Did you notice that tremendous thunder this Friday following the awe-inspiring speech by Barack Obama from over a mile high in the sky? No? That’s because the McCain campaign stole it with it’s out of this world decision to select Sarah Palin as his vice-presidential candidate. This announcement made her the first women to ever be considered for the position in a Republican Presidential campaign. So what makes someone qualified to by Vice President? As John McCain so famously stated, “the only job of the vice president is to check up daily on health of the president, and attend funerals”. The Vice President should be able to carryout the policy of the President if the President isn’t able to do so. That being the case, who has made the best vice presidential choice in the 2008 presidential race?
Before I compare their choices, I must say that I’m loving the idea that now all of my favorite talking point hungry, right wing pundits, are going to have to give their heart felt argument every night that they believe a mother of five with a pregnant teenage daughter and a special needs infant is completely capable of running the country. Can you imagine Sean Hannity ever thinking he was going to have to make that argument? If this had been a Democrat he would have ripped her for not paying enough attention to her family. He, and many others, have already said that Obama was neglectful and arrogant to want to be president with two young children. I’m not going to incite the wrath of million of super-moms out there who balance careers and families, but the idea that her families age and size have no bearing on her ability to perform her job is ridiculous. Especially considering the social conservative understanding of the mother as family’s primary caregiver. I’d also love to see how fervent Obama supporter, Oprah, is going to respond to this. Sarah Palin should just have “future hour long guest on the Oprah Winfrey Show” highlighted in bold on the top of her resume. No matter how you feel about the woman, her story is compelling, and if champions for women’s advancement ignore her it would be very hypocritical.
Also, following the earth shattering news on Monday, I understand that direct and unscrupulous attacks on Palin’s daughter would be tasteless and out of place. But to say that teenage pregnancy of a conservative Vice-Presidential candidate is irrelevant is insane. Cultural conservatives are active in bringing policy and legislation that affects how people live their everyday lives. From abortion rights, to sex education, to gay rights, they don’t just have theoretical conversations about how people should live. They are actively writing laws and campaigning on sexual morality. When their personal lives directly reflect or interfere with public policy position, it has to become fodder for debate. The same as when the social conservatives where planning a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage (an amendment that would have been the first to take a right instead of grant one) and Dick Chaney’s daughter was out, openly gay, and trying to adopt a child. Being unable to discuss the real life instances as it is affected by government policy is unreasonable. Besides, the teenage pregnancy in the Palin family will be exploited by the religious right, as evidence of Palin’s firm commitment to life and example of her being a super-mom dealing with real world issues. Discussing the conservative position on sex and abstinence education only makes sense, and asking how current and future policies would affect Mrs. Palin’s current situation is a fair question that the American people should demand an answer to. That would not be an unfair attack, but a necessary step to further the dialogue on the subject.
Now lets compare their choices. Barack Obama selected Joe Biden, after running his entire campaign based on change, on being a new face in the White House that is not beholden to the old ways of Washington. After basing his entire movement on that concept, he selected one of the oldest and most familiar faces in Washington to carry out his legacy if he is unable to continue it. If Obama was trying to find someone who most closely reflected his background and outlook on the future of American society, one would tend to think he would have selected fellow political newbie, Virginia first term Governor Tim Kaine. But seeing how he didn’t want to scare people with too much change at once, he went with a “safe” choice, hoping to quell any doubts about risks involved in voting for him. Despite the fact the Joe Biden had echoed many of McCain’s concerns about Obama’s experience during the primary campaign, Obama is betting on him making voters less nervous about his Presidency.
John McCain selected the first term Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin. Mrs. Palin, who is renowned in Republican party circles as a reformer and social conservative, and whose foreign policy experience, according to some bright people at Fox News, comes from her close proximity to Russia in the Berring Straight. After running his entire campaign based on the idea that the country needed someone with real foreign affairs and war time experience he selected a candidate with no experience or (by her own admission) interest in either. What McCain did do was find the biggest poster child for feminist social conservatism since Mary mother of Jesus. He has successfully satiated the desires of the Dobson crowd while trying to pilfer votes from disgruntled Hillary supporters. Whether or not ex Hillary supporters are willing to jump ship just to see a women, any women, get a step closer to the White House is yet to be seen.
Let’s take a closer look at both of these selections. The job of the Vice President is to carry out the policy of the President in the event of an unforeseen circumstance. So who is really selecting the best choice? As pointed out earlier, both candidates have picked someone who seems diametrically opposed to some of their major arguments for their own legitimacy as President. But in reality Obama’s main focus is based on a philosophy. Obama’s campaign is based on an articulated vision of America, and though it wouldn’t have the same gravitas with someone else bringing the message, it shouldn’t be impossible for another individual to carry it out. Even though Biden’s career does not represent Obama’s movement of change, it’s not impossible for someone to over see the implementation of his ideas if they truly had the desire to. McCain however, has made real life experience a major point. There is nothing you can do to replace McCain’s experience in Vietnam, or a quarter of a century in congress. McCain and Bush, until recently being exposed by Obama and the Iraqi government, have contended that the wars in the middle east over terrorism are a fluid situation that demands a long-term commitment and wisdom to act on the changing reality there. They’ve argued that his wisdom can only be gained through real world experience. This isn’t a philosophy; this is a real tangible qualification that can be accounted for by a quick check of someone’s resume. Nothing on Palin’s resume, except complete faith in the supremacy and wisdom of a Christian God, matches what McCain says we need at this critical time in history to run our country.
So what are the Vice-Presidential selections really saying about the position. Without any heads up to the Robert Rules of Order, the “vice” has been replaced by “co” when it comes to running for second in line to the President. Instead of looking for a candidate who’s resume is similar to the one that each party has ordained as THE man for this crucial time in our history, the co-president is seen as someone who is filling in the gaps in experience (and voting demographic) of the Presidential nominee. Now we aren’t selecting the next best thing in the party, but the person who represents the most polar opposite demographic of the party in order to sell the other half of the party on coming out in droves to the polling booth and be a divergent view point in the White House. Now Barrack is not only a pioneering black man from the mid-west, but he’s also a white northeast baby boomer with military and foreign policy experience. Now McCain is not only a war veteran and foreign policy guru, but also an expert on family values and energy exploration.
The McCain campaign is hoping that they will be able to counter anyone who notices the hypocrisy in their selection with the claim that they are being anti-woman. But in reality, other than successfully stealing the spotlight on Friday, how can the Republican Party possibly justify their selection of Mrs. Palin as Vice President. I’ve already heard many talking heads argue that she is not running for President, but for Vice President. No one has called them out to define the job, which in my book involves a whole lot more than stealing headlines in the weekend news cycle