Saturday, August 30, 2008

McCain's Choice of Sarah Palin

I remember telling my parents a few weeks ago to watch for a darkhorse Republican veep choice of one Sarah Palin of Alaska. The reason for this was that, if Barack Obama had a lead and a good showing at the Democratic National Convention, which I think he did in a big way (and had an estimated record 42 million people watch his speech, when you include the PBS audience to the reported 38 million estimate), John McCain would try to solidify his base and do something that would not necessarily be possible with any other Republican choice - have someone on the ticket who had a middle class upbringing that would connect with middle class America. Sarah Palin has an "American Dream" type story, which can also be said about Obama and his veep choice, Joe Biden. These three came from average families and reached the top levels of government through hard work. In addition, McCain would be able to cause a stir with this "maverick" type choice, as he tries desperately to get back his preferred status amongst voters. The Dems effectively showed how, with the exception of a few instances he broke from his party, McCain is someone who is a loyal Bush Republican, voting over 90+% of the time with the White House, and who has flip-flopped his way to a more right-wing position solely to get elected. A previous post addresses how he has flipped his stance on countless issues over the years, which provides a record of doing whatever it takes to get a gig and being unprincipled, which runs contrary to the image he has somehow been able to build.

It is becoming clear McCain cannot win a debate on issues. The one issue he had placed an emphasis on, an argument that Obama does not have the experience to be commander in chief, now is off the table entirely because of his selection of Palin. Can anyone truly say with a straight face that she has credentials to be commander in chief? I don't think McCain will be able to attract very many disgruntled Hillary Clinton female supporters once Palin's record and stances on issues becomes clear. In fact, I wonder how many will follow through with threats of voting for McCain as they realize that would be the ultimate slap in the face of the woman they love, since McCain's stance on issues runs contrary to what Clinton believes. Pro-choice women won't vote for McCain-Palin. And, if anyone can let me know if this is correct, a stance of Palin that worries me is she is a creationist. (I had heard a report that claimed she supports teaching creationism in high school science classes...need to find out if this is indeed true)

Palin is a major supporter of Big Oil, who supports drilling just about anywhere they can. Perhaps many Americans are tired of Big Oil having direct influence in the White House. And with one of her very few noteworthy political accomplishments, where she gained a 'maverick' label, taxed oil company profits in Alaska, McCain loses one more attack on Obama's plan to have some version of a windfall profits tax on oil profits, which will be used to help fund his $150 billion Manhattan-type Project for energy development over a ten year period. (Obama wants this generation to follow the lead of the previous two generations with a massive scientific push - the Manhattan Project of my grandparents' generation to develop nuclear technology, and my parents' generation that developed the space age technology - where we develop an widely varied energy technology portfolio that puts us on a path where we greatly reduce oil and gas dependency and completely revamp our energy infrastructure and outdated power grid) As a side note, I think Obama's energy plan is the correct path to take, since it addresses numerous, intertwined issues at once: the economy (including manufacturing base), national security (reducing dependence on oil, most of which comes from foreign sources), the lack of a robust energy policy and strategy (let's face it, we have never really had one), our science and technology foundation and infrastructure, and job production. The McCain-Palin energy plan will be primarily to drill more offshore, and have massive investments in nuclear power plants. I do think we will need to build some more nuclear plants, and that nuclear power is grossly over-feared by the public, but construction of such plants takes an enormous amount of time and is publicly, and therefore politically, resisted, meaning there will be great resistance in a Democratic Congress...nuclear power expansion is simply not a realistic solution in the current political environment. I still believe someone at some point needs to publicly mention that offshore drilling, which has gained some popularity in the electorate, is not a preferred choice for a completely overlooked reason - we are going to reach a point where we will need ocean water as a primary drinking source, and will need to one day build desalination plants to address looming a fresh water crisis that is developing in many locations around the country and already is a major crisis in many parts of the world. It would take one drilling accident to disrupt that future source of drinking water. The McCain-Palin energy strategy is not, in my mind, a viable choice in the short-term, nor the long-term with offshore drilling.

The selection of Palin is obviously a purely political one. It does not follow a mold of being a responsible selection, which would be one where the candidate has a primary responsibility to put country first and have someone who can effectively take over the job should something happen to McCain. This includes having someone where the average American citizen has confidence the veep can immediately step into the job - I don't think most Americans will have such confidence with Palin, who truly has no national or international political experience. And this is, in the case of McCain, more important than ever, for he would be the oldest person to become President if he wins (and has already had several medical issues, including skin cancer). This is a case of McCain being perhaps a little desperate, and wanting to do anything he can to get the job, whether it is in the best interest of the country or not. He is counting on getting in better with the GOP evangelical base (which will like this selection), and trying to get a few more women to vote for him. He will rely on right-wing fringe groups (e.g. swift boat groups) to unleash numerous attacks on Obama (even though McCain was entirely against this type of politics when it happened to him in the South Carolina primary in the 2000 race against George W. Bush, and more recently promised a purely issues based campaign, which has fallen by the wayside already). The McCain strategy now rests on a hope, and an all-out fear and smear campaign.

All of this seems to be falling right in line with a quote in the movie "The American President," where the Republican candidate "is concerned about two things, and two things only - making you afraid of it, and telling you who is to blame for it - that, ladies and gentlemen, is how they win elections." This falls perfectly in line with the Rovian campaigns over the past couple decades...can the country afford it to work this time?

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