I understand John McCain likes games of chance, and I guess selecting Sarah Palin is his way of saying “jacta alea est.” Statistically speaking, McCain’s chance of mortality—even though ostensibly, he is at the peak of health for his age—is significant. So what this might suggest is that the Republicans are actually willing to elect a woman to the presidency. While I disagree with just about everything she stands for, that’s kind of impressive. I didn’t think it would happen in my lifetime, that the party that has been trying its damndest to preserve patriarchy and has at times even openly professed misogyny would actually allow even the slightest possibility that a woman would lead our nation.
Now, I don’t think I need to defend Obama in terms of the “inexperience” charge. You don’t have to be a doddering old geezer who doesn’t know how to use a computer to be experienced, and you can get a lot of leadership experience without ever having to be in politics. Just the bare outline of Obama’s career path makes me confident that we’ve got somehow who knows how to take charge. Community organizer. Law professor. State senator. U.S. Senator. I mean, that’s a lot of years of leadership, even if his political career only started less than a decade ago.
And clearly, this is far more experience than Palin’s scant two years of governing Alaska, the state with the smallest population in the nation. And those two years are already tainted with allegations of abuse of power, too.
But I found this e-mail from moveon.org informative:
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.
“McCain Selects Anti-Choice Sarah Palin as Running Mate” NARAL Pro-Choice America. 29 Aug 2008.
She supported right-wing extremist Pat Buchanan for president in 2000.
Hayes, Christopher. “Sarah Palin, Buchananite” The Nation. 29 Aug 2008.
Palin thinks creationism should be taught in public schools.
Kizzia, Tom. “‘Creation science’ enters the race” Anchorage Daily News. 27 Oct 2006.
She’s doesn’t think humans are the cause of climate change.
Grandia, Kevin. “Palin buys climate denial PR spin—ignores science” Huffington Post. 29 Aug 2008.
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 speciesâ€”she was worried it would interfere with more oil drilling in Alaska.
Sierra Club Political Committee. “McCain VP Pick Completes Shift to Bush Energy Policy” Yubanet.com. 29 Aug 2008.
McNeil, Joshua. “Choice of Palin Promises Failed Energy Policies of the Past” League of Conservation Voters. 29 Aug 2008.
Reid, Tim. “Protecting polar bears gets in way of drilling for oil, says governor.” The Times of London. 23 May 2008.
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.
Murray, Mark. “McCain met Palin once before yesterday” MSNBC. 29 Aug 2008
I can only speculate as to the reasons why McCain picked Palin. Certainly she appeases the Christian fundamentalists (except for the double-X chromosome, probably), and she upholds a lot of ultraconservative values. But if it was to try and pick up the vote of Hillary Clinton’s supporters, there’s a good chance it could backfire terribly. I spoke with my boss, who was a big-time HRC supporter but is now actually excited about Obama’s candidacy, and she basically felt insulted and patronized by McCain’s choice. Palin is like the anti-Clinton. There’s no way in hell any sane Democrat would find her appealing.
The foreign policy experience thing is huge. For one thing, McCain himself has no clue about what’s going on in the world. He has repeatedly confused Sunnis with Shias. He once stated that Al Qaeda was linked to Iran. (That is just completely nuts, like saying the Black Panthers were teaming up with the KKK.) He jokes around about bombing the hell out of Iran. And while he wants us to occupy Iraq for 100 years, which we invaded for no sane reason, he chastises Russia for pre-emptively invading Georgia in their attempt to “liberate” South Ossetia. (Pot, meet kettle.) So on the Republican side, we’ve got two jokers who have no sense of the world outside of our borders, and who have no sense of the world inside our borders either. (C’mon. Alaska?!?! What could an Alaskan who has never lived outside their home state know about the rest of the country? Oh, wait, she went to school in Idaho. Yeah, that’s cosmopolitan. And McCain is totally insulated from the real world by the vast amounts of wealth his wife has. Can’t remember how many houses he owns? Thinks that less than $5 million a year is middle class? Doesn’t know how to use a computer?!?!?)
What I’m wondering is how this sits with the average Republican. A lot of my family are diehard Republicans, and they sort of lost interest in the whole thing when McCain won the nomination, and have actually become resigned to Obama winning the presidency. I cannot imagine what it must be like to feel forced to support someone you have no desire to support.