Saturday, August 30, 2008

McCain’s choice

When I heard that John McCain had picked Sarah Palin as his running mate, my first reaction was, “Is he serious?” Well, actually, my first reaction was, “who?!”

Like most Americans, I’d never heard of Palin. Alaska is the largest state in the US with lowest population density. It has only some 680,000 people, give or take, making the population smaller than any major city, including Auckland. Because of its huge revenues from oil, the state also is one of America’s wealthiest states in terms of income per capita.

Palin was a council member then Mayor of her small town, then lost a bid for Lieutenant Governor in 2002. In 2006, she ran for governor and won. And this is the first point where I thought McCain was having a big joke on us all.

For months McCain and the Republicans have been relentlessly attacking Barack Obama, claiming that he’s “not experienced” enough to be President. And then McCain picks someone with zero national experience.

Don’t get me wrong, serving as part for your town’s government is important. Someone has to make sure burned-out streetlights are replaced, that the rubbish is collected and potholes are filled. But that’s not very helpful in running a superpower. Neither is being a governor of a rich state for only two years.

McCain says she does have relevant experience because, as governor, she was commander in chief of the Alaska National Guard. Riiiiiiiiiiight. McCain and his campaign handlers have tried to spin her as being a “mainstrteam Republican”. That, of course, means America doesn’t need her.

The biggest spin from the Republicans is that she’s running only for Vice President, so her lack of experience doesn’t matter. Give me a break. McCain is 72 years old, which would make him the oldest person ever elected to a first term. His health is not good, so he has a better than usual chance of dying in office and if that happens, the neophyte Palin would become President.

Palin is a typical Republican in many respects. She backed a 1998 amendment to the Alaska Constitution to outlaw marriage equality. When the Alaska Supreme Court ruled the state must provide benefits to same-sex partners, she vetoed a measure passed by the Republican legislature to overturn the decision. Her apologists (like the Log Cabinettes) say that means she’s “gay friendly,” but, at best, it means she took her constitutional responsibilities seriously—and that, I’ll admit is very, very different from the Bush-Cheney regime. But she did so despite believing that Alaska shouldn’t provide such benefits (like insurance and pensions).

She opposes designating the polar bear an endangered species. Why? Well, the right wing feels this would allow “liberals” to somehow use the animals to stop “progress”, by which they mean business interests, primarily for the oil and gas industry. Coincidentally or not, Palin was heavily involved in the state’s industry agency before becoming Governor. And, of course, McCain has accepted millions of dollars in contributions from the oil and gas industry. I don’t know if there’s a connection in all this. But if it walks like a duck, it’s probably not a cow.

Palin is also being investigated for allegedly firing Alaska’s Commissioner of Public Safety for refusing to fire a state trooper who had gone through a bitter divorce from Palin’s sister.

Taken together, this shows she’s a pretty typical Republican as far as I can tell. I haven’t yet found out what her position is on choice and women’s rights, but it’s doubtful that she’d deviate from official Republican Party policy.

So, you have John McCain who promises four more years of the failed Bush-Cheney regime picking as a vice presidential candidate an inexperienced person who’s totally unqualified to be president, should that be necessary. That’s a risk that’s just too great to take.

Fortunately, we have Barack Obama and Joe Biden who together have the experience and temperament to bring the change the country so desperately wants—and needs. And Joe Biden could be president, if the worst should happen.

Add it all up, and the choice is clearer now than ever: Barack Obama and Joe Biden will bring the change and security America needs and wants. John “More of the Same” McCain can’t.

Update 02/09/08: In an interview in People Magazine (via Joe.My.God), McCain said that what made him choose Palin was "I think the important thing was that she's a reformer. She's taken on special interests since she ran for the PTA and the city council and mayor." Yep, taking on the PTA will help her take on the nation's problems. If McCain's serious, it's little wonder he can't remember how many houses he has: He's short a few brain cells.


Roger Owen Green said...

She's specifically against abortion. In fact, the narrative is that she had had her fetus tested, knew he (or she) had Down''s syndrome and had the child anyway.
Also lifetime member of the NRA.
Also former beauty queen and TV anchor. She may appeal to the base - and possibly the base instincts of hetero males -, as she is, under those glasses, kinda good looking -
but she is an AWFUL pick, making McCain the flaming liberal the GOP base suggested he was.

Add to that the clear pandering to the Hillary voters - and to paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen, she's no Hillary Clinton.

Jason in DC said...

The most unqualified VP candidate since Dan Quayle.

Arthur Schenck said...

Roger: I completely agree with you. I'm worried that some voters may ignore the realities of her inexperience and awful positions on many issues because she and her family make up a Republican postcard family. That's one of the reasons I won't be easing up on this awful choice.

Jason: I thought the same thing, but there's an important difference: Bush the First was much younger than McCain is now, and he was in far, far better health than McCain is. So, as bad as Quayle was, Palin is far worse, not just because she has dramatically less experience than Quayle, but also because she's far more likely to succeed McCain than Quayle was to succeed Bush the First.

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