Sunday, August 31, 2008

McCain’s Choice of Palin Proves He Is Unsuited To Be President by Anthony McCarthy

The media said that Obama’s Vice Presidential choice would constitute his first “presidential act”. He appears to have made a choice after a long process by a team of serious and experienced people. McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin, we are told, appears to be one of his famous “gut decisions”. After months of campaigning on Barack Obama’s alleged lack of experience he chose someone who, of all those mentioned as possible Republican Vice Presidential nominees has the least experience of any. Apparently John McCain believes that her son’s imminent deployment to Iraq constitutes of a record adequate to fill out her military if not foreign policy portfolio. If he really believes that, he has given serious people adequate reason to doubt his mental health

We may be witnessing the tipping point where the Republican establishment goes from calculated cynicism to pillaging nihilism. They have given their nomination to a 72-year-old man with less than a far less than optimal health history who listens to his gut when it tells him that a two-year governor in one of the least populous states, whose major record in government is as the mayor of a town of less than 9,000, should be one of his heartbeats away from the American presidency. I suspect, the media will soon begin declaring parts of Palin’s record and personal history hands off and “old news”, in the way they inevitably do when serious examination of Republicans begins. If that happes we will know. There is only one possible Democratic President between us and the final, decadent end of American democracy.

Barack Obama’s pastor was endlessly used against him in the past year, even though he disavowed his most extreme statements and doesn’t appear to have ever based his political decisions on them. Sarah Palin belongs to a church which is part of a far right cult dangerous enough so the Souther Poverty Law Center monitors them. You wonder what McCain’s gut told him about that.

Sarah Palin is known to have embroiling the Governor’s office and other parts of the Alaska government in her families bitter feud with an ex-brother-in-law. Whether or not the accusations made against him were true - and I haven’t seen his side of it yet- using her position and allowing her husband to use it in an attempt to get him fired from his job as a state trooper shows a complete lack of ground floor judgement. Her part in the firing of the public safety commissioner, apparently over a family matter, could end a political career in many states. And her cooperation with the legislative investigation into her use of power has been less than cooperative, apparently. John McCain should certainly understand the need to maintain the reality as well as the appearance of propriety and transparency in matters involving ethics, given his own history. His wife’s problems should also have given him an appreciation of why it’s a good idea to keep a fire wall between family problems and official duties as a public servant. But his gut overrode his vaunted experience here too.

John McCain has said that he knows nothing about economics and proved it by putting Phil Graham in charge of handling economic issues for his campaign. You would think that the subsequent need to remove him, for the time being, might have taught McCain’s gut a lesson in why someone from a state with an economy rich from extraction industries might not have an appreciation for what it’s like for people in the rest of the country. Palin’s brief experience as governor of Alaska certainly couldn’t provide her with a good idea of what those in non-oil states face. And her odd ideas about that are just beginning to surface. Alaska, with its odd form of oil based, income independent welfare, is certainly atypical of the rest of the United States, even of oil-rich states. Being governor of there is probably about as much a preparation for handling economic issues as being a Senator from there produces ethical and responsible appropriation of public money. I believe that in the coming weeks we will find out that Sarah Palin has some bizarre ideas about economic issues based on what her experience in Alaska’s Republican Party has taught her.

Forget her ideas about the environment, which are as psychotic as the worst of the Bush and Reagan administrations. She might yet become the first overtly pro-extinction president in our history.

One of the often mentioned possible Vice Presidential candidates for McCain was one of my senators, Olympia Snowe. I’m not a fan, having actually watched her career instead of the PR hype. Like that of all “moderate” Republicans her record actually consists of several token shows of independence while being a reliable supporter of whatever retrogressive policies the far-right Republican establishment comes up with most of the time. But I would have to admit that she had experience that would at least make her a credible successor to a Republican president, if he died in office. She wouldn’t be a complete neophyte in foreign policy or have entirely wacky ideas about the state of the environment or the economy. Though her policies would probably be lamentable, they wouldn’t be insane. Several of the other possible Republican Vice Presidential candidates were similarly qualified.

Yet John McCain’s gut told him that Sarah Palin, who embodies the lies his campaign has endlessly bellowed about Barack Obama’s “extremism” and “inexperience” and a person who opposes many of the “moderate” Republican policies that have created the McCain myth, should be handed a more than excellent chance at succeeding him as President of the United States. There is every reason to expect that she will be president if McCain is elected.

That is John McCain’s first “presidential decision”. The issue here isn’t just Sarah Palin’s complete unsuitability for the job of President, or Vice President, it’s also the issue of John McCain’s appalling decision. His first important decision impinging on the presidency of the United States and he has made a totally nutty choice. John McCain is not suitable to be President of the United States, we need ethical, wise and informed leadership not someone who goes with his obviously busted gut.