McCain's Judgment: Guns, experience, politics

Some people have been questioning John McCain’s judgment in picking Sarah Palin as his running mate. These folks are off the mark, questioning the political judgment of a guy that I’m rapidly coming to believe may be the shrewdest conservative politician since Ronald Reagan.

Perhaps the most important political consideration in John McCain’s pick of Sarah Palin as running mate has received little if any attention from the naysayers on the left and right: the gun vote.

Sarah Palin at Sunday's Gateway to Victory Rally in O'Fallon Missouri

Sarah Palin at Sunday's Gateway to Victory Rally in O'Fallon Missouri

The support of the National Rifle Association means a few million dollars. Despite a “C” voting record from the NRA, largely because of the significance attached to campaign finance reform votes by the NRA’s lobbying arm, McCain had that. But it was reluctant. Here’s some of what the NRA-ILA (the lobbying arm of the NRA) had to say about John McCain a few years ago:

McCain was led down a primrose path by a Senate Democratic leadership that is doing all it can to keep him beholden. In reality, it is pushing to derail President George W. Bush’s chance for a second term. And more importantly, it wants a Senate majority of radical Democrats. And that would prove an unprecedented threat to the Second Amendment. John McCain is its Judas goat–leading the sheep to slaughter.

Now the thing about bitter gun clingers is that we tend to be stubborn about our bitter clinging. You can be sure that the millions of NRA members would mostly have voted, reluctantly, for McCain on a “lesser of two evils” theory. Now, they have reason to be excited. Much has been made of the timing of the announcement and it was important. But again not for the commonly understood reason. Fox News reporting that the announcement interrupted her parents’ planned caribou hunt probably made more difference to NRA members than its coming the night after the Acceptance Speech on the Mount.

The enthusiastic support of NRA members means a few million dollars, a lot of volunteers and a couple of million votes. McCain-Varmint Hunter wouldn’t have had it. McCain-Fat Tax wouldn’t have had it. McCain-Moose Hunter has it.

On Foreign Policy Experience: Palin is actually much more experienced in foreign policy than Barack Obama. She has been involved in negotiations with our single most important trading partner and military ally. Some have made a big deal of the fact that she just got her first passport. That’s likely because visiting the most important country to the US didn’t require one until a few months ago. (Actually, I think it still doesn’t. You just need the passport to come back.) So she hasn’t visited Europe? So what? It doesn’t take a visit to Europe to know what is in the best interest of the United States. Besides, she’ll spend plenty of time in decaying, corrupt European capitals attending funerals as Vice President.

On Washington experience: The fact that she’s not “experienced” in Washington politics is probably her greatest strength. Outside Washington, we’re sick of Washington. She has much more important experience – as a governor, dealing with the effects of whatever ill-conceived policies the bureaucrats 3,800 miles away dreamed up. Experience writing bad laws that hurt the country? Not worth much. Experience in the real world where those laws have their effects? Worth everything. A town of 10,000 in Alaska? Sounds like home, only colder.

On politics: Republicans like her better than John McCain. In St. Louis Sunday, the biggest cheers went up for Sarah Palin, the Democrats for McCain group from Chicago, John Rich, the Hillary supporter turned McCain supporter from O’Fallon, Mike Huckabee and John McCain…in roughly that order.

Gateway to Victory McCain rally in O'Fallon Missouri

Gateway to Victory McCain rally in O'Fallon Missouri

A side note on family controversies:

Liberals are showing their true colors, their utter moral bankruptcy, when it comes to the private issues facing the Palin familiy. Every liberal commentator seems to be taking the same tack – if you’re 17 or if your baby has Down’s Syndrome, the only “choice” for liberals is which abortion provider to use. The consensus among liberals seems to be that babies are a bad thing.

People with Down’s Syndrome certainly face challenges, but in our wealthy, technologically advanced society they still have a real possibility of a happy life and should have every opportunity for one. This is not Sparta. Certainly it would be great if Down’s Syndrome and other disabilities could be cured, but abortion is as much a cure for Down’s Syndrome as a bullet to the brain is a cure for cancer.

The liberals are also quick to call Palin a “hypocrite” because he daughter is pregnant. This makes her a hypocrite how? As near as I can tell, she’s doing precisely what a “family values” supporter would do – supporting her daughter. They’re also calling her a bad mother for the same reason. Again, how? She’s doing precisely what a good mother should do – supporting her daughter.

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