By Will Patching
McCain’s ploy to boost his flagging popularity by appointing so-called ‘beauty queen’ Sarah Palin as his vice-presidential sidekick was initially hailed by the mainstream media as a triumph of populism and a strike for feminism.
To some, the choice looked bold and fresh, complementing the hoary experienced senator: a relatively young, attractive woman, Palin appears to be the epitome of the American Dream – successfully pursuing a demanding career while bringing up a brood of children in a harsh frontier environment. A woman of wholesome American values, a small town citizen in touch with nature, an apple pie mom. She’s the girl next door, a real person – not another Washington suit but someone the public can relate to. A woman with strong principles and a fierce love of her country, a gun toting feminist, a poster child for the American way… The ideal Vice Presidential candidate.
How wrong they were.
Cynical politicians invite cynical punditry
Now the initial hype and flag waving Republican euphoria induced by this ‘pop idol’ presidential nominee has subsided the mainstream media is beginning to question McCain’s choice of running mate. In the space of just a few weeks the true extent of the vacuum between Palin’s ears has been exposed and McCain’s ill-conceived choice of running mate is acting as a magnifying glass exposing his increasingly desperate and dishonest grasp for the keys to the Whitehouse.
The Straight Talking senator, who ‘always puts his country first’, demonstrated appalling judgement by choosing this woman to be a potential commander-in-chief. At the age of 72, with a history of skin cancer and a body traumatised by wartime injuries – factors that ought to ensure his full medical details are made public despite his deliberate obstruction – McCain must know his choice of Vice President could all too easily become The President.
But the senator’s grab for power needed a boost and Palin certainly looked like she would provide it. In one fell swoop he hoped to scoop up the undecided rednecks distrustful of slick Obama and his ‘Muslim genes’, pander to the powerful evangelicals who’ve expressed doubts about his commitment to their blind faith, and, most importantly, secure the backing of those ‘disenfranchised’ by the loss of Hillary from the Democratic ticket: he created an elevator to whisk Palin through the glass ceiling and planned to drag those millions of women who vote with their vaginas along for the ride.
Fit for office?
His rather rash choice – an expedient selection from a lonely field of one – overlooked the following potentially devastating flaws in this disarmingly attractive hockey mom:
Lack of Genuine Executive Experience
McCain’s oft repeated canard aimed at Obama has more than a grain of truth when applied to his running mate. Republicans point to Palin’s experience as Alaska’s Governor – for all of twenty months – as evidence of her gubernatorial skills, but although it’s a large state it contains only two-thirds of a million people, ranking it 47th in population, and, despite its oil revenues, a pretty limited budget to match.
More worryingly, during her much touted two-term reign as mayor of Wasilla she demonstrated a total deficit of chief executive capability by hiring in a city administrator to do this rather undemanding job for her. The town’s population: 7028.
Avoidance of Scrutiny
Troopergate is not a side issue or a political football as the Republican media management machine would have us believe. Some simple questions need answering. Did Palin abuse her position by using her influence to demand the termination of her estranged brother-in-law simply because he offended her family? Did she then oust the Public Safety Commissioner for refusing to do her bidding?
The relevance of the answers is undeniable: her behaviour while governor is a reasonable indicator of her character and her fitness to hold the highest office in the land. The public has every right to know before they cast their votes, not in a few months when the issue will be deemed irrelevant.
Many Alaskans have stepped forward and confirmed Palin’s vindictiveness, her willingness to use her powerful status as a weapon against those who defy or offend her. If the Troopergate allegations are politically motivated smears as Republicans claim then why not hasten a legitimate independent inquiry to disprove them as such? Instead Palin is avoiding scrutiny while hiding behind a hastily constructed Republican guard. Surely the American public deserves a degree of due diligence in scrutinizing the people who aspire to govern them – but where’s the media outcry?
Corruption and Dishonesty
Palin claims to be a champion of ‘the people’ fighting corrupt government, pointing to the ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ as evidence of the same. In reality she initially campaigned for the allocation of some $250m of state funds for this white elephant project (the bridge aimed to connect the remote Gravina Island to the mainland for a cost amounting to some $5m dollars per head for the 50 people living there), and her anti-corruption credentials have been severely dented by her continued dishonesty in claiming the contrary.
What other lies are there in her fabricated VP persona? It is unlikely we will ever know the full extent as she regularly used her personal email to pursue official business, and therefore complete records of her correspondence while in office can never be subpoenaed. Such a deliberate ploy to muddy the waters regarding her actions while in power must raise questions about her fitness to rule.
And how about her record of appointing her chums to lucrative jobs – people with little experience to justify such appointments? Just one example, Palin’s school friend Franci Havemeister, a realtor, noted her childhood love of cows as qualification for her elevation to the position of director of the State Division of Agriculture, once again proving the adage ‘it’s not what you know, but who you know’. Franci’s price tag: a trifling $95,000 a year.
It’s obviously nice knowing you, Sarah…
Insularity and Ignorance
Palin’s facile belief that the proximity of Alaska to Russia is some sort of indication of her fitness to be President is mind boggling. She has no worthwhile foreign policy experience to speak of; in fact she has not much experience of anything foreign having felt no need of a passport until a couple of years ago.
Although Palin’s handlers have allowed the media to undertake only a few interviews her responses have amply demonstrated her worldview is similar to that of a great many Americans – insular and ignorant. Such a widespread cocktail is dangerous enough, particularly when polluted with patriotism and paranoia, but it seems these traits do not disqualify anyone from high office these days. Quite the contrary; much of the voting public regards educated ‘elite’ progressives as untrustworthy, apparently preferring to stumble towards an even more dumbed down presidency than Bush’s.
Although many Americans are willing to allow the distinction between state and church to be blurred by those in power, most people would be shocked if they knew Palin was an end times nut who thinks she will be wafted to heaven with her fellow evangelists when the world shortly descends into an apocalyptic war. To put her anywhere near the button that could create such a scenario is quite simply frightening – particularly to those of us who have no say in American politics.
So, why aren’t the traditional media exposing this character defect? Could it be that religious fervour surrounding ‘God and Country’ has taken hold in the States to such an extent that criticism of any branch of the Christian church is seen as unpatriotic, no matter how loony their beliefs?
And although Palin’s willingness to be blessed to prevent the influence of ‘witchcraft’ in her life may merely demonstrate the incredible mingling of superstition and faith that some modern American Christians adhere to, if the same African priest had performed the ceremony over Obama… well, you can imagine the headlines.
Incidentally Bishop Muthee, the ‘modern’ Kenyan witch hunter whose prayers Palin attributes her success in politics, hounded a woman from a suburb of Nairobi after accusing her of witchcraft and blaming her for all manner of ills, thereby whipping the locals into such a frenzy they wanted her stoned to death. No doubt this evangelical footsoldier at war with Satan is looking forward to his invitation to the Whitehouse.
Palin’s desire to see the Christian creation myth taught in schools to combat Darwin’s scientific theory of evolution demonstrates her commitment to retrogressive thinking. That is bad enough but her ambition to promote ignorance does not end there: she also demands that state funded sex education is denied to schoolchildren, preferring to preach abstinence instead, despite the consequences of such puerile Puritanism adversely affecting her own family.
Perhaps some timely advice on contraception would have prevented her daughter ‘falling pregnant’ at the age of seventeen… The self-confessed ‘fucking redneck’ boyfriend, a school buddy who declared on his Myspace site he had no desire to father children, clearly lacked basic education otherwise he’d have used a condom to prevent the inevitable outcome. Perversely the Republicans are hoping the media coverage of the resultant shotgun wedding will somehow help their cause and are cynically aiming to cram the event in before the election…
Consider how the mainstream media would have reacted if it was a black presidential candidate’s teenaged daughter who had been knocked up by a feckless schoolfriend, but Palin’s daughter’s mishap has been spun into a positive example of traditional Republican ‘pro-life family values’. By all accounts Palin did not give her daughter (or the reluctant father-to-be) any choice in the matter, so the hapless and inevitably dysfunctional couple will-be-getting-married-and-having-the-baby-and-will-live-happily-ever-after. Except statistically the ‘happily-ever-after’ bit is very doubtful.
Palin’s Downs syndrome baby is compelling evidence of her personal commitment to the anti-abortion cause, but although ‘pro-life’ sounds benign, it is not: this potential President insists abortion is plain wrong in every instance – even where pregnancy is the result of a vicious rape or incest. Palin’s promotion of these ‘family values’ will disempower women, denying them choice, by taking control of their pregnant bodies away from them.
Despite his professed anti-war stance, Vietnam veteran McCain likes to sing along to the catchy ancient Beach Boys hit ‘Barbara Ann’ while substituting the words, “Bomb, bomb, bomb. Bomb, bomb Iran!”, but even he might consider reining in his feisty number two who seems intent on fomenting a holy war. In June at an Alaskan church Palin told the congregation to pray for US soldiers as “our national leaders are sending them out on a task from God.”
Oh dear… Is it really so difficult to find a Presidential candidate able and willing to engage his or her brain before speaking?
The Great American Myth
The list goes on but there are already plenty of examples on display confirming Palin’s total lack of suitability for the role she’s had thrust upon her. Already some of the GOP elite have realized she is a liability and are trying to pressure McCain into dumping her.
Maybe they’ll get their way and Palin will bow out gracefully by claiming she wants more time with her newborn…
Or perhaps she’ll carry on championing the Great American Myth regardless, and eventually prove that even someone bereft of qualifications, intelligence, ethics, experience and talent, really can get to the very top in the great US of A.
Gawd ‘elp us all if it turns out to be true…
Will Patching is a reformed workaholic mammonist with a total lack of respect for the babblings of the mainstream media and a healthy suspicion of all politicians’ words and actions. His eclectic writings range from blogs on politics and current affairs to short stories and thriller novels. He can usually be found exploring the South China Seas from his base in Thailand or, more easily, at www.willpatching.com