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Friday, August 29, 2008

Why Biden won't be able to do to Palin what Bentsen did to Quayle

Some conservatives are worried that Sarah Palin will become another "Dan Quayle at the Veep debate, being skewered by Lloyd Bentsen."

I've been thinking about that possibility since the Biden nomination. My first reaction was that as a life-long Texan, I knew Lloyd Bentsen (well, actually, my father did); Lloyd Bentsen was my friend. And Joe Biden is no Lloyd Bentsen. Biden is, literally, long of tooth, but on his very best day he doesn't have the gravitas in his whole body that Lloyd Bentsen had in his pinkie even while under general anesthesia.

John McCain in Dayton, Ohio, on Aug. 29th introducing his choice for the GOP's VP nominee, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin

Nevertheless, as I was driving this afternoon to pick up my youngest daughter — away from the computer keyboard for a while, trying to collect my thoughts — my general giddiness over the Palin pick transmuted itself, and I suddenly started weeping tears of joy. Typically, my thoughts of and about my children are the quickest path to my emotions, and they certainly were in this instance, too. Here's what struck me:

The late Ann Richards, a pioneering woman in Texas politics and a hell of a character, even if you disagreed with her, wasn't the first female governor of Texas. Rather, that honor went to Miriam A. "Ma" Ferguson — and yes, the only reason she was elected (twice, in 1924 and 1932) was because she was the wife of James E. "Pa" Ferguson. She didn't really count; the asterisk is almost bigger than her name, and the "power behind the throne" had all the power, and everyone knew it.

Hillary Clinton came within a whisker of winning the Democratic Nomination, and just like the victory of the black who vanquished her, that was historic. It was symbolic. It trumpets the falling of barriers that I am glad to see fall. Although I was not one of them, I believe I understand the feelings of the many people — and it was not just women — who wept, either with joy at Hillary's accomplishments, or frustration that she fell short, or both.

But Hillary Clinton — however formidable she has become in her own right, and I will be the first to admit that she grew to be far more formidable during this race than I would have ever guessed even a year ago — would not possibly have become the junior senator from New York, nor a presidential candidate of any sort (much less the near-winner in a photo-finish), if she had not first been former President Bill Clinton's wife.

Sarah Palin, by contrast, is the daughter of two school-teachers. Her husband was never the president, and he's far more at home either on the floor of an oil rig or the floor of their kitchen fixing supper for five kids than he is on the floor of a Washington, D.C. banquet hall. Until she was elected governor of Alaska, neither she nor her husband nor her father nor anyone in either of their families was rich, or famous, or powerful.

Yes, being a woman helped get her selected to McCain's ticket sooner than otherwise; but she wasn't picked just because she was a woman, no more than Barack Obama has become the Democratic presidential nominee just because he was black. (Compare Geraldine Ferarro and Jesse Jackson.) Obama and Palin both have real, non-trivial, but subjective qualities that have now brought them out in front of other young female or black politicians into national attention despite their relative inexperience.

Sarah Palin won't have an asterisk, no more than would my own daughters. Or yours. Yes, she'd be the first woman VPOTUS, but not as a stand-in for anyone else. That was the realization which, combined with thoughts of my own two teen angels, uncorked my tear ducts.

And that led me, in turn, to the realization as to why I'm really not worried about Joe Biden trying to repeat the Bentsen-Quayle dynamic. The only reason that line worked so well is because Dan Quayle was indeed trying to be Jack Kennedy, and he so very clearly wasn't.

But Sarah Palin won't be trying to be Jack Kennedy. She doesn't need to.

Being Sarah Palin is plenty cool enough.

Posted by Beldar at 06:48 PM in 2008 Election, Family, McCain, Palin, Politics (2008) | Permalink


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(1) K T Cat made the following comment | Aug 29, 2008 6:53:42 PM | Permalink

Amen, brother.

(2) nk made the following comment | Aug 29, 2008 8:00:47 PM | Permalink


The lady will make Biden look like a "girl". If she does not, figuratively, gut him like the moose she brings down and turns into mooseburgers for her kids. BTW, I bet she has no problem keeping fresh fruit on the table for her kids even though she lives in Alaska. At least I haven't heard that she's going around whining about it.

(3) stan made the following comment | Aug 29, 2008 9:32:48 PM | Permalink

Palin is the only one of the four nominees who has the slightest clue what life is like in the real world on a daily basis. She doesn't shop for arugula or hang out with unrepentant terror bombers or go to weekly sermons of G*d damn America.

She's the only real human and real people can identify with her.

(4) Terry_Jim made the following comment | Aug 29, 2008 9:52:09 PM | Permalink

You nailed it.
Her success is based on her merit, not on whose daughter or wife she is.

A great conservative choice.
My vote will now be FOR McCain/Palin, not just a vote against Obama.

I just hope she can talk McCain out of that Cap & Trade B.S.

(5) Tom Grey made the following comment | Aug 29, 2008 10:17:57 PM | Permalink

As a Huckabee supporter, I mostly wanted but suspected I wouldn't see, Huck as VP. But I stopped watching closely with talk (misdirection?) about plastic Romney.

Thanks for your background work on Gov. Palin -- can we call her Sarah! -- I'm ready to get enthusiastic for her. She sounds like the home run, with 2 men on.

She has EXECUTIVE experience, both as Mayor!, and as Governor!. And she's pro-life, strongly. GREAT.

(6) Christoph made the following comment | Aug 29, 2008 11:17:38 PM | Permalink

Quayle was great. Not everyone starts talking about nuclear missile "throw weight" in a debate. He was a master at connecting with people.

Compared to that, Sarah Palin is small "potatos" so to speak.

(7) Jim Treacher made the following comment | Aug 30, 2008 11:45:17 PM | Permalink

Over at Reason's Hit & Run, David Weigel said something to the effect that Hillary Clinton is a feminist icon, whereas Sarah Palin is just Sarah Palin. To which I replied: "And the McCain campaign just found their new bumper sticker."

(8) thebronze made the following comment | Aug 31, 2008 7:20:37 PM | Permalink

Beldar, you're quite right. Sarah Palin is an incredible woman. The kind of woman ANY woman be glad to have as a sister or a friend and any man would be glad to have as a sister, girlfriend or wife.

I can't begin to say how absolutely jazzed I am about her being on the ticket. And like you, I've had some tears flow because of how awesome and historic she is. She's leaps/bounds over Geraldine Ferraro or even Hillary Clinton. Before this I was reluctantly voting for McCain (lesser of two evils), but now I'm enthusiastic about voting for them!

Win Sarah, win!

(9) Rob made the following comment | Sep 1, 2008 9:15:07 PM | Permalink

Beldar, congrats on your deeper insight. Palin knows energy and the energy issue has the potential to sink the Democrat ark. "Drill, drill, drill and "all of the above" is the only constructive way to deal with the energy crisis. Democrats want to pick and choose the few politically correct answers and that will not get us where we need to go. Her practical experience with gas and oil and infrastructure puts "tire gauge" Obama out in the cold.

(10) Don Phillips made the following comment | Sep 1, 2008 11:56:43 PM | Permalink

Someone should note that Quayle had 17 years experience and JFK only 13. But the media was in Bentsen's corner. Sort of just like our current media.

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