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Friday, September 26, 2008

Palin: McCain Chess Move, Worthy Candidate, or Both?

McCain has come under fire, by some, for his selection of Sarah Palin as his Vice Presidential nomination. The suggestion is that his selection of Palin represents nothing more than a political chess move, aimed at swaying Hillary Clinton voters who remain undedicated to democratic presidential nominee, and junior senator from Illinois, Barack Obama. This politically savvy move, according to some, is proof that McCain is no longer the maverick he once was and is, instead, doing whatever is necessary to rally his party’s support.

Apparently, the critics miss the fact that athe appointment of a candidate can be BOTH a wise political move and a valid choice. It’s not as if McCain went and added a Hollywood celebrity to his roster to garner empty fanfare support and votes; nor is it as if he selected a Washington insider for the sole purpose of bringing his party together - like Obama did. Instead, he went and found the one republican, perhaps the only one in the entire country, that both accomplished his political ambition to attract more voters AND fulfilled his need for a proven reformer.

The recent media frenzy circling Palin is the result of a few basic fears. One, liberal-leaning media darling Obama, stands to lose ground if Palin comes off as a ‘good’ appointment; hence the untruthful reporting regarding her record as governor and mayor. Second, Palin is a staunch conservative who has rallied the Republican base; hence the untruthful reporting regarding her personal life. Third, like Obama, Palin is seen as ‘new blood’ and a ‘Washington outsider;’ hence the ‘gotcha’ questions in recent interviews aimed at discrediting her knowledge and experience.

Let’s look at these criticisms individually, shall we?

Regarding her record, several complaints have been raised regarding the claim in her speech that she said, “Thanks, but no thanks to that bridge to nowhere.”

Liberals argue, “Yeah, she was for it before she was against it.”

Yes, yes she was. Before she was appointed governor of her state, congress offered to give Alaska a couple hundred million dollars to build a bridge that would connect a small island with about 50 inhabitants to a nearby airport. When asked about the project, she seemed to think it was a good idea.

Who else thought it was a good idea?

Senators Biden and Obama, of course!

The aptly named ‘Bridge to Nowhere,’ came to vote in the senate twice. Both times, Obama and Biden supported the earmark. In fact, the second time the measure came to a vote, there was a request to redirect its funding to a bridge in New Orleans that had been destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Yet, Obama and Biden voted to keep the money in Alaska and neglect New Orleans.

Flash forward a couple of months and Palin is now Governor of her state and the Bridge to Nowhere has become the epitome of pork barrel spending, and has, as a consequence, lost support in congress. What does Palin do? SHE puts the final signature on the bill killing the project but manages to keep the money for other projects in Alaska.

What’s the significance?

When Obama and Biden were asked to sign off on the Bridge, they did. When Palin was asked, she didn’t. That is, quite literally, saying, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

But why did she still keep the money after she stopped the project?

The responsibilities of a governor are very different from those of a senator. Her job is to advocate for her state, and she has done that exceedingly well. The Senator’s job is to wisely allocate national funds. Obama and Biden failed at their objective, Palin did not. She has the highest approval rating of any governor in the country, all while cutting her state's spending 80%. She spent nearly half a billion less than her fellow Republican predecessor, and continues to cut spending at every turn. That's unheard of. That's reform. That's change. That’s a proven record of reform.

Let us also remember that there is a distinction between wasteful spending (pork barrel earmarks) and basic earmarks. Palin has cut half a BILLION in WASTEFUL earmark spending since becoming governor of Alaska. Further, McCain has never, in his 30 years in Washington, asked for a single earmark.

“But she still has the highest per capita earmark spending in the nation.”

Yes, yes she does. First, it takes time to reduce a budget and an administration’s spending. Though she’s been cutting spending incredibly fast, she can’t snap her fingers and make the wasteful projects of past governors instantly vanish. Second, again, there is a difference between a common earmark and a pork earmark. Palin has denounced wasteful earmarks, and McCain has denounced earmarks all together.

So, her record for reform stands.

Second, in regard to her reputation as a conservative, liberals felt the need to attack her unwedded, impregnated teenage daughter. Nice.

Really? Because her daughter went out and made a mistake, Palin is not fit to be vice president?

How can people in this country support Bill Clinton, who was cheating on his wife in the White House while actually serving as President of the United States with white house employees… but shun a woman, who has been with one man her whole life, because her daughter made a mistake? This doesn’t add up.

Palin was straight forward about her daughter's pregancy. The two young adults are getting married… what’s out of control here? The kid made a mistake that was out of Palin’s hands. Further, why should this blame fall on the working mother, rather than the husband, who was the 'stay at home dad,' if indeed we are to place unnecessary blame on anyone?

Perhaps you should see what Palin had to say on the subject instead of believing the tabloids…

Sarah Palin: "We have been blessed with five wonderful children who we love with all our heart and mean everything to us. Our beautiful daughter Bristol came to us with news that as parents we knew would make her grow up faster than we had ever planned. We're proud of Bristol's decision to have her baby and even prouder to become grandparents. As Bristol faces the responsibilities of adulthood, she knows she has our unconditional love and support."Bristol and the young man she will marry are going to realize very quickly the difficulties of raising a child, which is why they will have the love and support of our entire family. We ask the media to respect our daughter and Levi's privacy as has always been the tradition of children of candidates."

Well said mom.

Finally, in regards to her ability, experience, and knowledge, the media has tried going for Palin’s jugular. But let us not forget that Clinton was also a governor when he was elected president. Let's also remember that a governor and mayor have similar responsibilities to that of the president: they manage a budget, chief their respective military, oversee a cabinet, etc. Neither Obama nor Biden have done this. McCain, in his work as a diplomat and military leader, has had some executive experience.

Obama has been a community organizer (and left that community in massive debt), a state congressman (and voted 'present' 180 times instead of making a vote one way or the other), and a US senator (where he has spent most of his term running for president, never proposed or co-opted a major national bill, and has retained the most liberal voting record in the entire senate - that's isn't working across the aisle, that isn't change, that's more bipartisanship).

By contrast, McCain has voted against his party more than any other Republican senator, and co-opted several bills (with and without democrats).

If Palin is not qualified to be vice president, how in the world can anyone vote for Obama?

Even if McCain dies, god forbid, as early as day five of his presidency, Palin would have those 5 days preparation and exposure before being put in the oval office. That's five days more than Obama would ahve, if elected. She would have this, of course, on top of her previous executive experience.

Conversely, Obama has NO, I repeat NO, executive experience. If he's elected, not only does he have no executive experience and no military leadership preparation, but he will be taking his paper thin resume into the oval office on day one. So, unless McCain drops dead as soon as he's elected, Palin, by virtue of being the VICE presidential candidate and watching McCain as he executes in the presidential position, will have more exposure to Presidential responsibilities than Obama (even if we ignored that fact that she is already more qualified than Obama).

As Biden said himself, Obama isn’t ready to be president because the position does not leave room for “on the job training."

Face it critics, you’re going to have to debate the actual policies. McCain’s appointment of Palin WAS politically savvy. It WAS a political chess move. She HAS energized the base and attracted more female and independent voters. But she is also qualified for the position, at least as qualified as Clinton was when he took office and more qualified than Obama currently is. She is also an exact personality fit for McCain.

It’s the best of both worlds, folks. McCain made a smart pick that was conducive to his values. The two features of decision making need not be mutually exclusive and, in fact, are characteristic of the choices made by great leaders.

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