Now that almost a full day has passed since John McCain has named Sarah Palin as his running mate, we can already see the themes his political opponents will take in criticizing her. Irony runs through a number of these arguments, as most of them apply more to their own ticket than to the Republicans, and one in particular is just so despicable as to drop the jaw to the ground. Let’s take a tour of these, shall we?
It’s a desperation pick — he didn’t make up his mind until Thursday!
McCain did make his selection on Thursday, but apparently well before the Barack Obama speech that supposedly spooked him into foregoing Mitt Romney or Tim Pawlenty. What of it? When did Barack Obama make up his mind about Joe Biden? Biden had told reporters, “I’m not the guy” just days before finally getting picked as the running mate. Obama was desperate for anyone with foreign-policy gravitas after stumbling through the Caucasus crisis on his own. Paul Begala noted that it appeared Vladimir Putin had picked Obama’s running mate.
Besides, why would McCain be “desperate”? Most Republicans run well behind their Democratic opponents in the summer; McCain gained enormous ground on Obama and was ahead in polls of likely voters before the convention.
Why would he put a small-town mayor a heartbeat away from the presidency?
This is a real laugher. By the same logic, why would the Democrats make a state legislator the actual president? The answer is that Obama is a US Senator of three years experience, and Palin is a governor of 20 months’ experience. Only Barack Obama has spent two of those three years not in the Senate doing his job but running for President. Before starting his bid, he had a grand total of less than 150 days in session in the Senate. Palin, on the other hand, has run her state for more than triple that time.
And let’s remember that Obama is running for the top job, while Palin’s running for VP.
McCain can’t talk about experience any more — he’s shot himself in the foot!
Unfortunately for the critics, this argument doesn’t hold water, either. All four principals are running for the highest executive position in the federal government — indeed, the position in charge of the entire executive branch. How much executive experience does Obama have? None; he’s worked in corporate law, community organizing, and has eleven years as a legislator at various levels. Biden? He’s been a lawyer for three years and a Senator for 35 years, and has no executive experience at any level of government.
McCain at least has executive experience as a squadron commander in the US Navy, but Palin has the actual executive track record that the others lack. She has governed Alaska for 20 months, negotiated a pipeline deal with Canada (which gives her more formal diplomatic experience than either Obama or Biden), was commander-in-chief of Alaska’s National Guard, and so on. Even her more local-level experience is more applicable than Obama’s: she served two terms as mayor, an executive position, cutting taxes and running a small city. Obama served in the state legislature, with no executive responsibilities at all.
This, at least, qualifies as a legitimate concern, at least legitimate enough that the state legislature has decided to investigate it. Supposedly Palin fired the commissioner of public safety because he wouldn’t fire her brother-in-law, a state trooper who had becomed estranged from Palin’s sister. Mike Wooten only got a suspension, and last month, she allegedly dismissed Walt Monegan over his handling of the case. Palin says that wasn’t the reason, the legislature noted that Monegan’s was a political appointment and he served at the pleasure of the governor, and they have also stated on the record that Palin has been so cooperative that they will not need to issue subpoenas — which hardly sounds like a cover-up.
So what did Wooten do, anyway?
Troopers eventually investigated 13 issues and found four in which Wooten violated policy or broke the law or both:
• Wooten used a Taser on his stepson.
• He illegally shot a moose.
• He drank beer in his patrol car on one occasion.
• He told others his father-in-law would “eat a f’ing lead bullet” if he helped his daughter get an attorney for the divorce.
Excuse me, but any of these four should have been a firing offense, let alone having done all four. He Tased his stepson? He threatened to shoot Palin’s father? No wonder the Palins hired their own investigator and pressed the issue so hard. But if this was the reason Palin cashiered Monegan, why did she bother to wait eighteen months after taking office to get rid of him?
Palin’s pick insults more qualified Republican women like Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, Elizabeth Dole, Kay Bailey Hutchinson, etc etc etc.
I doubt any of these women feel “insulted” by McCain’s choice, but even if they did, so what? McCain didn’t want a Washington insider as a running mate. None of the known short-listers came from DC with the exception of Joe Lieberman, and Lieberman would have been a special case anyway. He wanted a partner for real reform, someone with a track record of taking risks to pursue change and to clean up politics. All of these women are insiders, and most of them have no executive experience at all — and all of them are Senators. Why copy the Biden pick?
Sarah Palin wasn’t REALLY pregnant — it’s her daughter’s child.
This popped up on a Daily Kos diary and has unfortunately been repeated by bloggers who should know better. The rumor is a weird reversal of the John Edwards story, only this time, critics refute Palin’s maternity. Supposedly, so the story goes, the baby really was their eldest daughter’s (currently in high school), and not hers. The proof? At six months, Palin didn’t “look pregnant”, and supposedly her daughter had mono and took some time off from school. That’s it.
This is, simply, despicable. Babies born to teen mothers rarely have Down’s Syndrome anyway, whereas the possibility for that with a mother in her 40s is about 1 in 20. Athletic women sometimes do not show until late in the pregnancy. The whole rumor rests on the notion that the state’s most visible woman could carry out a fake pregnancy in front of the press while simultaneously hiding her daughter, and then pull a switcheroo — and for what possible purpose? To cover up a teen pregnancy, in this day and age? Give me a break.
The picture below was published at the end of February, and she certainly appears to be significantly wider than we saw yesterday on the dais.
If this is what the opposition comes down to, McCain made the wisest possible choice, and in the process exposed the opposition in a way that could never have been possible with any other running mate.