Saturday, August 30, 2008

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Sarah?

I believe a presidential election should not be about gamesmanship. Is it really responsible for John McCain to choose a candidate, who claims to know little about the war and foreign policy, to be his vice-presidential running mate? Especially when he is 72 years old and a two-time cancer patient? My husband just wrote a book about accidental presidents and believe me, it happens. Under the best of circumstances with a highly qualified person, it's a difficult proposition.

If McCain took an assassin's bullet months after taking office (like Reagan did) would this woman be able to step in as the so-called "Leader of the Free World." If McCain contracted a disease on the way to his inauguration, would you feel safe with Sarah Palin in the White House?

If McCain wanted to choose a woman, was this the best one?
Does she reflect in any way the goals of a Hillary Clinton--or of most progressive women? If the PUMA women vote for her en masse, Hillary should feel betrayed? Obviously the only thing that counted for them was Hillary's sex. They weren't listening to her message at all. They'd prefer to take their chances with Supreme Court picks and more foreign intervention. They'd be willing to wipe out the Polar Bear and caribou. Who cares about the freedom to make choices about our own bodies? Just give me a woman.

Or does the sniff of newness, outweigh everything else in American politics? Did picking someone who'd take the limelight off Obama play into this? Does appeasing the far right outflank choosing a good leader?

I am very frightened that our disregard, even contempt, for smart people will lead us down this path again. The New Republicans think anyone can lead because they really believe that lesser lights can be more easily manipulated. We have seen how that works for eight years. They would prefer to have the oil companies, lobbyists and billionaires continue to run this nation.

When a CV prominently mentions high school basketball experience and beauty pageant contestant successes, isn't it perhaps a bit slight to get you this job?

Sorry to go on like this. Thursday was rant day but then this came along.


August West said...

She's not the Presidential candidate, she's the vice-presidential candidate and has more executive political experience than the Democrat presidential nominee. She has a record of political accomplishments, I keep looking for any accomplishment that Obama achieved. She went after corruption in her own political party and left the bodies laying on the side of the road. She is not a media created nominee like Obama, Patlin's a governor that got results on her own-not begging for money from Washington.
She should be an inspiration to all Americans.

And she will not wipe out the Polar Bear and caribou, she's an active conservationist-and people need to check her record on preserving Alaska's wildlife. It's a shame that some media groups (MSNBC) are attempting to discredit her. She is the fresh air that the Republican Party needs.

pattinase (abbott) said...

IMHO-She could become president at any time. And no, she's a candidate created "for" the media. Someone to excite them as they go into the convention. What about the corruption she herself is accused of? What about her statement that she doesn't know much about the war? Is this someone who should be making foreign policy decisions? I guess why this is why we have two political parties because her strengths for you are her weaknesses for me. And the same with Obama. Respectfully, Patti

J. Kingston Pierce said...

For lists of Barack Obama's accomplishments and examples of leadership, a quick trip over to the Obsidian Wings blog should leave no one wondering any longer. As philosophy professor Hilzoy explains there:

"I came to Obama by an unusual route: as I explained here, I follow some issues pretty closely, and over and over again, Barack Obama kept popping up, doing really good substantive things. There he was, working for nuclear non-proliferation and securing loose stockpiles of conventional weapons, like shoulder-fired missiles. There he was again, passing what the Washington Post called "the strongest ethics legislation to emerge from Congress yet" -- though not as strong as Obama would have liked. Look -- he's over there, passing a bill that created a searchable database of recipients of federal contracts and grants, proposing legislation on avian flu back when most people hadn't even heard of it, working to make sure that soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan were screened for traumatic brain injury and to prevent homelessness among veterans, successfully fighting a proposal by the VA to reexamine all PTSD cases in which full benefits had been awarded, working to ban no-bid contracts in Katrina reconstruction, and introducing legislation to criminalize deceptive political tactics and voter intimidation."

The piece goes on much further and can be found here:

A prior Hilzoy piece along the same lines is available for anyone's education here:

The selection of Sarah Palin is significant because she does, as Patti suggests, represent very poor judgment on McCain's part. With only a year and a half in the Alaska governor's chair, and prior to that training only as the mayor of a tiny town nobody has ever heard of, she clearly lacks the experience necessary to take over the White House in the event of McCain's death. (He is 72, after all--death in office is not an unrealistic issue.) There are plenty of experienced women in the Republican Party; McCain could have picked ANY of them, but instead, he went with somebody who is a sop to the religious right fringies. This was a further example that McCain is willing to do ANYTHING--even turning his back on everything he has believed in up to now (talk about world-class flip-floppers!) in order to become president.

Additionally, McCain had told anyone who asked him until yesterday that he was going to select a veep candidate who he knew well and respected. He'd only met Palin ONCE before tapping her as his running mate. So she was clearly not somebody--like Joe Lieberman or Lindsay Graham--with whom he had traveled and gotten to know well. He picked her because she is a woman--the baldest form of tokenism--and McCain believes (foolishly) that he can win over any disaffected Hillary Clinton backers by giving them another woman for whom to cast their ballots. As if women vote only on the basis of a candidate's sex. This demonstrates McCain's disrespect for the intelligence of women. But then, as we've seen from McCain's calling his second wife a "cunt" and cheating repeatedly on his first wife, he doesn't exactly model male respect for women.

If, as is so often said by historians and pundits, choosing a running mate is the first test of a presidential candidate’s judgment, then McCain has clearly failed the test.


J. Kingston Pierce said...

Further, Republicans have done tremendous damage to the standing and strength of the United States under George W. Bush. There's no reason anyone should trust that McCain--who has had his lips pressed against Bush's butt for so long that he's lost the taste of independence--would do anything differently from Bush. Especially when he has voted more than 90 percent of the time in accordance with Bush's wishes, and praises his fellow Republican as a model of presidential leadership.

The country doesn't only need a breath of fresh Republican air, we need a complete change of direction. Only Barack Obama represents that change. He might not be a perfect candidate--nobody is--but he holds out the promise of an American renewal that we so desperately require. The United States cannot continue along the same borrow-and-spend, public-deceiving, corrupt path down which Bush, McCain, and their cronies have sent it these last seven-plus years. That's the path of national decline.

I shall be proud on January 20 to watch Barack Obama and Joe Biden sworn in as the next president and vice president of the the United States. They represent change and experience both--not more of the same and inexperience, as McCain-Palin represent.


pattinase (abbott) said...

Palin won with 80,000 votes in Alaska.The political economy in Alaska is unique. They have big surpluses because of taxing oil. There are no big cities in Alaska or the problems of such. No diversity issues. Governing there does not prepare for governing the US. Being the state executive in Alaska is not even the same as in Arkansas, Georgia, California or Texas. And some of those people had significant trouble with foreign affairs. Sure you can catch up if you want to, but if she's not up to speed on the war now, it looks like it's not an interest of hers.

Sandra Ruttan said...

I've spent the week watching the democratic convention. Yesterday, I thought I'd watch and see what my impression of McCain's running mate was. I turned the tv off partway through her speech.

I got the impression a woman was chosen simply to make it a reality that whoever won, history would be made as a result of this election. It seemed like a calculated swipe at Obama, and the fact that he has already made history.

It really bothers me that the media - and I stress media - has turned this into race and gender, but I simply don't believe Sarah Palin would have been chosen if she wasn't a woman. And that bothers me too. Obama made the gutsier move by not taking Hillary Clinton as his running mate, or another woman, to appease Clinton supporters.

Her pro life stance won't help her with Clinton supporters. And no matter what anyone says, the reality of travel from Washington to Alaska would be impossible. A VP works 24/7. I would say no parent - male or female - with a baby should assume the role and there's a part of me that would feel irresponsible voting for her (if I could vote) just based on that fact alone. It bothers me.

Contrast that to what Biden did when his wife was killed in a car accident and I can say his values resonate with my own.

Last night, however, Brian pulled up a stunning quote from Sarah Palin. Whatever unease I felt about her became irrelevant when I read it.

"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 sorry, but it is the responsibility of a governor to put the needs of their state first. It is the responsibility of a VP to put the interests of the nation first.

I agree with Patti that at McCain's age and given his health issues, if he was elected Palin could very well be acting as president at the drop of a hat. Frankly, I'll be discriminating enough to say I'm not sure anyone over the age of 70 should be elected president, because their health is a concern factor. The job has stresses and challenges that nobody can truly be ready for until they're in office and can take an incredible toll.

Obama is far more experienced that McCain would like the average person to believe, but Palin's own words tell me she's not ready to be VP.

JJ Stickney said...

Sarah Palin = Harriet Miers, it is insulting to all the qualified women in the Republican party. She'll be blamed if they lose.

I also wonder if she was properly vetted - she is currently under investigation for abusing the power of her office, supported the Bridge to Nowhere up until last year, got her state tons of earmark funds, and signed on for construction of the natural gas pipeline deal with a Canadian company.

It maybe true she has more executive experience than either Obama or McCain, with the population of Alaska being smaller the Memphis,Tenn how many employees does she really have? The Alaska State Legislature is in session three months out of the year. She is not a conservationist when it comes to polar bears, she does not believe that global climate change is caused by man and she wants to teach creationism in the classroom. I know why she appeals to the hard core republicans, I don't see why she would appeal to anyone else. This was a cynical pick. Mike Huckabee had the same appeal on the same issues, was the second leading vote getter in the primaries even beating McCain in a few states and yet was not even vetted (though one might wonder if Palin was really vetted given the baggage a mere google search turns up).

Here's the real question - if McCain/Palin ticket is elected - will they have to call the safe in the VP's office a woman sized safe?

J. Kingston Pierce said...

A few comments about Sarah Palin from her fellow Alaskans:

* The Daily News-Miner in Fairbanks: "She has never publicly demonstrated the kind of interest, much less expertise, in federal issues and foreign affairs that should mark a candidate for the second-highest office in the land.... Most people would acknowledge that, regardless of her charm and good intentions, Palin is not ready for the top job. McCain seems to have put his political interests ahead of the nation's when he created the possibility that she might fill it."

* State Senate President Lyda Green, a Republican from Palin's hometown of Wasilla: "She's not prepared to be governor. How can she be prepared to be vice president or president?"

* The Anchorage Daily News' Gregg Erickson: "[Palin] tends to oversimplify complex issues, has had difficulty delegating authority, and clearly has some difficulty distinguishing the line between her public responsibilities and private wishes.... It is clear that she has not paid much attention to the nitty-gritty unglamorous work of government, of gaining consensus, and making difficult compromises. She seems to be of the view that politics should be all rather simple. That often appeals to the wider public, but frustrates those who see themselves as laboring in the less glamorous parts of the vineyard."

* Mike Doogan, a former columnist now serving as a Democrat in the state legislature: "John McCain looked all over the United States to find the single Republican who is qualified to be, as the saying goes, a heartbeat away from the presidency, and he came up with Sarah Palin. Really? ... [L]et's be honest here. Her resume is as thin as the meat in a vending machine sandwich.... The long and short of it is this: We're not sure she's a competent governor of Alaska. And yet McCain, who is no spring chicken, has decided she's the best choice to replace him as president if he should win and then fall afoul of the Grim Reaper. Sarah Palin? Really?"


J. Kingston Pierce said...

And more from a trio of unimpeachable Republican sources:

* David Frum, neoconservative and former George W. Bush speechwriter: "The longer I think about it, the less well this selection sits with me. And I increasingly doubt that it will prove good politics. The Palin choice looks cynical.... It's a wild gamble, undertaken by our oldest ever first-time candidate for president in hopes of changing the board of this election campaign. Maybe it will work. But maybe (and at least as likely) it will reinforce a theme that I'd be pounding home if I were the Obama campaign: that it's John McCain for all his white hair who represents the risky choice, while it is Barack Obama who offers cautious, steady, predictable governance.... If it were your decision, and you were putting your country first, would you put an untested small-town mayor a heartbeat away from the presidency?"

* Charles Krauthammer, columnist and FOX commentator: "The Palin selection completely undercuts the argument about Obama's inexperience and readiness to lead.... To gratuitously undercut the remarkably successful 'Is he ready to lead' line of attack seems near suicidal."

* Mark Halperin, conservative columnist for Time magazine: "On the face of it, McCain has failed the ultimate test that any presidential candidate must face in picking a running mate: selecting someone who is unambiguously qualified to be president."

August West said...

Last Thoughts -Unfortunately, I believe the Dems are in for a rough ride from now on. The media was determined to chastise Hillary throughout the campaign and the Dems went with them -now they have the weaker candidate and this will show more in the weeks to come. Biden is the better man and the ticket would work the other way around (and probably win). I see the McCain/Palin ticket as being more appealing to independents, who will probably determine the election. People like us who post comments will not. Also the pyrotechnics spectacle at Invesco field didn't go over well with the Indies. Obama's campaign will need a new strategy-Smoke and mirrors will not work.

It will be an interesting few months and after it plays out, America will move on.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I heard that quote two, Sandra, and it would be humorous coming from a hockey mother of five. Now it's scary. And you're right, she has a five month old baby with Downs. Who's going to raise that child? Number one thing about being VP, Sarah, you have to be able to take over.
The Harriet Miers example is perfect but I don't think we can count on her to do the same.
Scary quotes, Jeff. I think there is a tendency to think that complex issues can be boiled down into something anyone can understand. Maybe understand but not solve.

J. Kingston Pierce said...

There's been nothing "smoke and mirrors" about Barack Obama's campaign. He's run a solid, issues-based race, while McCain has done little but try to tear Obama down as a person and backtracked on what he himself has said day to day. McCain has shown himself to be a small man throughout this campaign. And he's done nothing to improve his position by picking a thoroughly unqualified person to serve as his vice-presidential running mate.

I agree with August about independents probably tipping the scales one way or another in this race. But I do not believe that they've in any way been turned off by Obama. In fact, independents tend to side with Democrats in poll after poll of which way they'd prefer the country to go. And other than some who might have been persuaded against Obama by McCain's hateful ads, I think the majority will be further impressed by Obama's intelligence and approach to the issues. And the addition of Joe Biden to the ticket--a veteran hand at foreign policy, unlike Sarah Palin--only gives it more depth and luster.

Furthermore, I disagree that choosing Hillary Clinton as this year's Democratic presidential candidate would have made the winning easier. Republicans were just waiting to attack Hillary, and they knew that after years of seeking to undermine the Clintons among GOPers, they had plenty of hatred to fall back on. Adding Hillary as Obama's running mate would only have shifted the focus onto her and increased the attacks. Republicans know how to power up the hate machine, and they'd have tried to drown Obama beneath the bile poured onto the former first lady.


pattinase (abbott) said...

When are you throwing your hat in the ring, Jeff. I'm ready to serve.

Sandra Scoppettone said...


Who is Sarah Palin? Here's some basic background:

She was elected Alaska's governor a little over a year and a half ago. Her previous office was mayor of Wasilla, a small town outside Anchorage. She has no foreign policy experience.

Palin is strongly anti-choice, opposing abortion even in the case of rape or incest.

She supported right-wing extremist Pat Buchanan for president in 2000.

Palin thinks creationism should be taught in public schools.

She's doesn't think humans are the cause of climate change.

She's solidly in line with John McCain's "Big Oil first" energy policy. She's pushed hard for more oil drilling and says renewables won't be ready for years.

She also sued the Bush administration for listing polar bears as an endangered species—she was worried it would interfere with more oil drilling in Alaska.

How closely did John McCain vet this choice? He met Sarah Palin once at a meeting. They spoke a second time, last Sunday, when he called her about being vice-president. Then he offered her the position.

Todd Mason said...

Wow, it's windy in here. And I see people have stopped reading each other, since we're starting to see the same poitns raised as if they hadn't already been raised. But, Patti, if you think there are no cities nor diversity issues in Alaska, I'd say you have some reading to do. Anchorage and Fairbanks aren't megapoli, but they are solid-sized cities, and only the biggest of a handful, and the wide range of native nations represented, along with a number of immigrant groups aside from Homogenized Yank, make it something more Diverse than your suggestion would imply.

None of which should be taken as endorsement of Palin. Nor, for that matter, of Biden, whose biggest fan so far seems to be the Republican in the discussion.

And I'd like to know in what context, and to what extent jokingly, Palin asked her question about the Veep position. John Stewart and Bill Maher were quick to answer her last night.

Kitty said...

I am a conservative woman, and I am absolutely thrilled that McC picked Sarah Palin. In fact, I have been praying he would. Until he picked Sarah, I was seriously thinking of not voting for a president.

I haven't been this excited/energized over an election since Reagan ran in 1980. I was 30 that year, and I registered to vote for the first time in my life. Every conservative and/or Republican I know feels like I do.

The thing that impresses me the most is her taking on the corruption in the Repub party. I hate corruption, and I hate waste.

The Left can yadda-yadda-yadda all they want; it won't affect how this has energized our party. The Repubs who were considering not voting for a president this year will turn out now.


Todd Mason said...

Palin, as I've mentioned, is the Paulite part of the ticket, and yet Ron Paul's minions aren't satisfied's what they've circulated today:

The situation our country faces is as dangerous as ever. A certain Democratic [sic] senator [miniscule sic], recently passed over for the Republican vice-presidential nod, is likely to be our next secretary of state. Both major parties remain committed to militarism and reckless spending - and inflationism to fund it all.

pattinase (abbott) said...

It's all so incredibly depressing. If he had chosen well, I'd be worried about that. But by choosing poorly, he scares me even more. I can see why he finished at the bottom of his class at the naval academy. Can you just imagine his picks for the Supreme Court.

August West said...

Sorry one last comment..
When is used as a credible resource, this country has problems....