Friday, August 29, 2008

"Sarah Palin: Dick Cheney In A Dress"

Reality Catcher (H/t to Steve Elliott):
Sarah Palin, bear slayer. Photo credit:

In his latest move, with his trademark blend of panicked desperation and political calculation, John McCain announced his choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate.
McCain's anti-choice, anti-gay, anti-environment right wing extremist pick for vice president -- particularly important in view of Sen. McCain's advanced years and failing health -- reveals the depth of his cynicism and condescension towards American voters, women in particular.

Palin has signed on the Bush administration's economic policies, opposes increasing the minimum wage, and opposes equal pay for equal work regardless of gender. And this is McCain's way of reaching out to women and the working class?

"Today, John McCain put the former mayor of a town of 9,000 with zero foreign policy experience a heartbeat away from the presidency," said Bill Burton of the Obama campaign. "Governor Palin shares John McCain's commitment to overturning Roe v. Wade, the agenda of Big Oil and continuing George Bush's failed economic policies -- that's not the change we need, it's just more of the same.''

Gov. Sarah Palin

Palin, a former small-town mayor with a taste for mooseburgers, has more experience catching fish than dealing with foreign policy or national affairs. I hate to mention the Peter Principle, but this lady is in way over her head. Her level of expertise is more appropriate at a city council meeting than on the Council of Foreign Relations. Even now, the Alaska governor is under an ethical cloud.

McCain passed over many other better qualified prospects, simply because in his insulting attempt to pander to the female vote, it seems that the most important qualification to be his running mate is possessing a vagina.

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX)

Even in that regard, the depth of McCain's cynicism is revealed by the fact that he picked the distinctly under-qualified -- but very photogenic -- Palin and passed over Kay Bailey Hutchison, the Texas senator who is very knowledgeable about the military, but is, unlike Palin, not a former beauty queen. (Palin was a runner-up in the 1984 Miss Alaska pageant.)

Palin brings a strong anti-abortion stance to the ticket and opposes gay marriage - constitutionally banned in Alaska before her time. As governor, Palin vetoed a bill that would have granted benefits to gay state employees and their partners.

Palin with her kill. Photo credit: The Weekly Standard

Palin lives in Wasilla, a town of 6,500 about 30 miles north of Anchorage, with her husband, Todd, a blue-collar North Slope oil worker who won the 2007 Iron Dog, a 1,900-mile snowmobile race. He is part Yup'ik Eskimo.

She is often seen walking the Alaska Capitol halls in black or red power suits while reading text messages on Blackberry screens in each hand. She made a recent appearance in a photo layout in fashion magazine Vogue -- I kid you not. (Full disclosure: the following image was Photoshopped, but the Vogue appearance is real.)

Take me seriously. I wear glasses.

Palin's reputation has come into question with an investigation recently launched by a legislative panel into whether she sacked Alaska's public safety commissioner because he would not fire her former brother-in-law as a state trooper. Trooper Mike Wooten went through an ugly divorce from Palin's sister.

Former Department of Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan says that since Gov. Sarah Palin took office, members of her administration and family pressured him to fire a Palmer Alaska State Trooper to whom her sister was involved in a bitter child custody battle.

The governor denied orchestrating the dozens of telephone calls made by her husband and members of her administration to Wooten's bosses.

Palin is an avid proponent of petroleum development, in tune with McCain. In fact, she's even more "drill here, drill now" crazy than McCain, favoring drilling in Alaska's protected Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. McCain opposes it.

“Senator McCain’s choice for a running mate is beyond belief," said Rodger Schlickeisen, president of Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund. "By choosing Sarah Palin, McCain has clearly made a decision to continue the Bush legacy of destructive environmental policies.

“Sarah Palin, whose husband works for BP (formerly British Petroleum), has repeatedly put special interests first when it comes to the environment," Schlickeisen continued. "In her scant two years as governor, she has lobbied aggressively to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling, pushed for more drilling off of Alaska’s coasts, and put special interests above science. Ms. Palin has made it clear through her actions that she is unwilling to do even as much as the Bush administration to address the impacts of global warming. Her most recent effort has been to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove the polar bear from the endangered species list, putting Big Oil before sound science. As unbelievable as this may sound, this actually puts her to the right of the Bush administration."

As governor, Palin also opposed designating polar bears as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, fearing that step would get in the way of a proposed natural gas pipeline tapping the North Slope's vast reserves.

Before becoming governor, her entire political experience consisted of terms as Wasilla's mayor and councilwoman and a stint as head of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

Howie P.S.: More on Palin from Electoral

However, the conventional wisdom dismissed her for a variety of reasons that are still true. First, some reporter is going to ask him: "Of the hundreds of governors, senators, congressmen, and business leaders available to you, do you really think that a 44-year old person who has two years' experience as governor of a thinly populated state is the best person in the country to be President of the United States after yourself?" After all, she knows nothing of foreign policy and not even that much about domestic policy except that drilling for oil is a good thing.

Second, picking her destroys McCain's strongest argument against Obama: he has no experience. Little as he has (8 years in the Illinois state senate and 3 years in the U.S. Senate) it is more than she has (4 years as mayor of Wasilla, a town then of 5,000 people, and 2 years as governor). How is he going to argue that she is qualified to be President and Obama isn't. He can say experience doesn't matter (and a case can be made that it doesn't) but there goes his whole argument against Obama--lack of experience.

Third, like many Alaska politicians these days, Palin is involved in an ethics scandal. Her sister was married to a state trooper named Mike Wooten. The two of them got divorced and were involved in a bitter child custody battle. Sarah wanted to help her sister so she asked the state commissioner of public safety, Walt Monegan, to fire Wooten. He refused, so she fired him. He protested so loudly that the Republican-controlled state legislature appointed a retired prosecutor, Steve Branchflower, to investigate whether she abused her power as governor. Needless to say, Monegan is about to get a small army of reporters camped on his doorstep. It seems very strange indeed that McCain wants to be associated with someone under investigation for an ethics violation. The Democrats are going to say: "More of the same." Time will tell how this will play out. One can already envision the Vice Presidential TV debate featuring the long-time member and now chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee facing someone has has been governor for 2 years. Romney or Ridge could have held their own against Biden, but Palin is going to have a tough time.

In short, McCain is gambling that Palin's support among conservatives (where he needs help) and disgruntled Clinton supporters will offset voters who don't see her as qualified to be a heartbeat away from the Presidency. Despite the closeness of the national polls, McCain probably realized that he is behind (see the second graph on the Electoral coll. graph page) and needed something to shake things up. This might just do it.

Ari Melber (The Nation) takes a more balanced view: "Palin as McCain's Greatest Move."

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