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.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.
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.
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.And
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.’ ”And
“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.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.
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.