A small hypothetical for you all to entertain as you watch tonight’s debate:
When Joe Biden first ran for the Senate, he ran as a Democrat in a Democratic year. In Washington, he’s been a fairly moderate Democrat – a servant of MBNA and the credit card companies in Delaware, he’s been a frequent friend of the corporation and the businessman. He’s played the Washington game a bit – sending his son to a high-class lobbying job, playing both sides of Clarence Thomas during that nomination debacle, putting his foot in his mouth on more than one occasion – but on the whole, he’s never been a radical.
Is it that hard to imagine Biden as a Republican, instead of a Democrat?
His voting pattern is not all that dissimilar from Senator Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania, or Biden’s former colleague, moderate GOPer Bill Roth. Highly educated and ambitious from his youth, he has the brash ego of a career politician and a penchant for outrageous remarks that far exceed any Macaca moments. He likes the military and Amtrak and corporations. He likes America. He dislikes hippies. He’s fairly moderate in ideology and testy in temperament.
On the other side, you have Sarah Palin – a rural feminist, with a strong religious undercurrent, a blue collar background, a PTA member, a Union member, pro-gun, pro-life, and pro-military but a bit isolationist and rather libertarian on gay rights issues. A son in the military – a recruit, not an officer – and a Huckabee-esque penchant for bashing authority. She can’t be painted into any particular corner ideologically, but she is hated by government bureaucrats as much as she is loved by the citizens of her state.
Is it that hard to imagine Palin as a Democrat, instead of a Republican?
She’s the member of no old guard, no political establishment, has no family wealth to fall back on. Her astounding political win in a relatively minor state comes hard fought against the male-dominated Republican leadership. She does so by taking a populist anti-corporate and anti-establishment position, talking in very blue-collar terms about climate change and the need to install immediate reforms. If there’s a comparison on the D side, she’s the female Jim Webb: brash and inspiring, the people who like her adore her, and the people who dislike her hate her intensely.
Imagine this debate, for one moment, with Sarah Palin – the socially traditionalist (need those evangelical swing voters!), blue collar union member, telegenic Democratic Veep nominee – and Joe Biden – the old white guy who’s been in Washington forever, wedded to the credit card companies, who’s never done anything but be a lawyer-politician, who’s gotten money from every interest group and traded favors with everyone under the sun – as the Republican Veep nominee?
I could see it. And I wonder how the media would treat it differently.