What if it were Obama/Palin vs. McCain/Biden?

Today I was reading Peggy Noonan’s column — she, by the way, sees the opposite of my rosy scenario happening, with the financial crisis making the presidential election meaner and more partisan — when an idea that has sort of half-occurred to me before came into full being.

Her column turned, in part — her pieces tend to meander, although elegantly — around the experience-vs.-change axis, to wit:

The overarching political question: In a time of heightened anxiety, will people inevitably lean toward the older congressional vet, the guy who’s been around forever? Why take a chance on the new, young man at a time of crisis? Wouldn’t that be akin to injecting an unstable element into an unstable environment? There’s a lot at stake.

Or will people have the opposite reaction? I’ve had it, the system has been allowed to corrode and collapse under seven years of Republican stewardship. Throw the bums out. We need change. Obama may not be experienced, but that may help him cut through. He’s not compromised.

The election, still close, still unknowable, may well hinge on whether people conclude A or B.

There was even a little cartoon illustration of a man poised indecisively at a voting machine choosing between those two options.

By the end of the column, I was thinking, what if the choice were that clear, and unmuddled by the running mates? What if New Kids Barack Obama and Sarah Palin were up against Wise Old Heads John McCain and Joe Biden? How simple and clear that choice would be.

Those on the right and left who want change, who distrust the Establishment, populists and libertarians, would have an uncomplicated choice for Obama/Palin — two fresh, energetic young faces rising up from among the people and sweeping the old aside.

Those of us who believe that experience is as valuable in government as in anything else, and who have come to trust and admire both McCain and Biden as individuals over the years — I would fall in that camp, by the way, as my respect for both is of long standing — would have just as easy a choice.

As things stand, the choice is more complicated. And the presidential candidates seem to have gone out of their way to make it so — Obama throwing away his advantage as a change agent in choosing Biden, McCain wasting the whole experience argument in picking Palin.

31 thoughts on “What if it were Obama/Palin vs. McCain/Biden?

  1. wtf

    Brad, the whole idea is nonsense and typical spin away from the facts which is all that McCain has. Delusion.
    First, the economy is down the drain. Words like Depression and worse collapase since 1920’s are everywhere and its not wild internet rumors either. Its a cold reality that we’re all screwed.
    Why would anyone want to vote for more of the same? Sen. Phil Gramm, the lead economist for McCain, is directly responsible for the failures we are seeing today. When McCain is giving us “Stay the course”, when ruin is near, why would anyone want that. What’s worse, we now know that deregulation is the cause and yet McCain wants to further deregulate Health Care & privitize Social Security. There is not one, ONE, objective economist that has supported McCain’s economic plan as a recipe for anything but more failure and debt.
    Stupidity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
    Its this simple for me. McCain is promoting to do everything that has been wrong in the last 8 years at a time when over 80% of the country, say we’re on the wrong path. For sake of all that is sane, someone turn the wheel already. McCain is happy leaving the cruise control on when we’re about to drive over the cliff.
    At least Obama is offering to turn the wheel which is a better option that continuing on for certain disaster.
    With regard to the ticket debate…
    Who did the highly experienced George H.W. Bush pick for his VP? The very inexperienced (well, except when compared to Palin) and youthful appearing Dan Quayle.
    Who did the inexperienced, “new guy” in Washington, George W. Bush pick as his VP? Mr. Career Insider, Dick Cheney. You forget that people elected Dubya because when they began to see that he didn’t have any experience during the election he went out and enlisted Dad’s old crew of Cheney, Scrowcroft, Rummsfeld….etc. The message was that although Jr. didn’t have the experience, he was surround with enough of it to get him through. People bought it. Obama is doing the same. He is surrounding himself with the experience to answer that argument. Its worked for Bush and it’ll work for Obama.
    People prefer balance on a ticket. If they see an old guy on the top of the ticket, they want someone young on the bottom. If they see inexperience on the top of the ticket, they want experience on the bottom.
    That’s why Biden/Palin were picked. It’s an old recipe for success in an election. But as we’ve painfully seen under Bush, a successful election doesn’t mean a sucessful presidency.

  2. Peter

    This article adopts a rather superficial analysis of “change.” Just because Palin and Obama are young and spout messages of “change” does not make them agents of “change.” Just because Biden and McCain have Senate experience does not immediately disqualify them as transformative leaders.
    The mere notion of Obama/Palin reaches beyond oxymoronic and nearly beyond moronic. Change alone is not a platform. Chasmic divides separate their policies and ideals of government.

  3. Mike Cakora

    Both parings are impossible in this universe and dimension because of differences in personality and political philosophy. The notion of an old-white-guy team running against a younger guy-gal team is intriguing on its face, but we got the wrong mix this election. Maybe next time.
    But thoughtful people do wonder how in the heck we end up with the pairings that make it to the ballot, and Frank J. has the answer:

    In the current election, for example, people say they think Barack Obama would be a good president because he’s inspirational, but if you want inspiration, can’t you buy books or tape sets for that? Others say John McCain has the experience to be president, but experience at what? He’s been in the Senate a long time, but what do they do there? Vote on stuff? You could get the same experience just clicking on a lot of internet polls.
    We even debate over which candidate will better improve the economy, which is kind of like trying to choose from a litter of kittens based on which one is best at controlling the weather (hint: it’s usually the calico). It’s like we don’t even know what a president does. No huge corporation is going to hire a CEO just because they just like the cut of his jib; they’re going to want a solid resume showing that the applicant is already experienced doing similar work.
    And there’s the rub. As they say, there is no job like the presidency.

    So Frank describes a process whereby potential candidates meeting the minimum qualifications — 35 and native-born — run another country for a bit so that voters have a better indication of how well they’d do in the most important job on Earth.
    He continues:

    It just makes sense for everyone involved, but if other nations are stubborn and don’t see it that way, I remind you that America can be very charismatic when it wants to be. Iraq and Afghanistan weren’t so hot on us invading them when it first came up, but they seem relatively okay with it now. We just have to tell other countries we’re going to send our highly motivated people to run them, and if they do a bad job and screw everything up, we’ll send more foreign aid. It’s win-win.
    Yes, I know, sending Americans to run other countries is going to get called “imperialism,” but that’s kinda becoming a tired line these days. Invading a nation that attacked us is “imperialism.” Overthrowing a murderous dictator is “imperialism.” Building a giant, planet-destroying space station is “imperialism.” Fine. Whatever. There are worse things than imperialism. And when you’re trying to find the right person to lead the most powerful nation in the world, if a little imperialism is what we need, then so be it.

    Go ahead and read the whole thing.

  4. george32

    no nation attacked us, unless you count saudi and i have noticed no invasion of riyadh. iraq and afghanistan are just delighted to have us-try reading about the revived taliban in afghanistan-that is not a sign of happiness, exceprt the taliban did stop the poppy trade.i hope you do like imperialism now because who do you think is buying the bush deficit bonds-china!! if you want to invade a country that poses a very real threat to the us because we cannot live within our means, try attacking china. better bring a lunch.

  5. Joe

    Not possible for the obamaoid to share a ticket with Governor Palin; she refused to abort a Down Syndrome child that was her fifth child;
    The ‘christian’ obama brought to Christ by the god damm America pastor J. Wright does not want his daughters ‘punished’
    by a mistake with one of the boys from the hood, so condones abortion in teenage girls.
    Hillery and obama, yes a ticket, got saul alinsky credentials and ready to start the gulag and killing fields and totalitarian socialist do gooding;
    and mccain and biden, yes just old politicos cannot do much harm, just ride the wave.

  6. Eric

    I’d be curious how Rush Limbaugh and the Huffington Post would comment on Obama/Palin.
    My guess on “liberal” feminists would result in mass hari-kari.

  7. Earl

    George Wallace said it best, “there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between” Republicans and Democrats. The Democrats willingly went along with the War in Iraq, suspension of Habeas Corpus, Patriot Act, banning books like “America Deceived’ from Amazon, Wikipedia and Facebook, warrant-less wiretapping and opening private mail. They are both guilty of treason.
    Clean them all out and save this great nation.
    Last link (before Google Books bends to gov’t Will and drops the title):
    America Deceived (book)

  8. Dove

    The status quo cannot be hidden. A status Quo with lipstick is still the Status Quo. Palin seems to be a manufactured foil to Obama-proof a pure threat– Obama!
    Obama is an original. He has an electric charisma that makes everyone notice him… love him; hate him.. but you can’t ignore him!!! He has the status quo shaking in their boots!
    GO OBAMA/BIDEN 2008!!

  9. Frank Tilley

    I would vote for O’bama/Palin in a heartbeat!
    In fact, interestingly enough, I just emailed a friend of mine about that very (non-existent) prospect a few minutes before finding this story!
    Two breaths of fresh air vs. the two old geysers who keep their feet stuck in their mouths.

  10. Vincent

    What a odd mind you must have to come up with such a useless hypothetical question, one which undermines the very character revealed by the respective presidential nominees’ choice of running mates. You disrespect everyone concerned in this way, and your decision to see this fanciful nothing of a notion published indicates a narrowness of perspective outdone only by a bizarre undercurrent of pathetic anger. Biden and Palin were the respective choices, and neither Obama nor McCain would have chosen their VP counterparts. For the record, though, Obama would stand strong and inspiring entirely alone, and McCain would not. That, my friend, is the point you wish to avoid. But there it is.

  11. Mike Cakora

    Vincent –
    Those of us who are no fans of McCain but intend to vote for him after a three-day bender admit that he’s done a whole heckuva lot more that Obama has. We in fact have held our noses as we watched the “McCain-(fill in liberal Democrat name here)” bills move through Congress and into law. He’s got a record of accomplishment, of getting things done.
    Obama does not. He left no permanent mark on the Illinois legislature — folks are still not sure what he was up to — nor has he done much in the US Senate. He’s spoken out a bit about the role of NATO in Afghanistan, saying that he supports a greater presence of troops in the country, but has not brought that up during his tenure as the chair of the
    Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on European Affairs. So he has a record of talk but no action.
    You could argue that Obama’s website is chockfull of policy prescriptions much more detailed than what one finds on the McCain site, so you know much more about what his plans would be after taking office. I agree but hasten to add that all that stuff is subject to change, and it is changing. For example, on his “Seniors * Social Security” page he’s dropped this sentence: “[Obama] does not believe it is necessary or fair to hardworking seniors to raise the retirement age.” Were that change highlighted, some of his supporters would get quite cranky. But my point is that since all the details of all his policies are subject to change, the level of detail is meaningless.
    Sure, so are McCain’s. Which gets back to voting for the person based on a track record of getting things done. McCain has one, Obama does not. How is the latter strong and inspiring? Heck, get the motivational course on CD instead of the tape.

  12. Sarah

    I wouldn’t vote for Palin if she were on a ticket with Lincoln!!! And I come from a family of five siblings, one with Down syndrome. Good mother doesn’t necessarily = good president.

  13. HP

    You all are going to go on a 3-day bender beginning on All Saints Day [November 1] — just to condition for a McCain vote on November 4? Good grief. The world as we know it is worse than I knew.

  14. p.m.

    And, here, Vincent, is the point you should wish to avoid:
    Obama’s charisma notwithstanding, McCain chose Palin and thereby cinched up the race, after Obama had chosen Biden, a conflict to everything he represents, save his ultra-liberal voting record, to which Biden is basically a ditto.
    Delegation is the biggest part of a presiden’t job. So far, McCain — not Obama — seems superior at it. McCain chose a complement. Obama chose an aging echo.
    Otherwise, I agree with your initial contention: What if Obama/Palin or McCain/Biden is a stupid question, or two of them.

  15. Mike Cakora

    HP –
    Unaccustomed to the Ray-Milland-style four-day lost weekend just for the heck of it and despite the selection of the conservative governor of Alaska, many conservatives otherwise modest by nature and upstanding in habit need something like to a three-day bender to steel their resolve to pull the lever for Big John.
    Like the poor soul at the edge of a cliff over a mighty river watching the flock of water buffalo charging his way yet wanting some small say in the matter — shall I be gored, crushed, and thrust into the torrents below or just face drowning with but the faintest hope of salvation? — many are choosing to let grave circumstances, less-than-ideal choices, and gravity propel us downward into the canyon, not sure whether hope or despair has so driven us.
    Since a stiff drink from a flask would do no harm in those circumstances, why not have more than a mini-bottle or two to get ready?

  16. zeke

    Makes no difference! The problam is Obama! No, not because he is black! That has nothing to do with it! PALIN, THE VP NOMINEE FOR REPUBLICANS IS IS MORE QUALIFIED TO BE PRESIDENT THAN OBAMA, THE DEMOCRAT NOMINEE!! He has no experience whatsoever, except, as an organizer! A unionist socialist anti free market nut with a single agenda! That is to turn the US into an image of the failed soviet union! More government, more government in my pocket giving my hard earned money to the government to divide with others! THAT IS NOT THE DUTY ON THIS GOVERNMENT! The more these nuts appeal to those who want to take money from those who are successful to redistribute it to those not willing to work the more those people will vote into power those who will give them someone else’s money! First, THERE IS NO CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO VOTE! Second, WE NEED TO START DEFINEING WHO IS ALLOWED TO VOTE ON WHAT ISSUES! THOSE WHO OWN NO PROPERTY HAVE NO RIGHT TO VOTE ON TAXING PROPERTY! THOSE WHO RECEIVE MONEY FROM THE GOVERNMENT ENTITLEMENTS HAVE NO RIGHT TO VOTE ON ANYTHING TO DO WITH THOSE ENTITLEMENTS! THOSE WHO CANNOT READ, WRITE OR CANNOT UNDERSTAND THE CONSTITUTION, THE PROPOSED LAWS OR ANYTHING TO DO WITH LEGISLATION HAVE NO RIGHT TO VOTE! VOTING AGE SHOULD BE INCREASED TO 30 FOR HOUSE AND SENATE, AND, 35 FOR PRESIDENT EXCEPT FOR MEMBERS OF THE MILITARY! 18 YEAR OLDS VOTING IS A SCARRY SITUATION! THEY CANNOT SMOKE OR DRINK, BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT MATURE ENOUGH TO MAKE WISE DECISIONS, BUT, WE LET THEM VOTE FOR THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS TO THE FUTURE OF OUR COUNTRY! ABSURD AND STUPID!!

  17. Lee Muller

    It doesn’t matter how much Perrier you mix with sewerage, it is still sewerage.
    Palin is Perrier.
    Obama is sewerage. Nothing can cure Obama’s socialism, his record of hate for America, the fact that he is surrounded with radicals and terrorists for friends and advisors, and he has been supported his entire life by Muslim money.

  18. Sarah

    Palin is Perrier – fancy packaging, but on the inside, just watered-down nothing. I didn’t know anything about her until her speech – sheesh!!! Do we really need more bitterness and sarcasm combined with knee-jerk reactions and no answers? I didn’t vote for Obama in the primary, in fact I voted for McCain, but have truly changed my mind in this election about four or five times since last year.
    I have never been so conflicted about voting before; the best leaders just haven’t presented themselves this cycle.
    But I will never, ever vote for Palin.
    I admire her role as a mother; I have kids and work, too. But that’s where it ends. Being a working woman doesn’t mean you work for women’s issues, or anything else for that matter. She strikes me as a bully.

  19. Lee Muller

    I want to hear some Obama supporter explain why they trust a candidate who was raised Muslim, educated in a Wahabe Muslim school, roomed with shady Muslims in college, and worked as a community organizer on Nation of Islam projects, and had his way through Harvard paid by Rahled Monsour and Prince Alweed of Saudi Arabia.
    A candidate whose only close friends and mentors are all terrorists and radical black Muslims.
    A candidate who claims to have never heard of AIG, but received over $300,000 in money from its executives and PAC.
    A candidate who had the execs of Lehman Brothers on his advisory staff.

  20. bud

    Palin is Perrier – fancy packaging, but on the inside, just watered-down nothing.
    That is a terrific comeback. I wish I had thought of it.

  21. Phillip

    Zeke, if you quieted your all-caps rhetoric down a bit, you might be able to hear that Obama is not raising taxes for 95% of taxpayers…I gather from your diatribe about punishing the successful, etc., that you must be one of the upper 5%, making more than $250,000 a year. I congratulate you, sir, and I am afraid that you would then be indeed subject to some higher taxes. If I misunderstood you, and you do not make that kind of money, your taxes will either stay the same or go lower in an Obama administration.
    If you didn’t know that to be the case, you just got played for a sucker by John McCain and Steve Schmidt.

  22. Brad Warthen

    Does anyone else think it interesting that my innocuous “what-if” actually seems to have made some people ANGRY?
    I knew a lot of people were wedded to our current partisan craziness, but to get OFFENDED if I propose something that ignores the parameters of right-vs.-left, Democrat vs. Republican? That amazes me.
    You would think, by the tone of a couple of the comments above, that by suggesting such a hypothetical, I was somehow threatening to make it come about, and they felt constrained to leap to their feet to protest. Or something. Anyway, it struck me as odd.
    Oh, and someone — I forget who — above suggested that my framing of the “change” impulse or preference was too simplistic. Well, yeah, it’s a simple proposition. But I should explain that what I was playing with there went a little beyond mere change per se. I was playing with the classic “wisdom of the people” vs. expertise model, sometimes expressed as populism vs. elitism, that has lain at the foundation of our political debates since the founding of the republic. It was at the root, to a great extent, of the split between Democratic-Republicans and Federalists. It would later have a particularly dramatic expression in the contest between John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson.
    Obama and Palin are the more Jacksonian candidates in this election; the Adamses (particularly Adams pere) would have had more confidence in McCain and Biden.

  23. Tim C

    Lee, your hate reminds me of the klan of the past. No logical reason except outright hate due to baseless fear. And the last I checked, being Muslim is protected under freedom of religion. Do you hate all religions except yours as well?

  24. Lee Muller

    No, Tim, it is the Muslim supporters of Obama who hate – hate America, hate Europeans, hate Christianity, hate success, hate tolerance.
    I see you don’t deny any of the facts I raise about Obama and Islam. There is no “hate” in what I said – you just hate the truth.
    I am not attacking the religion of Islam.
    I am asking why Muslims have invested so much in the education and election of Barack Obama.
    Do you have any answers?
    At least answer why you trust Obama, who is supported by Muslims who hate America.

  25. James D McCallister

    Lee, you should be afraid of “extremists” and not Muslims per se. Your posts are just ad hominem attacks on an entire religion (in addition to being hysterical, and not in the amusing sense).

  26. Lee Muller

    No, Jim, you are the one making an ad hominem attack on me, and others, to avoid discussing the fact that Obama spreads a message of hate, and surrounds himself with Muslims who hate us. You can even name a bunch of them.
    There is nothing wrong with Islam, until some of its followers start using it to justify their message of hate and bigotry, as Obama and his supporters have done in their attack on Europe, America, Christianity, Judaism and free-market capitalism.

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