The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Did McCain make the right choice?

In 2000 when John McCain was asked about the possibility of being George W. Bush’s running mate, he said, “The vice president has two jobs: inquiring daily about the health of the president, and attending the funerals of third-world dictators, neither of which interests me.”

Knowing what we do about McCain’s view of the vice-presidency, it’s easy to understand why he picked Sarah Palin. We know that Palin is qualified to attend funerals, but is she qualified to deal with the complex life-and-death issues that the leader of the free world must face?

History reminds us that one-third of vice-presidents have assumed the presidency following the death and/or resignation of a president. If an aging President McCain dies in office, the country would have no choice but to sit back, mouths agape, and watch with the same anxiety that parents feel after taking off their children’s training wheels.

Karl Rove opined that Barack Obama would “make an intensely political choice, not a governing choice,” for vice-president, adding, “He’s going to view this through the prism of a candidate, not through the prism of president.”

He then singled-out Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, a candidate on Obama’s short list, arguing that “[h]e’s only been governor for three years,” adding, “I don’t think people could really name a big, important thing that he’s done. He was mayor of the 105th largest city in America.”

Rove’s comments were eerily prophetic, but for McCain. If Sarah Palin, the former mayor of Wasilla, Alaska (population 5,505) had a fraction of Kaine’s experience, McCain might be able to justify his pick.

The Religious Right is orgasmic over Palin. A staunch opponent of abortion, who decided to carry a fetus to full term after learning that he would be born with Down Syndrome, and who said that she would oppose abortion even if her own daughter were raped, Palin could not be a better poster person for Evangelicals. Is there any doubt why Palin’s 17-year-old daughter, who is unmarried, five months pregnant and still in high school, has decided to have the baby?

Never mind the obvious distractions that parenting an unwed teen mother creates, can you imagine the Republican outrage if this were happening in Joe Biden’s family?

Arianna Huffington, the Greek-born founder of The Huffington Post and keen observer of American culture, summed up McCain’s pick this way:

“[T]he McCain campaign is tapping into an archetype that resonates deep in the human psyche. That of the unknown innocent plucked from obscurity and magnificently rising to the challenge. Hollywood has long recognized the appeal of this fantasy. Think Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”

Even Palin’s home state newspapers have questioned the selection. Editors of the Anchorage Daily News called it “stunning that someone with so little national and international experience might be heartbeat away from the presidency.”

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner editorial page concluded, “Alaskans and Americans must ask […] whether she should become vice president and, more importantly, be placed first in line to become president.”

Then there’s “troopergate,” the name given to the ethics scandal brewing around Palin. Did Palin fire public safety commissioner Walt Monegan because he refused to fire Palin’s former brother-in-law, a state trooper whose marriage to Palin’s sister ended in a bitter divorce and custody battle? Monegan says she did. Emails and audio recordings appear to support his claim.

If it’s true, Palin comes with a readymade scandal. But Palin’s readymade rightwing fans, who didn’t know her from Betty Crocker two weeks ago, are already blaming Democrats for trying to besmirch Palin’s Pollyanna reputation.

The truth is that her own state legislature initiated the investigation long before anyone, even her own staff, knew that John McCain had taken a prurient fancy to the Alaskan beauty queen.

Following his announcement, McCain referred to Palin as his “soulmate,” a strange statement for a 72-year old presidential candidate to make about a 44-year old vice-presidential candidate, whom he had met only once before choosing her.

George Bush famously looked into Putin’s eyes and saw his soul. Apparently, John McCain gazed wistfully into Sarah Palin’s eyes and saw his soulmate.

Republican mouthpieces are falling all over each other trying to offer the most desperate defense for her nomination: South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, who pushed for Joe Lieberman, grasping for straws, asserted that “If she can take [Alaska Senator Ted Stevens] on, she can take on the Russians.”

Ted Stevens is the octogenarian senator from Alaska (of “bridge to nowhere” fame) whose political action committee Palin ran and whose endorsement for governor she accepted in 2006. Stevens was indicted this year on seven counts of corruption

According to Palin, she rejected the multi-million dollar bridge, which has become a symbol of Washington pork. The truth, however, is she was for it before she was told to be against it.

Fred Thompson, the Tennessee senator-turned-actor, touted motherhood as a qualification. “She’s the mother of five children,” he told CNN. Using that criterion, Mrs. Ritchie, a mother of ten from my hometown, would be twice as qualified as Palin.

Rudolph Giuliani, the former mayor of New York and self-proclaimed hero of 9/11, compared Palin’s experience as mayor (of a town of 5,505) to his own. I see it. New York, Wasilla, Alaska, same thing.

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, who campaigned hard for the VP job, reminded critics that “Palin is commander-in-chief of the Alaskan National Guard.” However, according to Maj. Gen. Craig Campbell, Palin plays no role in the national defense activities of the 4,000-member Guard, adding that the governor is not even briefed when the guard is deployed.

The prize for mind-numbing contortion, however, goes to Cindy McCain, the oh-so blonde wife of John McCain, who argued that Palin is qualified in foreign policy because – are you ready for this? – Alaska is next to Russia.

Finally, Palin’s own mother-in-law told a newspaper that she “hasn’t a clue” what her daughter-in-law has to offer the Republican ticket.

Maybe that’s why she’s considering voting for Obama.

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