6 Sep 2008

The McCain Gambit: The Politics of Gender

[col. writ. 8/30/08] (c) '08 Mumia Abu-Jamal

If you ever needed proof that politics is a kind of war, the next-day's selection of Alaska Governor, Sarah Palin, to join the presidential campaign ticket of Sen.

John McCain should erase all doubts. Putting aside the political positions of Palin, her choice was a transparent attempt to exploit disaffected women voters, who felt burned by the decision of the Democratic nominee to choose someone other than Sen. Hillary Clinton (D.-NY) for the number two spot. But transparent doesn't necessarily mean ineffective. For is Sen. Barack Obama's (D. -IL) campaign breaks new historic ground, Sen. McCain is trying to do so as well, by nominating the first GOP woman for the second chair in the nation's history. Notice I said 'first GOP woman' for the post, for Democrats will never forget how former Vice President Walter Mondale in June of 1984 named Geraldine Ferraro as his Vice Presidential pick. In November of that year, Ronald Reagan swept 49 states in a landslide. Now, McCain is no Reagan, and 2008 isn't 1984, but in the 24 years since then women have emerged as pivotal players in the elections. Will Palin prove helpful to McCain's chances?

Time will tell. But, where Sen. Obama opted for a safe bet, Sen McCain opted for boldness. Is it bold enough - or too bold? Again, time will tell. Not since (the first) George Bush chose an obscure Senator, Dan Quayle, as his running mate has there been a greater stretch of years between the two sides of the ticket. Bush was 23 years older than Quayle; McCain is some 28 years older than Palin. Now, that's not necessarily a bad thing, but McCain, at 72, ain't no spring chicken. Palin, at 44, could well become the next president of the United States, in the blink of an eye. --(c) '08 maj ==============

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