Washington Matters


McCain's Swinging Wild with Slams on 'Feminists'



John McCain has taken to blaming "the feminist left" for the problems plaguing his running-mate, Sarah Palin. Please. Former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan is part of the feminist left? So, too, is conservative New York TImes columnist David Brooks?

This is simply more careless name calling and blame laying that tries to change the subject and evade the real problem: Palin is becoming an increasingly dead weight around McCain's neck. An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released today finds that 55% of those surveyed say she's not qualified to become president. Worse, a  Washington Post/ABC News poll taken earlier in the week found that 52% of likely voters felt McCain's pick of Palin made them less confident in the kind of decisions he'd make as president -- a jump of 13 points since the more heady days following her selection. The only way to remove that weight at this stage is for McCain to show that he means it when he says he is proud of Palin is to address the criticisms directly.

What's especially annoying about McCain's attacks on the phantom feminist left is that he's falling into the same trap and tactics that is causing Palin so much trouble. He's simply flailing without bothering to use facts or even make sense. Palin is not being criticized because she is or is not hewing some ideological line.

The fiercest criticisms of her are about whether she would be capable of stepping into McCain's shoes, and if so, what kind of president she might make. Brooks finds her unqualified because she is an anti-intellectual who comes from a part of the GOP that tends to "scorn ideas entirely." Noonan's complaint is similar -- "she doesn't think aloud. She just says things."

As the ABC poll shows -- and as Colin Powell complained Sunday while endorsing Barack Obama over McCain --  McCain's pick of Palin has raised doubts about the Republican nominee's judgment. While some have urged that Palin quit the ticket, it's too late for that. If McCain wants to reverse the judgment about his judgment, he has to stop blaming other people for the perception of Palin and embrace her entirely. Quit talking about how great the Alaska governor is and point to the things that would make her a good president. Quit protecting her by trying to keep reporters away and giving her attack lines to repeat. Let her hold a real news conference or go on one of the Sunday morning talk shows, where the interviewing is generally tough but fair. To do otherwise merely reinforces the doubts that Palin -- not the feminist left, the media elite or any other political boogeyman -- has raised about her competence.


 




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