Already, I’ve heard accusations of pandering and of “trying to do something historic, too” directed toward John McCain in the wake of his announcement today. Moreover, some — including, as I noted before, Obama’s campaign — question Governor Palin’s experience and qualifications. As my aunt noted with surprise, Sarah Palin has not served as governor for even two full years yet. To all of this, I say, “So what?”
Of course McCain panders to women; can you blame the guy? Politics is pandering; McCain’s found a way to do it and, simultaneously, to shore up support with the party’s bases. (C’mon, she’s a pro-life, moose-burger-eating, gun-shooting hockey mom and former pageant queen!) That’s not just pandering; that’s skill.
Yes, McCain is trying to do something historic; what’s wrong with that? Exists some law proclaiming that only Democrats may select a non-white-male vice-presidential candidate? Heaven forfend the G.O.P. should try to act “progressively”! Furthermore, makes it not some sense to try, with a female v.-p., to match the Democrats, especially after they passed up on the possibility of the first female presidential candidate? I realize that Palin’s potential office isn’t as glamorous as that for which Senator Rodham Clinton ran, and that Palin isn’t even the first potential female v.-p. (although suggesting that Ferraro actually was a potential vice-president is a bit of a stretch), but, still, it’s the best that an old, white Republican can do.
The biggest question, doubtless, is whether Palin possesses sufficient experience to be vice-president. First, I’ll note that I’m not sure that this matters: the vice-presidency is such a meaningless position most of the time (unless Old Man McCain would happen to die in office) that the worries are probably meaningless, expressed for the sake of indicting McCain, rather than to make any valid point. Putting this aside, though, Palin’s record, though not perfect, seems to be pretty acceptable to me. The Wikipedia article on her offers a pretty good view; here’s a taste:
Highlights of Palin’s tenure as Governor include a successful push for an ethics bill, and also shelving pork-barrel projects supported by fellow Republicans. Though she initially expressed support for the Gravina Island Bridge project, once it had become a nationwide symbol of wasteful earmark spending and federal funding was lost, Palin decided against filling the $320 million gap with state money. “Alaska needs to be self-sufficient, she says, instead of relying heavily on ‘federal dollars,’ as the state does today.” [My emphasis, for radically cool federalism at its finest. – NPO]
[ . . . ]
Palin is pro-life and a prominent member of Feminists for Life. A 2006 article in the Anchorage Daily News refers to her as “pro-contraception,” but does not go into detail on the subject. While running for Governor of Alaska, Palin advocated the teaching of both creationism and evolution in public schools; but the next day, she said, “Creationism doesn’t have to be part of the curriculum” and that she would not use “religion as a litmus test, or anybody’s personal opinion on evolution or creationism” as criteria for selection to the school board.
Palin’s first veto was used to kill a bill that would have barred the state from granting benefits to the partners of gay state employees, after she determined from Alaska’s attorney general that it was unconstitutional. In effect, her veto granted State of Alaska benefits to same-sex couples but which was required by law.
She seems to fit the bill of “uniter” much better than does Barack Obama, in my humble estimation. Also, she’s shown herself to be a pretty reliable fiscal conservative, and something of a conservationist, though not without flaws (She supports drilling in ANWR and opposed listing the polar bear as endangered.)
Withal, although Senator Biden certainly has experience (Whether this has been good or not I’ll leave for another time — or web-logger.), Senator Obama isn’t exactly possessed of decades’ worth of experience; he’s just conformed his positions to the party line to make himself seem to have it. He’s served more time between the Illinois State and United States Senates than Palin has served combined as mayor of Wasilla and governor of Alaska; however, small as Wasilla is, she had a few more years serving the city on its council first. Also, Alaska isn’t without its problems — ya know: rampant alcoholism, difficulty stocking store shelves with affordable food, non-potable water, Ted Stevens, et cetera. At least Governor Palin’s non-experience is executive in nature, as well as (low-level) legislative; Senator Obama, the outsider/guy with experience, I reiterate, has no elected executive experience. His legislative experience hasn’t exactly impressed me.
I’m not sure that Palin’s particular brand of conservatism is necessarily the kind that I want to see dominate the G.O.P ( — if I don’t totally give up on the party, which I likely shall, eventually –, although I do dig the above-cited federalism), but I have no doubt that bringing her to the national spotlight like this is what the party needs. She and Jindal — Pawlenty, too — represent the young, bright potential future of the party; Pawlenty doesn’t offer the pander-factor that Palin and Jindal (Catholic Asian Indian) do, and Louisiana needs Jindal more than Alaska, beset with problems as it is, needs Mrs. Palin. And, uh, either Lieberman or Ridge would have, I have no doubt, sunk McCain — and maybe the Republican Party — for good.
Tertium Quid offers some insight insight on the pick here.
Update: Dylan Waco, at The Left Conservative, offers fair criticism, on the same grounds other have, charges against which I have defended the decision:
Sarah Palin was not chosen, because she is a crusader for 2nd Amendment Rights or because she is militantly pro-life. Palin was chosen for one reason; she was a semi-prominent Republican politician with a vagina.
He also links to a couple of articles suggesting that Palin has included herself, at least unofficially, amongst the Buchananite and Paulian wings of the G.O.P./conservative movement. This actually pleases me, makes me feel a bit better about McCain. Again, not enough to sway my vote, but I feel a little bit better about the possibility of President McCain. Besides, we’ll have a warmongering type either way; at least with McCain-Palin, we have some sane economic policy ideas, maybe. Perchance, I simply feel uncharacteristically charitable, mayhap naïve, but I will give Palin more benefit of the doubt that Dylan, who suggests that “[s]he will no doubt be a faithful servant to her neoconservative boss, now that she is ‘moving on up.'” They differ on ANWR (McCain taking the position that I think I take), and she might be more Old Right than he. Well, she pretty much has to be; she might a fair degree more Old Right than he. Could be interesting!
Filed under: American Politics, Blogroll, Election '08, GOP, Obama | Tagged: Add new tag, Alaska, Jindal, John McCain, Left Conservative, Pat Buchanan, Pawlenty, Ron Paul, Sarah Palin, Vice-president |