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Disgruntled Democrats, Sarah Palin, and the Hawthorne Effect

vastleft's picture

According to the Volokh Conspiracy, Sarah Palin is "a huge hit at the Hillary Clinton Forum."

If you're like me, you're wondering "what the fuck is the Hillary Clinton Forum?"

If I'm like me, I'm also asking "why the fuck am I reading the Volokh Conspiracy?"

Now, regardless of my disgust for McCain and for the many hard-right views of Palin, this is simply true....

With this pick, the GOP showed it was listening to disgruntled Democrats, whereas the Democrats have been quite resolute about not doing that, sometimes audaciously so.

Putting a little anti-Republican content in Obama’s convention speech is the only thing vaguely like a bone that’s been thrown to us this entire campaign.

Bypassing a lot of more-obvious choices to (if we may correctly guess the motivation) put a woman on McCain's ticket is surely intended to excite interest from PUMAs.

Should feminists find a McCain/Palin ticket appealing? I would hope not.

But, what we’re seeing here (if this forum is of some anecdotal relevance) is the Hawthorne Effect in action:

...people's behavior and performance change following any new or increased attention

Affording the Clintons the opportunity to rebuild their reputations -- which the Obama camp had unfairly destroyed -- by dutifully jumping (masterfully, as it turned out) through hoops of Obama support doesn't quite cut it for some of us, but YMMV.

Further outreach and base-building from the Obama camp to Obama skeptics remains, AFAIK (if I may use that racist phrase), off the table.

Even if (though) Palin isn't a legitimate draw for progressives, this nomination shows that we have a degree of leverage over the GOP and, AFAIK, none over the Democratic Party, which is content to put us on an ice floe for partisan, old, secular, feminist Bubbas.

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jjmtacoma's picture
Submitted by jjmtacoma on

that 90% of black americans aren't be wrong. Many of them are extremely conservative but they realize standing with the one who has a chance to break through the barriers they all experience, gives them the best chance at true equality in the long run.

I will now listen to my ovaries and vote accordingly. I will worry about getting the rest of my interests served when there are more women with my common social goals able to move to places of power. For now, they just need to get there and the rest will work itself out.

The democrats have shown their hand and I know I have the trump card.

Damon's picture
Submitted by Damon on

Disgruntled Hillary supporters aren't going to look at Palin as some kind of ideological match. But, as made note of, many of them will be impressed that they are being actively courted and listened to. For many of them, this will help legitimize their protest "fuck you" vote against the DNC. However transparent and strategic her pick may have been it gives many that will vote for that ticket a n argument.

I'm not leaning toward the ticket, as Palin is probably even more conservative than McCain, at least certainly more of a Christianist. But, I'm greatly impressed that McCain decided to throw this Hail Mary pass. I've been looking for either candidate to display some courage in this race, and it looks like McCain was the one to do it. Quite frankly, he could have gone with a significantly safer choice.

BTW, just by watching some of the coverage on MSNBC and CNN, I can already tell the machines of misogyny are starting back up, though, I can already tell that they aren't being anywhere near as harsh with her as they were/are with Hillary Clinton. It's almost ironic that the SCLM enjoys Hillary Hate than attacking a conservative Republican female.

I can already hear the chorus of "redemption" from PUMAs, though, I'm sure they'd have hoped it have come under more favorable circumstances.

Davidson's picture
Submitted by Davidson on that she anchors the right-wing base, freeing McCain to run hard to the center. Short of becoming pro-choice and anti-gun, there's just about nothing McCain can do that'll cause the base to stay home in November.

If McCain runs hard to the center, it'll force Obama to be an actual Democrat (e.g., Obama mentioning in Denver that McCain is in favor of privatizing Social Security, which assumes Obama changed course on that issue). If McCain changes his economic platform to include a large tax cut for the middle class, then I expect all hell to break loose and Obama to start wearing pantsuits.

Regardless, I think Obama will most likely win. It's just nice to see Obama finally realizing he needs Clinton voters and to do what's necessary to appeal to them.

Submitted by Paul_Lukasiak on

rather, he'll run hard on the 'maverick' image that Palin reinforces which has great appeal to the center.

McCain doesn't have to make big changes in his positions -- all he has to do is put the emphasis on those positions that are different from Bushco and/or GOP orthodoxy, while emphasizing his history of "reaching across the aisle."

Damon's picture
Submitted by Damon on

I don't McCain is going to move on anything because of his choice. I'm not sure that he can. I don't think vice presidential choices have ever been meant to give the presidential candidate more lattitude.

I'm also not sure that we can yet measure whether or not Obama is "finally realizing he needs Clinton voters." In fact, his campaign's initial reaction to the choice of Palin was exactly the kind of response that has gotten Obama in trouble with Clinton supporters over and over again.

TonyRz's picture
Submitted by TonyRz on

but all I can think about is the fact that for the first time ever, I'm going to be older than the (R) Vice President.


Submitted by Paul_Lukasiak on

... the main reason that Palin was chosen was to redefine what "Republican" means -- by picking Palin, Obama's best weapon (that McCain represents four more years of Bush) is seriously compromised -- and if McCain follows through on this at the convention, Obama's will need a game-changer.

As for PUMAs, what most people don't get is that Palin isn't about PUMAs -- its about showing respect for all women in a way that is consistent with McCain's message. Its the opposite of a "cynical" choice -- someone like Christie Whitman, who provided distinct geographic advantages, would have been a cynical choice. McCain isn't pandering to PUMAs here -- he didn't go looking for the woman most likely to gain support among disaffected Clinton supporters. He made a choice which says "here is a woman who exemplifies the best of the Republican party".

While the choice of Biden represented a desperation move on Obama's part, the Palin choice was consistent with who McCain is, and the positive themes he wants to emphasize in this campaign.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

But I'm inclined to credit (not sure that's exactly the right word) the PUMAs with the GOP placing a premium on choosing “a woman who exemplifies the best of the Republican party.”

Submitted by Paul_Lukasiak on

PUMA put women back on the political map. But Palin wasn't picked to appeal to PUMA voters (uh, we're first and foremost democrats, and relentlessly pro-choice, and after watching the DNC fix the game for an unqualified african american, a "token" woman isn't going to cut it for us).

The real target is independents regardless of gender, and "moderate" women who are disaffected from the GOP this year.

Palin also feeds into the media narrative of "disaffected Clinton voters" -- McCain loves that, because the Democratic Party just spent three days building a Potemkin Unity Village, and bringing "Clinton" back into the narrative is good for McCain (and bad for Obama).

Ultimately, Palin is a pander to independent voters rather than a pander to women. Her "citizen politician" cred has enormous appeal to independents, as does her "take on her own corrupt party organization". (Its easy to take on the other party's corruption, going after corruption in your own party defines "independence".)

hobson's picture
Submitted by hobson on

I think it's a very cynical choice. But I agree with Paul that it's not about PUMAs. She seems to be about saying we can put a new face on hard, right wing positions. Just as McCain is able to sell himself as a maverick, on the surface she looks like a maverick and not in the mold of a winger.

The more I read about her, the more right she looks. And there is the issue of her taking up the mantle of Hillary. To me, watching an inteview with her, she was about making Hillary a thing of the past. Someone who put cracks in the ceiling but whose time is come and gone. And certainly, her politics are farther from Hillary's than Obama's.

Booman has a list of 8 Republican women better qualified than Palin to be VP. But I don't think any of them would have generated this wow factor that is coming with Palin's choice. And I would imagine that some of them would have had more appeal to PUMAs.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

Whitman did a Powell and lied to us all as Bush's EPA pick--over and over and over. She lost all her cred here in the Northeast and they don't care about her anywhere else in the country.

Hutchison and Dole are un-charismatic, not achievers, and full DC Village Republicans for decades and decades--just like Biden.

Snowe and Collins are RINOs, and should have become Inds or switched parties years ago--but didn't, even tho they believe nothing their party believes.

Rell and Lingle and Rodgers are just as unknown as Palin and have no media presence either---they would be in the same boat as Palin--but wouldn't excite the GOP voting base, which demands more religion.

No Northeastern Republican women (the 8 that exist, that is) are attractive to Democrats---we all wonder why they are Republicans.

JB64's picture
Submitted by JB64 on

Or is Palin being a woman really a secondary consideration? I mean the right wing is on fire today in a way that Pawlenty or Romney would never have been able to generate. I think its also a concession to Paul supporters who tend to be young and more libertarian.

The fact that she's a woman is a gift that will keep on giving.

Submitted by Paul_Lukasiak on

I wouldn't call it secondary -- rather, its just one aspect of the overall message that her nomination is intended to send. And Team Obama and its supporters are ignoring that overall message -- that she is a package that appeals to independent voters overall, and she actually is doing what Obama only promises to do (i.e. she's 'changed the way politics works' in Alaska by taking on the "good old boys network".)

And her gender is far less important than the kind of woman she is -- a "citizen politician" not a "professional politician", and a working mother. She's both proud to be a woman (her long hair) and considers it irrelevant (she puts up her hair when it time to get to work.)

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

they covered all their bases with her--it wasn't just a reactive pick by any means.

The religious right is thrilled now, and they weren't before (Even tho she doesn't legislate like she believes).