Saturday, August 30, 2008

Frum Bill

At National Review, David Frum begins his dyspeptic little post on Sarah Palin:

The longer I think about it, the less well this selection sits with me. And I increasingly doubt that it will prove good politics. The Palin choice looks cynical. The wires are showing.

John McCain wanted a woman: good.

He wanted to keep conservatives and pro-lifers happy: naturally...

I hardly ever do this, but couldn't help myself. I sent him an email asking why "good" morphed into "naturally."

29 comments:

Jeff Miller said...

Yeah reenergizing the base is not "good politics"

zippy said...

Frum:
But question: If it were your decision, and you were putting your country first, would you put an untested small-town mayor a heartbeat away from the presidency?

She is the governor of a state, Frum, you jerk.

It is hard to imagine an inexperienced person screwing up as badly as all the experienced people have screwed up, if only because an inexperienced person might possibly not have developed the level of hubris normally required in order to get the job.

I've never been that impressed with the "not enough experience" mantra. It reminds me of Ross Perot's line about Clinton, that running Arkansas and thinking you can be President is like running a corner 7-11 and thinking you can run Wal-Mart. Nice rhetoric; but in this game lack of experience may well represent a moral advantage.

There are a number of doubtful things about Palin (e.g. her first veto as governor), and there is a lot more we need to know about her (e.g. where does she stand on ESCR?). She's obviously not perfect, and as the VP rather than presidential candidate she isn't going to sway my own course of action.

But she's made a really great first impression.

William Luse said...

Jeff, I have a suspicion, from his manner of wording, that Frum is probably ambivalent about abortion.

It is hard to imagine an inexperienced person screwing up as badly as all the experienced people have screwed up, if only because an inexperienced person might possibly not have developed the level of hubris normally required in order to get the job.

Yup. I got on Obama about lack of experience, but mostly because it was fun. I'm looking for judgement. For example, someone whose judgement tells him that murdering the innocent is never, ever permissible. I don't care whether he's sat in the senate for 2 years or thirty; if he can't get certain things right, he's worthless. Palin has had plenty of experience standing up to opponents and then actually getting something done over their still living bodies. That good first impression is probably the result of the fact that she doesn't seem all full of herself simply because she holds office. She's not a pompous blowhard. She doesn't seem to hate her opponents. She likes people, is gracious to others, and radiates a happiness that at least appears to find its origin in an understanding that she is a child of God, and that He has been good to her in many ways. From what I can see. Imperfections will be discovered. But, Godalmighty, give me this freshness any day over "experience."

John Fraser said...

Is this honestly what politics has come to in this country? What the hell is wrong with you guys? Look, I'm a staunch pro-lifer, and my wife worked as an office manager of a local Right To Life office in Michigan for several years. I'm glad there's a pro-life voice on the ticket. But can't you even recognize the point that Frum is making? It's like you've all gone so ga-ga over this woman that you overlook the very obvious lack of knowledge we have that she could be up to the job.

Just think about it. What if 2 years from now President Palin announces that the U.S. is sending troops into South Ossetia to stabilize the region? Or use whatever example you want. Invading Iran, say. Would you have a lot of confidence in President Palin's ability to make decisions like that based on her two years' experience as governor of Alaska and extensive time as mayor of Wasilla? (oh, and two years as V.P. under McCain, of course).

The dismissiveness with which you guys treat these criticisms deeply concerns me. I don't think anyone's thinking rationally here. You have to at least acknowledge that there is valid cause for concern.

The argument that the experienced people have screwed up, so let's send in someone almost completely inexperienced just does not seem like a sound argument to me.

William Luse said...

You have to at least acknowledge that there is valid cause for concern.

No I don't.

The argument that the experienced people have screwed up, so let's send in someone almost completely inexperienced just does not seem like a sound argument to me.

Maybe not, but you haven't demonstrated what's wrong with it. In fact, your own words seem to bolster it.

What if 2 years from now President Palin announces that the U.S. is sending troops into South Ossetia to stabilize the region?

You must think she's not only unprepared, but insane. Are you trying to convict her of something she hasn't done, and has given no inkling she ever would do. Let's pretend it's 2001. Two years from now Bush and Cheney are going to send troops into Iraq to stabilize the region. Let's hear it for experience. Let's pretend it's 2008. The head of the Democratic ticket, who could very well become president - and supported by his pseudo-Catholic running mate of 30 years longevity in the Senate - has a limitless, bloodthirsty tolerance for murdering babies in and out of the womb. Palin doesn't. Let's hear it for experience.

I already told you I'd vote for Lydia McGrew over McCain and Obama because she's against that sort of thing, whether by abortion or disembowelment of leftover embryos. She has no experience. But she has judgement, to which experience sometimes offers no avail.

I've also never said - even with Palin on the ticket - that I'd vote for it. Never. It "deeply concerns" me that you haven't noticed.

John Fraser said...

How do my own words bolster the case for inexperience over experience? As for what's wrong with the argument, just try applying the same thinking to any other field and see what happens. It's also the argument that Republicans were pressing so hard against Obama. Isn't it just a tad hypocritical for them to be going so wild over Palin now when she has even less experience at the national level than Obama?

"Are you trying to convict her of something she hasn't done"

I'm not trying to convict her of anything. I'm just trying to ask some questions. This is partly my point. It's like just asking questions is treated like convicting her of something, or of saying that she's unfit for office. If I was hiring someone for a job I'd have to go on their resume for things that are relevant to that position, especially if I didn't know them personally. But the fact that I'm attacked just for asking questions is what disturbs me. It's sort of like the liberals going so beserk over Obama because of his supposed charm. Now conservatives are doing basically the same thing with Palin. It ends up looking like a big popularity contest.

"I've also never said - even with Palin on the ticket - that I'd vote for it. Never. It "deeply concerns" me that you haven't noticed."

Did I say that you said you'd vote for McCain-Palin? How is that even a relevant comment? I've made no statement about it one way or the other.

zippy said...

John:
If I had any inkling of actually voting for McCain -- I don't -- then I would be concerned about what she thinks about a lot of things. (Not so much experience; just how she thinks). And even while abstaining those things are of course very, very pertinent.

As it is, though, I'm just saying that she is in fact a real breath of fresh air over the usual crap.

William Luse said...

How do my own words bolster the case for inexperience over experience?

You've already confessed that the experienced people have screwed up. So the case against inexperienced people in possession of good judgment in a number of crucial areas is not clear to me. Politics is not a "field" like any other. Good judgement does not come with mastery of some subject matter like economics or the law or military field tactics, and in this regard Palin's "life experience" seems to be of as much value as that of any other candidate's. If you consider Obama's two years in the Senate "experience at the federal level," then we just have different ideas of what matters. My Lydia McGrew example seems to have passed you by. Oh well. You're also taking this too personally. Here and at W4 you've complained about being attacked. I have not attacked you nor have I -as did one commenter - called you a liberal.

Did I say that you said you'd vote for McCain-Palin? How is that even a relevant comment?

Well, when you say "What the hell is wrong with you guys?" and " I don't think anyone's thinking rationally here" and "so let's send in someone almost completely inexperienced", you can't blame me for assuming that you think she has my unqualified support. And if you didn't think I supported her, then why are you complaining to me.

But such misimpressions are common to the occasional passerby and don't concern me very much.

John Fraser said...

William,

Well, your posts here do give an impression of support for Palin. But the point of this post of yours was to attack this article which called into question Palin's experience, so that's what I addressing. Sorry if I came on a little too strong. I haven't been posting at W4 that long and I got attacked by like three different people on the same thread for what seemed to me like not very good reasons. I guess I overreacted.

Anyhow, I seem to remember eight years ago when everyone was hitching their wagon to a star called Dubya, and that didn't seem to work out quite the way everyone hoped. This feels like a repeat to me. I'm not really sure it's helping anything.

This is why I generally stay out of political discussions. Maybe I should go back to that policy.

John Fraser said...

Oh, that apology was for you other guys, too.

Lydia McGrew said...

John, I don't know if it's an American vs. Canadian thing or something, but you have to realize that a lot of us, your fellow conservatives, are _really_ ready for a Mr. Smith Goes to Washington moment. I won't vote for McCain anyway, and the VP doesn't get to do a whole lot anyway, so this probably isn't such a moment. But it has something of the feel of one, and such a moment positively _requires_ innocence and inexperience to be confronting cynicism and entrenched interests. We Americans like that. I certainly do. I loved that movie, and I think there can be a lot of wisdom in overturning the apple cart.

Remember, to quote the movie, lost causes are the only ones worth fighting for. :-)

John Fraser said...

Hey, I'm an American now, too! But yeah, I probably still think like a Canadian in some ways even though I haven't lived there since 1992. Wouldn't you know it, this is the first presidential election I can vote in, and all the candidates are dogs (well, except for Palin, of course!).

I like those underdog stories, too. If you haven't seen the movie "Evelyn" (not about American politics, but Irish) I recommend it.

William Luse said...

But the point of this post of yours was to attack this article which called into question Palin's experience

More precisely, to attack his attitude toward the pro-life position. When it comes to that issue, Mr. Frum likes a big tent.

I am very sympatico with all of what Lydia said, except that I haven't made up my mind about supporting the McCain ticket. I'm going to give him his two months and watch for movement on the ESCR problem. And if Mrs. Palin praises Hillary Clinton, or squawks about the glass ceiling, one more time, she's going to lose me too.

Tim said...

This column by William Rees-Mogg shows more insight into the ramifications of McCain's choice than most of the chatter -- left and right -- that I have seen online so far.

The "experience" argument was never one that moved me when the Republicans were using it against Obama. Now people will be trying to invert it, trying desperately to compare Palin with Obama even though they're at different places on the ticket. But even this may backfire. Palin has been governing a state, taking responsibility for her actions in a way that Obama has not had to. Obama is a Harvard-trained lawyer -- but does anyone think that another Harvard lawyer is just what we need on Capitol Hill? Obama has taught constitutional law -- but since he appears to believe that the constitution forbids the protection of infants actually born alive, it is clear that with the majority of voters his con-law credentials would actually be a drawback.

The spur-of-the-moment talking point generated by panicked Dems when McCain announced his pick runs like this: "Do you really want this person a heartbeat away from the Presidency?"

Speaking for myself, and based on what I know now, no, I don't. I want her in the presidency. I find that of the four people now on the (presumptive) tickets, Palin is the only person with the principles that are a conditio sine qua non for being president.

Tim said...

To go along with my sentiments above, here's the best bumper sticker seen so far ...

William Luse said...

Ha. I saw that bumper sticker somewhere last night but can't remember where it was. I'll read the other link.

And good stuff on "experience." It's too easy to make it an argument of convenience. I went after Obama about it, but was really more concerned with what he had done with that experience. A few years in the Illinois state senate, a couple more in Washington...doing what, exactly, besides trying to prevent the rescue of children who survive abortion? Proposing bills, voting against bills, voting "present"? How does this amount to any kind of experience that prepares one to be "a heartbeat away from the presidency," worse yet, to be that heartbeat itself? The phrase is supposed to make people tremble at the thought of what might happen should a crisis occur. Well, except for battlefield commanders, you don't know how someone's going to handle a crisis. 99% of a President's time is taken up with the humdrum of the political life, and the attempt to advance or impede a cause. What cause does Obama stand for? When I ask that, the argument in favor of Palin's experience is clear.

John Fraser said...

I have to admit, it would give me great joy to see a conservative become the first female president, snatching the title from the Wicked Witch of the East.

I think the experience question still has to be asked. You have to know if someone can LEAD. But then Bush seemed to fit the "leader" profile and blew it. I don't know. I can't really complain about a candidate with whom I (so far) agree with on virtually every issue AND who's attractive to moderates.

Seeing the comments thread on that article that Tim linked to with a bunch of snotty Euros bashing creationists is almost enough to make me want to rush out and get a McCain-Palin yard sign. The only comment I've seen from Palin on that so far is that there are problems with Darwinism and she thinks both sides should be taught in school. Everyone assumes that makes her a young-earther (which she may well be but I haven't heard her say that yet) or that she wants to outlaw teaching evolution or something.

I'm going to need to hear her speak a few more times for her to impress me. How well she can handle the pressure of a short presidential campaign will say a lot, especially since she's basically jumping in right in the middle.

Kevin Jones said...

Frum made note of his support for abortion early in his career at NR:

http://web.archive.org/web/20031107202050/http://www.nationalreview.com/frum/diary110603.asp

"Please don't email me about this: I have thought about this issue just as hard as you have, and I'm not going to change my mind."

I think Palin is excellent "snob bait." So many derogatory things will be said about alpine/rural folk by beltway and/or left-wing natterers that the right-wing talk show hosts won't be able to keep up.

Have you seen the false rumors, pushed even by Andrew Sullivan, that Palin's Down's syndrome baby is actually her daughter's?

While her teen daughter's pregnancy and imminent marriage-under-pressure is hardly to be applauded, Palin has already drawn out some of the most lowlife of bloggers.

Oh, and like most people here, I'm still not voting McCain or Obama.

William Luse said...

Kevin, Beckwith draws attention to that rumor over at W4. Why anyone would start it I can't imagine, since the record of that pregnancy is a very public one, including the part about hopping a plane to Alaska to make sure the kid was born there.

John, did you ever watch that video link I supplied you at W4? The woman can think and lead. When people start comparing her bona fides with Obama's, I think they tend to underestimate the reform revolution she has wrought in Alaskan party politics. She has stood up to the big boys and conquered, not in a Machiavellian sense, but by force of integrity.

Also, I don't mind if she's a young earther. I'd rather she weren't, but at least it won't kill anybody.

John Fraser said...

William,

I must confess I didn't watch the video at the time. But I just watched it tonight. She's definitely articulate and comes across as very knowledgeable in general and in specific details. She also took advantage of a couple of choice opportunities to get digs in on Biden and Obama both without missing a beat. And I gather this was before she knew she was going to get the nod. I can see how McCain would see her as an asset. It'll be interesting to see what happens when it comes to issues that Palin and McCain are at odds on (such as drilling in ANWAR).

I don't necessarily care if she's a young-earther either, but I think that makes her a much easier target for liberals if she is and is very public about it. Of course, they're going to paint her as a Bible-thumping, gun-toting, uneducated northern redneck anyways, so I don't know how much difference that actually makes. But when people hear her talking like she does on that video they'll see for themselves what a distorted stereotype that is. Even that by itself could help things in a lot of ways.

William Luse said...

Palin and McCain are at odds on (such as drilling in ANWAR).

That's why I'm watching for movement. I'm hoping she told him straight up during vetting that she didn't see certain things his way. I guess I'm hoping she'll convert him, which is probably getting my hopes up too high. This is also why Lydia worries that this whole situation could be great for McCain and bad for her, in the sense that she gets dragged down with him if she muffles her own convictions.

As to painting her as a northern redneck, I wish them luck. Not the kind of luck that brings success, of course.

smockmomma said...

well, hell's bells. what's wrong with wanting to vote for the sexy pro-life chick?

William Luse said...

Hey, Micki. I like your picture.

Lydia McGrew said...

Has anyone seen where Lawrence Auster is now saying that McCain had a responsibility to tell us his VP pick several weeks in advance so people could make a fuss about her?

I mean, this is silly: If she'd been some fat and cynical career Senator with a mistress twenty years in his past who had been cozy with McCain for the past fifteen years, _then_ McCain could have chosen that person as his running mate a couple of days before the convention, and that would have been fine? But because she is the governor of a state instead without so many years in politics, and because her teenage daughter is pregnant, he should have chosen her earlier as a trial balloon with the possibility of forcing her to back out? That's ridiculous. Of course, we could recommend that the entire VP picking process be different, that the VP should have to run entirely separately and not simply be picked as a party running mate, as it was at the founding of the country. Of course, at that time, the VP was the person who, as we would now say it, _lost_ the race for President--the second-placer! But as long as we have the system we have, the VP gets brought on board _by_ a party's presidential candidate. There is no reason why Palin should be treated any differently. Sometimes I really disagree with Auster.

William Luse said...

I saw his comment over at W4. Sounds like he thinks Palin ought to be mommying full time. Maybe if she had a one child policy, like the Clintons or the Carters or China, he'd find her acceptable. What his objections are other than that I have no idea because I don't read him anymore, not since he accused the Pope of destroying European will to resist the Islamic tide, and accused you, me, Zip, et.al, of being functional pacifists, which he could do only by removing murdering the innocent from the list of Christian prohibitions. Auster thinks he ought to be running the world, which we can thank God he isn't. The only benefit would be that he'd have to give up blogging.

Lydia McGrew said...

"The only benefit would be that he'd have to give up blogging."

...but would he spend enough time with his children? :-)

Look, you know me--Mrs. Eagle Forum. In one sense, yes, Sarah Palin, like every other full-time mom in the country who (obviously) can afford to do so, should be at home with her kids. I'll say that, because I think it's true. It should be more of a priority than it is in our country. Sarah Palin is doubtless a bit of a feminist (as witness the silly glass ceiling comments).

But is that an _overriding_ consideration with me? To the point where I would write her off as someone to vote for? No, of course not. I'm surrounded by career women and feminists and semi-feminists in this world. Okay, so she's a career woman. I've got that. But I'm looking for a good candidate, and that just doesn't automatically disqualify her. I'd have to be crazy for it to do so. Auster is now completely sold on the "she has no experience" line and also somehow thinks that the fact that her daughter is pregnant is such a very, very special problem that she needed to be pseudo-appointed early so the grassroots could "consider" it and tell McCain if they didn't like it.

Give me a break. Does anyone really, really, think that the children of all the last sitting presidents have been chaste? Is it overwhelmingly important? If it turned out that one of President Bush's twins has slept with her boyfriend, would we say he wasn't qualified to be President? This is just nonsense. And let's be brutally honest: If Bristol Palin had had sexual intercourse with her boyfriend and hadn't happened to get pregnant, you wouldn't find Lawrence Auster and his readers going on (and on and on and on) about how her mother must not have spent enough time with her and hence is _especially_ disqualified from being a Vice Presidential candidate. It's like some weird double standard: If you are a 30-year cigar-smoking politician and your kids use condoms regularly, nobody gives you a hard time about not spending enough time with your family. If you are a nice, fresh-faced lady governor who hasn't been in politics for 30 years, and your daughter is "careless" enough to get pregnant when being unchaste, we need a special party referendum on your selection as VP.

Ridiculous.

William Luse said...

It's like some weird double standard: If you are a 30-year cigar-smoking politician and your kids use condoms regularly, nobody gives you a hard time...

It's worse than that. It's a weird *moral* standard, upside down, in fact. We don't mind your fornicating as long as it proves sterile. If it results in pregnancy, we are scandalized. Thus pregnancy, which in itself is a good thing, becomes worse than the immorality that led to it. And thus also, my Catholic hatred of the contraceptive society.

And since I'm looking for sound judgement, it's worth pointing out that many parents - I might be among them - would have considered throwing the girl out on her own. Palin didn't. In spite of her feminist silliness, she's a better woman than I. Woops. That didn't come out right. You know what I mean.

Lydia McGrew said...

Well, I suppose you could say the girl is moving out on her own, because she's getting married. But I know what you mean.

The thing is, personal stuff seems to me fair game if it represents a serious, grave moral failing on the part of the candidate himself. Palin's daughter's pregnancy doesn't. From my perspective, the fact that John McCain dumped his wife for a woman he was having an affair with umpteen years ago is a _far_ more relevant personal scandal (in a couple of senses) than the fact that Mrs. Palin's daughter is pregnant!

William Luse said...

Yup.