Sen. John McCain must think female voters are stupid or easily distracted. That’s about the only reasonable explanation people can discern from his selection last week of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to be his vice presidential running mate on the Republican ticket.
McCain’s most convincing arguments so far against his Democratic rival, Sen. Barack Obama, have been about the young Obama’s alleged lack of experience and judgment. With Palin’s selection, McCain has effectively neutralized both attacks.
The only political experience that the 44-year-old Palin has is her 20-month gubernatorial stint and, before that, a decade spent in various elective offices in her small home town, a remote burg with 8,400 residents.
Republicans have tried to spin her sparse resume by stating the governor’s office is an executive-level position, unlike Obama’s years spent as a lawmaker in the Illinois statehouse and the U.S. Senate.
Mostly rural Alaska, however, only has 670,053 residents — less than a third of the 2.1 million residents in the Greater Cincinnati region alone. So much for Palin’s experience.
Then there’s the matter of McCain’s judgment. He met Palin face-to-face only twice before placing his faith in her to be his second-in-command and a mere heartbeat away from the most powerful office in the world.
McCain’s campaign admits the senator first met Palin in February. He then had a single telephone conversation with her last week before inviting her to Arizona, where he met with her in-person for only the second time and offered her the job a few days later.
I’ve had more extensive conversations when selecting a home contractor. Some of McCain’s advisers reportedly hope Palin will lure disgruntled supporters of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who are upset Clinton didn’t win the Democratic nomination. Palin referred to Clinton during her accept ance speech in Dayton, Ohio, and again a couple of days later at a GOP rally, where the party faithful went off script and roundly booed the reference.
Palin, though, holds beliefs and opinions that would be anathema to Clinton and most of her supporters. Palin once described herself as “pro-life as any candidate can be” and opposes abortion even for rape and incest victims. She also supports teaching creationism in public schools, doesn’t believe global warming is caused by human activity and is a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association.
Worse, Palin has said in recent months she didn’t know enough about the troop surge in Iraq to form an opinion and, when asked in July about the VP rumors, replied, “I still can’t answer that question until somebody answers for me what is it exactly that the VP does every day.”
McCain’s wife, Cindy, tried to reassure TV viewers last weekend in a bit of absurd rationalization that Palin knew some thing about foreign policy because Alaska is so close to Russia. ’Nuff said.
McCain’s associates realize the uphill battle he faces to win the Oval Office. Appearing on a Sunday morning TV talk show, Cindy McCain said, “We’re in a quagmire of a mess right now.” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) added, “Washington is broken” and McCain could fix it.
But voters know Republicans are responsible for the mess. The GOP controlled Congress for 10 of 12 years
from 1995 through 2007 and the presidency for 19 of the past 27 years. One of the GOP’s central principles in that period — allowing unfettered corporate freedom, alleging it ultimately would benefit all — wrecked the middle class and left the U.S. economy in shambles.
At a fund-raiser where he thought he wasn’t being taped, President Bush recently said, “Wall Street got drunk.” True, and it was Bush and the all-too-compliant Republicans who scored them the alcohol.
Palin seems like a nice enough woman, and her willingness to buck Alaska’s all-powerful oil industry by imposing a small tax on their profits to help public infrastructure is admirable. But her overall record is troubling, to say the least.
Palin initially supported one of Congress’ biggest pork barrel spending projects, Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens’ notorious $223 million “bridge to nowhere,” before denouncing it months later once the proposal got national attention.
McCain once said about Obama, wrongly, that the Democrat would rather “legislate failure” and lose a war to win the presidential campaign. Palin’s choice shows McCain would rather make a deal with neocon devils and endanger America itself to win.
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