John McCain caught a lot of voters by surprise with his choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate. Palin, who is less than two years into her term as governor of the 49th state, is younger than Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama. And, depending on the standard, Palin has less national political experience but more executive experience than the other candidates combined.
Oh, and Palin also happens to be the first woman on a Republican presidential ticket.
Do any of those details matter? Is Palin too inexperienced to be "one heartbeat away" from the presidency? Is the emphasis on Palin’s family a distraction from genuine issues? Ben Boychuk and Joel Mathis, the RedBlueAmerica columnists, weigh in.
Some people in the media and on the leftist end of the blogosphere see Sarah Palin as a scary right-wing caricature, not as a human being who happens to have a politically conservative outlook. The silliest commentators have focused on the out- of-wedlock pregnancy of Palin’s 17-year-old daughter and rumors about her own recent childbirth as evidence that she is… what exactly?
An American mother of five kids, evidently. But Palin’s speech in St. Paul, Minn. on Wednesday night should have disabused most fair-minded viewers of the distortions and despicable slanders of the past several days.
Not that the attacks will stop. No, they’ve only just begun. There is a decent chance that the first woman vice president of the United States will be a conservative Republican who opposes abortion on demand and rejects the pieties of the feminist left. Sarah Palin is dangerous. She must be stopped. So keep the slime coming.
Never mind that there is no shortage of issues this election worthy of discussion this election year. Voters have a right to know where Palin stands on oil exploration and why. For example, she favors drilling on a 2,000-acre parcel of the 19.2 million-acre Alaska National Wildlife Reserve, but McCain doesn’t. She’s opposed to abortion on demand. Voters should know everything they possibly can about Palin’s record as governor, her purported fiscal conservatism and reformer credentials.
Some of it is good and some of it is bad. But the rest is noise.
Give her this: Sarah Palin knows how to give a speech. Her performance at the Republican National Convention should erase doubts about her political abilities. But is she ready to lead? No.
The critique can be made without sexist comments or attacks on Palin’s family.
Republicans have lauded Palin’s "executive experience" as governor and mayor. But Alaska — so flush with oil money the state sends revenue-sharing checks to its residents — isn’t run like any other state. And Palin ran an anti-abortion, pro-Christian campaign for the Wasilla mayorship, a post that has no power over abortion or religion. Once in office, she fired a slew of city workers she suspected of insufficient loyalty. If you’re a fan of the culture wars, this is good news. For the rest of us: Not so much.
Laughably, Republicans have tried to argue that Alaska’s proximity to Russia somehow means that Palin has foreign policy experience. That, unfortunately, is their best argument.
John McCain has emphasized the need for such experience in a post-9/11 president; apparently it would be unnecessary if — God forbid — he should die in office.
This criticism is "elitist" only in the sense that Americans should expect the vice president to actually be qualified for the job. Sarah Palin isn’t. Her selection reflects badly on McCain’s fitness for the presidency.
(Ben Boychuk and Joel Mathis blog at blog.infinitemonkeysblog.com and joelmathis.blogspot.com.)