally49% to 41% yesterday. Although this was partly due to the bump from his choiceof VP and the media attention from the Democratic convention it showed perhapsMcCain needed to do something to grab the spotlight. There is no doubt this was it. What remains tobe seen is whether Palin can successfully portray herself as an icon on thelevel of Hillary Clinton and give McCain a foothold in what is essentially achange election, or whether she becomes a liability whose appointment asrunning mate seems increasingly like a political ploy...

By Chris Tarquini

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