You know the world has changed…

By skepticlawyer

… when the best golfer in the world is black, the best rapper in the world is white, and the best basketballer in the world is Chinese.

And when the Republicans endorse a working-class woman for Vice President (not to mention all the other firsts in this topsy-turvy election year).

UPDATE: There’s some analysis from LP here.

My view of this is pretty simple: this is McCain calling out the Republican base, based on a huntin’ shootin’ easy on the eye former commercial fisherwoman with genuine working-class roots. That said, the Repubs can play identity politics, too, although it’s always secondary to sheer political skill for them. Sarah Palin’s husband (Alaska’s ‘first dude’, he calls himself) is a Native American oil-fitter and champion snowmobile/sled-dog racer, and the play to the gender gallery in McCain’s choice is clear (albeit secondary, as mentioned). If the media treats her badly (as they did Hillary) based on gender the backlash will be obvious and brutal, and Obama will pay for it at the polls.

Likewise, too, the main areas of criticism for each party have now cancelled each other out. Both Obama and Palin are very inexperienced (although Palin, to be fair, has executive experience, which even McCain and Biden don’t have), and both McCain and Biden are very old. I reckon the two parties will dance around the age/inexperience issue for a week or so, realise it’s a non-starter, and be forced to debate other stuff. It should be funny to watch.

Palin is more conservative than McCain, especially on second amendment issues. Funnily enough, her opposition to abortion appears to be personal rather than legislative, based on the fact that she has a disabled child (Downs Syndrome). She’s supported stem-cell research in the past (always the litmus test for anti-abortion types) and has dragged her state into the black financially by stomping on ‘establishment interests’, including Alaska’s oil barons.

How will this play? As I said on Facebook last night (and started a Facebook thread – very strange), I think John McCain is as cunning as a shithouse rat, and that this is an inspired pick. As to whether the poll bounce will last – that depends on how the campaign goes. The worst thing for the Obama campaign would be a reemergence of the sexism that dogged Hillary; it’d no longer look like an accident, a response to Hillary as an individual rather than Hillary as a woman. It’d look like something else, and there’s only one person who’d be able to pay that bill – Obama himself, on November 4. One of the commenters on my Facebook thread pointed out that Caucasian women trail African-American men by about 7 years in terms of achievements in the US. If true, that is the mother of all double-edged swords.

UPDATE II: Well, that was the weirds. Apparently people at Daily Kos started a vicious rumour that Sarah Palin’s youngest son (Trig, the boy with Downs) was actually Palin’s daughter’s (no, I’m not going to link to it), and that Palin was ‘covering’ for her. It turns out that the oldest daughter is actually five months pregnant, and is going to keep the baby. That a normal pregnancy somehow got turned into that weirdly nasty speculation isn’t something I care to examine in any more detail than absolutely necessary. On top of some of the vile comments around the intertubes (more here) about the Palin children’s names (errr, they’re Native American names), I’m starting to wonder if there isn’t more to the class divide than I’d thought, at least in America. It seems that for some ‘progressives’ Barack Obama’s children’s obviously Afro names are okay, but Sarah Palin’s children’s Native American names aren’t. What the Hell is going on across the Atlantic?

Tim Blair discusses another source for the rumour. AFAIK, however, it started with Daily Kos.


  1. Posted August 30, 2008 at 6:55 am | Permalink

    Yes the republican choice for VP will make some commentators squirm big time and it will be interesting to see if that helps make the disappointed Hillary Clinton supporters who have claimed they will choose McCain over Obama even more likely to make the switch in tNovember

  2. conrad
    Posted August 30, 2008 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    I’m not sure had “non-typical” she really is. Anti-abortion, five children, highly religious, member of a pro-life “feminist” organization (it’s true!!). What else could you want?

    I’d prefer Michael Palin anyday to almost any politician :). Michael Palin for president!

  3. jc
    Posted August 30, 2008 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    At the very least the GOP finally decided on two people that actually speak in public unlike Bush. That’s progress, I guess.

  4. Posted August 30, 2008 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    I think it’s always easier for the conservative side of politics to endorse a “non-typical” candidate.

    There was a piece on this in a political theory journal I read ages ago. Outstanding. I wish I’d hung on to the reference.

    The argument basically says that the mainstream Left are cautious about putting, say, women up for a top job because they fear both that it will be seen as tokenism and/or too radical. The Right have no such problems as they tend to resist any challenge to the status quo until it becomes the status quo.

    Together it entails a certain progress. Condoleeza Rice for example may be regarded as a lot of things but she is not regarded as token largely because Bush et al have no interest in such tokenism. In terms of feminism right-wing polticians can often be in a better place to destroy stereotypes. The old stereotype about women being not tough enough to govern for example is blown away by Thatcher.

  5. Posted August 30, 2008 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    Eminem might be the most successful MC in the business but the best? Nuh!

  6. Posted August 30, 2008 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    Boris Johnston once put it this way: the left opens the door, but the right walks through.

    Also, a minority politician on the right very seldom represents their minority, because as a general rule conservatives and libertarians are uninterested in group rights, so any minority leader on the right is there on merit alone.

    Obama’s ball and chain in this election is still his nutjob minister, due to the tendency of minority leaders on the left to be tied to a group. Palin can deflect questions on abortion (and it does seem to be a personal, rather than legislative opposition, as she’s approved stem-cell research) ‘It’s because I have a baby with Downs’, rendering the position entirely individual.

    Still, all very interesting to watch for people who don’t have to live in the US 😉

  7. Posted August 30, 2008 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

    I noticed there was some blogospherical belligerence about the timing of McCain’s announcement – because it was meant to distract attention away from Obama’s nomination as the Democratic candidate (true) which showed a lack of respect by the Republicans… aaaaaand it was at this point that I started scrunching up my eyes and making ‘huh’? noises, ‘cos a) it’s been common knowledge that Barack was going to be the Democratic nominee for weeks and b) the way the Republicans, Obama’s opponents, will show him the most respect will be by giving him all that they’ve got, by treating him like a difficult and hard-to-beat opponent.

    I don’t know. It just strikes me that this sort of grumbling by the American left about the underhanded tactics by the Republicans and their lack of respect (or something) will just be a big distraction for them, and may well lose them the election.

  8. Posted August 30, 2008 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

    All part of the McCain cunning, Tim, which this evidences more than anything else. Sad to say I thought Palin would be his pick nearly a month ago, and then didn’t put any money on her (I only gamble on cricket as a general rule). I’m looking at the £200+ I could have made with some irritation.

  9. AJ
    Posted August 30, 2008 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

    “I think it’s always easier for the conservative side of politics to endorse a “non-typical” candidate”

    There maybe some validity to this. But it really should be noted that the Democrats pulled this exact same stunt, (i.e. picking a unknown, inexperienced, conservative, “working class” woman to be the VP running mate) 24 years ago.

  10. Posted August 31, 2008 at 2:48 am | Permalink

    I suspect the problem for the Democrats is the possibility that such a candidate is nominated for his or her identity, not any particular skill. Palin would be nowhere near the Veep spot if she hadn’t proven her smarts by chewing up the Alaskan GOP and then spitting it out.

  11. Sinclair Davidson
    Posted August 31, 2008 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    The betting market isn’t predicting a close race. Obama is a 60% chance to win. That can change, of course, but right now the smart money is on the Democrat.

  12. Posted August 31, 2008 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    Based on that Obama should be a shoe-in, and betting markets are usually right – although they didn’t spot Palin as Veep pick (still shitty about moneys foregone, natch).

  13. jc
    Posted August 31, 2008 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    Does anyone know the success history of the betting markets?

  14. Posted August 31, 2008 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    Intrade picked Bush in 2004. That said, Obama is trending down 3 points each 15 days, so it’s still likely to be pretty interesting if that continues. Plus the Repub base have poured millions into McCain’s coffers over the last 24 hours.

  15. Jacques Chester
    Posted August 31, 2008 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    I reckon it’s an attempt to pinch disgruntled Hillary voters. Plus to downplay the historic nomination of Obama (although, of course, every presidential candidate is historic).

    If McCain wins, there’s a possibility she’ll wind up president through death. He’s looking mighty decrepit.

  16. Posted August 31, 2008 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    If he was after Hillary voters, he’d have picked the pro-choice Texan woman. No, this is a play for the base.

  17. Posted August 31, 2008 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    You’re thinking of Mitt Romney, and yes, there’s agreement on both sides of politics that he got shitcanned because he was Mormon (Christian, but not mainstream).

    That said, Palin was baptised Catholic and now attends a ‘non-denominational’ Christian church. The NYT called her an ‘evangelical’, which is flat wrong, and which her voting history shows up. Her first gubernatorial veto was directed at a legislative attempt to deny same-sex couples access to health and super benefits.

  18. Sinclair Davidson
    Posted August 31, 2008 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    JC, see here

  19. Mike Marsh
    Posted August 31, 2008 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    Re the Intrade odds of 60% on Obama: remember, there’s no correlation between Intrade odds and the polls. Obama only needs to be 2% ahead in the polls and if it’s a stable 2%, he’d be 60% odds to win. But that 2% can evaporate very quickly, resulting in very large and sudden changes in the betting market odds.

  20. Posted August 31, 2008 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    The betting market isn’t predicting a close race.

    Hard to tell with this one… haven’t had enough time for Republican VP pick to settle in – plus the odds may be skewed by non-US people betting, who – to borrow a phrase from Obama – don’t get it.

    Obama is more popular outside the US, after all…

  21. Posted August 31, 2008 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    Lets keep this thread serious. What about the day when the world’s best fast bowler is an Indian or Sri Lankan?
    How come the Pakis produce fast bowlers but the Indians don’t? The pitches or the demography?

  22. Sinclair Davidson
    Posted August 31, 2008 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

    Fleeced – not sure hown much the non-US betters distort the market. Hopefully they would prefer to win money than simply bet their hopes. (Although I am unsentimental about these things, I tip against my footy team if I don’t think they’ll win). Just as a quick test I compared the odds at Centrebet to Intrade. Centrebet I calculate Obama on 63% to win and Intrade has him at about 60%.

  23. conrad
    Posted August 31, 2008 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

    I’m really surprised at the odds — I find them surpisingly low for Obama. I mean, given the Republicans have almost bankrupted the country to China and various Gulf States and spent 2 trillion on fighting wars in places the average citizen can’t point to on a map, what else could they do to get worse odds than that?

  24. John Greenfield
    Posted September 1, 2008 at 5:53 am | Permalink

    Sarah Palin is the type Australia so needs: Pauline Hanson with brains. The Luvvie Yanks would do well to learn from the disaster that befell Australian Luvvies when they went for Pauline’s jugular!

  25. Sinclair Davidson
    Posted September 1, 2008 at 5:57 am | Permalink

    Conrad – there’s still two months to go. If inexperience is a problem for Obama then he can still lose it (some sort of campaign gaffe), so the market should reflect that.

  26. John Greenfield
    Posted September 1, 2008 at 6:04 am | Permalink

    Who wants to bet that the Luvvies and LP wymyn won’t trash La Palin? As I have long said, the wymyn are socialists before they are feminists, which partly explains their putrid racism towards black women!

  27. John Greenfield
    Posted September 1, 2008 at 6:08 am | Permalink

    Given that the VP and President have little more than 3/5 of fuck-all to do with abortion availability, any woman who does not vote for her purely because she decided to have her handicapped child is pretty sick.

  28. Posted September 1, 2008 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    Well that’ll teach me to write posts about the US election. I’ve just had to empty 96 spam comments out of the bucket, and I’m quite sure LE’s been around to do more emptying earlier in the day. Everything from dodgy drugs to knitting patterns!

  29. John Greenfield
    Posted September 1, 2008 at 6:44 am | Permalink


    I love that comment by the adorable Boris Johnson. I had always thought that the first black US president would be a Republican and probably a woman. Oh well, can’t be right all the time. 😉

  30. A. Atomou
    Posted September 1, 2008 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    Let’s not all be silly about this: The final decision will be made by… Diebold (aka diabolo) and we all know how the devil votes!

    My cynical view (very typical of me) is that Ms Palin was brought in because the GOP thought to themselves, “here’s our opportunity to tell the world we’re not fussed about gender.” It’s an “opportunity” for them because they fear that they’re not going to win anyhow, so they’ll try and dispel the well earned of sexual bias by doing during “safe” times. Then, later, when the chance to win is higher -in their eyes only, of course- they’ll give short shrift of such moral dilemmas and get back to being who they really are: a patronising, male dominated, apartheid group of thugs that call themselves a “party.”
    Women in “high” places? Sure but women as President? No way, no how, Hillary! Or is that the Dems? lol

    But this GOP lot is not a “conservative” party, at least not according to the general definition of the term. They’re not even a “Right Wing” party, at least not according to the general definition of the term. There is a need for new nomenclature that defines this GOP, specific to it, identifying as something totally different and locating it, both geographically and ideologically, as the “American Republican” style of governance, which, of course, is neither “American” nor “Republican.”
    But that’s another story!

  31. A. Atomou
    Posted September 1, 2008 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    Just read my comments above! Never again will I write anything while I’m cooking! God, darn it! Sorry folks!

  32. A. Atomou
    Posted September 1, 2008 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    Greenfield, vulgar language does not enhance nor improve your statement in the slightest.
    It’s a pity the blog doesn’t have an “ignore member” button.

  33. Posted September 1, 2008 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    It turns out that Palin is not a creation scientist so the skeptics can all relax. Her view on creationism in the classroom looks a lot like mine, if it comes up discuss it critically which is what science is all about anyway!

    I don’t have a dog in this fight because both parties are committed to big government intervention but the two Rep candidates look like the most genuine people who have been up for office in living memory.

    On some reports the attention to Palin has wiped out the bounce that Obama achieved at the convention and the Democrat sleaze machine is dipping into the bottom of the barrel to get back at her.

    Actually if the Democrat faithful cared about their constituency at home they would put their time and money directly where they might do some good, instead of playing politics to throw other people’s money into welfare and cognate issues dear to the left. Too much to expect of course, they are too addicted to politics and power to care about consequences.

  34. Posted September 2, 2008 at 4:18 am | Permalink

    I’ve just updated the post. At least some people in the USA play their politics in the sewer. Actually, no, make that below the sewer.

  35. Steve Edney
    Posted September 2, 2008 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    It was a bizzarre rumor given that its about 100 times more likely for a 44 year old to have a baby with downs syndrome than a 17 year old.

  36. Sinclair Davidson
    Posted September 2, 2008 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    SL – you’re being too nice about it. The left have a problem with women – especially smart, attractive women who manage life and work and who are not raving loonies.

  37. Posted September 2, 2008 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    It turns out that Palin is not a creation scientist so the skeptics can all relax. Her view on creationism in the classroom looks a lot like mine, if it comes up discuss it critically which is what science is all about anyway!

    Well there’s a certain disagreement there Rafe:

    “Teach both,” Palin said. “You know, don’t be afraid of information… I am a proponent of teaching both.”

    Which is the latest salvo from the likes of the Discovery Institute which calls for ‘open-minded’ debate meaning that a preposterous melange of theological claptrap cooked up by theocratic reactionaries should be side by side on the curricula with Darwin and Gould.
    That’s not ‘if it comes up discuss it’.
    Andrew Bolt of course links to another rigidly partisan blogger who writes:

    Looks like Palin made an off-the-cuff statement during a debate on a hot topic, didn’t really expect the criticism she’d get, and then softened her position considerably in a follow-up interview.

    If this was Obama’s problem Little Green Footballs would have course said he was spinning things desperately trying to cover up his true views blah blah blah.

    Anyway in this profile in Newsweek she’s likewise on record as supporting Creationism on the curricula:

    Palin said during her run that creationism should be taught alongside evolution in schools. She was baptized in an Assembly of God church, a Pentecostal denomination that believes God created the world at every step. Maria Comella, a spokeswoman for the McCain-Palin campaign, said Palin attends different churches and does not consider herself Pentecostal.

    The story does quite a good explication of Palin’s anti-corruption activity and her opposition to Big Oil cartels as well.

    Viz creationism Palin’s fairly periferal to the issue. I idn’t think, whatever her views personally, that putting ID in science class is a priority. I’d be more worried if Huckabee’d been nominated.


  38. Posted September 2, 2008 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

    Sinclair, I really do hope your wrong, or that – if you’re right – the characteristic is not very widely spread.

  39. Sinclair Davidson
    Posted September 4, 2008 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    SL – I’m sure some lefties don’t have a problem, but many do. See this sort of thing.

  40. John Greenfield
    Posted September 4, 2008 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    Sinclair is spot on. Check out their jealous rage at successful women who are more highly educated than the feminists, better paid, more successful, are married and also have children.

    But their recent contempt for black women turns my stomach.

    I have said for ages, that the LP wymyn are less feminists than they are socialists, with all the ugliness that goes with that religion.

2 Trackbacks

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