Palin Completely and Utterly Unqualified, Scholars Say

(the following was written by David Mark and Fred Barbash at Politico)

“John McCain was aiming to make history with his pick of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, and historians say he succeeded.

Presidential scholars say she appears to be the least experienced, least credentialed person to join a major-party ticket in the modern era.

So unconventional was McCain’s choice that it left students of the presidency literally “stunned,” in the words of Joel Goldstein, a St. Louis University law professor and scholar of the vice presidency. “Being governor of a small state for less than two years is not consistent with the normal criteria for determining who’s of presidential caliber,” said Goldstein.

“I think she is the most inexperienced person on a major party ticket in modern history,” said presidential historian Matthew Dallek.

That includes Spiro T. Agnew, Richard Nixon’s first vice president, who was governor of a medium-sized state, Maryland, for two years, and before that, executive of suburban Baltimore County, the expansive jurisdiction that borders and exceeds in population the city of Baltimore.

It also includes George H.W. Bush’s vice president, Indiana Sen. Dan Quayle, who had served in the House and Senate for 12 years before taking office. And it also includes New York Rep. Geraldine Ferraro, who served three terms in the House before Walter Mondale chose her in 1984 as the first woman candidate on a major party ticket.

“It would be one thing if she had only been governor for a year and a half, but prior to that she had not had major experience in public life,” said Dallek of Palin. “The fact that he would have to go to somebody who is clearly unqualified to be president makes Obama look like an elder statesman.”

And Alaska is a much smaller state than Illinois, the political base of Barack Obama, whom Republicans have repeatedly criticized for being inexperienced, having served nearly four years in the U.S. Senate after eight in the Illinois state Senate.

“Not to belittle Alaska, but it’s different than the basket of issues you deal with in big, dynamic states.” Dallek said.

Palin has no experience in national office. Before becoming governor in December 2006, she served as a council member and mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, which had a population of slightly more than 5,000 during her time in office.

Brad Blakeman, who ran the 1988 Republican convention for GOP nominee George H.W. Bush, turned the experience question on its head, suggesting accomplishments in office mean more than time accrued.

“Here’s a governor who may have served two years, but her accomplishments are worth eight,” said Blakeman, citing Palin’s work as governor on ethics reform and an Alaska oil pipeline. “She’s got as much experience for being vice president as Barack does to be president.”

But other students of presidential history said that In choosing Palin as his running mate, McCain has reached back to a time when few actually seriously contended that the vice president should be demonstrably prepared to assume the presidency from day one.

If elected vice president, Palin would appear to have the least amount of experience in federal office or as a governor since John W. Kern, Democrat William Jennings Bryan’s 1908 running mate, who had served for four years in the Indiana state Senate and then four more as city solicitor of Indianapolis. The Democratic ticket lost to Republican standard bearer William Howard Taft and running mate James S. Sherman by an Electoral College spread of 321-162.

More conventionally in modern times, running mates could boast decades of experience in Washington, from ballot box winners like Dick Cheney, Al Gore, the elder Bush and Mondale to also-rans such as Jack Kemp, Lloyd Bentsen and Joseph I. Lieberman.

These super-credentialed candidates were sometimes chosen, like Joe Biden, to shore up the resumes of candidates with little or no time in Washington, such as Jimmy Carter (Mondale) Bill Clinton (Gore) and Michael Dukakis (Bentsen.)

Palin, on the other hand, is a total “wild card,” said Stanford historian David Kennedy.

“If she had been around for two terms as governor — or been a senator — it would have been an incredible choice,” said historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. “Who else could he have found who appealed to the conservative base … and as someone who was a reformer?”

That’s not to say Palin will be a dud on the campaign trail.

But out-of-the-box picks in recent years have not usually worked out too well for the top of the ticket. Consider independent candidate Ross Perot’s 1992 running mate, former Navy Adm. James Stockdale, who famously asked at the vice presidential debate with Gore and Quayle, “Who am I, why am I here?”

“He took the wind out of Perot’s sails, and Perot could have done even better” than the 19 percent he garnered, Dallek said.

A bad running mate pick can even put a successful presidential ticket in question. The 1988 Bush-Quayle victory over Dukakis and Bentsen came in spite of Quayle’s frequent campaign trail gaffes and questions about his military service in the Vietnam era and other controversies. Bush handlers largely relegated Quayle to small town audiences that would attract little media attention.

“Quayle — it threw off the momentum for some weeks,” said Goodwin. “One has to hope for McCain’s sake that [Palin] has been fully vetted.”

“The first thing that hits me,” said Stephen Hess of the Brookings Institution,” is that it suggests that John McCain is a gambler. This is a high roller decision.”

“The next thing you have to ask yourself: Is it worrisome to have a gambler in the Oval Office? That’s an important question,” he said, “perhaps more important than anything else today.”

Update:  After reading this article, the McCain campaign issued the following statement: “The authors quote four scholars attacking Gov. Palin’s fitness for the office of Vice President. Among them, David Kennedy is a maxed out Obama donor, Joel Goldstein is also an Obama donor, and Doris Kearns Goodwin has donated exclusively to Democrats this cycle. Finally, Matthew Dallek is a former speech writer for Dick Gephardt. This is not a story about scholars questioning Governor Palin‘s credentials so much as partisan Democrats who would find a reason to disqualify or discount any nominee put forward by Senator McCain.”‘

A word of wisdom, McCain camp: The scholars, despite their political leanings, weren’t blatantly lying, as you all imply. I know you all like to blame the nonexistent liberal media bias for all of your problems, but really, now you’re saying that history itself has a liberal bias? The scholars were merely citing information that any teacher or student of American history knows well. You can’t dismiss a very real historical precedent as the figmentations of a Democrat’s scheming mind.

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McCain VP Choice Exposes True Intentions

“Today, John McCain put [Sarah Palin] the former mayor of a town of 9,000 with zero foreign policy experience a heartbeat away from the presidency. Governor Palin shares John McCain’s commitment to overturning Roe v. Wade, the agenda of Big Oil and continuing George Bush’s failed economic policies — that’s not the change we need, it’s just more of the same,” said Bill Burton, Obama Campaign Spokesman.

What does it show you when a possible President of the United States chooses a second in command with absolutely no foreign policy experience ever? What does it show you when a possible President chooses a second in command who is willing to tear up Alaska for oil when it will profit the ever-powerful oil comapanies far more than the consumer? What does it show you when a possible President is trying to throw a woman on the ballot to steal the remaining rabid Hillary supporters who care more about their own petty disappointment than the wellbeing of the nation? It shows desperation, recklessness, and idiocy.

And the Republicans will probably try to push their “feminism” at the RNC, while they are simultaneously trying to get a man who consistently votes against bills that promote women’s equality elected.

No woman should vote Republican, and no woman planning on voting for John McCain should call herself a feminist, whatever they may say at the RNC.  While women still earn 77 cents for every dollar a man makes, while discrimination in the workplace occurs on a wide scale, while the woman’s right to choose is threatened, no sane woman should vote for John McCain.

Because McCain chose a running mate in an attempt to pander to “Hillary suporters” in order to get him through an election instead of a running mate who would be a good advisor in terms of foreign affairs, environmental or economic policy, it is completely fair to say that he has his self-interest at the heart of his decision, not the interest of the American people.

America, you are being pandered to SHAMELESSLY. Ask yourselves this: Would you want to be a passenger on a plane that was piloted by someone who had never flown an airplane before? If that idea makes you slightly uncomfortable, then how do you feel about Palin, only a step away from the Presidency, possibly controlling the world superpower with ZERO foreign policy experience?

John McCain was irresponsible in choosing Palin. Then again, this is nothing new- After all, he was irresponsible in supporting Bush’s war, he was irresponsible in voting against the Equal Pay Act, he is irresponsible in his disregard for the wellbeing of the middle class, and he is irresponsible for guaranteeing us an America where health benefits will be taxed, women will lose the right to choose, further alienation from the international community will make us even more isolated, and most of all, he is irresponsible in his pretense at fiscal responsibility when the war in Iraq costs the strained American economy 10 billion dollars a month.

By the way, that 10 billion a month is enough to cover universal healthcare, universal preschool, and still have 50 million dollars left over.

Published in: on August 29, 2008 at 5:04 pm  Comments (3)  
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McCain’s Inexcusable Remark

(The following is a 1998 article from Salon.)

“During the last few months, many established media outlets have decided to report innuendo and rumor about the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, as long as they have a source they can cite (at least anonymously), or another media player has reported the same.

But this new standard in the practice of journalism seemingly does not extend to other political figures, at least not media darlings like Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. Earlier this month, at a Republican Senate fund-raiser, McCain told a downright nasty joke making fun of Janet Reno, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea Clinton.

The fact that McCain had made the tasteless joke was reported in major newspapers, as was the vain attempt by his press secretary to initially deny what McCain had done. But in several major newspapers, the joke itself was kept a secret. When McCain subsequently apologized to President Clinton, the Washington Post, in its personality section, noted the apology but said the joke “was too vicious to print.”

The Los Angeles Times, in its Life & Style section, provided an oblique rendering of the joke that did not fully convey its ugliness. When Maureen Dowd penned a column in the New York Times about the joke, she wrote that McCain “is so revered by the press that his disgusting jape was largely nudged under the rug.” But Dowd chose not to relay the joke, either.

The joke did appear in McCain’s hometown paper, the Arizona Republic, and the Associated Press did report the joke in full, so everyone in the press had access to McCain’s words. But by censoring themselves, the Post, the Times and others helped McCain deflect flak and preserved his status as a Republican presidential contender.

Salon feels its readers deserve the unadulterated truth. Though no tape of McCain’s quip has yet emerged, this is what he reportedly said:

“Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly?
Because her father is Janet Reno.”

The joke may be crude, but it pales in comparison with the published details surrounding the presidential sex scandal. McCain’s two-liner conveys some interesting insights into what he considers humorous (lesbianism, a young woman’s physical appearance), particularly since it was delivered to a Republican crowd. Remember, this is the party that champions pro-family values.

McCain’s lapse in judgment — admittedly, not as big a lapse as having a sexual relationship with an intern — may be a significant clue into aspects of his “character,” and thus relevant to the voting public. But many voters have been spared this insight, thanks to the censors in the press.

Accordingly, McCain is well-positioned to ride out this messy little episode. Ever since he started championing the anti-tobacco bill (which was torpedoed by his GOP comrades), McCain has been the White House’s pet Republican on the Hill. Consequently, the White House played down his Chelsea remarks. McCain is also unusually popular with the media. He gives good quotes; he is outspoken. He takes positions that contradict the Republican leadership. When you talk to McCain, he converses in the manner of a real person, seemingly telling you what he thinks. That is rare among elected officials. Ask him a question and he does not shift into automatic-politician mode, as do most members of Congress.

The former Vietnam POW should escape this matter without serious political harm. In the inevitable magazine profiles of McCain that will be written, there will no doubt be the perfunctory line: “McCain’s tendency to speak too freely was proven when he made a distasteful joke at a fund-raiser about the first family and then had to apologize to the president.”

But the joke revealed more than a mean streak in a man who would be president. It also exposed how the Washington Post, New York Times and Los Angeles Times play favorites when reporting the foibles of our leading politicians.”

And the media had the nerve to pretend it was a scandal when Barack Obama called a reporter “sweetie”? The Republican notion of a liberal media bias is as ridiculous as John McCain’s default response to all uncomfortable questions, that he was a POW, and is therefore excused from responsibility for all actions following his imprisonment, however unrelated to his imprisonment they may be.

Repetitive or Revolutionary? An Analysis of Obama’s Rhetoric

Recently, I’ve been having some feelings of frustration whenever I hear Barack Obama speak. While I agree with his political philosophy a thousand times more than I do McCain’s, I’ve been feeling like there’s something missing. Why does he always sound the same? Why, when he has even more detailed healthcare, environmental and economic plans than McCain, does he continue to speak in vague, all-encompassing terms that we know all too well from his stump speech?

Despite the nonspecific nature of his rhetoric, Barack Obama presents a potentially revolutionary political argument by doing just that. His campaign is rooted firmly in the idea that we have focused our cultural microscope on the small, trivial side of politics, and that we must incorporate grand aspirations into the American psyche in order to keep the petty from diverting actual policies from being passed. In a sense, his vaulting speech is a metaphor for his prescribed remedy for America’s cultural dis-ease. When 80% of the country thinks we’re going in the wrong direction, Obama recommends that we all keep in mind the ultimate goal, which is to preserve the American dream. Obama’s “theory” indicates that in order to accomplish the specifics, an overriding vision is necessary, and that is something that John McCain is sorely lacking.

Published in: on August 25, 2008 at 4:53 pm  Comments (1)  
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