The Man Trap

posted at 12:15 pm on August 30, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Kirsten Powers has watched the hysterical shrieking coming from her own Democratic Party in the wake of Sarah Palin’s selection as John McCain’s running mate, and has newfound respect for the Republican candidate.  In one move, Powers argues, McCain has ripped the mask of inclusion from the Democratic Party and exposed an ugly attitude towards women in power.  They’ve also managed to underscore every argument McCain has made about Barack Obama’s readiness for high office at the same time:

Is she a gamble? Definitely. But so is Barack Obama, who has himself dismissed experience as a prerequisite for leadership, despite his spot atop the Democratic ticket.

At this point, Palin is so unknown, there’s no way to make a clear judgment about her. But listening to Obama supporters take to the airwaves to shriek with indignation about her lack of experience is just a little too rich. Where were they when Obama, two years into the Senate, announced his candidacy for president?

One Obama supporter and political operative blogged, “In picking an unknown, untested half-a-term governor from Alaska . . . John McCain is following in a long line of reckless men who have rolled the dice for a beauty queen.” …

I can’t help wondering if this is a trap. The McCain camp watched and learned as Obama supporters offended Hillary supporters by their treatment of her. The McCainiacs had to know that this group is incapable of behaving, that Palin would bring out their worst instincts.

This trap has two doors, as Powers notes, and the Obama campaign and its supporters fell through both of them.  First, it didn’t take long to speak dismissively of Palin as a “beauty queen” and a “small-town” hick, even though she governs the state of Alaska and has a favorability rating in the 80s.  No one actually came out and called her “Sweetie”, but to women who resented the Obama campaign’s real and imagined sexist slights against Hillary Clinton, it was deja vu all over again.

The bigger trap, though, was the knee-jerk attack on Palin’s experience.  Calling her a “small-town mayor” only underscored Obama’s own woeful lack of experience.  Two years as Governor trumps a year as Senator before running for the presidency, and having been an executive in Wasila trumps having been a “community organizer” in Chicago’s South Side.  Further, Palin has a record of attacking her own party’s machine to effect real reform in Alaska, where Obama never lifted a finger to support reform of the Chicago political machine while in Illinois, and had one of its fixers, Tony Rezko, raising money for him most of his career.

Geraldine Ferraro didn’t dismiss Palin’s experience.  She called Palin a risky choice, but the risk is in her lack of national-politics exposure, not from supposedly being unqualified, which Ferraro rejects.  Clinton adviser Howard Wolfson says that Palin will resonate with disaffected women in the Demoratic Party, especially the more moderate voters, who see Obama and his clique as chauvinist — and will more now, after their “beauty queen” reaction.

Did McCain set Obama up to fall into this trap?  If so, then perhaps that more than anything demonstrates how poor a candidate Obama is and how much more masterful McCain can be.  Would you rather have the man who set the trap dealing with our enemies abroad, or the man who fell into it?

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