Update: As Hurricane Gustav heads for the Gulf Coast, so does John McCain, his wife Cindy and his new running mate Palin - along with Secret Service agents and a "select" press pool. Why? As we all remember, McCain spent Hurricane Katrina laughing over birthday cake with President Bush.
As Will Thomas of Talking Points Memo points out, "...neither McCain nor Palin offer any unique advantage to New Orleans with their presence -- they are not Southern politicians, they don't have any particularly useful contacts in the area and they aren't emergency responders. (Meanwhile, Obama will not travel to the region but has said he will use his fundraiser lists to coordinate volunteers once damage is assessed.) However, McCain could be particularly helpful from his Senate position, if he so chose.
"And if visiting a possible emergency site to "check on preparations" (as the campaign refers to it) doesn't bother you particularly, consider this line from Politico yesterday: "McCain was scheduled to deliver his acceptance speech Thursday but now may do so from the devastation zone if the storm hits the U.S. coast with the ferocity feared by forecasters."
For those Republicans who think Sarah Palin's nomination as John McCain's running mate is some sort of consolation prize after Hillary Clinton didn't win the Democratic nomination, consider the vast differences between the two women.
As a woman named Christine emailed to CNN's Jack Cafferty, “I am a true-Bill-Hillary — a true-blue Hillary supporter, but I am sure — I’m sure Hillary did not mean to put 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling, so that a pro-life, pro-gun, homeschooling nobody from the frozen tundra of Alaska could slide in.”
Meanwhile, presidential scholars say Palin is probably the least experienced presidential candidate in modern history.
In the Washington Post, John Podesta, chief of staff to President Bill Clinton and president of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, writes:
"A potential vice president with the ideology of Dick Cheney and fewer qualifications than Dan Quayle should send arctic shivers up our spines.
"Vice presidents matter. In our history, nine have become president when the sitting commander in chief unexpectedly died or resigned. McCain, a 72-year-old cancer survivor, may be rolling the dice to grab a chunk of Hillary Clinton's voters, but he is asking all of us to gamble on Sarah Palin if she were to become president at a time of national crisis.
"McCain himself said this spring: "In all due respect he does not understand . . . the fundamental elements of national security and warfare." He could have been discussing his running mate. The former mayor of Wasilla, population 8,471, has no national security experience. She has been governor only two years. And her instincts on domestic and security policy are troubling.
"While we sit on only three percent of the world's oil reserves, Palin thinks we can drill our way out of our oil addiction by exploiting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. When we should be protecting the climate, she is suing the United States to prevent protections for polar bears threatened by global warming. When we need to clean up Washington, she is vocally defending Sen. Ted Stevens."
Here's Palin with disgraced Alaska Senator Ted Stevens. Palin, curently under investigation for improperly firing a state employee, scrubbed another video - in which Stevens endorsed her for governor - from her website. Palin also added numerous comments to her Wikipedia entry, including "eye-popping integrity" and "most popular governor in America," quotes repeatedly used by one of McCain's female surrogates, appearing on CNN's Larry King Live. With every question King or James Carville asked about Palin's qualifications, the McCain defender used the same responses, over and over. Apparently, the Wikipedia entry was the only information she had about Palin.
Some interesting background about Palin's "executive" decisions involving a local dairy here.