Monday, September 01, 2008

Not Ready for Prime Time

It's amazing how much we can learn about an unknown over a long weekend. On Friday, I knew absolutely nothing about Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Today, I know enough to know that she is NOT READY to assume the mantel of the presidency should John McCain be unable to finish his term of office. That conservatives think she's a good choice only proves to me what I've long suspected: they don't think logically and they are easily swayed by the opinion-makers of the right (Rush, Coulter, Hannity, and the rest). The truest test of this is to think in terms of opposites. If Palin were a Democrat, conservatives would pounce all over her for her inexperience and now, as revealed in the media, her unwed pregnant 17 year old daughter. We'll get to that later.

First...her experience. On the Sunday morning political talkshow circuit, Cindy McCain actually had the audacity to suggest that because Alaska bordered Russia across the Bering Strait, this geographic proximity "qualifies" Governor Palin for "foreign policy experience." By that standard, then Cindy McCain would consider me a Henry Kissinger or James Baker because I've lived 8 years of my life overseas (my first six months of life in Taiwan, ages 2-4 in the Philippines, ages 13-16 in West Germany, and ages 19-22 in Italy). This is spin of the worst kind and insults anyone with a brain.

Sarah Palin's biography includes bragging about being a "hockey mom" with five children. Her oldest son joined the military last year on the September 11th anniversary and will be going to Iraq. I've read on some blogs and heard on the news that some women think being a mom qualifies a person to be president. Um, wrong! It's disturbing how much the Bush years have warped some people's thinking about what qualifies a person to successfully lead the world's sole superpower. Not to disparage motherhood, it is a tough job, but a president has to know how to select the right people to run our government, to know when to fight and when to compromise, to negotiate with foreign leaders and know when someone might be lying, to balance the hawkish response of militarists against the cautious diplomatic tact. It's a 24/7 job, when a phone call at 3 in the morning could interrupt some much needed sleep. If you look at the before and after photos of every president in the last 30 years, you can see how much each one has aged after four or eight years in office.

Conservatives who think Democrats have no room to talk about Palin's inexperience are being disingenuous if not downright dishonest. Palin was a mayor of a small-town in Alaska with a population less than 10,000 people. The office of mayor for her town is considered part-time and she basically had the duty of sitting in on council meetings and only being allowed to vote in case of a tie. True, that's the basic description of the Vice President in the role of presiding over the U.S. Senate and casting a tie-breaking vote. However, with McCain's age, we have to seriously worry about his health and with the stress of the job, he might not last four years and we'll be left with an inexperienced political neophyte to lead our country. She's only been governor for eighteen months in a state with a population of 680,000. We have many cities with a population greater than that, but you don't see many Mayors running for president.

By contrast, Senator Obama has at least been in the public eye for four years. As Senator, he has made foreign trips (I've read that Palin only got her passport recently) and has met with foreign leaders. More than that, Obama has run a presidential campaign for as long as Palin has been governor and the organization he has run has managed to defeat the "well-organized" Clinton machine. He's already endured a lot of scrutiny and made relatively few errors along the way. By contrast, Palin is just new to the American public and there are some 60+ days in which things about her past history will all be exposed for the world to see. Can she withstand the intense scrutiny? If she truly wanted to test her mettle, she should've ran for president in the Republican primaries. At least Obama has shown that he can win votes across the country. Can Palin? Maybe after proving herself as a two-term governor.

If she truly cared about our country, though, she should have the decency to drop out. Somewhere in the depth of her being, she has to know that she's not ready. To say that she is insults anyone with any level of intelligence above Bush's. If McCain wanted a female running mate, he could have chosen Kay Bailey Hutchison or Christine Todd Whitman. They have a longer tenure in government and would be capable of handling the presidency, should McCain die in office.

However, based on Friday's announcement speech, after reading posts that pointed out McCain staring at Palin's ass or breasts and playing with his wedding band, I'm beginning to think that McCain let his little head think for the big head. Rush may be right in saying that they have "the babe" on the presidential ticket, but is that what we really want to lead us? A former beauty queen whose speech reveals a rather empty-headed, perky cheerleader type? Would she have been chosen if she looked like Janet Reno? I did watch the announcement speech on YouTube and was shocked to see that McCain's eyes did indeed look like it was checking her out many times, even though his wife was sitting right behind him. Even more telling, he kept playing with his wedding ring, which I've read before is a subconscious sign in men that they are tempted to cheat. With Cindy showing her age, maybe it's once again time to dump the trophy wife for the trophy vice president?

Conservatives seem to love the fact that Sarah Palin decided to keep her downs syndrome baby instead of aborting it. She's pro-life all the way, even in the case of rape or endangerment to the mother's life. She's also against sex education in school and believes that abstinence only is the policy schools should adhere to. Lot of good it did for her daughter!

I know, I know. Obama is right. He's noble in saying that a politician's children should be off limits. However, that's not how the right wing views it. After all, Karl Rove played nasty with lies about McCain's adopted daughter from Bangladesh in the 2000 South Carolina primary. You can bet that if Palin was a Democrat, that the Republicans would make her unwed and pregnant daughter an issue. The only reason why it should be an issue is because of Palin's view that making schools stick to "abstinence only" as the only acceptable sex education is a farce. If she can't keep her own daughter from getting pregnant, it's proof that sex education should be part of the course curriculum. Sexual abstinence obviously didn't work in her household, because maybe she thought talking the truth about sex with her daughter was just too "icky" and she believed that saying nothing would resolve that issue.

I read an article at the Huffington Post that McCain was in a bind over his choice. He wanted Joseph Lieberman but Karl Rove wanted Mitt Romney. So the only compromise choice they could agree on was Sarah Palin. We will be hearing a lot about Palin in the next few weeks as the media and Democratic researchers hunt all over Alaska for any trace of scandal that might put an end to her candidacy. She should do the honorable and decent thing by reconsidering and withdrawing herself from the Vice Presidential nomination. There are so many more qualified Republican politicians who are ready to lead, including a few female candidates if McCain truly wants one on his ticket. However, if she remains on the ticket, I think even some Republicans might not vote for fear that McCain might not live to run for reelection. Do they truly want to risk their party's future on a political newbie or wait it out four years to run a candidate that they're really excited about?


j janell cf said...

i came to your blog specifically to see what you thought about. i feel just like you. i can't believe it. i think it's insulting as a woman--knowing that she would NEVER have been picked if she were a man, and at the same time seeing that, had he wanted a woman, there are many other educated, intelligent, experience women out there he could have chosen. and to compare herself to hillary and ferraro is ridiculous--they worked hard for the respect they rightfully earned. she has done very little to merit that kind of respect--she has no credentials!
and i do think women should be able to have careers or whatever if they want, and if her husband were running for office it likely wouldn't be questioned. but still...a five month old baby with down syndrome? how can this be good for an infant?
i was so thrilled with the biden pick, i loved the entire dnc last week and thought the clinton's were great, and was already completely on board the obama ticket. now with THIS--i will have a very hard time if mccain/palin win. it just can't happen.

Sansego said...

Thanks for posting, I was curious about your opinion on Palin as well!

I lost a lot of respect for McCain with his selection because he made a political choice rather than a wise for the country choice. It was funny to watch Republican pundits over the weekend try to defend his choice and they kept ignoring questions about her qualifications that make her more deserving than other more experienced Republicans. They stammered and stuttered. So obvious that they are towing the party line, when they know deep down that she isn't fit for the job. This is the same criticism Republicans use when trashing affirmative action...that it means a less qualified female or minority is selected for the job over a "qualified male."

I hope she drops out. For the good of the country, she needs to. I'll be happy if McCain selects someone else, even if it's Elizabeth Dole...though Christine Todd Whitman is the best choice.

Tomorrow's post will also be on the Palin soap opera. It's just too good not to write about!