With all due respect to Sen. Barack Obama, I think he's mistaken about John McCain.
The selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate - a candidate not only "uniquely and supremely unqualified" for the office she seeks, but one for whom casual and cavalier abuse of power is an apparent matter of routine - is only the latest indicator that John McCain views his would-be presidency with precisely the same cynicism and carelessness that bedevils the current administration.
McCain has proven through this campaign that in the final analysis, he is nothing so much as George Bush III. His paradigm of governance is predicated on the Bushian principle of doing whatever the hell he wants to do and not giving a damn what anyone thinks about it. And as Kagro X wrote earlier this week, the selection of Sarah Palin as his top lieutenant only reinforces this fact.
Some would call this Maverickitude. Others would call it lousy leadership.
The reason that Sarah Palin's presence on the Republican ticket is so critically relevant is because it speaks volumes about John McCain's approach to governing. With the entire Republican Party plus Joe Lieberman at his disposal, John McCain picked as his chosen successor a candidate so Not Ready for Prime Time that the campaign has literally been hiding her from the press:
Over the next 60 days, I'm curious to see whether the McCain campaign will drastically restrict press access to Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin--and, if so, whether that will make any difference with voters.
I bring this up because Palin just took her first off-the-cuff question from a reporter since joining the Republican ticket last Friday.
Ah, to have a Vice President so well-informed and articulate that they only let her out of hiding when she has a TelePrompTer to guide her through her manufactured statements. Sounds like exactly the person to be One Heartbeat Away.
It's not that the McCain camp didn't know Palin wasn't ready. They knew. They came with preposterous talking points prepared, going on and on about her executive experience commanding the Alaska National Guard (to whom she never issued an order), mooseburgers, and what have you. Well, fine, but her executive experience involves a pattern of abuse of power and quid pro quo firings. It started with one of her very first acts as mayor, an attempt to censor public libraries. The problem only got worse when she became governor; her vendetta against State Trooper (and former brother in law) Mike Wooten led her not only to fire a competent public servant and replace him with a sexual harasser, but to break into his personnel file to dig up dirt on him.
And yet, the McCain campaign, in selecting Palin over legions of Republican women with superior qualifications, essentially placed their seal of approval on Palin's Bushesque style of governing. AsKagro X notes, it is the hallmark of Palin's tenure in politics that she expects to do as she pleases without consequence:
There are a million problems with naming someone as Not Ready for Prime Time as Sarah Palin to the ticket. But one that deserves more attention is the broader implications of her "it's not rocket science" attitude toward governance.
While it's a great applause line for the Republican Party faithful who hate government anyway, and who, frankly, have fallen a bit too much in love with anti-intellectualism, it's also indicative of the fact that she's grafted together the absolute worst possible aspects of several different brands of Republicanism.
She's never played in a world where there are real procedures that are in place for a real reason. She thinks everything's a PTA meeting, and she can just do what she wants, because she's the boss and everyone hates red tape. Fire town officials on a whim? Sure. Fire state officials on a whim? Well, sure. Though it turns out someone actually cares about process a little bit there. Still, it's Alaska! So who'll ever focus on it?
It is this view of governance, this paradigm of how "executives" should act when faced with circumstances they don't love, in which McCain believes so strongly as to endorse it in his Vice-Presidential nominee. Since Palin is, after all, his chosen lieutenant. The most terrifying aspect of Sarah Palin's selection is not that John McCain did not properly vet her. It's that he probably did vet her...and he found that this reckless, me-first attitude towards governing matched his own.
And as befitting one of George W. Bush's top lieutenants, John McCain's disregard for rules and procedure - charmingly dismissed as "mavericky" by his supporters - have already been evident in his campaign, as he has repeatedly violated copyright law by stealing music for his campaign from such varied sources as John Mellencamp, Van Halen, Frankie Valli, and Heart. As MissLaura opined:
Let's be clear: this is not McCain's campaign screwing up. This is McCain's campaign betting that the trouble they will get in for appropriating someone else's property without permission will be outweighed by the stagecraft benefits of having the right song playing at the right time. In other words, he's campaigning like he'll govern.
This was called to his campaign's attention weeks ago, yet he's done it again today, stealing Heart's "Barracuda" on his running mate's behalf. But who cares? Screw the law! If we get fined, Cindy can pay for it!
Like Musicgate, the disastrous selection of Sarah Palin isn't an amusing screwup by the McCain camp, or a failure to do homework. Walter Reed Middle School is an amusing screwup. But Sarah Palin's failings speak to John McCain's failings. He could care less about her authoritarian, my-way-or-the-highway attitude towards governance (or maybe that's what he found attractive in her). He could care less whether Sarah Palin is prepared to lead the nation. He wanted her, so goddamn it, he'll have her, and America will have her, and they'll fucking like it!
It's not that John McCain doesn't get it. It's that he doesn't care. Not unlike the current occupant of the Oval Office.
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