Gail Collins on the surprising Sarah Palin VP pick:
John McCain has a low opinion of the vice presidency, which he’s frequently described as a job that involves attending funerals and checking on the health of the president. (Happy 72nd birthday, John!) There’s a lot we don’t know yet about Palin, and I am personally looking forward to deconstructing her role in the Matanuska Maid Dairy closing crisis. But at first glance, she doesn’t seem much less qualified than Tim Pawlenty, the governor of Minnesota who most people thought was the most likely pick. Unlike Joe Lieberman, Palin is a member of the same party as the presidential candidate. And unlike Mitt Romney, she has never gone on vacation with the family dog strapped to the roof of the car.
However, I do feel kind of ticked off at the assumptions that the Republicans seem to be making about female voters. It’s a tad reminiscent of the Dan Quayle selection, when the first George Bush’s advisers decided they could close the gender gap with a cute running mate.
The idea that women are going to race off to vote for any candidate with the same internal plumbing is both offensive and historically wrong. When the sexes have parted company in modern elections, it’s generally been because women are more likely to be Democrats, and more concerned about protecting the social safety net. “The gender gap traditionally has been determined by party preference, not by the gender of the candidate,” said Ruth Mandel of the Eagleton Institute of Politics.
I don’t think there are many women who will vote a certain way just because the anatomy of a candidate resembles their own. Women I’ve known are more intelligent than that.
Ms. Collins also manages to work in the famous Lloyd Bentson line:
If she’s only on the ticket to try to get disaffected Clinton supporters to cross over, it’s a bad choice. Joe Biden may already be practicing his drop-dead line for the vice-presidential debate: “I know Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton is a friend of mine, and governor, you’re no Hillary Clinton.”
Since I had to look up the Matanuska Maid Dairy reference too, here’s what RobertoW of TPM Muckraker wrote about the topic:
Matanuska Maid was a failing, state-run dairy that had lost about $600,000 over two years when the state Creamery Board finally decided to shut it down in the spring of 2007.
Sarah Palin felt so strongly that Matanuska Maid should continue operating that she fired the entire state Board of Agriculture and Conservation, which appoints the Creamery Board, just to install new members who would reverse the Creamery Board’s decision and keep Matanuska Maid alive.
Sustaining a money-losing state-run business certainly doesn’t sound like fiscal responsibility. But neither does increasing the price the hemorrhaging enterprise pays for milk, which is precisely what the Creamery Board did, making it even more likely Matanuska Maid would not be able to continue as a viable entity.
The Anchorage Daily News reported May 31st that Matanuska Creamery “got off the ground with help from a $643,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture grant and a lot of support from Stevens and from state Senate President Lyda Green, R-Wasilla”. Stevens and Don Young even turned out for a big ribbon-cutting ceremony, their presence testifying to the uncorrupt, newly responsible way things now work in Alaska, thanks to Sarah Palin’s vigorously cleaning house.
But while Dairygate looks definitely sleazy to me, maybe I’m taking a parochial, Lower 48 view. To an Alaskan, what Sarah Polin did just looks like an innovation in fiscal management. After all, what happened here, aside from a little deception, insider-dealing and rank hypocrisy?
A failing state-run enterprise supported by Alaskan taxpayers ends up reborn as a private enterprise, run by a struggling local businessman and subsidized by Federal taxpayers.
To the locals, what a win/win: why should Alaskans have to support the local dairy farmers that bring them fresh milk and cheese, after all, when they have Uncle Ted and Uncle Don (and Aunt Sarah) around to make sure Uncle Sam picks up the tab?
More details and links to primary sources here