A Good Gut

     The question came up in an office discussion: could McCain withdraw Palin’s nomination as VP candidate.
     As the dinosaur on our youthful staff, I said, “Sure, Eagleton.”
     I remembered McGovern’s ill-fated run, his “1000 percent” backing of Eagleton before his slouching about-face as Eagleton’s psychiatric treatments drew continuous fire from commentators.
     I was canvassing for McGovern in 1972 (folks at the office noted that they were not yet born), and I still remember one guy I talked to through a screen door, who said he would not vote for McGovern because he had abandoned Eagleton.
     The man through the screen was in late middle-age and had a sad face. He said his wife had gone through the same kind of problems Eagleton had had.
     A lot of people felt that way and the Eagleton affair was one of the big nails in McGovern’s coffin.
     So the short answer is that there is no way McCain withdraws Palin’s name. But the larger problem is that the surprises popping up in her background suggest disorganization and lack of rigor in the search for a running mate and by extension in the conduct of the campaign.
     It was the same for McGovern. Once his medical history came out, Eagleton was going to be a problem for McGovern either way. If McGovern stuck with him, he was stuck with a campaign liability. If he bailed out, he looked disloyal.
     So McCain is stuck.
     And his campaign looks like it is being buffeted by events rather controlling its course.
     The one factor I always throw into the mix when these media stews get going is what the regular folks might think about it. Here, lots of folks are going to be sympathetic with a person who runs into some problems raising her kids.
     So the pregnancy of Palin’s unwed 17-year-old may not hurt much with the voters.
     But it highlights one of the general problems with positions taken by the hard-core right they don’t rely on or want to know about experience or about research or about consequences.
     So here you got a governor who hews to the Christian-right: “Birth control be damned!” Or in its softer expression, “Just say no.”
     And the result is purely and totally predictable: teenage pregnancies.
     Not to push a comparison over the top of the levee of argument, but you could say the same about Iraq. The administration in thrall to the right didn’t want to know about Sunnis and Shiites, didn’t want to know the truth about Hussein’s weapons, didn’t want to know if he was really supporting terrorism, just didn’t want to know. Intelligence was for one purpose only and that was to support the political decision to go in.
     That lack of foresight, based on willful lack of information and lack of interest in predictable consequences of decisions, is very much related to the “experience” argument. In that experience is a kind-of shorthand for saying you want a political leader who will make sound decisions for the nation’s future based on reason, history, expert advice and a good gut.
     That combination is not what has driven decisions made by the current administration and McCain’s selection of Palin, along with his tax-break and war policies, do indeed suggest “more of the same.”

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