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Wide White: Thoughts on Sarah Palin

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Thoughts on Sarah Palin

I haven't said anything yet about what I think about Sarah Palin and I thought it was time to break the silence ahead of her speech tonight.

No one can argue that Palin is likeable. She's "normal"; she's easy to identify with for many people because she isn't far removed from the life that the rest of us lead.

And therein is her greatest weakness. Nobody really knows whether or not Palin is capable of leading this nation or even serving as right-hand-woman to the leader. While I don't think this is a problem, it is a question that voters rightly want answered. Much as Obama needs to work harder than McCain to prove that he's experienced enough to lead this nation, Palin will have to work that much harder than Biden to prove she's a capable VP (assuming anyone is still following the VPs a week from now).

Typically VP candidates fill the presidential candidate's weaknesses, bringing something to the table that the presidential candidate doesn't have. Palin does this in the following ways:

1.) She's a woman.
2.) She's not entrenched in Washington.
3.) She has strong conservative support.
4.) She readily identifies with rural and middle class America

McCain is weak in all four of these areas. However, with the possible exception of the second bullet point, these are all strictly political reasons (unless you think a female perspective is an important asset) that don't tell us a lot about what she'll bring to the table once in Washington.

That's not to say Obama's pick wasn't political either. Obama's advantage over Palin in experience is small, with just four years of national exposure in the Senate, half of which has been spent running for president or on book tours. Obama needed someone on his ticket who would help detract from that inexperience. Senator Biden fit the bill. He's been entrenched in Washington for years.

However, Senator Biden's years of experience would also presumably serve Obama well in office. He's also a policy wonk who would serve as a trusted adviser to Obama. I don't think anyone knows what kind of an adviser Palin would make. It's not necessarily a problem, it's just a huge unknown that Palin has to deal with and Biden doesn't.

So far I've found myself agreeing with Palin politically more often than not, for what it's worth. The move seems to have been a political win for McCain so far. Those who didn't like McCain on the left still don't. Those who didn't like McCain on the right now do. Those in the middle are still trying to figure everything out.

I'll be watching the vice presidential debate much more closely than I would have otherwise. I'll be watching Palin's speech tonight. I know what she brings to the table as a political candidate, and I think it will help McCain. But I want to know what she would bring to the table once she hits Capitol Hill.

At the end of the day, this race is about the leading candidates. But I'm still anxious to learn more about what non-political campaign assets McCain thought Palin would bring to Washington.


Anonymous Bill Roehl declared,

She's "normal"; she's easy to identify with for many people because she isn't far removed from the life that the rest of us lead.

I suppose this shouldn't be said in response to a personal blog post but for lack of a better way to put this: "speak for yourself."

Palin is far from normal. As an Evangelical Christian that forced her daughter to marry to save her own political career, I have a real problem with someone ruining the life of her own family members to better herself. If she's going to sell out her teenage daughter to save face, what would she do to the rest of us when it comes down to it?

Palin is of the "New Aged GOP" mentality, not the Republican party of old. She's continuing to ruin the "stay out of my life" mantra of the Republican party of years gone by and is happy to tell you exactly how you should live your life -- to her outrageous religious specifications -- which the majority of America do not prescribe.

I'm sorry, but as a Republican I have a real problem with this and for someone else to dictate to me what *I*, or anyone else, should do is just wrong on so very many levels.

Those who didn't like McCain on the right now do.

WRONG! While I cannot vote for McCain or Obama because of their refusal to uphold the Constitution of this country by forgiving Big Business via an illegal ex post facto law, I don't believe that a move which includes blatant media pandering to try and capture the "minority" vote that Obama may have already dominated, is anything but shameful.

I agree with some of the other things you said but I don't think Palin was a wise choice aside from the sheer brilliance in keeping the "New Aged GOP" ranking above DFL stories in the media related to rumors, speculation, and truth about her daughter's underage drinking and premarital sex (bad press is still press I suppose).

Wake me up when either candidate or their staff are worth of leading this country out of the hell that it has been sinking into over the last decade.

9/03/2008 11:47 AM  
Blogger Joey declared,

Yes, "normal" is relative. But to say she forced her daughter to marry (she isn't even married yet) is pretty harsh and completely unfounded. I have yet to see evidence of that. It's pure speculation.

And when I said "Those who didn't like McCain on the right now do," I wasn't talking about libertarian Republicans. I was referring more to the moral conservatives.

I also think that the actions of Palin's daughter are rather irrelevant to the discussion.

9/03/2008 11:58 AM  
Anonymous Bill Roehl declared,

No 17 year old in 2008 is going to marry unless coerced by their parental units whether that's because of direct manipulation or years of indoctrination.

But you're right, only time will tell if they actually are married.

Thanks for the clarifications on your other points, it's appreciated.

9/03/2008 12:24 PM  
Blogger James A. N. Stauffer declared,

Obama does have some national issue experience but only Palin has some executive experience. I wouldn't say that Obama necessarily has an experience advantage -- maybe even the opposite.

9/03/2008 12:34 PM  
Blogger Joey declared,

Bill, I don't completely agree with that statement. I agree that it's more prevalent for Christians to marry young than the rest of the general population, but it's not exclusive to Christians. "Manipulation" and "indoctrination" don't apply here any more than they apply to people who advocate for their 17-year-old to get an abortion. Being outside of the cultural norm doesn't automatically make it manipulation. It doesn't mean it's not, but it can't be assumed that it is.

I had a pretty conservative upbringing, so I think I can relate. Since I was 17 I've been on my own and anything I've done since (and arguably even before) then has been my own decision. There's no doubt that those decisions have been shaped by my upbringing; to suggest otherwise would be ignorant. But that's true of all of us. We've all been manipulated and indoctrinated under that definition.

Anyway, hopefully that makes sense. Thanks for the responses Bill!

9/03/2008 12:58 PM  
Blogger kristi noser declared,

As non-political as I am, I still like to read your political posts because there's always a chance that you'll use the word "wonk". You just never disappoint, Joeywhite, thank you.

9/03/2008 5:35 PM  

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