Wednesday, September 03, 2008

It's Not About Sarah Palin; It's About McCain's Decision-Making

Despite the all Sarah Palin, all the time coverage, in the end it's not really about the vice presidential pick. It's about John McCain's decision making process. For as long as I've criticized much of the mainstream media, especially the Washington Post, Dan Froomkin, one of their columnists summed it up best - unfortunately he had to go to Huffington Post to do so.

The weekend firestorm about a pregnant daughter, moose stew, and Troopergate pale beside the simple fact that she's a neophyte who is not qualified to be a heartbeat away from the president. Froomkin summed it up best:
Palin would be spectacularly unqualified for the job of vice president even if McCain were immortal. But the prospect of her suddenly being thrust into the leadership of the free world has got to leave everyone but the most loyal, talking-point-equipped partisans deeply chilled.

This is not a question of her politics. And it has absolutely nothing to do with her gender. It's not even strictly speaking a question of experience. Conceivably, somebody with even less experience than Palin could meet what everyone should be able to agree is a basic requirement for the office: That she or he has given serious thought to the national and international issues of our time.

Is there any evidence that Palin is anything other than an utter neophyte when it comes to issues such as Iraq, the economy, health care, and domestic and foreign policy generally?

Palin's lack of the most basic prerequisite for the job should be the dominant message of the news coverage. Instead, her selection was hailed as a "bold move," with her lack of qualifications relegated to the status of a Democratic complaint. Instead, the media establishment has let itself get drawn into a number of alternate story lines, some of them certainly quite fascinating, but none of them as essential.

What possible reason is there to nominate someone so lacking in gravitas for the vice presidency? In this case, of course, it couldn't be more obvious that Palin's selection has everything to do with politics and nothing to do with governance. Palin's gender and her hard-right credentials were clearly seen by McCain's top advisers as just what the campaign needed.

Whether that was a clever or suicidal political calculation remains to be seen. It's certainly looking more and more like it was a reckless one. But it doesn't just strain credulity -- it pulverizes it -- to suggest that she is the best and most qualified person McCain could find for the job.

It's a tremendous failure of political reporting that such patent spin from McCain supporters is being treated like a supportable position. By contrast, it seems to me that anyone suggesting that Palin was selected for anything other than political reasons should be considered presumptively a liar from this point on.
Indeed, the media has mainly obfuscated the issue of her qualifications. In addition, newspaper writers love to throw around phrases like "bold" as much as they can. Usually, the reader gets the picture of some scribe penning the term with glowing approval. Words like "bold" and "reformer" don't tell a whole tale. For example, when President Bush invaded Iraq, cut taxes, created the largest deficit, the press called all those moves "bold." So, when does the reading public catch on that bold could just be another synonym for reckless.

And reformer doesn't tell you what the reform will be. We tend to think of reformer as those brave whistleblowers who take on corrupt systems or fight big city political machines. But reform isn't always a good and positive thing.

In fact, it looks like some of Sarah Palin's reforms are more those of a hard right religious zealot trying to purge society of sin rather than just political corruption. When she first ran for mayor of Wassila, she made her anti-abortion stand the centerpiece of a campaign that had little to do with that issue. She also made her church membership and religion campaign issues.
According to this report:
The traditional turning points that had decided municipal elections in this town of less than 7,000 people — Should we pave the dirt roads? Put in sewers? Which candidate is your hunting buddy? — seemed all but obsolete the year Ms. Palin, then 32, challenged the three-term incumbent, John C. Stein.

Anti-abortion fliers circulated. Ms. Palin played up her church work and her membership in the National Rifle Association. The state Republican Party, never involved before because city elections are nonpartisan, ran advertisements on Ms. Palin’s behalf.

Two years after Representative Newt Gingrich helped draft the Contract With America to advance Republican positions, Ms. Palin and her passion for Republican ideology and religious faith overtook a town known for a wide libertarian streak and for helping start the Iditarod sled dog race.
“Sarah comes in with all this ideological stuff, and I was like, ‘Whoa,’ ” said Mr. Stein, who lost the election. “But that got her elected: abortion, gun rights, term limits and the religious born-again thing. I’m not a churchgoing guy, and that was another issue: ‘We will have our first Christian mayor.’ ”

“I thought: ‘Holy cow, what’s happening here? Does that mean she thinks I’m Jewish or Islamic?’ ” recalled Mr. Stein, who was raised Lutheran, and later went to work as the administrator for the city of Sitka in southeast Alaska. “The point was that she was a born-again Christian.”
And for some, Ms. Palin’s first months in office here were so jarring — and so alienating — that an effort was made to force a recall. About 100 people attended a meeting to discuss the effort, which was covered in the local press, but the idea was dropped.

Shortly after becoming mayor, former city officials and Wasilla residents said, Ms. Palin approached the town librarian about the possibility of banning some books, though she never followed through and it was unclear which books or passages were in question.

Ann Kilkenny, a Democrat who said she attended every City Council meeting in Ms. Palin’s first year in office, said Ms. Palin brought up the idea of banning some books at one meeting. “They were somehow morally or socially objectionable to her,” Ms. Kilkenny said.
During the next few days while watching the Republican Convention, when they bandy around the term reformer it might be useful to remember that Oliver Cromwell also was a reformer. But most of us wouldn't want to live under him or the English Roundheads in Puritan Britain.


Conservative Democrat said...

While the vetting issue is certainly one that will have to answered what I cannot undrstand is why it we do not hold our lected officials, as in the ones already elected, to the same level of scrutiny regarding how they come to vote on very very important issues.

I would really like to know as would many Amercians why it is Sen. Joe Biden drew the rationale for his descisons regarding the such matters as the Alaskan pipeline, social security, the first Gulf War, voting along with Clinton for this Iraq war and then not voting for the Surge.

All of these appear to be on the wrong side of history and are in direct, other than the Surge, than what Obama has said or implied he feels about said issues.

Why no vetting as to how it is Biden or any of these people come to their determinations.

Why is it Biden gets a pass and people are supposed to just hop on board without hearing why it is he supported the Iraq War and voted along with it because he voted along with republicans so it is not an issue.

We credit Biden, whom I respect, with being an expert on national security so why is his vote not equally as important as Obama stand against the War in 2004.

I just do not get the "pass" these people are given on critical judgments.

If of course you believe this election is about "judgement".

Hokie Guru said...

AIAW, I just sent you a scoop to your e-mail address... it's kind of important and I don't see RK or NLS reporting on it... if they don't, I think I will but I don't normally report on politics at (I report on hokie sports), but I may have to because it relates to Virginia Tech... the scoop I sent you is important because if Virginia is close like we think it will be, the Hokie votes mean everything.

Isophorone said...

Wow, quotes from sore losers! Imagine all this coming from someone who supports Barack Obama and would have willingly supported John Edwards!

So I take it you voted for George Bush over Bill Clinton in 1992? Ha ha ha.

AnonymousIsAWoman said...

Conservative Democrat, Joe Biden and all the others have been well vetted. They engaged in countless debates over the summer where all of the issues mentioned were discussed and debated. Biden, Clinton and all the other Democratic candidates discussed in detail the reasons for their votes as well as their vision for the direction the country should take. And they gave specifics on questions of policy.

So did Republican candidates McCain, Romney, Huckabee, et. al. The problem is Sarah Palin did not participate in any of these debates. She simply is not a known entity and both sides are rushing to define her.

And on another topic, thanks Hokie Guru. I'll look it all over and try to do something - probably not tonight because I'll be watching the GOP Convention's last night. But it is an important topic. If the Sarah Palin Hail Mary pass fails, voter suppression at colleges and in urban areas may be their last ditch hope.

Anonymous said...

You said: This is not a question of her politics. And it has absolutely nothing to do with her gender. It's not even strictly speaking a question of experience. Conceivably, somebody with even less experience than Palin could meet what everyone should be able to agree is a basic requirement for the office: That she or he has given serious thought to the national and international issues of our time.

It's no wonder the terrorist want to kill Americans, the liberals and their special interests are turning this country into a country of infidels. Abortions, same sex marriage,etc....
You write about palin not having the experience ... President Ronald Reagan was a Governor before he was elected to office. I'm sure you have some skewed perception about his presidency. You're a mean and nasty woman with an axe to grind, you're a liberal. The more I hear from you people, the more I understand the meaning of ignorance. Please keep up the good work so others can understand also.

AnonymousIsAWoman said...

Yes, ad hominem attacks are a wonderful way to further your arguments about Palin's qualificatons. Not!

And although you've spewed a lot of opinion, I've yet to see an actual fact to back up that viewpoint. And believe me, terrorists don't want to kill Americans because of liberals. They want to kill us to spread their radical brand of religion.

Before you can actually fight terrorists, you've got to understand them. You don't.

Anonymous said...

Gov. Palin the self proclaimed "hockey mom" should make a decision to go home to her family in crisis. With one teenage daughter pregnant. A shotgun wedding to prepare. A newborn with special needs. A son going off to war. Another small child and teenage daughter, I guess home alone since she boast of firing all the help. Really, since Focus on the Family is endorsing her; one of them should tell her to stop throwing herself into her work and focus on HER family. Not Washington, not McCain, not twisting her funny looking nose up. FOCUS on her 5 children and poor husband. Show me you can take care of that crisis then I will believe you can take care of a country in crisis.