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Del Zeppnile

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2008 will be remembered as a great year for women's achievment. Not since 1984 has a woman been considered for one of the top two spots in a United States Presidential campaign. In 1984 Geraldine Ferraro was selected to run with Walter Mondale, however the Mondale/Ferraro ticket was only able to secure 13 electoral votes against Ronald Reagan. Not exaclty a real chance of winning that year.

Now in 2008, we have already seen a very close Democratic primary campaign where Hillary Clinton nearly had her party's nomination to run as President, and another close race coming this fall between Barrack Obama and John McCain. And with the selection of Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska to be the vice Presidential running mate for Senator McCain, we are witnessing a truely historic year.

Women all across this nation should be proud of these two woman no matter what their political ideologies are.

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Del, I gotta say I pretty much agree with you on this one.

I know that doesn't happen too often when we're talking politics, so have one on me... :beer:

Thanks for the good cheers Lakey!

This election season promises to be one of the most exciting ones since 1960. A pivitol moment in American history.

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September 13, 2008

Palin is Hillary's Gift to Obama

By Toby Harnden

Spare us the instant Hillary Clinton nostalgia. Half of the Democratic party seems to have persuaded itself that the former First Lady would have been cruising to an effortless victory by now had primary voters shown the wisdom to select her as their nominee.

Even many of those who remain intensely loyal to Barack Obama are beginning to rue the day he decided not to pick her as his running mate. Clinton and her sisterhood of traveling pantsuits, they fret, would have sewn up the female vote, reassured rural white men and doubled down on this year's election theme of change.

Republicans who spent several years salivating at the prospect of facing a polarizing candidate with more baggage than Heathrow airport, an unfavorability rating hovering around 50 per cent and the persona of the archetypal calculating politician now hail her as a gutsy heroine callously cast aside by Senator Obama.

Of course, most of the new conservative love for Clinton is tactical. By lauding the senator for New York, they undermine Obama and highlight her case - which looks more compelling by the day - that he could not defeat John McCain. The old adage that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend", Republicans calculate, should hold true until November 4th.

We will never know whether Clinton would have beaten Senator McCain, though there are powerful reasons to be skeptical about her camp's conviction that victory would have been a certainty. But while she may not have beaten Obama in the primaries, she may well have sown the seeds for his defeat in 52 days time.

It's not just that Clinton continued to battle for the nomination beyond the point at which her winning became impossible and the major political damage to the Illinois senator became inevitable.

The crucial point is that if it wasn't for Clinton, Sarah Palin - who now could well become America's first female president whether or not McCain wins the White House - would have remained in relative obscurity in Alaska.

The New York senator knew that Obama would never choose her to be his running mate. Even if he'd asked her, she might well have refused. Her looming presence, however, spooked Obama into playing it safe with his vice-presidential pick.

Again and again, Clinton supporters made clear that for him to choose another woman to be on the ticket would cause uproar in Hillaryland. Obama was inclined to choose a Washington outsider who embodied change, had appeal in the heartland, would highlight his change message, had shown personal loyalty to him and with whom he was comfortable and in synch.

Either Governor Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas or Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri would have fitted the bill. But Obama, afraid of a Hillary backlash if he chose a less qualified woman, blinked.

Clinton had trumpeted 35 years of experience. So Obama selected Senator Joe Biden of Delaware, who could boast nearly 36 years on Capitol Hill. Biden was acceptable to the Clintons because he'd never taken shots at Mrs Clinton (indeed, he didn't even endorse Obama against her). Even his Scranton roots were something of a nod to the former First Lady.

What Obama hadn't reckoned with was the opportunity he'd be handing McCain. Having calculated correctly that Obama would not choose Clinton, the Arizona senator embarked on what looks in hindsight like a masterful diversionary move. All summer, he dangled boring white guy governors Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty as his likely veep picks.

He floated Joe Lieberman, and appears genuinely to have wanted to choose the Connecticut senator before concluding he would have been unacceptable to the Right. But all along, Governor Palin was on his list. The rest were decoys.

Palin's inexperience made her a risk. When Obama went for Biden, however, the pluses were too good to overlook - a play for soft Hillary supporters, an outsider, an embodiment of change, a cementing of the jittery conservative base, a much needed jolt of excitement to McCain's campaign.

The secrecy of McCain's veepstakes process squashed whatever convention bounce Obama might otherwise have enjoyed. Palin neutralized Biden by making him seem a quaint throwback. And Biden, true to form, has already obliged by describing Palin as "good looking" and condemning her selection as a "backward step for women" - innocent comments but easily capable of provoking outrage, both real and synthetic.

Palin's presence on the trail has ensured that Clinton will remain to the fore - a constant reminder to her supporters of what might have been. Fearful of losing women voters, the Obama-Biden ticket is showing deference to the New York senator. Biden's musing that she might have been "more qualified" than him and a "better pick" as Obama's running mate was a gaffe of breathtaking proportions.

It's now obvious that Palin has left Obama badly rattled and his campaign flailing. It must stick in the craw of a man brought up by a single mother, who married a strong woman and adores his two daughters but he stands accused of being sexism not just once but twice.

The "lipstick on a pig" slip-up was no more intended to be sexist or demeaning than his ill-judged "likeable enough, Hillary" quip in the New Hampshire primary debate. But it illustrated once again the perils of a rookie on the national scene jousting with a female politician who has passionate supporters and is poised to make history.

It's folly, of course, for Obama to be engaging with Palin. It diminishes him by equating him with the number two on the other ticket. And far from neutralizing the question mark over his experience, the discussion of her qualifications has ensured that his thin resume will remain front and center.

Obama should be giving Palin a good ignoring while his campaign hammers away at her record and McCain's linkages to President George W. Bush - not his vetting process (a Beltway preoccupation of no relevance beyond whether it missed anything damaging) or her family.

Clinton has made clear she won't be attacking Palin. And why should she? A McCain-Palin victory would make Clinton the Democratic front runner in 2012. It would vindicate everything she said about Obama during their primary battle.

Palin, and what picking her telegraphed about McCain, could be Obama's nemesis. Hillary Clinton brought us Palin. The Alaska governor is her gift to Obama.

Toby Harnden is US Editor of The Daily Telegraph of London. His blog is at http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/foreign/tobyharnden

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