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Wednesday, September 03, 2008
When Do You Draw The Line...
...especially when it's a line in the unforgiving and sandy world of politics? And where? Do you stop when you just reach into the personal life of the individual in question? Well, the media didn't when it came to Bill Clinton, but considering there was also a possible 'abuse of power' thing there considering the venue in which the peccadillo occurred... But I could separate that personal thing from him as President. I'm having a little difficulty doing that with the latest issue that has been burning up the media lately.

Before I go on, I need to state something very clearly. You, my readers and my friends, come here to see what I have to say about something. I'm usually quite clear in what I say, but when it comes to politics people like to try and infer things that are not there in typeset and font on the screen. DH thinks I'm putting a target on my back with this blog, so be it. But the only thing you should take away from here is my opinion as I've stated it and nothing else. There is no hidden meaning or agenda or anything implied. What I'm saying is what I'm saying and if I ask a question, it's likely a rhetorical one that I will either answer, or I'm simply curious about. It's not for anyone to think that I'm trying to lead someone down a path with said questions. And don't use this as an opportunity to put me in a box of where my political ideology lies either. It is what it is - my viewpoint on a situation we cannot escape because of the importance of the situation and the media coverage. Nothing more.

Last week, Republican candidate John McCain selected the name that would forever be tied with his for the 2008 election season. Sarah Palin.

When I first heard it, I applauded. Someone picked a woman! Hooray! Politics forever changed because there is going to be something definitely different no matter the outcome this time (yes, I do remember Geraldine Ferraro - she's a distant relation by marriage so she cannot be forgotten). Then I started thinking and reacting and doing a little research and a little discussion with DH.

A reactionary choice, we agreed, on the basis that Obama didn't pick Hillary or some other woman as his running mate. A surprising choice, considering the other more accomplished and experienced names that were on the rumored short list. Why not Ridge, or Romney, or Hutchinson? Why Palin?

More importantly, WHO IS SHE? And how did she manage to be the one that edged out the more experienced names?

What made her say yes, other than two answers that people might throw out first? (1 being it's the honor of doing this for her country and 2 being it's the most amazing promotion she could ever get in the world of politics with her limited experience. At least that's my opinion.)

I think that question is still floating along a lot of people's minds, despite the claimed balance that she brings to McCain's ticket. But it's not necessarily that I think she's the wrong choice for him - I think she's made the wrong choice... for her and her family.

But first let me say something - I think she is a wrong choice because of her limited experience. There are others out there who were on the short list that have a lot more experience in government than she does - more years as a Governor, Senator or Representative, more populous states, more everything. Even McCain's own people are having a hard time defending her legislative experience - just check out Tucker Bounds' discussion with Campbell Brown on CNN (if it's not up any longer on just search YouTube for it - it's worth a watch). He couldn't give her the one example that she wanted and instead spun the whole discussion to be vague that Palin has more experience than Obama, and that when Election Day comes the only thing people care about is McCain vs Obama. Right.

I can't *wait* for the Vice-Presidential debate and really wish it were being held tomorrow (we have to wait until Oct 2). I still want to know what major executive, legislative and foreign policy experience she has because being the Commander in Chief of the Alaskan National Guard certainly doesn't equal foreign policy experience and neither does being neighbors with Canada and Russia.

Keep in mind, she's only the Commander of the Alaskan National Guard in times of peace. And the White House (as of January) has the power to step in and call up the guard in case of a natural disaster or state emergency - that power does not solely rest with state governors any longer. There is also an Adjutant General of the Guard - that honor belongs to a Major General Campbell and seemingly he has more control than Palin (although I could have read my source - the Alaska military/veterans page - incorrectly), and neither of them are in charge of the guard when they are being deployed for national and international situations nor are they briefed about such situations. Let's add to that this - in recent memory I don't believe Alaska has had any natural disasters in the 20 months she's been governor.

20 months. Is that all? And this is what they expect an experienced VP candidate to be? At least Biden's been around for awhile (although he's pretty old too, and that concerns me as well).

Oh, and has anyone mentioned that while she's been governor she launched a lawsuit (that is still pending) over polar bears being on the endangered species list. The reason? Them being on the list will slow development in the state. Oil and gas development (which she's for). Which brings me around to my next statements...

She worries me on her politics because this is the person who would succeed McCain should he drop dead or otherwise become incapacitated while in office and that's something the world should be concerned about, which is probably part of the reason she's being tried in the press so carefully. McCain is 72 - he is older than Ronald Reagan, who took office just before his 70th birthday. The Presidency prematurely ages you - just look at him, the two Bushes, and Clinton and what they looked like at the start and at the end.

Not pretty.

The same is true of any President in recent history (excepting Kennedy, but he's an exception to the rule having been assassinated at such a young age). The same will happen to whoever takes office in January whether it be McCain or Obama (who has his own problems with rumors of death threats should he take office, but that's probably standard when you run for President). Oh, and McCain has had 4 cancer scares - stress isn't good for fighting that if he gets a recurrence. This is not the person I want stepping into McCain's shoes - she would not be someone that I vote for if she were running for anything I'm eligible to vote her. It's not because of her party - it's because her ideology and mine do not match up and the VP ideology is just as important as the Presidential candidates.

But let's get back to Palin and her choice.

She is the mother of 5 children ranging in age from 5 months to 18 years. The oldest is being shipped off to Iraq after patriotically enlisting in the army on Sept 11, 2007. Her youngest was born with Down Syndrome. Do I have a problem with the fact that she's a mother? Not at all. I think it's awesome that a mother of 5 can "do it all" - or any woman for that matter, no matter the number of kids (and I consider 0 to be a number in that statement).

I do have a problem with everything that surrounds child #5. This is a child with special needs who has had controversy surround him since before he was born. Palin had an amnio and found out the child had Down Syndrome and did not abort - that's fine, because to do so would have spelled the end of her political career with the Republican party, I get that and it's her decision to have made. I will say that I admire that decision because it's not one I could make myself. That aside, she continues through the pregnancy, starts leaking amniotic fluid while in Texas at a conference a month prior to her due date, finishes the conference and heads for the airport. In a stunning display of irresponsibility (or maybe selfishness) she does not tell the flight crew that 1) she is leaking and 2) that she is 36 weeks along (a point when she should not be flying, and apparently did not look as far along as she was) after supposedly calling her doctor about the situation. What if something had happened on that flight?

She's taken criticism for that not just because it's a risky pregnancy with a known outcome (Down's) for her child, but because other doctors have said there's no difference between leaking and a full breach of waters - either way the risk for infection is about the same. Then she has the baby, safely thankfully, and is back at work after 3 days.

I understand that working as the governor of the state is not the same job as regular Joe or Mary Sue out there, but taking only 3 days to recover is a little extreme even after a 5th child. At least I think so.

Now she has signed up for a very significant high stress position with this little baby to care for. I initially called her neglectful. I think that may have been harsh - but I do think it's irresponsible. I've gotten called out for not adding her husband into the equation and for being sexist about this. Well, how can I add her husband in - nothing has come out as to whether or not he's going to quit his job and historically we've not really seen that from other "second ladies" - of course, most of them have been political wives so they've continued writing books, or speaking on causes important to them. This guy is a production operator for BP - do we know for sure he's going to leave his job?

As for being sexist, please. I would ADORE a woman in top or second seat of power if she were the right woman for the job. That includes mothers too - but just because she's a mother of 5 doesn't mean that she's ready to 'mother the country'. And that's not me saying she should just stay home and be pregnant and barefoot. She is the governor of a rather large state - I admire that, but it's got more moose than people, and she's still inexperienced, in my opinion.

The thought has crossed my mind as to whether she resign after a year on the job (give or take a couple of months) citing stress or her family's needs and we'll have someone scarier in the second seat of power? Or she'll pull out of this campaign based on the criticism she's received. Perhaps she's just McCain's tool right now in order to gain the votes of married women and conservative Democrats who don't support Obama (but who did support Hillary). I think that's highly insulting though, to think that women would just flock to vote for McCain because he's got a woman as his second.

And let's not get into the rhetoric about the VP just being a figurehead, they do state visits, etc. If they win she will be the first female VP of the United States and she doesn't strike me as the type to sit in the corner and smile prettily at the heads of state who come to visit. I suspect she'll take advantage of the situation and work it as hard as she can. To be a role model for women and girls everywhere. That will mean overdrive on the job and even less time for her family.

Why did she make this decision to accept when there is her husband and baby to consider (because will *he* be raising the child while she's in office? - something else I would object to because special children need both parents). And before someone condemns me who just stumbled upon his or who doesn't know my personal history let me educate you: I grew up with a "special needs" sibling. My younger brother is autistic and we're not talking your garden variety 'Rain Man' savant or a manageable Asperger's here. Nor are we talking about a diagnosis of the moment because Autism has been a popular diagnosis lately. We're talking about a 30 year old diagnosis here...

We're talking the hard end of the spectrum where violent outbursts occur if he gets too excited, he does not communicate effectively with anyone despite socialization attempts when he was a child, and my parents did not trust the social workers or system that are out there, put him in a regular school and attempted to manage his education themselves. They're aging and he's nowhere near being able to go to a halfway situation to be a productive member of society. They're hoping I'll take him in when they die. They're hoping wrongly since this was a boy who threw me down the stairs when he was 12 and I was 15 and now is almost a foot taller than I and outweighs me by 100 pounds. And I live in a house with stairs and young daughters. Not. Gonna. Happen.

But I digress. Let's get back to Palin.

Then there's the latest news - her 17 year old daughter is 5 months pregnant and is planning to keep the baby and marry the father. I'm not going to pass judgment on the daughter, as that's her business, but I think Palin's family needs her more right now than the country does. The Republican party, which originally sold Palin as another one of the people who knows mortgages and bills and family life, is stating that this will make her "a real person like all the rest of us." Right - I want my oldest daughter to be pregnant at 17... Ok, that's going to far. Maybe.

Hello? Wasn't she that already, a regular person, based on all the press? Working mom, 5 kids (one with special needs), moose hunter and runner of 10Ks when she was a kid, former commercial fisherman, sports reporter, Miss Congeniality in the Miss Wasilla pageant and second in the Miss Alaska pageant - that's just like the rest of mainstream US, right? Sure.

Interesting though... for a party that has prided itself on family values, morality, and hard work, with the issues in her family that are coming to light (including the investigation into her own 'abuse of power') she's almost a poster child for any side *but* the Republican party. Is that the kind of "balance" they were seeking?

Look, what I'm trying to say is not that I'm taking whacks at a political candidate although to be fair I could whack a little on Joe Biden if that makes people feel better. It's more that a lot has been made of Palin in the press trying to sell her to the American people, and I think that she's made an irresponsible choice considering everything that's going on in her family.

It's not that a working mom can't do it all, or that the mom of a special needs child can't work either. It's that this woman, with this job that by definition is a significant and stress filled one, has made this decision at this juncture of her family's life. And yes, I would say the same thing about any other man or woman in the same position no matter the party - Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Breathairian, or the Purple With Orange Polka Dots Party. She's going to have pressure on her from all sides, if the ticket wins, and her focus will be drawn away from her family, which is not fair to them.

It's the right time for a woman to be on the ticket, but I don't think it's Sarah Palin's time all things considered.