Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Why Sarah Palin is an abysmal veep choice and what that says about John McCain

I was worried ya'll would get it twisted. When I posted Heart's passionate essay about sexist coverage of Sarah Palin, I was concerned that some folks would see it as an endorsement of the Republican vice presidential candidate. It was not. Sarah Palin is an abysmal choice for vice president of the United States and the decision to pick her is proof that John McCain lacks the judgement to be the leader of this country. Here are some reasons why:

Sarah Palin's resume is as thin as tissue paper. From Slate:
It seems like just yesterday that the Republican Party was complaining about Barack Obama's lack of foreign-policy "experience." As a matter of fact, as I write (on Friday, Aug. 29) it actually was just yesterday. Even now, the Republican National Committee's main anti-Obama Web site has the witty address http://www.notready08.com/. The contrast in experience, especially foreign-policy experience, between McCain and Obama was supposed to be the central focus of McCain's campaign.

But that's so five minutes ago, before Sarah Palin. Already, conservative pundits
are coming up with creative explanations for McCain's choice of a vice-presidential running mate with essentially no foreign-policy experience. First prize so far goes to Michael Barone, who notes on the U.S. News & World Report blog that "Alaska is the only state with a border with Russia. And it is the only state with territory, in the Aleutian Islands, occupied by the enemy in World War II." I think we need to know what Sarah Palin has done, in her year and change as governor of Alaska, to protect the freedom of the Aleutian Islands before deciding how many foreign-policy-experience credits she deserves on their account.

The official response to the question of experience emerged within hours and is only slightly more plausible: She may not have foreign policy experience, but—unlike Obama, Joe Biden, or even John McCain—she has had executive experience. Why, before her stint as governor of Alaska, population 670,000, she was mayor of a town of 9,000. Remember when the Republicans mocked ill Clinton for being governor of a "small state"? That would be Arkansas, population 2.8 million. As it happens, 670,000 is the population of metropolitan Little Rock. Read more...
Sarah Palin is unvetted. From The New York Times:
At the least, Republicans close to the campaign said it was increasingly apparent that Ms. Palin had been selected as Mr. McCain’s running mate with more haste than McCain advisers initially described.

Up until midweek last week, some 48 to 72 hours before Mr. McCain introduced Ms. Palin at a Friday rally in Dayton, Ohio, Mr. McCain was still holding out the hope that he could choose a good friend, Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut, a Republican close to the campaign said. Mr. McCain had also been interested in another favorite, former Gov. Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania.

But both men favor abortion rights, anathema to the Christian conservatives who make up a crucial base of the Republican Party. As word leaked out that Mr. McCain was seriously considering the men, the campaign was bombarded by outrage from influential conservatives who predicted an explosive floor fight at the convention and vowed rejection of Mr. Ridge or Mr. Lieberman by the delegates.

Perhaps more important, several Republicans said, Mr. McCain was getting advice that if he did not do something to shake up the race, his campaign would be stuck on a potentially losing trajectory.

With time running out — and as Mr. McCain discarded two safer choices, Gov. Tim
Pawlenty
of Minnesota and former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, as too predictable — he turned to Ms. Palin. He had his first face-to-face interview with her on Thursday and offered her the job moments later. Advisers to Mr. Pawlenty and another of the finalists on Mr. McCain’s list described an intensive vetting process for those candidates that lasted one to two months.

“They didn’t seriously consider her until four or five days from the time she was picked, before she was asked, maybe the Thursday or Friday before,” said a Republican close to the campaign. “This was really kind of rushed at the end, because John didn’t get what he wanted. He wanted to do Joe or Ridge.” Read more...
When our country is mired in war, Sarah Palin seems to have little foreign relations knowledge or judgement, and worse, shares George Bush's religious view of the Iraq conflict: From Think Progress:

In an August 14 interview with Time Magazine, Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK), now Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) running mate, suggested that McCain had not shared his plan for Iraq with her. Palin, who has not been to Iraq, said she does not know “what the plan is to ever end the war.” She later said its “tough” to “talk about the plan for the war” because her son will be deployed to Iraq this September. “Let’s make sure we have a plan here,” she said. Palin then added, “respecting McCain’s position on that too though.” Read more...
And from UPI:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 3 (UPI) -- Likely Republican U.S. vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin told her church congregation that the Iraq war was part of God's plan, a videotape revealed. A 14-minute video of a speech the Alaska governor delivered in
June to the Wasilla, Alaska, Assembly of God Church and posted Tuesday on the Huffington Post Web site showed her saying the United States' involvement in Iraq is "a task that is from God."

She is seen saying: "Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right. Also for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending (troops) out on a task that is from God. That's what we have to make sure that we're praying for, that there is a plan and that that plan is God's plan."

In the speech, she tells the congregation that building a long-sought, 1,715-mile natural gas pipeline from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska to Alberta, Canada, is also part of God's plan.

"I think God's will has to be done in unifying people and companies to get that gas line built, so pray for that," she said. Read more...

Sarah Palin is under investigation for abuse of power while governor. From Politico:
But most of all, Democrats are zeroing in on an ongoing probe into Palin’s role in the firing of the state’s public safety director, who had reportedly refused to sack Palin’s estranged former brother-in-law. Audiotapes released last month reveal that aides to the 44-year-old governor pressured Safety Director Walter Monegan to dismiss Trooper Mike Wooten, after Wooten allegedly threatened Palin’s father during a messy child custody fight with the governor’s sister Molly.

Monegan refused to do so and was fired on July 11 and replaced by an official who had previously been suspended for sexual harassment. Read more...
Sarah Palin nearly bankrupted Wasila, Alaska. From Politico:
Mayoral performance. Palin, who portrays herself as a fiscal conservative, racked up nearly $20 million in long-term debt as mayor of the tiny town of Wasilla — that amounts to $3,000 per resident. She argues that the debt was needed to fund improvements. Read more...
Sarah Palin does not believe in a woman's right to choose. (And, but the way, neither does John McCain) From Huffington Post
In November 2006, then gubernatorial candidate Sarah Palin declared that she would not support an abortion for her own daughter even if she had been raped.

Granting exceptions only if the mother's life was in danger, Palin said that when it came to her daughter, "I would choose life."

At the time, her daughter was 14 years old. Moreover, Alaska's rape rate was an abysmal 2.2 times above the national average and 25 percent of all rapes resulted in
unwanted pregnancies. But Palin's position was palatable within the state's largely Republican political circles. Read more...
Sarah Palin is no friend to the environment. From Politico.

The environment. As governor, Palin vetoed wind power and clean coal projects, including a 50-megawatt wind farm on Fire Island and a clean coal facility in Healy that had been mired in a dispute between local and state governments. Read more...
Sarah Palin does not believe in adequate sex education. (And neither does John McCain). From MSNBC:

By the way, as has been pointed out, Palin backed abstinence-only education during her 2006 gubernatorial race. In an Eagle Forum Alaska questionnaire, Palin gave this response to the following question:

Will you support funding for abstinence-until-marriage education instead of for explicit sex-education programs, school-based clinics, and the distribution of contraceptives in schools?

Palin: Yes, the explicit sex-ed programs will not find my support. Read
more...
Sarah Palin tried to have books banned from the Wasila, Alaska, library. From TIME:
Stein says that as mayor, Palin continued to inject religious beliefs into her policy at times. "She asked the library how she could go about banning books," he says, because some voters thought they had inappropriate language in them. "The librarian was aghast." That woman, Mary Ellen Baker, couldn't be reached for comment, but news reports from the time show that Palin had threatened to fire Baker for not giving "full support" to the mayor. Read more...
Sarah Palin has other radical rightwing beliefs. From Feministe:

Sarah Palin is a secessionist, or at least is sympathetic enough to the cause that she
belongs to a political group whose mission is to “seek the complete repatriation of the public lands, held by the federal government, to the state and people of Alaska in conformance with Article 1, Section 8, Clause 17, of the federal constitution.” I guess the least bad explanation here is that the Alaska Independence Party has some clout in Alaska, and Palin was an ambitious pol willing to put aside her distaste for secession if it would advance her career, but is that really so helpful? That she was willing to partner up with a group that’s fundamentally more radical on secession than the Nation of Islam? That doesn’t worry anyone on the McCain campaign?

There’s a worrying emergence of extremist tendencies in Palin. So far as we know — and we’re only about five days in — she’s been enthusiastic about Pat Buchanan, Steve Forbes, the Alaska Independence Party, and Ron Paul. In other words, she’s allied herself with radical culture warriors, radical conservative economics, radical secessionists, and radical libertarian/isolationists. This is someone who’s pretty comfortable on the fringe of the right wing. Read more...
And justice for all

See...a whole laundry list of reasons why Palin is a disgrace and not one mention of pageant hair or reproductive decisions. We don't need to give Republicans more talking points, because they are already saying any criticism of Palin is sexist.

Back when I was working my first job out of college on the copy desk of a Midwestern newspaper, I earned the chance to attend an amazing editing "boot camp" for minority journalists. One of the things we discussed over the summer-long workshop, besides good news judgement, the AP Stylebook and proper use of white space when laying out a news page, was how to advocate for non-racist news coverage as a journalist of color. Basically: How do you consistently point out bias without being labeled the angry black chick in the newsroom? You do it by having a righteous cause. (My words) That means not just advocating for your own group, while letting injustices against other folks go. For example: Pointing out how crime reporting demonizes black men, while ignoring its impact on Latino men and black women and poor people, etc. That made sense to me. I want to have a righteous cause. You aren't about justice if you aren't about justice for all. (Note: But, let's face it, any black woman with a spine is going to be called angry. See Obama, Michelle.)

So, yeah, the Republicans have unfairly attacked every Democratic candidate since 2000, most especially Barack Obama. And during the Democratic primary, I complained vehemently on this blog about some white feminists' blindness to their own privilege and unwillingness to be as vocal about sexism against Michelle Obama as they were about slights against Hillary Clinton. But I can't control what other folks do. I can only control how I roll. How can I spend months yelling at other women about their blindness and then willfully turn a blind eye to sexism when it doesn't suit me?

And anyway, the wrong person is taking the heat here.

The emperor has no clothes

When you are the traditional face of power, no one questions your ability to lead. Your competence is assumed (especially if you can throw POW on your resume). So, while we're all breathlessly dissecting the ridiculousness that is Sarah Palin, very few people are asking what this says about JOHN MCCAIN'S abilities. He is, after all, the one running for president.

Barack Obama may not be able to say that John McCain puts politics before country, but I can. Sarah Palin is a cynical, political choice. It is a gambit to grab the votes of women that McCain thinks are too stupid to pay attention to issues like equal pay and reproductive rights. (See, when white men vote for white men, they are assumed to be voting on the issues. When black people vote for black people, or women vote for women, we're only voting for people who look like us...or so it goes.)

What does it mean when you choose an anti-choice, book-burning fanatic with regressive views about women as a running mate? It means you either share that person's views or, at the very least, don't find them abhorrent. So, added bonus: tapping Sarah Palin allows the Republicans to bring back all those nasty, divisive wedge issues they have been using to distract Americans while raiding our wallets. To steal a line from Joe Biden: That's not change; that's more of the same.

McCain's PR flunkies call him "maverick." I say, "reckless" is more like it. As his first major decision as a presidential candidate, McCain--y'know the guy who has passed the commander-in-chief threshhold--chose to put an unvetted, inexperienced and incompetent rightwing fanatic in a position of power--a hair's breadth from the Oval Office. Hmmm...it's all very "heckuva job, Brownie." That's not change; that's more of the same.

See, Sarah Palin proves that the experienced, maverick emperor has no clothes. Turns out, the young, black guy with the funny name is the one with the better judgement. And THAT, my friends, is what we should be talking about.

P.S. Or, we could talk about the astonishing hypocrisy of the right wing--hypocrisy I don't care to emulate:

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