Posted on September 7, 2008
I had a testy exchange with one of my neighbors today about Sarah Palin. This neighbor is a good friend of mine and a journalist who is covering Barack Obama.
And she is furious that John McCain picked Sarah Palin to be his running mate. To her, the choice smacks of sexism. McCain would never pick Palin if she were not a woman. She is clearly unqualified to be President. She believes in creationism for God’s sake. A million city managers around the country are more qualified to be President. Her convention speech, while well-delivered, was nasty. She knows nothing about foreign policy. She went to six schools. At least Obama went to Harvard. How dare she condemn community organizers? Etc. Etc. Etc.
I like my neighbor, and I knew I wasn’t going to convince her that Palin would make a good President. I am not sure if I believe that Palin would make a good President. But Palin is a political superstar to a large percentage of the country and she deserves the chance to prove herself to voters like me over the next 60 days.
Of course, I will vote for McCain no matter what. After all, McCain is the one who is running for President, and he is vastly more experienced to be President than his opponent, Senator Obama.
You can make the case that Obama is more experienced than Palin, but you can also make the case that Palin has more executive experience than Obama. In my view, neither one is qualified to be President, but at least with Palin, I will get somebody who shares my position on taxes and the size and scope of government. She might be unfit to be President, but she is more fit to be President than Obama, if you combine philosophy and experience.
I know that Harvard or Yale are the places where we make our Presidents, but count me as unimpressed. Both Bushes and Bill Clinton went to those places, while our greatest Republican President, Ronald Reagan, went to Eureka College. Don’t forgto that Don Rumsfeld went to Princeton. Some much for that great Ivy league education.
I disagree with Palin on evolution. But that is a theological disagreement, not a policy disagreement (as long as she doesn’t try to impose those views on my kids). And don’t forget that a pretty large percentage of Americans agree with Palin, not me. According to a 2007 Gallup poll, 48% of Americans believe in creationism, while only 49% believe in evolution.
The sexism charge is hard to argue with a woman who feels passionate about the topic. Did McCain pick Palin because only because she is a woman? Maybe, but I think it is more complicated than that. Palin is the only Republican governor who shares McCain position on life issues, has a reputation as a reformer, has high popularity ratings in her home state, and happens to be a woman.
McCain picked Palin first and foremost because her selection will help him win. What about Romney? He was done in by his dozen houses, and by his religion. Ridge, the favorite of moderates and journalists everywhere, by his position on abortion. Lieberman, by his party. Pawlenty, by his anonymity. Portman, by his closeness to the Bush family.
What other woman would McCain go with? Kay Bailey Hutchinson? A proud appropriator and political insider. Susan Collins? A pro-choicer. Meg Whitman? No government experience at all.
So, by the process of elimination, you can see how McCain got to Palin.
Is Palin ready for prime time? Well, about as many people watched her convention speech as watched Barack Obama’s speech, and she delivered it flawlessly, with great élan and great conviction. Her speech was the best of either convention in its delivery. Better than Obama’s and much better than McCain’s.
Can you judge her based only on one speech? No, but isn’t that how Barack Obama got so famous, based on one speech in 2004. Obama has parlayed that speech to capture the Democratic nomination. Palin may parlay her speech into the number two spot in the White House.
Do I think Sarah Palin is the most qualified to be President, should McCain die in office? No, of course not. But I do think she is most able to help McCain get to the White House.
And I like her inexperience better than I like Obama’s inexperience. At least she will try to do the right thing if she does have to run the government. If Obama is elected, he won’t even try.