[Outlook]The Palin effect

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[Outlook]The Palin effect

When the camp of Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s was being pushed into a corner, Sarah Palin was selected as a relief pitcher and she did a great job.

She pulled up McCain’s approval rating and now he and Democratic candidate Barack Obama are in a tight race.

But a financial crisis broke soon afterward, giving Obama the upper hand and leaving people to wonder if Palin’s effect had been overcome.

Before the crisis, many believed that whether or not Palin would be a positive influence would depend on how she managed her image.

The Democratic Party brought up the fact that her teenage daughter is pregnant, attempting to depict Palin as a woman who is devoted to politics at the expense of her family.

But she transformed the crisis into a great opportunity, demonstrating her political competence.

In the United States, all parents begin to get nervous as their children enter their teenage years.

Children around the world stop listening to their parents when they reach puberty. This issue is more pronounced in the United States because of deep-rooted individualism in the society.

Moreover, American kids are able to enjoy their youth to the fullest because they don’t need to struggle to get into universities the way that Korean students do.

American moms hope their children can get through the period safely without getting pregnant or catching a sexually transmitted disease.

But once something happens, an American mom accepts the reality as it is, doesn’t blame herself and tries to find reasonable ways to handle the situation.

Palin openly and confidently emphasized that her daughter and her fiance can take responsibility despite their young age, and that she is a mother who can embrace hardship.

She went beyond being just an ordinary hockey mom. Carrying her fifth child, who has Down’s syndrome, in her arms, she said the baby was a precious gift from God.

She has secured strong female support with her image as a woman who has abandoned neither work nor family, but who is doing her best in both places.

Women voters saw that Palin is a great mom who has difficulties similar to their own.

The Democratic Party’s strategy of focusing on Palin’s shortcomings in her family life didn’t work.

The Democratic Party then thought that as Palin has relatively little experience in politics, she would likely make mistakes when talking about the economy, diplomacy or national security policies. The party has been watching her closely.

But now, that is unlikely to happen because the financial crisis on Wall Street removed the pressure being put on Palin.

Palin’s approval rating will likely remain high among women voters. Obama didn’t name Hillary Clinton as his choice for vice president, a move that is seen by many as a big mistake in terms of female voters.

Even though Clinton lost the Democratic Party primary, she has long been a leader in the female community.

After her defeat in the primary, Clinton sent signals to Obama indicating that she would like him to designate her as his running mate, but Obama didn’t choose her for several reasons.

Clinton didn’t win support from the superdelegates in the primary, but that was because the party wanted to win against the Republican Party.

Believing Obama to be the best candidate to win, they didn’t want to designate Clinton as the candidate for vice president.

Surveys show that many Hispanic Americans, many of whom are Catholic, support Palin.

Most Catholics oppose abortion, and thus they enthusiastically support Palin, as she has many children, including the one with Down syndrome.

But with the recent outbreak of the financial crisis, not selecting Hillary Clinton as a running mate may turn out to be good for Obama.

He announced his intention to separate from Clinton camp old-timers in the diplomacy and financial sectors, and make a new start.

The result of the election likely depends on how effectively President George W. Bush’s manages the financial crisis.

Also, no one knows what other emergencies may take place before the presidential election.

If an emergency breaks out in relation to nuclear issues, the outlook of the U.S. presidential election could change quickly.


*The writer is a professor of U.S. history at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.

by Kim Hyung-in
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