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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Putting Country Second

In his cynical ploy to woo disgruntled Hillary Clinton voters and at the same time shore up the recalcitrant extreme right edge of the Republican Party, Sen. John McCain obliterated the image he has been meticulously cultivating that he puts country first. His selection of Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska as his running mate, while lauded by some elements of the media as a gutsy "maverick" move, proves to me that John McCain is not ready to lead.

Sarah Palin with her colorful bio and family background considers her foreign policy experience to be sufficient as her state is next to Russia. Serving only a year and a half as governor and before that, a term as mayor of some 6,000-population moosetown called Wasilla, John McCain selected her over the more qualified and experienced candidates in a field of Veep possibilities that included an ex-Democrat and a former head of the Department of Homeland Security.

At 72 and a four-time cancer survivor, McCain is betting that, if elected president, he will survive his first term without an interruption and potentially Vice President Palin would not have to demonstrate her neophyte credentials under fire. But can he guarantee that? Of course, not.

Sure the GOP spinmeisters will argue that she has more experience than Barack Obama. That is garbage. One day as a U.S. Senator trumps her 6 years as a moosetown mayor and governor of a sparsely populated state. This is underscored by the fact that she had little interest in the war in Iraq—a travesty of epic proportions of blood and treasure.

Palin is praised as a popular governor. Well, a $1,200 handout to her constituency will buy popularity fairly well. That’s what she did.

This selection will undoubtedly backfire. Voters who are intelligent, informed and who are not religious conservatives will be uneasy at the prospects that Palin, a proponent of creationism and home schooling, could actually have to sit in the Oval Office. But her extreme right wing views will also turn off the moderates, the political center and the independents. And yes, Hillary voters will not flock to her simply because she has a vagina, as one woman put it.

John McCain made a bold but dubious decision—a key test to his true leadership. I believe it will fail. He undermined his message by making a political choice rather than one that would be a benefit for the nation. Who is going to whisper in his ear that Iran doesn't train al Qaeda troops? Who is going to whisper in his ear that Iraq does not share a border with Afghanistan? Who is going to whisper in his ear the distinctions between Shi-ites and Sunnis? Who's going to tell him that Czechoslovakia doesnt exist anymore? Sarah Palin?
He put country second.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You hit this out of the park Steve; a four bagger. One of the most important traits of a successful President is the ability to attract and select top-rate talent in Cabinet and other supporting roles like VP. No President can lead alone. As you point out, the VP choice is one of the most important examples of critical decision-making. McCain has failed here, going political rather than Presidential. The pick of Sarah is "Palin" in comparison to Joe Biden.

My wife is one of those Hillary supporters who is really invested in finally seeing a woman in the top two national leadership positions. She was disappointed that Obama didn't select a woman VP and was watching with interest McCain's pick. She is completely disgusted with his choice. I think her exact words were, "Does he think we are idiots?" So I guess the silver lining here is that McCain has driven those tough Hillary hold outs solidly into the Obama camp....Dan