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Sarah Palin Revisited

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.

Comments

( 52 comments — Leave a comment )
kmarkhoover
Sep. 3rd, 2008 10:10 pm (UTC)
Mike Murphy and Peggy Noonan, hardly two pinko liberal commies, were caught on mike calling the appointment "political bullshit" "gimmicky" and "it's over". Here's the link:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/09/03/peggy-noonan-mike-murphy_n_123647.html
davidbcoe
Sep. 3rd, 2008 11:50 pm (UTC)
Priceless!!
(no subject) - scbutler - Sep. 4th, 2008 02:39 am (UTC) - Expand
shsilver
Sep. 3rd, 2008 11:03 pm (UTC)
She is in favor of abstinence-only sex education in schools.

And just to point out, Sarah and Todd Palin were married on August 29, 1988. Their oldest son, Track, was born on April 20, 1989. This indicates that either Track was premature or Sarah and Todd weren't practicing abstinence before marriage.
davidbcoe
Sep. 3rd, 2008 11:52 pm (UTC)
Hadn't known about that one. Maybe they just gestate quicker up north....
(no subject) - madkestrel - Sep. 4th, 2008 12:28 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - davidbcoe - Sep. 4th, 2008 12:55 am (UTC) - Expand
ferragus
Sep. 3rd, 2008 11:10 pm (UTC)
In Palin's own words (thanks to the Huffington Post)

"It's not rocket science," Palin said, "It's $6 million and 53 employees."

(ETA changed the icon I used, was Kerry/Edwards)

Edited at 2008-09-03 11:11 pm (UTC)
davidbcoe
Sep. 3rd, 2008 11:53 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the link, Tom!
davidbcoe
Sep. 4th, 2008 12:55 am (UTC)
Indeed. The last thing we need after eight years of Dick Cheney is four more years of Eva Braun....
(no subject) - markwise - Sep. 4th, 2008 06:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - davidbcoe - Sep. 4th, 2008 06:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - markwise - Sep. 4th, 2008 07:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - madkestrel - Sep. 4th, 2008 07:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
scbutler
Sep. 4th, 2008 02:41 am (UTC)
This is the way the Republicans work. Say that white is black and vice versa until the media finally gets brainwashed into thinking it's true.
davidbcoe
Sep. 4th, 2008 01:45 pm (UTC)
Sad but true.
lindajdunn
Sep. 4th, 2008 02:47 am (UTC)
http://voices.washingtonpost.com/the-trail/2008/09/02/palin_slashed_funding_to_help.html

I note that the Washington Post has found she slashed funding for programs that included on that provided housing and transitional assistance for your mothers.

Thus, her actions made it more DIFFICULT for mothers who tried to do the "right thing" as she called it and keep their babies.

Sigh! Nothing like convenient double standards.
davidbcoe
Sep. 4th, 2008 01:46 pm (UTC)
She seems to specialize in that.
(no subject) - markwise - Sep. 5th, 2008 05:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
wldhrsjen3
Sep. 4th, 2008 03:22 am (UTC)
I think bad judgment is sometimes open to interpretation.
davidbcoe
Sep. 4th, 2008 01:47 pm (UTC)
True, Jen. Her nomination has certainly fired up the GOP base, and that may be what McCain wanted, in which case his judgment wasn't bad at all. We'll have to wait and see, excrutiating as that may be.
markwise
Sep. 4th, 2008 04:31 am (UTC)
How can you possibly say that being a "Community Organizer" counts more than being an elected executive (mayor and governor). What is exactly a "Community Organizer"? Is that not what Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson claim to be? Does that mean that Al Sharpton has more experience than a state governor in executive leadership?

How many budgets has Obama written? How many laws has Obama written?

How can you possibly compare running a political campaign to being a state governor with a multibillion dollar budget?

You can't seriously do that with a straight face, and it is grasping at straws to do so.

The fact is, the media attack dogs could not find much against her so they started attacking her family which is a sign of fear and desparation. The American People will see that for what it is and give Obama a backlash come November.
jp_davis
Sep. 4th, 2008 10:46 am (UTC)
I don't think anyone said that being a community organizer counted more than being a mayor, or that running a campaign counted more than being a governor. But it's fair to point out that the Republicans are the ones who have repeatedly said that running a business is the type of executive experience that qualifies one for president (see, e.g., Rudy Giuliani's speech last night).

If that's so, Obama headed an enormously successful non-profit registering voters, and has currently been heading a wildly successful-beyond-expectations campaign that is many times the size of Wasilla's town administration and for just as long as Sarah Palin has been governor. Both of those efforts involve setting budgets. In terms of writing laws, it's legislators, not executives, who do that, so probably Obama has written a whole lot more than Sarah Palin.

I'm not big on the "Obama has executive experience" argument, but the GOP set the rules on what counts as executive experience, and now they want to ignore them, and that's worth pointing out. The reality is that neither Obama nor Palin nor John McCain has much executive experience, and Palin doesn't have much else, either.
(no subject) - markwise - Sep. 4th, 2008 11:23 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - davidbcoe - Sep. 4th, 2008 01:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - davidbcoe - Sep. 4th, 2008 01:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - davidbcoe - Sep. 4th, 2008 01:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - hedwig_snowy - Sep. 4th, 2008 05:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - davidbcoe - Sep. 4th, 2008 05:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - hedwig_snowy - Sep. 4th, 2008 05:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - davidbcoe - Sep. 4th, 2008 06:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - markwise - Sep. 4th, 2008 05:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - hedwig_snowy - Sep. 4th, 2008 06:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - davidbcoe - Sep. 4th, 2008 06:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - davidbcoe - Sep. 4th, 2008 06:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - madkestrel - Sep. 4th, 2008 07:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
jp_davis
Sep. 4th, 2008 10:48 am (UTC)
What irks me is that because Palin's speech was good last night, we are now going to hear alot of folks saying "Well, if you saw her Wednesday night, you know she's ready for the job." Which is all well and good, but aren't these the same people who say repeatedly that speech-making is not a qualification for leading the country when the speeches are Barack Obama's?
davidbcoe
Sep. 4th, 2008 01:29 pm (UTC)
Another good point. You should run for office. Uh...how much experience do you have....?
crazywritergirl
Sep. 4th, 2008 01:09 pm (UTC)
It's open season on any candidate's family, not just Ms. Palin. Little of it has to do with Obama as he's been receiving the same level crap as any other nominee. It's always a feeding frenzy. I could care less that Palin's daughter is preggers. Kids make mistakes. I do worry about Palin's connections and some of her past decisions.

I will allow that she has had some executive experience, though admittedly Alaska is a different world than Illinois or Alabama or NY. That said, I don't think that experience is adequate to the job ahead, but maybe she's a quick study. We always rail about wanting someone different in office, someone not tied to the old Washington elite, but often fail to recognize that to work within Washington's complex rules, you have to be part of the club. Newbies don't get much done in their first few years until they make political alliances, etc. In the process, a lot of them go bad.

I'm more worried about Palin's ethics and her judgment. Even asking if she could ban books at the local library tells me she's got some issues. Then firing the librarian when she refused to comply tells me she doesn't know her own boundaries (or the law). Making abortion illegal, even in the case of a saving the mother's life, is unacceptable to me. That choice is between the woman, the child's father and their Deity. If it's a sin, it'll get sorted out by an authority higher than the U.S. Court system.

As with most things, the bottom line for me isn't gender, it's integrity and competence. I have concerns about Obama, but I like his measured approach to life. He's a thinker, not a hothead. We don't need any more Mission Accomplished moments in this country. And we certainly don't need someone telling me which books I can read.

Hopefully we can get back to the issues that matter most. If not, it's all a three ring circus.

davidbcoe
Sep. 4th, 2008 01:43 pm (UTC)
Great comment. Thanks, Jana.
arhyalon
Sep. 4th, 2008 01:11 pm (UTC)
But David, you haven't said anything about the First Dude.

The lady has been nominated for Vice President of the United States for a week, and all I've heard so far is about how much of a hunk her husband is. Interesting, I suppose, but not really useful for running the country. ;-)

davidbcoe
Sep. 4th, 2008 01:41 pm (UTC)
True. I wonder if her speech last night played so well in the convention center that McCain's address will be a letdown.
blood_of_winter
Sep. 4th, 2008 01:56 pm (UTC)
As usual, a very well thought out analysis. Im so angry whenever I think about this campaign, I can't even form sentences :) The hypocrisy pouring out of the Republican camp is stunning, mostly because they must really think Americans are stupid and will buy anything put on the table that the Republicans have to sell. It's completely insulting.
I'll take "inexperience" over hypocrisy and lies anytime, thank you.

Obama's request regarding the Palin family is indeed commendable because he would not receive the same respect from McCain if the situation was reversed.

I really hope that McCain's VP choice put the proverbial nail in the coffin for him.
davidbcoe
Sep. 4th, 2008 02:10 pm (UTC)
I hope so too. I think that it's up to the Obama campaign to point out the discrepancies between what Palin says about herself and what's really true. Because if history is any guide, the press will be cowed by GOP tactics and won't do their jobs. Liberal media indeed....
(no subject) - arhyalon - Sep. 5th, 2008 01:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - davidbcoe - Sep. 5th, 2008 04:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
hedwig_snowy
Sep. 4th, 2008 08:15 pm (UTC)
FYI:

Obama responds to the attacks at the RNC convention:

You wouldn't know that this is such a critical election by watching the convention last night. I know we had our week. And the Republicans deserve theirs. But it's been amazing for me to watch over the last two nights. If you sit there, and you watch it. You're hearing a lot about John McCain, and he's got a compelling biography as a P.O.W.

You're hearing an awful lot about me. Much of which is not true.

What you're not hearing is a lot about you.

You haven't heard one word about how they're going to make the health system work - so that when a union is negotiating with a company it's not all just a discussion about higher premiums and you guys can actually start talking about higher wages and benefits.

You haven't heard one word about how we're gonna create more apprenticeship programs like the ones we have here. Or give other people a chance to train in new trades.

You haven't heard one word about getting serious about green and alternative energy. The kind of work that is resulting in all the expansion and hiring here.

You haven't heard one word about how we're going to strengthen unions so that working people get a decent stake.

You haven't heard one word about how we're going to improve math and science education so that we can hire more engineers to create more products in green technology.

You haven't heard one word about how we're going to deal with any aspect of the economy that is affecting you and your pocket day to day.

Haven't heard one word about it. Literally. Two nights. They have not said a word about it. They have not said a word about it. They've had a lot to say about me. But they haven't had anything to say about you.

And the thing that I'm insisting on in this election is that we can't keep playing the same political games we always play.


— Barack Obama
York, Pennsylvania
September 4, 2008

Perfect...
davidbcoe
Sep. 4th, 2008 08:41 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the sending that along. It's nice to have a candidate who's not only willing to hit back, but who manages to do so with thoughtful incisive comments like these.
(no subject) - arhyalon - Sep. 5th, 2008 01:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - davidbcoe - Sep. 5th, 2008 04:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
tiarella
Sep. 7th, 2008 04:54 am (UTC)
W. had to be coached on the names of foreign leaders & Palin will be too. Obama & Biden know the world leaders.

Waiting for the media to start describing the first dude's hair and outfits.
( 52 comments — Leave a comment )

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