Okay, before you jump all over me, I KNOW Paul Ryan isn’t as mind-numbingly dumb, inexperienced or incompetent as Sarah Palin. This is not a comparison of the two candidates. But the thinking that went into both picks is strikingly familiar.
In 2008, John McCain made Senator Obama’s “lack of experience” the defining focus of his campaign strategy. “The choice is clear”, oft repeated McCain supporters. McCain’s decades of political experience wasn’t a negative making him a ”Washington Insider”, it was an asset that qualified him to be president. But McCain, hugely unpopular within his own Party and winning his Party’s nomination almost by default as his GOP opponents crashed & burned one-by-one around him, had to make a desperate move. Still in need of winning-over his own Party, McCain decided he needed a Hail-Mary just to shore up his own base. So he picked a “game changer” (as the HBO film pointed out), Sarah Palin, a Tea Party favorite that the Extreme Right just adored but with minimal appeal to the Left & Center.
The choice of Palin, a relative political novice having served only 18 months as Governor of Alaska (and briefly mayor of a small town), to be his running mate, eviscerated McCain’s “experience” argument against Obama. Suddenly, both he and his Party were making fools of themselves on TV trying to claim Princess Dumbass of the North Woods (we’ll be forever grateful to “BlueGal” for that one), a former beauty queen turned TV sportscaster who claimed she had “foreign policy experience” due to her states’ proximity to “Russia”, was “more qualified” than the Illinois Senator that had been in public office since 1996.
Flash forward to 2012. Once again, the GOP presidential nominee, deeply disliked by Conservatives, needing a way to shore up his own base and win over the Tea Party wing of his own Party, chooses a Tea Party favorite beloved by the Extreme Right Wing of his own Party but with far less appeal among Democrats and Moderates. Romney, after running for months on his “Private Sector Experience”… even going so far as to suggest a moronic Constitutional Amendment that would require presidential nominees to have “at least three years of experience in the private sector” before they can hold that office… goes on to name a career politician lacking the very experience he argued was so important, as his running mate, eviscerating his own argument and leaving his supporters scrambling to make the case that their VP choice actually HAS the requisite experience their candidate spent months insisting his opponent lacked.
So obvious was this line of attack, that within minutes of naming Ryan as his VP pick, the Romney campaign already had at the ready a list of private sector jobs Ryan had held prior to his election to public office, including “waiter at a DC Tortilla restaurant” and (I kid you not) a brief three-month stint promoting Oscar Mayer Lunchables and “even drove the Wienermobile once” (no, I did not make that up.) Once again, the GOP’s vice-presidential nominee has even LESS experience of the type their presidential nominee claimed was crucial, and that Barack Obama supposedly lacked, and therefore “unqualified” to be president.
Similarities between Palin/Ryan picks:
- Both selected for their huge popularity within the Tea Party to generate enthusiasm for a GOP nominee greatly disliked by their own Party.
- Both are ideologues that lack broad appeal beyond the Tea Party.
- Both lack the key qualification the GOP nominee that picked them said Obama lacked: “Experience” (overall/”private sector”).
- Both suggested by Neocon leader Bill Kristol.
- Both are physically attractive enough to win over shallow voters based purely on looks alone.
And… we can only hope… the Ryan pick will end the same way for the GOP this time around as well.
A little tip for the GOP: You’re not running against Obama 2008, you’re running against a Commander-in-Chief with four years experience, who ended the War in Iraq, got Kadaffy & Osama bin Laden, and halted the economic slide that was costing us more than 700,000 jobs a month the day he took office.
Postscript: After a week of feigned outrage over an Internet-only Obama SuperPAC ad of a man blaming Bain Capitol’s deliberate bankruptcy of the company he worked for leaving him and his wife without health insurance, leading to her death from cancer, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus… in a transparent attempt to label Obama as “a murderer”… claimed “President Obama has blood on his hands” for shifting funding from one health care program (“Medicare”) to “ObamaCare” (despite not a single person losing coverage as a result.) Pathetic. Juvenile. Priebus must be the son of someone powerful. I can think of no other way he clinched the job as head of the RNC.
(Note: McCain on “Fox news Sunday” also compared the Ryan pick to his choice of Palin, calling them both “bold choices.”)
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