Sorry, Sarah

I had a post all written and ready to go about Sarah Palin. But I knew she would be speaking at the RNC last night, so I thought it only fair to hear what she had to say before pulling the trigger.

Speaker after speaker took the podium. Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, Linda Lingle, and Mike Huckabee all extolled her virtues. I began to wonder if anyone else was seeing the irony here: all four of these people are more qualified to hold the office of Vice President than the person they were praising.

Now don’t get me wrong, here. Sarah Palin gave a hell of a speech. I can see why people like her. Hers is a great American success story: Beauty Queen. Hockey/PTA mom. Mayor. Governor. VP candidate. Americans, and women in particular, have reason to feel proud of her and her accomplishments, even if one doesn’t agree with her politically. Most importantly, she and McCain have given Republicans a reason to feel good about themselves for the first time in a long time.

What I particularly admire about her is how she didn’t simply choose to ride her good looks to wherever they might take her. She was determined to use her obviously considerable brain power, and entered the dirty, male dominated world of politics, and has been wildly successful. In my mind, she gets full kudos for that.

But strangely, the feeling I got deep in my gut as I listened to her is the exact same one I get whenever I hear Barak Obama speak, in spite of their obvious differences. In both cases, I am aware that I am listening to a person of exceptional intelligence, gifted oratory, and vast personal charisma. It is obvious that both Palin and Obama have bright political futures. I will even go out on a limb here and say that either one might make a fine president….some day. But not on this day. Today both are still a little too wet behind the ears for my liking.

I find the argument that she will attract disenchanted Hillary supporters puzzling. No two people could be farther apart politically than Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton. (Interestingly, they hold the same position on the death penalty–they are for it–but there’s not much overlap after that.) Unless voting for a female candidate is THAT important to someone, I can’t imagine a Hillary Clinton supporter voting for a pro-life, pro-NRA, pro-creationism candidate, regardless of her gender. In fact, if there are any former Hillary supporters out there who are considering voting for Palin, I would be genuinely interested in hearing from you.

Whenever I have objected to Palin’s lack of experience, it always seems as though someone’s immediate response is, “Well, what about Obama’s lack of experience?”. My answer to that, as I have stated above, is simply to point out that had I any intention of voting for Obama, that argument might have some relevance. But since I don’t, and for exactly the same reasons, that argument is a non starter, at least with me.

So it’s not that I don’t like Sarah Palin. I do, up to a point. I don’t agree with her on issues like sex education and teaching creationism in schools, but that’s a subject for another post. It’s not that I think she’s a bad choice, simply that there are better, more experienced ones.

Even if you support McCain (as I do) you have to ask yourself: if Sarah Palin had been running in the Republican primary, would you have even considered voting for her? Even for a second? The answer is surely no. Why not? Again, NOT because she’s a bad candidate, but because there were better ones available to vote for.

With this in mind, I would feel much more comfortable with someone like Joe Leiberman, Rudy Giuliani, or Linda Lingle as second in command. The phrase “a heartbeat away from the presidency” is a bit melodramatic in some cases. Neither Bill Clinton nor George W. Bush were likely to die in office. But John McCain is 72, and not a very healthy 72 at that. If he is elected, I have little doubt he will be re-elected. If he doesn’t live to 80, then Sarah Palin, with little executive experience and no experience at all at the federal level, will be the leader of the most powerful nation on earth at a time when we need the most experienced leaders possible at the helm.

McCain’s experience vs. Obama’s lack of it is what McCain had going for him. With another, equally experienced running mate, he might have buried Obama with this issue. But not now. While from a political point of view the move has merit. I am concerned that his choice could leave his ticket vulnerable to the very criticism that has been quite rightly aimed at Obama.

Is this really what American politics has come to? Barack Obama names as his running mate a man who is the very embodiment of the old boy Washington scene he claims to deplore. Can there be any doubt that Biden’s skin color played a role in the decision? Boston Herald columnist Howie Carr labeled Biden “the first white male affirmative action hire in history”. Can their be any doubt that Palin’s gender played a major role in McCain’s decision? But at least Biden brings some experience in federal government to the table, the kind of experience that Obama sorely lacks. Obama can learn from Biden. I’m not sure what McCain can learn from Palin.

I’m still voting for McCain, but I’ll be praying nightly he lives another eight years.


10 Responses to “Sorry, Sarah”

  1. September 4, 2008 at 5:42 pm

    Nice post. Good points. I was listening to some sound bites from her speech this morning. She is very charismatic. I found myself liking her right away, and that’s a first in the world of politics. But like you said, “warm and fuzzy feelings” don’t qualify as presidential worthy material alone, and only get you so far. Now providing McCain sticks around another eight years I can definitely see her being the first female president next time around, with those eight years under her belt.

    That’s an excellent point. Eight years as VP will certainly give her the experience she needs. As I said, I think she might make a fine president some day.

    An intriguing possibility would be Palin vs. Hillary in 2016. It would be historic, if nothing else.

    Thanks for dropping by!

  2. September 4, 2008 at 8:24 pm

    What if it’s Palin vs Hillary in 2012? Yikes!

    That would actually be quite interesting.

    I had been wondering what you would write about Palin.

    Now you know. 😉

    Oh, and I’m glad to see “they” didn’t keep you for too long. 🙂

    Yeah, I busted outta the joint!

  3. 3 Sam
    September 5, 2008 at 9:41 pm

    Jumped headfirst, now didn’t you?

    Yeah, he-he. It’s just my way, y’know? I calls ’em like I sees ’em. 😉

    I like you Smith. Agree, disagree (not too often), it doesn’t matter. I like you.

    Thank you, Sam. I rather like you too.

  4. 4 Andy
    September 6, 2008 at 8:40 pm

    Great blog, and I have to add that I LOVE HOWIE CARR. If anyone can tell it like it is, HE CAN.
    As for the Palin choice, and inexperience, McCain certainly evened the odds picking her, as did Bama Man picking Biden. In either case, whoever is elected, being a pessimist, we may see the Vice President become President and I dare not say why.

    Mmmmm, be nice Andy. But you’re right, both Biden and Palin are, for all intents and purposes, Affirmative Action hires.

  5. September 6, 2008 at 10:34 pm

    Sarah Palin reminds me of Bill Clinton. The more shit gets slung back at her the cleaner she comes out.

    Ummmm, well now. THERE’S an analogy that never would have occurred to me. 😉

  6. September 7, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    Hey Smith,
    Look, let’s face it, this is the shittiest election cycle we’ve seen in decades. Most if not all the candidates are a disappointment and for whatever reason the public seems to want it that way. We are now faced with choices that we’d rather not be. All of the ‘expected candidates’ went by the boards and we are now dealing with John McCain (not a bad guy, but certainly not my first choice by any means) and Obamalamadingdong (married to Cruella Deville, no less) – this thing is like a bad cartoon that they resorted to running on one of those pathetic cable channels because the broadcast channels couldn’t convince people to watch it, even with free decoder rings offered.

    So far, I’m completely with you here, except I think I like McCain a bit more than you do.

    So…back Sarah. Personally, I think the choice was brilliant for many reasons: 1. she’s a woman and yeah gender does matter this time out, especially to those disgruntled Hillary supporters who would pull the lever for McCain just to spite ‘Bama and the fact that it sort of puts a woman in the Oval Office makes the revenge sweeter.

    Here I disagree with you. Are there really that many women who will vote for a woman, any woman, strictly because of her gender. Doesn’t it matter that Palin is the anti-Hillary? It should, at least to anyone who supported Hillary because of her political beliefs, and not just because of what she has between her legs.

    2. She does have some executive experience which neither presidential candidate has. Sure McCain has been in the Senate since dinasaurs roamed the earth but he has never run any kind of infrastructure, she has.

    Some, but not much. It will be a help to her, of course, and as I said, she might be a good candidate in ’12 or ’16. But if McCain snuffs it six months into his term, we’re screwed.

    3. She is the anti-Hillary – pretty, lovely family, charismatic, intelligent, sense of humor, down to earth.

    Well, I think you’re being a little hard on Hillary here. Hillary is also highly intelligent and, at least to some, charismatic. But you’ve hit the nail on the head: Hillary and Sarah are like matter and anti-matter. I just don’t see how a supporter of one could be convinced to vote for the other.

    4. Just the fact that the pubbies could get a woman that much closer to the Oval Office ahead of the party of innovation (the dems) is a nice little gotcha that a lot of conservatives will get a big kick out of.

    Sure, I agree with that.

    5. McCain survived five years in the Hanoi Hilton, you think a presidency is going to kill him? Don’t think so.

    No, but cancer might.

    6. Personality (these days) does matter to the electorate. They want to feel like they can like these dudes/dudettes and she is infinitely likeable and makes McCain seem moreso as well. I realize none of these are good reason reality speaking – but reality has little to do with modern politics.

    I personally don’t find her to be all that likable, rather scary in fact. Furthermore, something no one seems to have thought of is that when she stands next to McCain, she makes him look ever older than he actually is. This is not a problem when he stands next to Joe Leiberman. But I do agree with you: reality has little to do with it.

    I have to be honest, McCain choosing Palin (especially after I’ve seen a few of her speeches) made having to vote for McCain more palatible for me as well. I don’t much care that she’s a woman, but she has energy, is intelligent and my feeling is she will be a quick study on how to handle things – and she has balls too – which she’s really going to need. Given our choices – I think a McCain/Palin ticket ain’t all that bad.

    From that perspective it’s a good choice. No doubt that was what he was counting on when he chose her.

    And oh yeah, Hillary vs Palin in 2012 or 2016 – I could really groove on that.

    I had a feeling you would. This will keep you knee deep in material for months!


  7. 7 Red
    September 7, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    ya know, i know very little about politics, and i’ve been trying to learn myself a bit this time around with the elections and all .. i watched palin’s speech at the convention, and really . . . i didn’t get much out of it. she didn’t quite move me in the way i was hoping for. i was quite intrigued in the beginning because she is a woman, and that in itself made me want to know more.
    after her speech?

    Well, you shouldn’t be surprised, considering she didn’t write it.

    ehh, i didn’t gain anything other than the idea that i’d do her.

    You and Sarah, cheek to cheek? Now there’s an intriguing mental image. 😈

  8. September 12, 2008 at 1:53 am

    So, am I supposed to do a rebuttal now? Doesn’t seem like we disagree all that much, except about the part where McCain kicks off early. Which I seriously doubt will happen – but God forbid he did. Palin still has tons more exec experience than Obama – the guy apparently wasn’t even a good community leader.

    The “what about Obama’s experience” argument would really only hold water if I stated that I intend to vote for Obama. I don’t, and for exactly the same reason: not enough experience. Can you imagine either Obama or Palin sitting across the table from Putin? He’d eat both of them for lunch.

    In terms of women pulling the lever just for spite, you bet your ass there are that many out there and most of them are Hillary supporters – and yeah they’d vote for her just because she is a woman. I’m not talking about me, that really doesn’t sway me much or I would have been much easier on Hillary.

    Believe me, I welcome any and all McCain votes. But I still think it’s strange that a Liberal would vote for a Conservative for no better reason than her gender.

    Not sure what you could find scary about the woman but maybe you just scare easily? Seriously – she don’t strike me as scary at all.

    I never said I found her scary. My exact words were: “It’s not that I think she’s a bad choice, simply that there are better, more experienced ones.”

    Anyway, so really that wasn’t much of a disagreement, eh?

    Nah, not really. 😕

    Maybe next time. 😉


  9. October 19, 2008 at 6:42 pm


    Sorry, I wasn’t ready to post the first comment, but I accidentally hit the Submit button.

    You like a certain candidate, but you do not like to vote for her because there are better ones out there.

    Lucky you.

    In my country, we do not like the current president, and even the one before her. And though election is fast approaching, we wonder who to vote for.

    There’s just no one good enough to take the ‘wheel.’

    Oh, there are many experienced ones out there bidding for the presidency. Sadly, their experience show records of corruption.


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