There's not much to know about Sarah Palin's background. Project Vote Smart sums it up on a single sheet. She was elected Governor of Alaska in 2006. Prior to that, she was the part-time Mayor of Wasilla City, Alaska, population 9,000. She holds a degree in Communications/Journalism from the University of Idaho. So, let's get this straight: John McCain has been spending the better part of a year harping on Barack Obama's youth and lack of foreign policy experience. Then he goes out and chooses a running mate younger than Obama with absolutely no foreign policy experience and precious little national political experience. (I don't think a minor in political science counts.) Today John McCain turned 72. What happens if McCain becomes incapacitated during his term and we have to rely on President Palin? Think about it. How would she deal with, say, the two wars? How would she deal with Nouri al-Maliki? Or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? These are legitimate questions, given McCain's age and his repeated bouts with melanoma, one of the most virulent forms of skin cancer. For the record, he has never fully come clean with his medical records. That issue, of course, just dropped by the wayside, deemed insignificant.
1. Governor Palin is broadly viewed as a 'reformer' who exposed ethics violations in Republican state government. This, my friends, is the old 'straight talk express' thing again. You know, McCain the Maverick. Now, he supposedly has a female straight talker. Yes, he told the media that he's been seeking a running mate that can “best help me shake up Washington.” Who is he kidding? John McCain isn't interested in shaking anything up. He has voted in step with George Bush more than 95% of the time. His plan is to follow through with and expand upon Bush's eight years of failed policies.
2. John McCain thinks he can have his cake and eat it too. He sees Governor Palin as a way to tempt disenfranchised Hillary Clinton supporters and pander to the Christian conservatives. In McCain's warped mind, women are vacuous enough to support a woman simply because she's a woman. Sarah Palin is an Evangelical Christian, a pro-creationist, an anti-abortionist, and a forced childbirth activist. I could be wrong, but I don' t think her vision is shared by the majority of American women, let alone Hillary Clinton supporters.
The choice of Sarah Palin is living proof that McCain knows he must have the support of conservative Christians in order to move into his new digs at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Ralph Reed is positively gushing about Palin. “This is a home run. She is a reform governor who is solidly pro-life and a person of deep Christian faith.” He went on to describe Palin as one of the “bright shining new stars” in the Republican party. The GOP is barely recognizable anymore. It has become a party so tightly entwined with conservative religious ideology that it no longer carries the vision of serving all Americans.
McCain professes “Country First” on his campaign web site. Let's face it, people, this wasn't a selection made with America's best interest in mind. It may sound like a cliché but this is indeed a woman who is a heartbeat away from the presidency, a self-described “average hockey mom” with not one whit of real-world experience in foreign affairs, terrorism or the armed forces. Yet John McCain has boldly stated that she's ready to be president. What's he going to do? Send her to some kind of intensive training course for the first few months?
As recently as one month ago, Governor Palin didn't have anything positive to say about the position she so willingly accepted today. She said the VP position didn't seem “productive.” She also confessed that she doesn't know much about what a vice president does. Although the Los Angeles Times refers to Palin as well-spoken, the convoluted reply she gave when asked about the possibility of being McCain's running mate puts her right on par with George Bush in command of the English language:
“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.”
Huh? I'd say the jury is still way out on how well-spoken she is.
Her whistleblower status is also at risk. Governor Palin is now herself under investigation for abuse of power. She is accused of firing Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan because he would not succumb to pressure and fire an Alaska state trooper involved in a nasty divorce with Palin's sister. While she denies the allegations, the legislature has voted to hire an independent investigator to look into the matter. She has remained loyal to Senator Ted Stevens.
We simply can't hear enough about Palin's solidly Christian family life. She eloped with her childhood sweetheart. At 44, she's the mother of five children ranging in age from 18 to 4 months. She's known to Christian conservatives because of her refusal to have an abortion in spite of the fact that she was carrying a child (the 4 month old) with Down syndrome. Her eldest son is in the service and will be heading to Iraq on, you won' t believe it, September 11th. In somebody's mind, hers is the perfect embodiment of the American family unit. She will attempt to lure the female vote by claiming Hillary Clinton's mantra about cracking the glass ceiling as her own. Don't drink the Kool-Aid, ladies. Governor Palin is no greater a friend to women than is John McCain.
So, now the Republicans have their hunk of history, and all I can say is I hope we don't have to test her in the driver's seat. McCain's supposedly 'bold' move is less about putting a woman on the ticket than putting a Christian conservative on the ticket. If McCain wanted to shake things up by presenting a powerhouse ticket, he could have chosen Kay Bailey Hutchison or even Olympia Snowe. While even their selection would still not be enough to make me vote for McCain, these are at least women with proven track records and credibility. Their only drawback is that they do not share Sarah Palin's ideology and extremism and were, therefore, unacceptable to McCain's Christian base.