I've been pondering what happens if the Republicans lose confidence in Palin. They have to know she can't do the job. I'm sure they're just trying to find a way to spin the inevitable.
Long before the election started, I said that Romney was the one to worry about. I'm not a big fan of him on the issues, especially Climate Change. He didn't seem to get how urgent it was. But then again, if someone ever managed to convince him it was urgent, he might rise to it better than some of the other Republican options, including McCain. Romney is tolerably competent on a range of issues, including business, which at least means he wouldn't embarrass us. And he's photogenic, which is all voters really want, isn't it?
But for Vice President? Hmmm...
Had McCain picked Romney as VP from the start, I think he could it could have been made to work. They sparred a lot in the primaries, but voters know that primaries are friendly rivalries. And it would have been hard making it seem that the two were on the same page, but voters often look past such details when it comes to rallying for the party. Yeah, Romney could have been sold for VP—if it had been done from the start.
Oddly, the "Mormon thing" is the one big hurdle they'd have faced. Ironically, I doubt the Democrats even cared about that; they're a pretty religiously tolerant crowd. You really just gotta laugh when it's the Republicans, the ones who can't fathom anyone's worry that their religious leanings might be threatening, who suddenly fear someone's religious leanings. But they would have overcome it, I'm sure.
But no matter how Palin gets out—by resigning or being pushed—there is the pesky matter that McCain made a bad choice and needs someone else to step in. But no matter who he picked, even Lieberman (who at that point would look too much like the one he'd wanted all along but was too unleaderly to push for), he still comes out a bungler. Even if he picks Romney, the bungler would still be at the top of the ticket, and that could be fatal.
Yes, the Republicans might do the old "hunker down" thing, trying to brave the storm. Maybe they'd succeed in spite of themselves just on the strength of an unquestioning base and a lot of hate rhetoric. It's worked before.
But if I were a Republican strategist and wanted a more solid play, I'd tell McCain to publicly admit he has made too many bad choices, and to say he has not met the high standards he has traditionally set for himself. I'd tell him to step down now, with honor, asking the party to nominate Romney in his place.
McCain talks a lot about courage, but I honestly don't think he has that particular kind of courage. His willingness to wage one of ugliest mudslinging campaigns in recent history after promising one that was more dignified shows me he's lost his compass when it comes to courage and honor. I expected him to present his issues, have Obama present his, and let the public decide. It's been none of that. That would have been the old Maverick people thought they knew. But he's just in this for himself, and probably taking orders from the imagemakers. That will be the downfall of him and of his party. But, honestly, I think if he stepped down, and if Romney had the good sense not to nominate someone more conservative than himself as a running mate, but instead to pick someone toward the middle, even to include Lieberman, that'd give him a good shot.
It won't happen, which may be part of why I don't mind suggesting it at this point. I'm not trying to lose he election for Obama. But thinking about McCain's option to do this helps me clarify in my mind some of the problems that are going on because it gets harder and harder to think about how to get McCain out of the mire he's in, and the suggestions end up being more and more focused on undoing damage rather than doing affirmative things going forward. Leadership is not about that, and McCain is no longer leading.
As an aside, I actually concluded today as well that to help things along, Bush should come right out and admit that his policies led to some of the financial crisis. It's not just that I want him to say the truth, which is what I think it is. But structurally, the people who need to agree to whatever comes next need someone to take the heat. It's Bush's administration. He should take the heat and thereby give the others, both Democrat and Republican, the breathing room they need to make compromises. He should say this is a lousy situation, that it's his fault, and that no one should blame the people who try to repair it for doing an imperfect job. Who knows, even in saying his truth, it might even repair his place in history because it might enable a fix that mattered. But he, too, is probably more caught up in his own ego and wouldn't do it even though he quite obviously is no longer leading us.
I'm a political independent, not a Democrat. I support Obama quite strongly. I think he's a powerful figure who has shown very sound judgment, has run a clean and effective campaign, and would make a great leader. So at some level, I don't need another choice. But I'm not deciding the election. And I'd rather limit the possibility that all the mudslinging on the other side will lead to success. Not only would that put the wrong people in office, it would also tell those who do campaigning once again that mudslinging is the tool of choice. It would be great if civility won the day and people started to feel it had to be there in campaigns as a matter of routine.
At the end of the day, I'd rather see a choice between a ticket I like and one I could tolerate than the choice I have now between a ticket I like and one that terrifies me by coupling bumblingly poor judgment with outright incompetence.
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