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McCain's choice of Palin. Oops!

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(Yes, the cover is real. Alaska Magazine, February 2008)

McCain's campaign team may think they have scored a coup with the selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as the Republican nominee's running mate. Yes, it was a shocker and even those of us who vehemently oppose four more years of McSame, have to admit it was, on the surface, a brilliant move -- for someone who has no record to run on and no promises except more of the same.

After the gloating wears off, watch "the surprise" seal McCain's campaign coffin once and for all.

First off, you can't just pluck an unknown and expect women across the country to shout "Solidarity! Let's make history!"  Not when the pluckee is barely into her first term as governor of a low population state, and barely out of a part-time mayoral job in a city of 10,000 people. Not when the current administration has us embroiled in two wars, put us on poor terms with other world powers, and has tanked our economy. Not when the top dog on the ticket is a 72-year-old male with questionable health who receives Social Security disability and can't remember if he owns seven or 10 homes.

Second, within hours of being introduced by McCain, thousands of us were watching a March videotaped interview Palin did with Newsweek where she dismissed those offended by the gender-biased media sniping at Hillary Clinton as "whiners." Hey McCain, those "whiners" happened to be the disgruntled Clinton supporters you hoped to bring under the Republican's tent with that slick choice of Palin. Oops!

Palin's a woman, but she hardly represents what we have come to know as "women's issues," particularly among those of us who follow public policy. She's a prominent member of Feminists For Life, an anti-choice lobbying group masquerading as a feminist group. She's a member of the NRA, but when did that become a harbinger of women's rights? She was a beauty contest winner, and therefore a beauty "contestant." She has insinuated her personal religious beliefs into public education by supporting the teaching of creationism alongside science in public schools.

She's clueless about what the job entails. As reported by Politico, When Larry Kudlow of CNBC asked her last month about the possibility of becoming McCain's running mate, she said:

“As for that VP talk all the time, I’ll tell you, I still can’t answer that question until somebody answers for me what is it exactly that the VP does every day? I’m used to being very productive and working real hard in an administration. We want to make sure that that VP slot would be a fruitful type of position, especially for Alaskans and for the things that we’re trying to accomplish up here for the rest of the U.S., before I can even start addressing that question.”

Apparently, Palin is the last to know that back in 2000, Dick Cheney revised the VP position description. He made it the number one slot, and the role of president is strictly window dressing now.

McCain and the RNC have consistently pecked away at Barack Obama's lack of experience. They can't use that anymore. Maybe the brilliant move wasn't so brilliant after all.

Skinner, owner and administrator of
DemocraticUndergound, put it quite nicely:

I suspect that there was some calculation that selecting a woman for the ticket would motivate some Democratic women who supported Senator Clinton during the primaries. Personally, I find it hard to believe that supporters of Senator Clinton would be moved by this pick. Palin is an anti-choice former beauty queen -- she has none of the experience, depth, or gravitas that Senator Clinton has. In fact, I think this selection is an insult to women who supported Senator Clinton. McCain thinks they are stupid, and that selecting any woman would be enough to win their support. It doesn't matter who it is -- as long as she has ovaries.

Even some Republicans from her home state were surprised and less than thrilled at the news:
Observations in the Anchorage Daily News, Announcement stuns, splits Alaska political world:

"She's not prepared to be governor. How can she be prepared to be vice president or president?" -- Republican Lyda Green, Alaska's state senate president from Palin's hometown of Wasilla.

House Speaker John Harris, a Republican from Valdez, was also astonished at the news. He didn't want to get into the issue of her qualifications.

"She's old enough," Harris said. "She's a U.S. citizen."


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Kathlyn Stone is a Minnesota-based writer covering science and medicine, health care and related policies.-She publishes, a health and science news site.
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