McCain gam­bled and U.S. may be the win­ner

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - Pat Buchanan

The risk John McCain took on Aug. 29 is com­pa­ra­ble to the 72-year-old ex­fighter pi­lot knock­ing back two shots and fly­ing his F16 un­der the Golden Gate Bridge.

Mr. McCain’s choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to be his co-pi­lot was the big­gest gam­ble in pres­i­den­tial his­tory. As of now, it is pay­ing off, big-time.

The sen­sa­tional se­lec­tion in Day­ton, Ohio, stepped all over the big story from Den­ver — Barack Obama’s pow­er­ful ad­dress to 85,000 cheer­ing folks in Mile High Sta­dium, and 35 mil­lion na­tion­ally, a speech that vaulted him from a 2-point deficit early in the week to an 8-point mar­gin. Barack had never be­fore reached 49 per­cent against Mr. McCain.

As the Democrats were be­ing rudely stepped on, how­ever, Mrs. Palin ig­nited an ex­plo­sion of en­thu­si­asm among con­ser­va­tives, Evan­gel­i­cals, tra­di­tional Catholics, gun own­ers and Right to Lif­ers not seen in decades.

By pass­ing over his friends Joe Lieber­man and Tom Ridge, and pick­ing Mrs. Palin, Mr. McCain has given him­self a fight­ing chance of winning the White House that, be­fore Aug. 29, seemed to be slip­ping away. In- deed, the bristling re­ac­tion on the left tes­ti­fies to Demo­cratic fears that the choice of Mrs. Palin could in­deed be a game-changer in 2008.

Lib­er­als howl that Mrs. Palin has no ex­pe­ri­ence, no qual­i­fi­ca­tions to be pres­i­dent of the United States. But the lady has more ex­ec­u­tive ex­pe­ri­ence than Mr. McCain, Joe Bi­den and Mr. Obama put to­gether.

None of them has ever started or run a busi­ness as Mrs. Palin did. None of them has run a gi­ant state like Alaska, which is larger than Cal­i­for­nia and Texas put to­gether. And though Alaska is not pop­u­lous, Gov. Palin has as many con­stituents as Nancy Pelosi or Mr. Bi­den.

She has no for­eign pol­icy ex­pe­ri­ence, we are told. And though Alaska’s neigh­bors are Canada and Rus­sia, the point is valid. But from the day she takes of­fice, Mrs. Palin will get daily brief­ings and sit on the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil with the presi- dent and sec­re­taries of state, trea­sury and de­fense.

She will be up to speed in her first year.

And her ex­pe­ri­ence as gov­er­nor of Alaska, deal­ing with the oil in­dus­try and pipe­line agree­ments with Canada, cer­tainly com­pares fa­vor­ably with that of Mr. Obama, a com­mu­nity or­ga­nizer who dealt in the mommy is­sues of food stamps and rent sub­si­dies.

Where Mr. Obama has poo­dled along with the Da­ley Ma­chine, Mrs. Palin routed the Repub­li­can es­tab­lish­ment, chal­leng­ing and oust­ing a sit­ting GOP gov­er­nor be­fore de­feat­ing a for­mer Demo­cratic gov­er­nor to be­come the first fe­male and youngest gov­er­nor in state his­tory.

For his bold­ness in choos­ing Mrs. Palin, Mr. McCain de­serves enor­mous credit. He has made an ex­traor­di­nary ges­ture to con­ser­va­tives and the party base, of­fer­ing his old an­tag­o­nists a part­ner’s share in his pres­i­dency. And his de­ci­sion is likely to be re­warded with a mas­sive and en­thu­si­as­tic turnout for the McCain-Palin ticket. Rarely has this writer en­coun­tered such an out­burst of en­thu­si­asm on the right.

In choos­ing Mrs. Palin, Mr. McCain may also have changed the course of his­tory as much as Ike did with his choice of Richard Nixon and Ron­ald Rea­gan did with his choice of Ge­orge H.W. Bush. For should this ticket win, Mrs. Palin will eclipse ev­ery other Repub­li­can as heir ap­par­ent to the pres­i­dency and will have her own power base among Lif­ers, Evan­gel­i­cals, gun folks and con­ser­va­tives — wholly in­de­pen­dent of Pres­i­dent McCain.

A tra­di­tional con­ser­va­tive on so­cial is­sues, Mrs. Palin has be­come, overnight, the most price­less po­lit­i­cal as­set the move­ment has. Look for the neo­cons to move with all de­lib­er­ate speed to take her into their camp by press­ing upon her ad­vis­ers and staff, and steer­ing her into the AEI-Weekly Stan­dard-War Party or­bit.

In­deed, if Mr. McCain de­feats Mr. Obama, 2012 could see women on both na­tional tick­ets, and given Mr. McCain’s age and the pos­si­bil­ity he in­tends to serve a sin­gle term, women at the top of both — Sarah vs. Hil­lary.

The ar­rival of Mrs. Palin on the na­tional scene, with her youth, charisma and vi­tal­ity, prob­a­bly also por­tends a chang­ing of the guard in Wash­ing­ton.

With Repub­li­cans hav­ing zero chance of cap­tur­ing ei­ther House, and but a slim chance of avoid­ing losses in both, a Vice Pres­i­dent Palin, with her rep­u­ta­tion as a rebel and re­former, would surely in­spire sim­i­lar re­volts in the Repub­li­can cau­cuses.

As Thomas Jef­fer­son said, from time to time, a lit­tle re­bel­lion in the po­lit­i­cal world is as nec­es­sary as storms in the phys­i­cal.

The Palin nom­i­na­tion could back­fire, but it is hard to see how. She has passed her first test, her in­tro­duc­tion to the na­tion, with wit and grace. And the Oba­maBi­den ticket, hav­ing al­ready alien­ated mil­lions of women with the dis­re­spect­ing of Hil­lary, is un­likely to start at­tack­ing an­other woman whose sole of­fense is that she had just been given the chance to break the glass ceil­ing at the na­tional level.

Her nom­i­na­tion, which will bring the Repub­li­can right home, also frees up Mr. McCain to ap­peal to mod­er­ates and lib­er­als, which has long been his stock in trade.

With his se­lec­tion of Sarah Palin, John McCain has not only shaken up this elec­tion, he may have helped shape the fu­ture of the United States — and much for the bet­ter.

Pat Buchanan is a na­tion­ally syndicated colum­nist.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.