Sarah Palin Revisited

September 3, 2008

It’s been five days or so, which in the world of 24 hour news and instant information is a lifetime.  So I thought I’d revisit the Sarah Palin nomination.  It’s been quite a week for the McCain Campaign, for the governor, and for her family.  Some of it has been downright ugly, and much of it has been entirely deserved.

Last week, just hours after watching John McCain introduce her as his running mate, I commented that his selection had pretty much taken the experience issue off the table for the Republicans.  It seems I was wrong about that.  Republicans have been making the case that her term as mayor of Wasilla and her 20 months as Alaska’s governor give her more experience than Barack Obama.  I believe this is nonsense, and I’m especially struck by the fact that they claim her time as mayor and on the city council of this tiny little town is relevant experience.  At the same time, they refuse to acknowledge that the years Barack Obama spent as a community organizer counts for anything.  They also fail to grasp that right now Barack Obama and John McCain are exercising more executive leadership than either of them has ever before:  as leaders of their own campaigns.  Obama’s campaign is one of the most disciplined, finely-tuned campaigns Americans have ever seen.  His grassroots level organization is particularly formidable and may well be the deciding factor in this election. And in his most important campaign decision to date, Obama chose Joe Biden as his running mate.  McCain’s campaign has been in turmoil again and again, it has almost no grassroots organization at all, and his most important decision to date was choosing Palin.  Clearly Obama has the edge here.

I also said last week that I thought McCain was crazy if he thought that nominating Palin would bring Hillary Clinton’s supporters to his campaign.  This has been borne out by more recent events.  The fact is that McCain has lost traction with women since the announcement.  This is because, in part, as more and more information about Palin has emerged, it’s become clear that she is at the very fringe of right-wing extremism on a host of social issues.  She is so doctrinaire on abortion that she would make it illegal even in cases of rape, incest, and medical emergencies where the life of the mother is endangered.  She is in favor of teaching creationism in schools.  She is in favor of abstinence-only sex education in schools.  This, of course, has become a prominent issue since the announcement on Monday that her 17 year-old daughter is pregnant.  I’m not going to comment on the pregnancy (this is where much of the ugliness has been, and I think that Barack Obama’s insistence that the media and his supporters leave the Palin family alone is commendable), except to say that it does bring into stark relief the ridiculousness and ineffectiveness of abstinence-only programs like those Palin advocates.

And then there are the issues that hadn’t come out yet on Friday when I first wrote about McCain’s selection of Palin.  For instance, the fact that she lied in her very first speech before a national audience.  She painted herself as a reformer and claimed that she had refused funds for the great Alaskan boondoggle known as the Bridge To Nowhere.  Turns out she was in favor of funding the bridge before she was against it.  She campaigned for governor on the promise of lobbying for those funds and completing the bridge.  Only when it became politically expedient to do so did she turn against it.  It’s been claimed by many that she and indicted Alaska Senator Ted Stevens are mortal political enemies.  Turns out she appeared with him at a campaign stop in July and spoke very highly of him.  She has claimed that the Troopergate scandal in Alaska (she fired a public safety official because he failed to fire her former brother-in-law, a state trooper, who is locked in a fierce custody battle with Palin’s sister) was nothing but a political circus.  She has now hired a lawyer for the case and the McCain Campaign has been pressuring the special investigator assigned to look into the scandal to hold off on releasing any information until after the election.  The McCain Campaign claims that they vetted Palin thoroughly for the position, but it turns out that McCain met with her once prior to asking her to be on the ticket, and that her vetting was done on the fly last week.  Either McCain was willing to put politics above country and nominate someone who may well be unqualified, or his vetters don’t really understand what the word “vetting” means.

Republicans are screaming now that Palin is the victim of “sexism” and that the media have some sort of vendetta against McCain and his VP choice.  Bull.  They didn’t mind when the press was looking into Barack Obama’s past, but now that the press is looking into Palin’s they’re crying foul.  Get over it, folks.  McCain brought this on himself.  It’s not sexism to point out that Palin’s resume is thin and that she is not at all the reformer she’s made herself out to be.  It’s not a vendetta when the press does the vetting work that McCain’s campaign neglected to do.

The bottom line in this matter is that this election will ultimately come down to questions of judgment.  And in this case, John McCain’s judgment was breathtakingly bad.

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4 Responses to “Sarah Palin Revisited”

  1. Brian said

    I was flabbergasted when I heard Palin ridicule Obama’s community organizations efforts and claim that she was going to shake things up in washington. Its like the world stood on its head for a moment until I realized that McCain and crew were trying to spin the truth and garner some of the excitement and praise Barack Obamas campaign has generated. Unfortunately the McCain/Palin flip-flop spin machine left me nauseous.

  2. davidbcoe said

    Thanks for the link, Alex. Funny stuff. Thank God for Jon Stewart — without him this week would have been unbearable.

    Brian, I felt the same way. The Democrats last week went out of their way to be courteous and respectful of John McCain’s past, even as they criticized his policy positions. Palin and Guiliani and the other GOP speakers were just obnoxious.

  3. Alex Pendergrass said

    It’s sad that the most honest news comes from a comedic news show.

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