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Nixon, Agnew, Quayle, Cheney--and Now Palin?

By       Message Carol V. Hamilton     Permalink
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Why are the Republicans so cavalier in their selection of Vice Presidential nominees?


They've already put us at risk with such problematic figures as Richard Nixon, Spiro Agnew, Dan Quayle, and Dick Cheney. Had Eisenhower not chosen Nixon as his VP, we might not have had Watergate, and more American soldiers might have survived Vietnam. Spiro Agnew had to resign after being caught accepting bribes and lying about his income. Quayle, whose qualifications far exceeded those of Sarah Palin, proved himself a good-looking, amiable dunce. Cheney's crimes against the American people and secret dealings with oil companies have yet to be exposed.


Having mocked Barack Obama for his supposed inexperience, McCain has selected a younger, less experienced politician as his running-mate. Over at the National Review, they're trying to celebrate that choice, but even there, reactions are mixed. "By picking Alaska governor Sarah Palin as his running mate, John McCain has wowed the public and enthused the Right," the editors collectively declare. Really? I guess "wowed" is one way to express the collective gasp of disbelief that greeted the announcement. As for enthusing, I suppose the Far, Far Right of Christian ultra-fundamentalist anti-abortion absolutists, for whom the real job of women is having babies, may be "enthused." But what about normal people?


NR contributor Tom Gross writes that Palin "understands that aggression has to be resisted and commitments have to be honored. " (Has Alaska has been resisting aggression from Canada?) "Certainly," Gross continues, "there is every sign that she will be better for at least one of America's closest friends and allies, Israel, than Joe Biden."( Israel? Is that our top priority? And does Palin, an ultra-conservative Christian, even know any Jews, not to mention Israelis? There are reportedly only 3060 Jews living in Alaska.) Gross ends his short defense of Palin by writing as if the United States and Israel were the same country: "The U.S. and Israel can have every confidence that, like McCain, she is a doer who means what she says - not someone like Joe Biden."


National Review contributor Kathryn Jean Lopez sees Palin's significance entirely in her decision not to abort a baby diagnosed with Down syndrome. "In contrast to Barack Obama, who would let the survivors of botched abortion attempts be killed," Lopez writes, repeating an ugly smear whose content Obama has denied, "the Palins could serve as a great clarifier for voters this fall - and an education." Well, that's her decision. And Down syndrome people do seem to be both unusually sweet and capable of managing important aspects of daily life. But Palin wants the government to decide for other women and other, more severe medical conditions too. She does not believe in abortion under any circumstances. Meanwhile, we discover that "abstinence education" did not work for her seventeen-year-old daughter.


Fortunately, not all National Review contributors are so thoughtlessly sanguine. Shannen (sic) Coffin writes one of the dissenting opinions. Although he lavishes excessive praise upon Palin, he interprets her selection as suggesting that McCain thinks he doesn't really need a Vice-President. Above all, Coffin expresses a proper concern for "governance" : "After all, her career in the 'city council' and as mayor of a town few outside of Alaska have ever heard of doesn't exactly prepare her to preside over National Security Council meetings in the President's absence, to serve as a close adviser to the President on counterterrorism issues, or to have the nuke 'football' at her side 24/7."


The selection of Sarah Palin as their Vice-Presidential nominee is further evidence of Republican opportunism, ruthlessness, and lack of genuine patriotism. As a campaign strategy, it smacks of both cynicism and desperation. Republicans would rather win and let the country go to hell than lose and give up their upper-income tax breaks. They seem to regard Israel as a defenseless appendage of this country. They oppose the regulation of industry from which they get their stock dividends even when evidence of international pollution is glaringly apparent.


This Republican party has nothing in common with the historical party of Lincoln, Grant, Teddy Roosevelt, and Nelson Rockefeller. It seems to have embraced the legacy of our first conniving, law-breaking vice president, the unscrupulous Aaron Burr.

 

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Carol V. Hamilton has a Ph.D. in English from Berkeley and teaches at the University of Pittsburgh. She also writes for History News Network (hnn.us) and CommonDreams.org.

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