Friday, September 26, 2008

The Palin Problem

You all know where my political leanings lie. But this year I was motivated more than usual to study the issues and the candidates' points of view, primarily thanks to Calandria.

One thing she & I disagree on is the need to focus on Palin in determining who to vote for to hold the Presidential role. I think it is a valid consideration for two reasons:

1. McCain is the oldest person ever to run for president, and has had fairly serious health issues in the recent past.

2. Typically a VP candidate is someone who is fairly experienced in national and international governmental issues, someone who is not too charismatic, but someone who can sit quietly and happily in the background while still being a respectable representative of the USA when called upon to do so.

If only one of those two points were current, I would say it is not important to look at the VP candidate in making your presidential pick. But having McCain being so old, and Palin being so inexperienced -- those two together make it foolish, I believe, to not look at her qualifications and abilities.

I will admit, my very first impression of Palin was actually on the positive side - she was clearly aggressive, strong, and has made strides in her own community. However, quickly -- VERY quickly - after she was named as McCain's running mate, things started coming to light that made me start hoping something would be revealed about her, or that she herself would do something, which would make it painfully obvious to the vast majority of Americans that this woman is clearly NOT a good candidate to hold the position of President of the United States. And when it is that clear she could not hold that office, I believe it is irresponsible to elect her to the number two spot.

I also do look at the way she was chosen. I see the choice of running mate as the first true presidential decision the candidates make. It's different from decisions made in campaigning, as it is the one decision that cannot be changed after the election. You can change your mind on policy, you can take back promises made, you can forget what you vowed to stand for. But you can't put a different person in the vice president's office. I believe McCain made a huge error in this first major decision, and it makes me wary of all the other presidental decisions that would come.

Her interviews lately have just exacerbated the situation. She clearly has learned a lot of facts over the past several weeks, but throw her off her rehearsed speech even a little and she flounders painfully. She tries to repeat the phrases she has obviously been coached to recite, even if it doesn't make sense given the question, but she just can't keep up. Questions about the current financial situation show she is way out of her league in talking about either national or international economics. She met a lot of heads of state recently, and charmed many of them, but after the charm, what's left?

And then my personal favorite. When asked (yet again) why she maintains that Alaska's proximity to Russia qualifies her to claim experience in international affairs, a big part of her reason (which was a bit convoluted but she eventually got it out) is that when Putin flies from Russia to the US, he goes right over Alaska.

The liberal in me is actually happy, as this helps Obama's campaign. But part of me is also sad for this woman who has gotten herself into a messy situation, and who is starting to show the stress of campaigning on a level she apparently never saw coming. She said that very first day that she was READY. She smiled, waved, pumped her fist, even. I believe she thought she was. The problem is, she had no idea how much she had no idea about.

PS: For a 12-minute video which gives the background of every VP the US has ever had, and compares Palin to them, go here. It's serious, intellectual, and very fact-based. I recommend taking the 12 minutes to watch and listen.

PPS: And if you want to laugh (or cry) there is this, based on Matt Damon's comments from 9/10, saying the idea of Palin being elected is like a really bad Disney movie.

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