Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Who's Sarah Palin?

Sarah Palin? Who is this Sarah Palin? Well, as a Democrat, I've got mixed feelings about this choice. I thought McCain was going to choose a lousy candidate like Mitt Romney or Tim Pawlenty, but he actually found a worse one.

What's so bad about her? Well, a few things. For one, with the McCain camp hitting Obama on experience issues, it doesn't look too good for them to have the vice president be someone who's only been governor of a small state for about a year and a half. Probably worse is the trouble Palin is in. The short story is that she pressured Alaska's Public Safety Commissioner to fire a state trooper who happened to be her ex-brother-in-law. The trooper hadn't done anything wrong except get into a messy divorce case with Sarah Palin's sister. The Public Safety Commissioner refused to fire the guy--so Palin got a new Public Safety Commissioner who fired the trooper for her. This has recently come to light in Alaska, which caused Governor Palin's approval rating to drop. Granted, her approval was already in the high 80s, so she's still pretty popular in Alaska, but does John McCain really want a running mate who's under a serious ethics investigation? It's bizarre.

The only thing I can think of is that he chose Palin in order to peel away disaffected Clinton supporters. His reasoning is that there are enough women out there who'd vote for a ticket just because it has a female vice president on it, abandoning Barack Obama. This is, frankly, lousy reasoning. It already has a number of conservatives freaking out, throwing their arms up in the air, bellowing, "What the hell is McCain doing? What the hell is he doing?"

So maybe this is a Hail Mary pass. Considering McCain's other choices, he didn't have a lot going for him. McCain could have chosen:

Former Governor Mitt Romney (MA)--A Mormon who would alienate Evangelicals.
Former Governor Mike Huckabee (AR)--An Evangelical who would alienate moderates and Catholics in the Northeast.
Former Congressman Rob Portman (OH)--Who?
Governor Tim Pawlenty (MN)--Again: who?
Former Governor Tom Ridge (PA)--A Catholic who supports abortion rights, who would alienate Evangelicals everywhere, though he'd help among moderates.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (CA)--A dream running mate for McCain, but ineligible, since he was born in Austria. He'd probably alienate conservatives, too, though he'd stand a chance of attracting enough Democrats to the ticket, if only he could run.
Senator Joe Lieberman (CT)--Lieberman's an old friend of McCain and the best thing to happen to conservatives since Benedict Arnold joined them. However, Lieberman's voting record is still fairly moderate, which would have pleased the evangelicals not at all. And Lieberman's Jewish, which is also a turn-off for evangelicals, who largely don't even view Roman Catholics as Christians. Sure, Ben Stein believes in intelligent design, but I don't think Joe Lieberman follows suit.

Could McCain be thinking that there are enough Hillary Clinton supporters who'd be drawn to a ticket like this? Maybe. But that theory seems too obvious to be correct. Still, why else would he pick such a risky candidate?

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At Tuesday, September 9, 2008 at 7:45:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kurt, while I agree with your points regarding Palin, I have to say that I am surprised at how calm you are regarding the whole situation. She has proved to be quite a boost in the polls, and despite her blatantly obvious shortcomings, appears to be quite popular.

At Wednesday, September 10, 2008 at 9:35:00 AM EDT, Blogger Kurt Kaletka said...

Don't get me wrong, anonymous--she scares the bajeezus out of me. She's a policy lightweight with hard right views, and she's a great speaker. The American media is doing next to nothing to investigate her positions, which is helping McCain with his meteoric rise. In fact, have you noticed that no one is even talking about John McCain anymore? Sarah Palin is a bonanza for the McCain campaign. She provides the dazzle that McCain has been lacking. Face it: she's a celebrity.

What we need to remember is that we're still in the wake of the Republican Convention. It's unusual for a candidate not to have a bounce following a convention. The reason Barack Obama didn't have much of a bounce is partly that the McCain running mate announcement stepped on it, and moreso that the Republican Convention immediately followed the Democratic Convention. Typically there's a couple of weeks between conventions, which typically allows for a bounce for both parties.

This thing isn't over, and McCain could still win. I don't mean to suggest he can't. But it did look very possible that Barack Obama was looking at a landslide for a while, and now all of a sudden he isn't. That's disorienting and dispiriting, to say the least.

During Obama's stellar place in the polls, I was told by many McCain supporters and Obama supporters alike that it looks as though Obama's sealed the deal, and I always told them that's not the case. Frankly, I don't think anything has changed. While it's true that polls are getting to be more and more meaninful as representations of the political landscape, and will continue to mean more as Election Day draws nearer, this thing isn't over yet, and I predict a squeaker.

McCain's advantage will recede by next week, so don't lose heart. But don't get cocky, either: this election is by no means settled.

At Wednesday, September 10, 2008 at 4:21:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the response Kurt. It is disheartening at times because it seems like America, by default, wants to vote Republican. You put Palin out there, who has no foreign policy experience, has likely abused the little power she has had, and, like you said, extreme right views, and people are rushing to vote for her. Why? I have no bloody clue. It seems like McCain could have thrown a sock puppet out there and the Republican base would be jumping for joy because it is representative of small town, middle America.

At Saturday, September 13, 2008 at 2:21:00 PM EDT, Blogger TT said...

I disagree with some of your views on Palin- As a teacher that desperately wants to be rid of the "No Child Left Behind" act I actually wish to vote Democratic by default- However, I actually thought McCain did make a wise choice. Personally, I would rather see Palin as president than Clinton-she seems more trustworthy and doesn’t have selfish motives. Also she has done a lot for the state of Alaska, helped their economy, and more importantly she is a wonderful advocate for people with disabilities. She even has more experience than Obama and has accomplished a lot while being a working mother! I just think people are a little too harsh and owe her a little more credit :)

At Sunday, September 14, 2008 at 1:36:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

TT - I am curious why you said you would rather see Palin than clinton as a VP when Biden was the pick?
I would also encourage you to rethink your position on the fact that she is a wonderful advocate for children with disabilities. Yes, she does have a child with disabilities, but does she represent the party that takes care of the marginalized within society? I would say an emphatic "no."

At Sunday, September 14, 2008 at 1:02:00 PM EDT, Blogger TT said...


Let me ask you this...how many people do you know, including yourself, would still bring a child into the world knowing he or she would be diagnosed with Down syndrome? She believes every person has a right to live and therefore, I feel it makes her a good role model for younger people in our society.

At Sunday, September 14, 2008 at 11:08:00 PM EDT, Blogger Lasha Vivon said...

TT-- Stop pretending to actually be interested in Politics -I've known you for 22 years, which is long enough to know that you only think Sara Palin is "cool" because she comes for the state of Alaska.

At Monday, September 15, 2008 at 9:51:00 AM EDT, Blogger Kurt Kaletka said...

TT—Regarding Sarah Palin, I suppose John McCain did make a wise choice, but only where rallying the conservative base is concerned. In other words, she might be an asset to the McCain campaign, but as to governing? A disaster!

While I was never much of a Hillary Clinton fan, I have to say I'd much rather see Hillary in or near the White House than Palin. I realize some people might find that she seems like a nice person, but then, she's a politician—you're supposed to seem nicer. That's part of the job! But I have to wonder how nice and trustworthy a woman is who uses her position as an elected official to get a state trooper fired because of a personal vendetta, like she did to her sister's ex-husband. If she'd do that in Alaska, imagine how far she'd overreach in Washington!

I'm unaware of anything Sarah Palin did to help Alaska's economy apart from diverting federal funds from keeping up the infrastructure in the Lower 48 and funneling them to pet projects in Alaska. The Alaskan economy thrives on fish and petroleum; as long as those are plentiful, they're fine. She didn't do a thing to change those policies—but then, none of the three other candidates who sought the governor's post in 2006 would have changed those policies, either. Unless I'm overlooking something?

I don't see her as an advocate for people with disabilities. Trotting her four-month-old son with Down Syndrome in front of the cameras like a prop doesn't sound like advocacy to me. In fact, I found it offensive. And I say this as a child of a working mother, the second child of four, so I say this with respect for working mothers. Furthermore, my mother was a regular volunteer at the Shenango Valley Retarded Center, where she worked with children and adults with Down Syndrome. (I realize we don't say "retarded" anymore, but that's what it was called when she was volunteering back in the 1970s and 1980s.) We didn't have any children with special needs in my family, but Mum still felt it was important to work with them. And I distinctly remember her giving me a well-deserved slap when I disparagingly used the word "retard" at the age of ten. I had no problem with Governor Palin trotting her four-year-old daughter out on stage, but that's no place for an infant.

At any rate, Sarah Palin isn't running against Hillary Clinton. As Anonymous points out: it's Joe Biden who's Barack Obama's running mate. And considering that Barack Obama's been a community organizer, and in the Illinois State Senate, and in the United States Senate, a career of public service spanning just shy of twenty years, I'd say he's more experienced than Sarah Palin by a longshot. But more importantly, Barack Obama's got better judgement, better policies, and the nomination at the top of the ticket!


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