Friday, August 29, 2008

Maverick McCain

You'd think, following Obama's speech to over 80,000 loyal Democrats, that all attention would be on America's first African-American presidential candidate - but in a perfectly executed manoeuvre, rival John McCain just yanked the carpet out from under Obama's feet by announcing his surprising pick for Vice President.

It wasn't Lieberman or Romney, like people suspected. In fact, McCain gave the nod to a little known Alaskan politician who has proven herself to be almost as much of a maverick as he is.

The Republican Vice Presidential Nominee is Sarah Palin, the current Governor of Alaska.

Both the left and the right are going to be reeling from this decision, but I think McCain's hit a home run. Palin is an incredibly shrewd choice - notching up the rivalry between the Obama and McCain camps.

Don't know anything about Sarah Palin? You're not alone. Despite being governor of the largest state in the union, not that many people are familiar with her. For the benefit of the uninitiated, therefore, here's a very brief bio:

Sarah Palin was born in Idaho, but moved to Alaska when she was an infant and has never looked back.

She grew up in the small town of Wasilla, where she hiked and hunted with her father and earned the nickname 'Barracuda' on the basketball court, where she captained the team and won the championship in 1982 despite playing on a broken ankle.

As charming and beautiful as she was competitive and athletic, Sarah came second in 1984's Miss Alaska competition and won a scholarship to college and the title of Miss Congeniality. Her degree in Journalism, combined with her good looks, rewarded her with a sports reporter job on local television, before she entered local politics as a councillor in Wasilla.

This is the point at which Sarah's story really gets interesting - and her strengths as a VP become apparent.

Palin complained of corruption and wasteful spending by Wasilla's mayor and challenged his for his seat in the 1996 election - winning the close race based on her promise of reducing property tax in the town by 60%. Unlike most politicians, Sarah actually made good on her election promise and was voted in for a second term by a huge margin.

Palin's political star rose stratospherically. Shortly afterwards, she became Ethics Commissioner of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission - a position she was meant to keep nice and quiet in. Instead, Palin fulfilled her duties admirably, exposing the corruption of Republican state chairman Randy Ruedrich and former Alaska Attorney General Gregg Renkes.

They both resigned - and Palin cemented her reputation as a scrupulously principled politician who didn't mind facing off against corrupt elements within her own party.

It was that reputation that allowed her to defeat incumbent Governor Murkowski in the gubernatorial primaries - and then claim the position herself despite being outspent and outmaneuvered by her Democratic rival. In 2006, Palin became Alaska's youngest governor at just 42 years old.

Since then, she's been exemplary in that position - killing wasteful projects like the famous Bridge to Nowhere and showing that same maverick spirit by distancing herself from fellow Republican politicians like Ted Stevens (which was an excellent decision, since he's being indicted on federal charges for financial indiscretion.)

In Alaska, Sarah Palin is a well respected - and well loved - figure. I don't think it'll take long for the rest of America to share that opinion of her.

McCain's Maverick

The biggest weakness in McCain's current campaign are the accusations that he's 'Bush 2.0.' The appointment of Sarah Palin to his campaign will help deflate that accusation, since she's about a removed from the Republican party elite as it's possible to get.

Her career has been fueled by throwing corrupt or lazy Republican colleagues onto the fire. She's illustrated time and time again that she has zero tolerance for party political bullshit.

That being said, her appointment will also be an olive branch to the more conservative elements of the Republican party, who are concerned about McCain's stance on abortion rights and same-sex marriages. Sarah Palin is staunchly pro-life, pro death penalty and helped push for an amendment to the Constitution of Alaska that defined marriage as between 'a man and a woman.'

That being said, she's also in support of equal rights for gays and mentions that she has 'several gay friends,' which might go some way towards placating any moderates scared off by the more bigoted extremes of the Republican party.

On a more personal level, Sarah Palin is simply a great gal. She's a good Christian lass, which will appeal to the evangelical voters, and is a huntin', fishin', meat eating outdoors girl with a lifetime membership to the National Rifle Association.

Plus, did we mention that she's really rather yummy? Tall, slender, athletic and brunette. I think I share the opinion of many red-blooded men - we wouldn't be too upset if we were trapped on a mountain with Sarah Palin and had to snuggle with her for warmth.

The Election

Sarah Palin is an astoundingly astute choice for McCain's VP. A capable, confident woman with good, old fashioned Republican ideals. Once people get wind of her colourful life story, I wouldn't be surprised if a few of Hillary's supporters lean towards voting for her.

Could she tip the balance in McCain's favour? Probably not - history has shown that the Vice Presidential nomination rarely makes much of an impact on the election.

Regardless of what happens during this election, though, I think it's raised an interesting possibility. Hillary Clinton was determined to be America's first woman president. My bet is on Sarah Palin instead.


ck said...

Yep it was some move. Great post, just disagree with one part. While VP's rarely change elections, this time is different.

Had McCain got a liberal VP, he'd lose 10% of that Republican base that he HAS to have to win. Now I'm 95% sure I'll be voting for them.

The Chemist said...

I think people make a little too much of Veeps. They are never truly instrumental in a campaign anyway.

The fact that she votes the wrong way on issues like abortion is precisely why I don't think women from the Hillary crowd are going to be drawn to her.

The assumption that ovaries vote for ovaries is more than a little flawed.

If anything, I think Obama's biggest danger is a failure to present himself as anything significantly different from McCain.

Becky said...


I have to disagree with the chemist's comment...and I didn't even come here to do that.

To say that someone votes "the wrong way" on an issue is ridiculous.

I see a vote as simply that...a vote...a nod in favor of or against...but not right or wrong.

Wrong...well, save that for the act of abortion itself. Pulling helpless babies (they have beating hearts by the time most people know they are pregnant) out of the safety of a mother's womb...not to help them, but to KILL them...well, that is WRONG.

But then again, I am just a conservative nut job. And, man, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Thanks for the interesting article on the VP choice. I had heard nothing of her...and it was enlightening and hopefully will be a shrewd move for McCain!

Oh, and since I don't have testicles...that blows the testicles vote for testicles theory as well! Sorry Chemist!

The Maid

Roland Hulme said...

hi Maid! Thanks for dropping by!

I think The Chemist's comment about Palin voting the 'wrong way' on abortion means 'the wrong way' according to Hillary's supporters (who are mostly pro-choice..)

I think Dems and Republicans are united in wanting to reduce abortions - just opposed in how best to do that. Better sex education and more choices for pregnant women worked during Clinton's administration.

I am against abortions, of course, but I don't think overturning Roe vs. Wade or banning abortion is the right choice. 4 million women a year have abortions - and if you made it illegal, I believe the majority of them would just have illegal abortions. That doesn't reduce the number of babies aborted AND exposes these women to the risks of unlicensed, illegal abortion clinics.

I hope Republicans think it's more important the reduce abortions than to win an 'on paper' victory and get abortion banned. If abortion was made illegal, but millions of women still had them, it would be a hollow and fake victory.

I think more good can be done by keeping abortion legal (up to three months, anyway) and investing in sex education, planned parenthood and advocating adoption.

In time, hopefully we can educate future generations about effective birth control so there is no need for abortion at all, because nobody has an unplanned pregnancy.

The Chemist said...

The "ovaries for ovaries" comment means that I think it's wrong to insinuate that women will vote for women just because they're women.

The other thing is no one actually stands on a soapbox and makes a call for abortions to happen at an accelerated pace. Let's not get dramatic. As far as most Hillary supporters are concerned, they are pro-choice.

To say that there is no right or wrong on an issue is what is truly ridiculous. There are some very clear arenas where one can earnestly say that everyone who disagrees is a goofball or is otherwise not seeing clearly. This is the way it is with a lot of issues, not least of which Iraq, civil liberties, and separation of church and state.

For the record, I would like to see Roe vs. Wade overturned not because I disagree with it's implications, but because it was a case of legislation from the bench. I would instead like to see it replaced by a stronger constitutional amendment.

Finally, and for the record, the idea of the heartbeat providing evidence of life was discredited by the medical community in the 1960's, and we decided the brain was the true seat of the self. Of course, I can't decide when life begins for anyone, but then neither can anyone else, hence the idea that people should be free to make that decision for themselves.

paisley penguin said...

As a person who usually votes Republican I have to say McCain was not floating my boat. His choice of a woman was interesting and it's got everyone talking which breathes new life in to his campaign.

I did not know much about her before reading this post and am grateful for the information. This is a jumping off point for me to learn more.

I'm excited there is a woman candidate - but this is not he first time either. The glass ceiling seems to have several new cracks in it. However, just because we both happen to have ovaries does not cement my vote for her and McCain.

I personally feel that Roe vs Wade is not nearly in the forefront of what this next administration should be concentrating on. I don't disagree it's an important issue, for me though I am more interested in what is happening with Iraq, the environment and our economy.

For now I am going to mull it over during a nice pigskin competition. :)

PQG said...

Pulling helpless babies (they have beating hearts by the time most people know they are pregnant) out of the safety of a mother's womb...not to help them, but to KILL them...well, that is WRONG.

A woman decides to kill the embryo or fetus she is carrying for a variety of reasons. I'm guessing the most common reason is that the woman thinks that carrying and giving birth to the child would decrease the quality of her life. Often women can't face this fact and invent other reasons such as: the child would be (1) unloved or (2) not properly taken care of or (3) couldn't possibly enjoy life with Down's Syndrome and is thus better off not being born.

Keeping or increasing the quality of our lives is also the most common reason all of us are willing to kill or maim other people (including babies) and other living things. What do you think wars are all about?

Here too, we cannot face the fact and invent reasons such as: (1) deposing tyrants and promoting democracy and free-market capitalism or (2) bringing Jesus, Allah, or Marx to the infidels or (3) saving a minority from ethnic cleansing.

The sad reality is that others die so we can live better. Other than the delusional assertions of the universal benovolence of our violence, when has it ever been any different?

Quantum_Flux said...

Please tell the McCain/Palin Campaign (preferrably politely) why teaching creationism in our public schools around America is superstitious and is not in our nation's best interests. These are the feelers McCain has out there, the way in which Americans can have a voice and be heard by his campaign:

Contact his campaign directly here:

Or go to his blogs and leave a polite message about the subject matter wherever appropriate:

Remember, McCain does a lot of things right and is a great heroic war veteran who genuinely puts his country first, but Creationism is one key area where he is completely wrong and could potentially create a major setback for American students and businesses. We can't let America fall behind foriegn countries in the departments of Science and Technology because of his superstitious beliefs.

Coffee Bean said...

I've been aware of Palin for some time now. I do not think that McCain was going to the Hillary supporters. Quite the opposite in fact. With his choice of Palin he has probably won over the conservative crowd. I find his choice to be quite brilliant... along with the timing of the announcement. This election just got a lot more interesting!

One of the worries if the McCain/Palin ticket is to win... is the whole supreme court justice aspect and the fear of Roe v Wade being overturned. What many fail to realize is that by having Roe v Wade overturned will not make abortion illegal. It will only turn the decision of whether it is legal or not back to the individual states.

As for the argument that all of the people that would have had legal abortions will then seek out illegal ones... it doesn't hold water with me. Yes, there will be a certain number that do, however, there will also be a good percentage of those that will not get one because it is illegal. Just by virtue of the fact that it is legal... legitimizes it... To assume that the number of women currently seeking abortions would be the same that would seek illegal abortions is silly. If most people did not honor our laws we would be living in anarchy.

There is something very wrong in our overly sexualized society. Yes, we are sexual beings but that is only part of what makes us who we are. There is so much more to life than that. It is almost as if it is paramount to extol the rights of people to have sex without consequence... of any kind. Isn't sex something that is private? Afterall, people don't just go at it in the middle of the day on their front lawn.

Also, since when does the decision to deem whether a law is appropriate or not get decided upon by how many people they think will break it? This should never have been a federal issue! This is a state by state issue. To force a state that is mostly inhabited by those who are morally opposed to abortion is wrong... To take money from people who are opposed through taxes and use that to fund abortions is wrong. I don't know if that last statement is accurate or not... I'm not sure how the abortions are funded state by state, but I imagine that some of our tax dollars go there.

Look, I am obviously pro-life. I believe life begins at conception. I have never had an abortion but I personally know of many who have and know of the heartbreak that happens as a result of them. People are not told of the behind the scenes destruction. They are not told about the women who had abortions and then faced fertility issues later. They are not told about the teenagers FORCED by their parents to abort their babies. They are not told about how it might feel later in life when they hold the child they didn't abort and are wracked with guilt over the child they did abort. They are not told about the emotional costs AT ALL. One of my best friends in high school had an abortion when we were seniors... two weeks later the father of that child was killed in a motorcycle accident. The devastation of it all... A couple of years ago I held a friend as she sobbed uncontrollably in my arms when she told me she had an abortion 19 years before that NO ONE knew about and how she hated herself over it.

My heart breaks for the women who are broken and unable to forgive themselves. I have yet to meet a single woman who is at peace with their decision to abort a pregnancy. And I know a few that had more than one.

To me... my concern does not lie with those that would seek out illegal abortions. If, by having Roe v Wade overturned it meant that the lives of some women and children would be saved, I'm for it. The truth is that abortion is seen by many as a viable back for an unplanned pregnancy. It stands to reason, for me, that people would be a lot more careful about pregnancy protection if that back up were removed.

That's just my 2 cents.

Becky said...

I realize that I am not of the most popular of opinions here on this blog...but I do still stand by the fact that life begins...even if only cell by conception. It is my opinion...OPINION...that abortion is wrong. For many reasons.

All that aside, I absolutely agree that ONE of the things that is needed is further education in regards to pregnancy, abortion, etc. Many decisions are made out of fear...and often abortion is too permanent an answer for a "temporary" problem. Whether a mother chooses to keep or adopt out her child, well, the ramifications of such a choice are a lot less damaging to her in the long run than abortion can be. (I share some of Coffee Bean's sentiments here on the post traumatic stress associated with is a huge issue...that seems to be swept under the rug.)

And to the dear chemist...I never said that there was no right or wrong on an issue...I was merely stating that it is rare for the two parties to agree on right and wrong...I certainly have clear and defined personal opinions and convictions as to what is right and wrong. But I also am wise enough to know that one cannot legislate matters of morality. (My moral compass is obviously not the same as others'.) And unfortunately that is where abortion falls for many...they think of it as a sketchy moral issue...needing to be left up to "personal choice" of the mother...and not allowing for a voice for the unborn child which is ALREADY conceived.

I would also add in closing that the comment about creationism being superstitious and not good for our country is ridiculous.

Education is about presenting MANY options and many opinions...because none of us were here when the planet was created and because scientific evidence is often fallible, why not share theories in public schools as simply that...theories?

Creationism happens to be what I believe, but is no more superstitious than the Big Bang theory that we were taught in school...

education means being exposed to many interpretations.

I, for one, will not be calling McCain's camp on this one.

Thanks Roland, for hosting this debate. :) Again, my apologies for doing this on your blog! :) You just bring out the "debate" in us all!

Have a great week!

The Maid

Reverse_Vampyr said...

Great post, Roland. There are several articles surfacing which attempt to summarize Palin's experience. You did so with your usual verve and aplomb.

And I agree; she's quite the dish, too!

I don't usually get swept into comment back-and forth, but please indulge me...

pqg, your logic in defending abortions is dangerously flawed. The idea of fighting wars for convenience as an analogy to abortion is a gross oversimplification. Extinguishing an innocent life in the womb for the simple reason of its existence is far different than a conflict over territory, aggression, or resources.

Regardless of when one believes life begins, there is a vast difference between a fetus/baby whose presence is inconvenient and a hostile adversary who threatens violence to achieve their goals. War does not justify abortion.

pqg said...

Extinguishing an innocent life in the womb for the simple reason of its existence is far different than a conflict over territory, aggression, or resources.

Of course it is. This doesn't mean that it is inappropriate to mention that in both cases we accept the destruction of the lives of others so we can live better.

Regardless of when one believes life begins, there is a vast difference between a fetus/baby whose presence is inconvenient and a hostile adversary who threatens violence to achieve their goals. War does not justify abortion.

Usually, it is either two or more hostile adversaries threatening each other with violence to achieve their goals or one nation using violence to dominate and control a much weaker nation.

I am simply asserting that many of us accept babies dying in order to maintain our standards of living. That we spin fairy tales to justify our violence to make ourselves feel better doesn't change the fact.

Also, I never said war justifies abortion. Again, I only said that war and abortion are similar in that we accept the trade off of the death of innocent others for better living standards for ourselves.