Analyzing Governor Sarah Palin

If we were to sum up McCain’s politics since 2000 a single word would suffice: hypocrasy.  The same can be said of Governor Sarah Palin.  She was picked primarily to shore up support in the conservative Christian community.  Because of this, I don’t think either of her scandals around pregnancy will really hit home (or cause McCain to drop her).

On the one hand, she may have faked her 5th pregnancy for the sake of her daughter.  The same daughter who is now pregnant and plans to have the child and marry the father.  The key here is that both pregnancies led to a birth, and I see that playing very well with the anti-choice crowd.  Life isn’t about perfection, its about making the right choices with what you are given.  And while the rest of the US looks on in shock, I’m willing to be the conservative Christian community will look on in admiration.  In their view Bristol Palin shouldn’t have any moral choice other than caryring to term, and thus her mother’s efforts to hide the first pregnancy, and her determination to carry through with the second, are examples of her pro-life position in action when it hits close to home.  That can only engender trust that she is completely pro-life.  Add in her support of creationism, and she seems like a great choice to cater to the religious right.

So that takes care of the religious base.  But Governor Palin brings more to the table for McCain, and not all of it is beneficial for the Republican Presidential campaign.  She’s supposed to be a reformer, a paragon of principled politics.  Turns out she is in the middle of an investigation for sketchy firings of State Troopers for personal reasons.  Alaskan newspapers openly question whether she’s fit for the position.  (Not that the McCain camp would have known this, it seems like they never checked local papers to vet her in the first place!)

This is the kind of stuff that can upset anyone, but particularly independents (whom Obama appeals strongly too, and McCain needs to win the Presidency).  It is here that his choice of Palin cuts him deep.  Because Palin isn’t just pro-life.  She’s crazy pro-life:

In November 2006, then gubernatorial candidate Sarah Palin declared that she would not support an abortion for her own daughter even if she had been raped.

Granting exceptions only if the mother’s life was in danger, Palin said that when it came to her daughter, “I would choose life.”

At the time, her daughter was 14 years old. Moreover, Alaska’s rape rate was an abysmal 2.2 times above the national average and 25 percent of all rapes resulted in unwanted pregnancies. But Palin’s position was palatable within the state’s largely Republican political circles.

You don’t need to be a feminist to see that this is a seriously fucked up position to take.  She is in fact, to sum things up, an extremist.  In addition to opposing abortion, she (edited the html to remove formatting and fix a link):

She supports teaching creationism in schools.
She denies global warming and opposed listing polar bears as an endangered species because it might prevent off-shore drilling.
Speaking of drilling, she supports drilling in ANWR.
I guess not surprising, Palin is in big oil’s pocket.

On top of it all her lack of experience makes McCain’s attacks on Obama look ridiculous by comparison.

She was essentially chosen to tackle three problems the McCain campaign faced.  How to get the religious right fired up, how to reinforce his appeal as a “maverick” and reformer, and how to somehow get former Clinton supporters to jump in.  I don’t see that happening:

I have a piece up at TAP:

Palin’s addition to the ticket takes Republican faux-feminism to a whole new level. As Adam Serwer pointed out on TAPPED, this is in fact a condescending move by the GOP. It plays to the assumption that disaffected Hillary Clinton supporters did not care about her politics — only her gender. In picking Palin, Republicans are lending credence to the sexist assumption that women voters are too stupid to investigate or care about the issues, and merely want to vote for someone who looks like them. As Serwer noted, it’s akin to choosing Alan Keyes in an attempt to compete with Obama for votes from black Americans.

Now would anyone really fall for that?  Yes of course they would:

As for Governor Palin, her supposed views on abortion and lack of national security credentials are supposed to make her unsuited for the office of the Vice Presidency, yet Barack Obama’s actual views on abortion and lack of national security credentials are supposed to make him perfectly suited for the Presidency.

Supposed views on abortion?  (Riverdaughter has really outed herself as a Republican on this one.)  An actual Clinton supporter would never vote for someone with the positions on reproductive choice, and the environment Palin has.  (Nor would they feel much affinity for a politician who called Hillary whiny.)

Governor Palin is sure to boost McCain’s rating with the religious right, and if he holds on, might just be enough to keep that piece of the Republican party from drifting off.  However that comes are the expense of independent voters and disaffected Clinton voters.  He couldn’t be doing more to turn them off.  It also might come at the expense of Republicans who have had enough of lobbyists and rampant corruption.  Governor Palin is not clean when it comes to lobbyists:

Palin’s relationship with Alaska’s senior senator may be one of the more complicated aspects of her new position as Sen. John McCain’s running mate; Stevens was indicted in July 2008 on seven counts of corruption.

Palin, an anti-corruption crusader in Alaska, had called on Stevens to be open about the issues behind the investigation. But she also held a joint news conference with him in July, before he was indicted, to make clear she had not abandoned him politically.

Stevens had been helpful to Palin during her run for governor, swooping in with a last moment endorsement. And the two filmed a campaign commercial together to highlight Stevens’s endorsement of Palin during the 2006 race.

Given all of this, there is understandable speculation that Palin will be dropped from the ticket (perhaps in favor of Mitt Romney).  I highly doubt this, as dropping his VP pick would be a disasterous admission of poor judgment and weakness by McCain.  That is a perception he cannot afford to reinforce.  Additionally given his stubborness, I doubt he’d be able to bring himself to admit he’s made a strategic error.

Choosing Sarah Palin as his VP may have cost McCain the election, and there’s no way for him to back out without damaging his chances further.


28 Responses

  1. Palin is the perfect Republican in every way. Ethics? No thank you.

  2. The whole daughter/grandaughter angle is a bit of a strech and quite the deception (and must be hard on the same daughter to have to pregnancies back to back). I am staying away from that story as I don’t consider even valid for discussion.

    It smells of rumor mongering of the worse kind.

  3. While we’re at it let’s toss in the fact the her husband has worked for BP for the past 18 years… which means that Palin is literally in bed with the oil industry.

    My first thought when I heard this announcement was that it was a cheap political manuever designed to attract disaffected Clinton supporters. However, given that she shares neither Clinton’s political positions nor the experience that many Clinton supporters touted as their reason for supporting Clinton, I doubt that many of them will see her as a viable alternative to Obama-Biden. Moreover, I suspect that many of them will see this as blatant pandering to their demographic and be insulted by the fact he was willing to so elevate a woman who lacks both experience and judgement. And did I mention she was a beauty queen?

  4. I agree ralfast. The announcement said that the daughter was 5 months pregnant. The youngest kid was born in April. The math just doesn’t work. Theoretically, I suppose they could be lying about how far along she is, but I find it much more likely that a 44 year old gave birth to the kid with Down Syndrome. I think that if we’re going to critique anything here, it should be the Spears-like parenting skills.

  5. That would be an angle worth pursuing Kate. It highlights, once again the faults with the Republican/Christian conservative view of sex, reproduction and “family values”. If she wins the VP, their will be sending pampers by the truck load to her home in Washington.

    I mean, let us not kid ourselves, with a daughter all of 17 years of age, grandma, like many grandparents before and after her, will be pulling double if not triple duty taking care of two babies at the same time.

  6. Talking of Republican families, where is McCain’s family? All the pictures I seen are of his second wife, appearing stiff as a board and his showboating celibutant daughter. Where are the rest of the kids? Especially the ones from the first marriage.

  7. The ones from the first marriage are probably pissed at him for cheating on their mom then marrying a woman young enough to be his daughter. That never goes over well.
    I have to say though, I’m really enjoying watching Republicans try to defend McCain’s choice… because none of them can quite seem to force out the words “she’s the most qualified person he could have picked.”

  8. ralfast & Kate
    I agree, its not something that should be a factor. I think though, that its a rumor that *helps* rather than hinders her, given the audience she’s going after.


    because none of them can quite seem to force out the words “she’s the most qualified person he could have picked.”

    Expertly phrased. They can’t, because she isn’t. To them (and to McCain’s brand) experience = qualification. I think that’s going to really hurt his campaign.

  9. Sarah Palin gave birth to a baby with Down’s Syndrome at the age of 44.

    Is anyone else appalled at this?

    The risk of giving birth to a baby with Down’s Syndrome is extremely high in women over 40 (and even higher when the father is also over 40).

    Sarah Palin “opposes the use of birth control pills and condoms even among married couples”.

    I am disgusted by this irresponsible behaviour. To give birth at age 44 to a baby with Down’s because you refuse to use birth control inexcusable. Ignoring the dangers that you expose yourself and your baby to by refusing to use birth control after 40 is negligent and careless. To believe that a woman like this has the opportunity to become Vice President of the United States of America in 2008 makes me ill.

    Does anyone else share this opinion?

  10. frogcatcher912,

    Her opposition to birth control and support of abstinence only education are appalling, as is her opposition to abortion in cases of medical necessity or rape. She’s essentially committed herself to these positions in spite of how they affect her family.

    Its not just irresponsible. She’s a “true believer”, and that kind of mentality is scary when its a heartbeat away from the oval office.

  11. So what nobody over the age of 40 should be allowed to have a kid, because the chances of having down syndrome are increased? It is irresponsible to have a kid at 40?

  12. Dont get me wrong she probably believes in talking snakes and thinks he earth is 6000 years old, but I dunno if this issue about her kid is really bad.

  13. Well brian, it is something to be considered. Now I am in no position to say that she should or should not have had the kid, but why take the risk?

    I think that is a valid question. Don’t you?

  14. I think we need to be really careful when we start suggesting that she shouldn’t have had the kid. Reproductive decisions should be left to the people they affect directly. Much as I would resent her preaching to me were I to make what would be an incredibly difficult and personal decision to have an abortion, I think that it’s highly inappropriate for us to sit here and question her decision to have the child.
    She made the decision to have the child. It was a personal decision based on her moral beliefs. The risks to her health were ones she accepted of her own free will, and I’m certain that many would argue that whatever risks posed to the child were less harmful to it than having an abortion. Being pro-choice means accepting both a woman’s right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy and her decision to keep the child.

  15. Exactly we shouldnt forget being pro abortion isnt about pushing anybody to get an abortion, just giving them the option if they want it.

  16. I think its something we have to be careful about, and further, that we need to be clear that we absolutely aren’t pushing her to have an abortion. Choice is 100% against coercion.

    Her pregnancy that resulted in a child with downs and her daughters pregnancy are both valid issues because Palin has gone to lengths to make them talking points. She trumpets her disabled child as an example of why exceptions for medical reasons should never be a legal justification for an abortion. She will spin her daughter’s decision to carry to term (however she came to it) as a triumph of the pro-life cause. This is in context of her saying she would not support her daughter getting an abortion even if she was raped.

    While this is a sensitive topic, I don’t believe we should pull punches, just aim carefully.

    I think Governor Palin has staked out this idea that one must be anti-choice even when doing so harms the people you love, and she’s happy using her family to make that argument visceral.

  17. Agreed. But let us not fall into Enquirer territory speculating whether Palin’s son is her grandson. At least I won’t go there.

  18. 🙂 Sounds like a plan.

  19. Agreed. Until the miscarriage news comes 🙂 just kidding.

  20. McCain seems to have this fantastic advisor, Steve Schmidt.

    When asked “how the unmarried teenager’s pregnancy would be received by the American people”, he said “”I don’t know; I’m not a psychic.””… which is great, since he’s supposed to advise the man he’d have us elect. I sure hope advisors don’t have to guess the outcome of certain things…

    He also said “Leave the kids alone. Leave the kids alone. This is an election about the future of the country,” … could he have made a more perfect statement? Leave the kids out of it… they’re only the future of the country,… 🙂

    That said, I’m sure abstinance-only education is a great idea… I know that every seventeen year old girl wants to get pregnant…

  21. Mmm, did you catch the story about how the boyfriend is going to the convention?
    His mom said that the couple had been planning to marry before they found out she was pregnant (because engaged at 16 is always a good plan?), and that her pregnancy was just a bonus.
    Yeah, that’s realistic. Now I can understand a kind of forced sense of obligation to do what you think is right, but I just don’t buy the idea that they celebrated the news.

  22. Hey Dan,
    I think you should sell stickers 🙂
    McCain/Tits’08 could be a start.

  23. jellybeans,
    that’s pretty offensive. What would you have said if it was Obama/Clinton?

  24. look, the fact the Palin’s a woman shouldn’t be a mark against her

    but the fact that her policies are scary should, and the fact that she seems like, given the time and platform, she could prove as evil as cheney should…

    the fact that a woman can be considered at all is a good thing… but not this woman.
    just because she’s a woman doesn’t mean she’s right or wrong for the job… it’s her personality, her creationist ideals, her stance against abortion even in cases of rape, and her bizarre little attacks on obama in last night’s speech that make me nervous about her being in power. fine, she can control her large-but-sparsely-populated state… but i don’t want her making laws for the whole country… she’s too deeply intrenched in ideals that would make it harder for many people to live here, and conservatives are all about maintaining the status quo, whatever they say. they want things to, if nothing else, go back in time, and that’s just not a viable option.
    that is why, among other reasons that are all about how great obama is, i’m voting democrat this year.

    it has nothing to do with gender… unless you admit that mccain picked palin for just that reason, and i find that vaguely insulting.

  25. I really dont see how any woman or black person or any male of draft age or any male page could support the gop… except ron paul. 🙂

    and you find somebody thinking mccain picked palin just to pander to be insulting? prepare to be insulted….

  26. By John McCain.

  27. You should check out this wonderful op-ed piece at the Wall Street Journal no less:

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