On Sarah Palin’s daughter’s pregnancy

Who cares? I really don’t. All families have their issues. This news does not reflect badly on Palin as a mother or as a person, and the dems would be wise to listen to Obama, who has told them this topic is “off limits.”

No, it doesn’t tell us much about Palin (I already know more than I need to conclude she is a disastrous choice, in the Harriet Miers tradition) but it does raise questions about McCain – about the process he used to vet Palin, and about his tendency to make hot-headed, emotional, on-the-fly decisions. He’s my state’s senator, remember, and I know several people who work with McCain. His temper and his impetuousness are real issues.

Is this the kind of decision-maker America wants in the White House? Is this truly the very best McCain could come up with for the person who will step into his shoes should something happen to him? Not even McCain’s spin doctors can justify the choice. Please head over to this post and watch the video. No way out; there’s no way the question the reporter asks can be answered. Watch the poor spokesperson squirm and slither. The GOP has dug themselves in deep this time. Let them implode on their own; they don’t need our help.

The only way we can ruin it is by attacking Palin and her daughter, who simply don’t deserve it. It would only backfire.

Over the past few days my admiration of and respect for Obama has grown a hundred-fold. From his galvanizing speech last week to his sensitive handling of the Palin pregnancy shocker, he’s demonstrated he has the qualities of a true leader. Obama for president.

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Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 58 Comments

If you pardon me:
Is she religious, I mean is she in favor of the true-love-waits, real-safer-sex-is-no-sex, condoms-are-evil stupidity? If so one could argue that her daughter just falsified part of her political program.

September 2, 2008 @ 8:36 pm | Comment

Yes is the answer to your question, and she is against sex education. However, once we put the focus on her and her daughter, we are seen as exploiting her private life. Obama is very smart to discourage that. Let her self-destruct on her own. She is just another corrupt gun-loving bible-thumping evangelical Republican who was chosen solely for being a woman. This will sink in with the voting population very quickly; let’s hope they all watch that video clip I linked to. I would wager she’ll end up stepping down from the ticket within the next few weeks. She’s already becoming a liability for McCain after a mere 48 hours.

September 2, 2008 @ 8:50 pm | Comment

eh, imho it does tell us something about her because she’s willing to publicly humiliate her daughter just to cover up her own ass. that’s pretty low. if you remember, the supposed reason for this getting out were rumors that palin’s youngest kid (the one with down syndrome) wasn’t hers, so to dispel them…she let everyone know that her daughter is pregnant now?
i don’t even see how that’s supposed to help anyway.

September 2, 2008 @ 11:04 pm | Comment

Speaking from a red-state perspective, I can follow his logic on picking Palin. My opinion is the pregnancy thing will have a fairly quick burn rate,a and mostly pass over, except for those who weren’t going to vote for McCain anyway.

Her foreign policy experience is nil, but that is the case with most governors picked to high national office. Great article on the decision process from the International Herald Tribune that’s worth a read:

http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/08/31/america/31reconstruct.php

From the article:

“McCain was comfortable with two others on his short list, Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota and former Governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts. But neither was the transformative, attention-grabbing choice McCain felt he needed, top campaign advisers said, to help him pivot from his image as the custodian of the status quo to a change agent like his Democratic rival, Senator Barack Obama.

Not least, Obama’s decision to pass over Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton as his running mate opened the possibility for Republicans to put a woman on the ticket and pick off some of Clinton’s supporters.”

September 2, 2008 @ 11:29 pm | Comment

Matt, I suspect very few of Clinton’s supporters will go for an anti-women’s reproductive rights candidate who shoots mooses (if’ that what the plural of moose is) and is a true nutter. It’s not just that her foreign policy is nil – it’s that she is a totally blank slate, a downright bizarre choice for the person who will be a half-heartbeat from the presidency, under a relatively old man with a history of cancer.

I have issues with Obama, buy he is by comparison rich with experience.

Lensovet, I actually think you’re right – it may tel us something about her, but there’s no reason to go that route. We know enough about her already to know she is incredibly not ready to be the most powerful ruler in the world. And yes, it was the rumor about her own child actually being her daughter’s child – a rumor that came out in a Daily Kos diary – that forced Palin to reveal the truth. This is a good article on how the Repubs at the convention are trying to downplay this catastrophe.

September 2, 2008 @ 11:47 pm | Comment

Does anyone realize that almost NEVER is the runner up in a primary selected as VP. I seriously doubt if Hillary would take the job anyway. I demeans the candidate and doesn’t foster future creed. Sorry to deflate this POV. Check the records… A first class candidate doesn’t take the number 2 job.

September 3, 2008 @ 12:00 am | Comment

Well, if she uses her family as a means in her political struggle I don’t see why it should not be appropriate to talk about them. If she keeps them out, keep em out.
But you are right. It surely is not very wise (and nice) to focus on them now. Obama is on the right track there.

September 3, 2008 @ 12:11 am | Comment

As I said, there’s plenty of rope in her own record in office to hang her with (metaphorically). This is from someone in Alaska who’s tracked Palin’s career since it began. I know it’s long, but I recommend you read it all:

Her experience is as mayor of a city with a population of about 5,000 (at the time), and less than 2 years as governor of a state with about 670,000 residents. During her mayoral administration most of the actual work of running this small city was turned over to an administrator. She had been pushed to hire this administrator by party power-brokers after she had gotten herself into some trouble over precipitous firings which had given rise to a recall campaign. Sarah campaigned in Wasilla as a “fiscal conservative”. During her 6 years as Mayor, she increased general government expenditures by over 33%. During those same 6 years the amount of taxes collected by the City increased by 38%.

This was during a period of low inflation (1996-2002). She reduced progressive property taxes and increased a regressive sales tax which taxed even food. The tax cuts that she promoted benefited large corporate property owners way more than they benefited residents. The huge increases in tax revenues during her mayoral administration weren’t enough to fund everything on her wish list though, borrowed money was needed, too. She inherited a city with zero debt, but left it with indebtedness of over $22 million. What did Mayor Palin encourage the voters to borrow money for? Was it the infrastructure that she said she supported? The sewage treatment plant that the city lacked? or a new library? No. $1m for a park. $15m-plus for construction of a multi-use sports complex which she rushed through to build on a piece of property that the City didn’t even have clear title to, that was still in litigation 7 yrs later–to the delight of the lawyers involved! The sports complex itself is a nice addition to the community but a huge money pit, not the profit-generator she claimed it would be. She also supported bonds for $5.5m for road projects that could have been done in 5-7 yrs without any borrowing. While Mayor, City Hall was extensively remodeled and her office redecorated more than once. These are small numbers, but Wasilla is a very small city.

As an oil producer, the high price of oil has created a budget surplus in Alaska. Rather than invest this surplus in technology that will make us energy independent and increase efficiency, as Governor she proposed distribution of this surplus to every individual in the state. In this time of record state revenues and budget surpluses, she recommended that the state borrow/bond for road projects, even while she proposed distribution of surplus state revenues: spend today’s surplus, borrow for needs. She’s not very tolerant of divergent opinions or open to outside ideas or compromise. As Mayor, she fought ideas that weren’t generated by her or her staff. Ideas weren’t evaluated on their merits, but on the basis of who proposed them.

While Sarah was Mayor of Wasilla she tried to fire our highly respected City Librarian because the Librarian refused to consider removing from the library some books that Sarah wanted removed. City residents rallied to the defense of the City Librarian and against Palin’s attempt at out-and-out censorship, so Palin backed down and withdrew her termination letter. People who fought her attempt to oust the Librarian are on her enemies list to this day. Sarah complained about the “old boy’s club” when she first ran for Mayor, so what did she bring Wasilla? A new set of “old boys”. Palin fired most of the experienced staff she inherited. At the City and as Governor she hired or elevated new, inexperienced, obscure people, creating a staff totally dependent on her for their jobs and eternally grateful and fiercely loyal–loyal to the point of abusing their power to further her personal agenda, as she has acknowledged happened in the case of pressuring the State’s top cop (see below).

As Mayor, Sarah fired Wasilla’s Police Chief because he “intimidated” her, she told the press. As Governor, her recent firing of Alaska’s top cop has the ring of familiarity about it. He served at her pleasure and she had every legal right to fire him, but it’s pretty clear that an important factor in her decision to fire him was because he wouldn’t fire her sister’s ex-husband, a State Trooper. Under investigation for abuse of power, she has had to admit that more than 2 dozen contacts were made between her staff and family to the person that she later fired, pressuring him to fire her ex-brother-in-law. She tried to replace the man she fired with a man who she knew had been reprimanded for sexual harassment; when this caused a public furor, she withdrew her support.

She has bitten the hand of every person who extended theirs to her in help. The City Council person who personally escorted her around town introducing her to voters when she first ran for Wasilla City Council became one of her first targets when she was later elected Mayor. She abruptly fired her loyal City Administrator; even people who didn’t like the guy were stunned by this ruthlessness. Fear of retribution has kept all of these people from saying anything publicly about her.

When then-Governor Murkowski was handing out political plums, Sarah got the best, Chair of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission: one of the few jobs not in Juneau and one of the best paid. She had no background in oil & gas issues. Within months of scoring this great job which paid $122,400/yr, she was complaining in the press about the high salary. I was told that she hated that job: the commute, the structured hours, the work. Sarah became aware that a member of this Commission (who was also the State Chair of the Republican Party) engaged in unethical behavior on the job. In a gutsy move which some undoubtedly cautioned her could be political suicide, Sarah solved all her problems in one fell swoop: got out of the job she hated and garnered gobs of media attention as the patron saint of ethics and as a gutsy fighter against the “old boys’ club” when she dramatically quit, exposing this man’s ethics violations (for which he was fined).

As Mayor, she had her hand stuck out as far as anyone for pork from Senator Ted Stevens. Lately, she has castigated his pork-barrel politics and publicly humiliated him. She only opposed the “bridge to nowhere” after it became clear that it would be unwise not to. As Governor, she gave the Legislature no direction and budget guidelines, then made a big grandstand display of line-item vetoing projects, calling them pork. Public outcry and further legislative action restored most of these projects–which had been vetoed simply because she was not aware of their importance–but with the unobservant she had gained a reputation as “anti-pork”. She is solidly Republican: no political maverick. The State party leaders hate her because she has bit them in the back and humiliated them. Other members of the party object to her self-description as a fiscal conservative.

Around Wasilla there are people who went to high school with Sarah. They call her “Sarah Barracuda” because of her unbridled ambition and predatory ruthlessness. When Sarah’s mother-in-law, a highly respected member of the community and experienced manager, ran for Mayor, Sarah refused to endorse her. As Governor, she stepped outside of the box and put together of package of legislation known as “AGIA” that forced the oil companies to march to the beat of her drum.

Like most Alaskans, she favors drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. She has questioned if the loss of sea ice is linked to global warming. She campaigned “as a private citizen” against a state initiaitive that would have either a) protected salmon streams from pollution from mines, or b) tied up in the courts all mining in the state (depending on who you listen to). She has pushed the State’s lawsuit against the Dept. of the Interior’s decision to list polar bears as threatened species. McCain is the oldest person to ever run for President; Sarah will be a heartbeat away from being President. There has to be literally millions of Americans who are more knowledgeable and experienced than she. However, there’s a lot of people who have underestimated her and are regretting it.

So why give the GOP ammunition they can use to brand us as hateful thugs infringing on this poor girl’s famiy? No need. This is just another fissure in the glass wall they live behind, and it will soon be totally shattered.

September 3, 2008 @ 12:14 am | Comment

muffler, that’s an interesting point. Some people have said the Clinton camp were annoyed she didn’t get the VP nomination, but I wondered whether she really wanted it. If Obama wasn’t elected she’d be pulled down with him – if he were elected but his term didn’t go that well, or he had a second term followed by voter apathy towards a third Democratic administration, she’d also suffer. Perhaps the “shock”/”annoyance” was made up to make it seem like there was internal strife when that wasn’t the case.

But I guess we’ll never find out as to whether she would have wanted the vice-presidency or not.

As for Palin, the point has been made that if anything a “scandal” of this sort could help her, as it would make her seem relatively normal in a somewhat strange way. There’s a difference between, for example, one’s child being found to have taken drugs, drunk drive or whatever and becoming pregnant out of wedlock. These days I think in either the US or UK, the latter is not considered the taboo it once was – at most some right-wingers might think it “not appropriate”, but they’re not going to boycott McCain if Obama is the alternative.

September 3, 2008 @ 12:18 am | Comment

Well, both John Edwards and Bush I ran as VPs after they came in second in their respective primaries. It’s not unprecedented.

I partially agree with Raj that this could energize some oddball evangelicals to rally around Palin, but by no means will the number be significant enough to save her skin. She is now a liability to McCain and I believe she will have to go, The race is already so close, they cannot be dragged down by this sort of scandal. Of course, I’d love her to stay on and hope she does, but it seems less likely with each passing hour. I can only imagine the apoplectic look on St. McCain’s face when he heard the news. Knowing of his temper, I suspect the ensuing blast was cataclysmic.

September 3, 2008 @ 12:23 am | Comment

I don’t want someone who is pro-gun ownership, anti choice to be in the highest office. She managed a city in Alsaska, but that city with small population can’t even compare to San Francisco, New York, Chicago, she has never dealt with inner city issues, she is not qualified to run for VP. MaCain has put the party’s interest over the interest of the country, by picking the least qualified person. I wouldn’t want him to select his staff of cabinet members.

September 3, 2008 @ 12:42 am | Comment

Amen to that, Cathy.

The novelty of this new topic – her daughter’s pregnancy – will indeed wear off and its effect will fade, but so too with the novelty of McCain being onve again “the maverick,” picking some non-experienced woman no one had ever heard of. At first many, myself included, were somewhat awed by his audacity and willingness to defy the status quo. When all of that dies down, all we’re left with is Sarah Palin, perhaps a good woman and caring parent but, in terms of political achievement, a true nobody and just about the last choice most of would have to become king (or queen) of the world. I look at someone like Robert Gates, a Republican I admire, and say, how could they possibly look at men like Gates and then choose a nobody like Palin? Only one answer: political expediency, the need to throw a wet towel on Obama’s unbelievably good speech and re-ignite the maverick image of St. McCain. Needless to say, the was sold a lemon.

September 3, 2008 @ 12:50 am | Comment

Richard, what I meant was that the people who might object to the idea of a candidate’s children becoming pregnant out of wedlock are those who would vote Republican anyway. I didn’t mean to suggest that this incident itself will cause them to support her.

September 3, 2008 @ 1:49 am | Comment

This Palin daughter pregnancy issue needs to go away soon, Obama realized that this distraction is not good for debates, not really good for the democratic party because it distracts the real issues.

September 3, 2008 @ 1:59 am | Comment

Raj, you dont seem to get it.

It’s not the becoming pregnant out of wedblock part that is holding Palin back, it’s the “family-value” hypocrisy that really annoys the independent voters.

The rightwing nuts would vote McCain anyways. The independent Hillary supporters will shy away from Palin. And that will change the outcome of this election

September 3, 2008 @ 2:14 am | Comment

Along with Palin’s family, any discussion/belittling of her “experience” should be totally off the table. Some of it is sexist (look at Tim Kaine’s experience) and much of it brings up the question of Obama’s own “experience” and whether he is prepared for the Presidency. You end up comparing a Presidential candidate to a VP candidate, and this is not what the Democrats want.

The reaction of a lot of so-called progressives to Palin is both disappointing, counter-productive and sadly predictable. I say this as a person who would never vote for McCain or Palin.

September 3, 2008 @ 2:28 am | Comment

Otherlisa,

If it’s so predictable, then why is it disappointing? There is nothing to be ashamed of talking about Palin’s teen pregnant daughter. This is US politics, everyone drags his/her whole family into the arena, fair game if you want to show your family value.

Btw, I meant to say that the biggest talking point is not Palins’ family value or lack of, or the ridiculous abstinence based sex education. The key issue is McCain’s judgement, what kind of hothead would pick a nobody after a 15 minute meeting? And who’s in charge of McCain’s vetting team? Those are legit questions we all should ask.

Carville did a good job today by insisting on one question: “Is Palin the best VP candidate Mccain can pick from the Republican Party”.

September 3, 2008 @ 2:47 am | Comment

It’s not the becoming pregnant out of wedblock part that is holding Palin back, it’s the “family-value” hypocrisy that really annoys the independent voters.

It’s not hypocritical for someone to support family values just because one of their children gets pregnant and married at a young age. Sure if it turned out that Palin was happy for her kids to have unprotected sex at a young age, that would be hypocricy. But that’s not what happened here. And rather than try to cover anything up, the decision taken seems to be to keep the child and get married. Now that does suggest family values.

Clinton women voters may have not voted Republican because of her views on abortion – this won’t have come onto their radar.

September 3, 2008 @ 2:51 am | Comment

Raj,

You need to dig a little bit more, a good place to get started is Digg.com

Sure a shotgun wedding shows family value, Levi Johnston doesnt want kids. Digg a little Raj!!

The whole Palin family is now the butt of internet jokes, or the butt of jokes from the TUBES according to Senator Stevens. I cannot wait to see how the comedians take on this shit.. it’s gonna be funny.

The only demographic that will vote for McCain/Pain is the rightwing nuts, and I dont think Obama ever banked his votes on them.

September 3, 2008 @ 3:14 am | Comment

I kind of disagreed that Palin’s daughter now she is pregnant should then married the looser at the age of 17. I don’t think that’s a wise decision. Palin’s family should support the daughter, help her raise the kid, let her finish college, and if the looser is no longer a looser, and proven himself worthy of being a husband, then they should think of getting married.

September 3, 2008 @ 3:22 am | Comment

Raj,

Hate to bring this to you…

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/09/02/prediction-market-starts_n_123136.html

However you want to spin it.. This shows how poor McCain’s judgement is. And that will be brought up again and again by the democratic pundits.

I understand that you want the republicans win because of the Nuclear deal, but honestly

“Do you think Palin is the best VP choice McCain had?”

September 3, 2008 @ 3:23 am | Comment

Kumra, it has nothing to do whether Palin was a bad choice (or not). It’s the specific matter of the pregnancy itself and whether it was a “disaster” of some sort for Palin. For some reason you seem unable to grasp that very simple point.

As for the Indian nuclear deal, last I heard was that Congress had the final say – which is going to be Democrat regardless of who gets into the White House. If you bothered to follow this blog you’d also know that I’m not Indian, as I’m sure is the same for you as well.

September 3, 2008 @ 3:25 am | Comment

Whos talking about the specific matter of pregnancy here, a 17 year old pregnant, who cares?!

Raj, I am not sure if it’s a disaster to Bristol or not, but I assure you not a lot of 17 year old pregnant want to be scrutinized by the whole nation while her mom is running for VP. Or a lot of VP candidates want to have teen pregnant daughters while you are running on a family-value ticket.

And the disaster just doesnt stop there.. The troopergate, the bridge to nowhere, the executive experience of running a state smaller than my county.

I think we’re all looking forward to the Palin/Biden debate

September 3, 2008 @ 3:35 am | Comment

Raj, nobody says Palin had a bad choince.. It’s McCain’s choice and the top of the ticket is what really matters..

It’s all about McCain, and his genius VP pick

Cathy, I would not call Levi a looser.. He’s made it. He probably will be remembered as the dude who changed 08 Election in a somewhat odd way, at least he’s got the bragging rights for the rest of his life.

“I’m just a redneck, if you fuck with me, i kick your ass”. That’s Levi’s myspace page.. Pure gold

September 3, 2008 @ 3:39 am | Comment

Anybody would think of pleasing to the far right is not wise. Any extreme ideas are dangerous and not good for the country and the world.

September 3, 2008 @ 3:46 am | Comment

who cares

Clearly large portions of the media, else it wouldn’t have been reported. The matter was raised by richard, though he also said it didn’t deserve coverage/attention by Democrats – I repeated a view that it could even have a positive element of sorts.

Raj, nobody says Palin had a bad choince..

Did I say she “had a bad choice”? (Whatever that means)

September 3, 2008 @ 3:50 am | Comment

This just in

http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2008/09/members-of-frin.html

Apparently Palin was a member of the Alaskan Independent Party, this is the best VP pick for the comedians

September 3, 2008 @ 3:50 am | Comment

Oy vey. Seems to be a lot of not getting it here.

Ah well. If this whole thing blows up in the Dems’ face, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

September 3, 2008 @ 4:02 am | Comment

Jees Kumra. Switch to decaf.

I get it otherlisa!

As a pro-life kind of fellow in a red state… who will probably vote for McCain unless the GOP implodes or McCain does remarkably bad in the debates: my wife, who also shares similar views (who was a Hillary supporter), will probably also vote for McCain/Palin because she would like to see a woman on the ticket. We’re not one-issue voters, and it’s difficult for most people to realize that all southerners are a bit more complex than commonly portrayed. For some women, having a woman on the ticket is very important. All women’s rights champions are not pro-choice, sorry to break that to anyone.

I agree that Palin is a very weak candidate (based on my rule of thumb that anyone with an IQ equal or less than mine shouldn’t be on the ticket). McCain’s choices were limited. Anyone picked as an insider, that falls right into Obama’s charges of McCain being “Bush’s third term”. If he picked Kay Bailey Hutchinson — well, then you have two old people on the ticket (God bless ‘em). Mitt Romney, Pawlenty, or heaven help us, Tom Ridge: you’ve got more of the same, and all a bunch of white guys. Doesn’t energize anybody. This is a huge gamble, and either a terrible mistake or a stroke of genius. I think it’s yet to be determined. If Palin comes out as sounding stupid in the debates, then so be it. McCain better do exceptionally well.

I’ve read some articles comparing Palin to Ferraro, who ran with Mondale in ’84. Don’t think that’s a good comparison, because Reagan’s popularity was quite high, and people remembered the inflation and bad economy that coincided with (my beloved) Jimmy Carter. Comparisons to Dan Quayle may be more accurate… but Dukakis ran a fantastically terrible campaign (taking a long vacation in August ’88, when he was far ahead, the goofy photo of him riding in a tank, and generally coming off as even more elitist/out of touch than GWB). Quayle lost badly in the debate to VP candidate Lloyd Bentsen on national television (I remember drinking beer with my college roomates and we howled with laughter when Bentsen said that Quayle’s no JFK). But it had no effect on the Bush campaign, and Dukakis got steamrolled.

My prediction is Palin will not step down. Troopergate will prove to be nothing, and the pregnant daughter with the redneck boyfriend will be baked into the “that family is kinda like mine” equation. The election hinges mostly on the three debates between McCain and Obama, just as they did in 2000.

September 3, 2008 @ 5:47 am | Comment

“All women’s rights champions are not pro-choice”

Tell that to Hillary supporters.

Matt, you missed the point. It’s not about you, a red state republican. The Palin VP pick is losing a whole lot independents from the battle states.

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2008/latestpolls/index.html

8 years is enough.

September 3, 2008 @ 6:46 am | Comment

Palin: someone who obviously doesn’t know how to say no (5 children!), someone who has no family values, who I can’t wait to see self-destruct.

McCain: a wackjob who was a failure as a soldier (he failed by not completing his mission and getting caught), a failure as a POW (he never managed to escape). He is a disgrace to the uniform as he rubs our faces in his “experience” as a POW.

GOP: out of touch with America, out of touch with planet Earth.

September 3, 2008 @ 8:11 am | Comment

Sinophile,

Amen to that

And whoever says the dude who knocked up Palin’s daughter is a looser owes a big apology to that dude

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2008/09/01/politics/p091657D38.DTL

As I said, dude made it. A 18 year old jobless Alaskan self-claimed redneck is going to have his WIKIPEDIA page, soon.. mark my words

September 3, 2008 @ 8:29 am | Comment

Personally I’m delighted that the Olympic nonsense is over (someone please tell CCTV) so that the world can focus on a race of real significance.

“I know several people who work with McCain. His temper and his impetuousness are real issues.”

Just the kind of guy you want to be handing the launch codes to.

That aside, my head spins when I think of all the reasons why it simply HAS to be Obama in November. So, yes, I fully agree that the Palin story gathers its own momentum (right or wrong) and the Obama camp can only harm their cause by trying to spin it, although Palin as next in line to a man with serious health issues does raise some questions.

Go Barack!

September 3, 2008 @ 8:43 am | Comment

NotASinophile, that’s just the kind of talk the nutjobs at Powerline and Michelle Malkin are looking for, so they can point to it as proof of liberals hating America. Sorry, but most POWs do not escape and are not looked upon as failures (except by crazed governments under the likes of Hitler and Tojo and Stalin). To call McCain a disgrace to the uniform is reckless and wrong and only serves the pro-McCain camp.

Lisa, I do believe the argument about Palin’s vs. Obama’s experience can be made. It was laid out pretty well in an AP article yesterday:and expounded on here.

Republican presidential candidate John McCain says his vice presidential pick, Sarah Palin, was already an experienced government official while his Democratic rival, Barack Obama, was working as a community organizer.

She wasn’t. Palin was finishing college, getting married and working as a TV sportscaster when Obama was directing a church-based community group on Chicago’s South Side in 1985-88.

McCain sought to make the comparison in an appearance on Fox News Sunday, criticizing Obama as too inexperienced to be in the White House despite his choice of a running mate who’s also being called too unseasoned for that role.

Challenged about his vice presidential choice, McCain said as governor of Alaska for the last two years, Palin “has had enormous responsibilities, none of which Senator Obama had.” Later, McCain elaborated that “as a governor, she has had executive experience. She didn’t sit in the state legislature.”

The same contrast could be made with McCain himself, whose entire 26-year political career has been spent in Congress.

It’s true that in recent years, more presidents have come from governorships than from legislative bodies. But it’s a stretch to argue that running the statehouse in a small state is ideal preparation for the issues that will confront the next president, from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to coping with a half-trillion-dollar budget deficit and serious energy and health-care problems.

In the same interview, McCain continued the theme, noting that “when she was in government, he was a community organizer.”

That’s incorrect. When Palin was first elected to the town council in Wasilla, Alaska, in the fall of 1992, Obama was wrapping up work in Chicago on a voter-registration drive. When that job ended, he joined a Chicago law firm and became a lecturer at the University of Chicago law school, and the Chicago Tribune picked him as one of “25 Chicagoans on the road to making a difference.”

Obama’s community organizing career had come years earlier, in 1985-88.

McCain also highlighted what he termed Palin’s independent streak, praising her for often bucking her own party leaders.

“When she was taking tough positions against her own party, Senator Obama was voting ‘present’ 130 times in the state legislature, on every tough issue, whatever it was,” McCain said.

That charge was reminiscent of attacks waged on Obama by his fellow Democrats during this year’s primary campaign, including Hillary Clinton and John Edwards.

It’s true that Obama voted “present” dozens of times, part of the thousands of votes he cast in an eight-year span in Springfield. Illinois lawmakers commonly vote that way on a variety of issues, and he has countered that many of those votes were cast because of technical or legal considerations about the underlying legislation.

Often, Obama voted “present” with large groups of other Democrats to protest what they saw as Republican trickery or abuse of power. Other times, voting that way sends a message that a lawmaker supports a bill’s intent, but has concerns about how the legislation is drafted. Voting this way also can be a way to duck a difficult issue, as McCain charged, although that’s difficult to prove.

There are also cases where legislators vote “present” as part of a strategy. Obama did this on some abortion measures, voting “present” to encourage some wavering legislators to do the same instead of voting “yes”. Their “present” votes had the same effect as “no” votes, so getting them to vote present helped defeat the bills.

As you know, I have had issues with Obama, but the inexperience charge just doesn’t hold up factually. The blogger who presents tht article adds,

Obama has had far more experience dealing with national issues in both the Illinois legislature and the U.S. Senate than Palin has had in less than two years as Governor of a state with as small a population as Alaska.

Prior to being Governor, Palin had no meaningful experience, being mayor of a tiny town where most functions were performed at a county level. In contrast, Obama worked as a community organizer and taught Constitutional law prior to entering the state legislature. The significance of Obama’s years in the state legislature of Illinois should not be discounted. While members of the U.S. Senate are able to have staffers handle much of the work on issues, members of state legislatures are forced to have a much more hands on approach.

I can see going after Obama on his FISA flip-flop and his promise to cut taxes and his health care proposal (less imaginative and less effective than Clinton’s). And I can see claiming he is less experienced than Clinton in some key areas. But the argument that he and Palin are equally inexperienced does not, it seems to me, hold water. Obama has been passionately involved in government issues, articulating positions and trying to influence the public, for decades. Whether we like him or not, his deep involvement in the effort to make a difference and change people’s lives can’t be disputed.

And you’re right, this could blow up in the Democrats’ face, so I suggest they not play with dynamite.

Raj: who cares
Clearly large portions of the media, else it wouldn’t have been reported. The matter was raised by richard, though he also said it didn’t deserve coverage/attention by Democrats – I repeated a view that it could even have a positive element of sorts.

The media has to care – it’s definitely news, and this is exactly the kind of thing the vetting process is supposed to screen out. It’s news about McCain and about Palin as well. The media are doing their job. Let them. but don’t pour on gasoline from the sidelines. The Republicans in office were masters of this strategy during the Monica scandal, laying low and not moralizing, taking care not to be seen as bullying until the final evidence was in (the dress), and then they all pounced together. They knew the story itself would keep the issue alive in the public consciousness, they didn’t have to say a word (they left that to the pundits).

Matt: This is a huge gamble, and either a terrible mistake or a stroke of genius. I think it’s yet to be determined.

Very, very few are now calling this a stroke of genius. Perhaps it seemed that way the first day (I was impressed). Now it’s just a gigantic mess. Leave it to Malkin and Powerline and their cronies to make an out-of-wedlock child a symbol of family values (“but they chose life!”).

Meanwhile, the big story here, as stated earlier, is about McCain, not Palin. Watching them scramble now to vet her is kind of amusing and definitely pathetic. They fucked up with their first major decision, and now much of the election going forward will be about defending Palin. Will this make her a sympathetic figure? To some. But in the light of America’s economic catastrophe, two wars, lack of health insurance, rising unemployment and in general a country deep in the shitter, it’s just a distracting sideshow that will further keep McCain from articulating why he would make the better president.

She may not drop out, but she is definitely not a net plus. Her situation may appeal to a fringe, but most sane people will realize this should not be a deciding factor and that all it does is raise more nagging question about McCain’s competency, and lack thereof.

September 3, 2008 @ 9:19 am | Comment

Up above, Gupta posted a link to a chart by the conservative Real Clear Politics site. Everyone who thinks Palin is a plus has got to go take a look. Amazing. Palin is a godsend to the Dems. Leave her alone. She doesn’t need any help from us. The simple image of Palin taking over the reins of power and having control of the world is all we need. And there’s a lot more to come as the reporters do what they’re paid to do and dig up her background.

September 3, 2008 @ 9:29 am | Comment

I’ll admit that I haven’t read all of the comments, but I would like to add my opinion nevertheless. If I’m overlooking something, just call me a big buffoon.
Personally, I certainly don’t mind or feel opposed to Palin’s daughter being pregnant in any way, shape, or form; but this needs to be taken within the context of her own political philosophy and her ability to apply the same standard to her family that she applies to others’ families (Republicans, in my experience, tend to be quite judgmental about others’ family values, while giving themselves quite a lot of leeway- remember Newt Gingrich, Larry Craig, the other guy who sought hookers and then helped pen some sort of “defense of marriage” act with Larry Craig- these are textbook definitions of “hypocricy”).
Considering Republican rhetoric, there is no denying that it is somewhat problematic, just a few days into one’s nomination as vice president for a party that has harped for the past three decades on “morals” and “welfare moms,” to announce that one’s unmarried daughter is pregnant. The immensely complex and perhaps painful family dynamics underlying this are not easy to ignore, but the bare facts suggest at the very least a tension between the conservative public image and the realities of human life. In this respect, I both dislike and immensely like this “controversy.”
Another “controversy,” according to Yahoo News: “She has acknowledged smoking marijuana in the past.”
This was a big deal for Bill Clinton, unfortunately. Again, it strikes me as a fairly inconsequential piece of life history (after all, if you asked me to try to find someone who had never smoked pot in their entire life, I can only imagine that I would have a very hard time), but it also strikes me as hypocritical in the so-called “law and order” and “hit ‘em hard” political party. Why is it that people can spend lengthy periods in prison if a vice-presidential candidate did the same thing? Furthermore, does anyone really believe that McCain didn’t get high in Vietnam? I have many family members and family acquaintances who were in Vietnam, and smoking pot seems to be the least of their concerns for their physical and psychological well-being….
So, is it a private affair or blatant public hypocricy? I’d vote for the latter….

September 3, 2008 @ 11:40 am | Comment

Kevin, I do not want to defend Palin, but… I don’t necessarily see hypocrisy in the fact that her daughter got pregnant. There is tons of hypocrisy in Republican rhetoric, but I don’t see this as a flagrant example. If it were Palin herself who went out and had an illegitimate child, we might have a case. And it can be argued that the way she handled it is proof she is in now way a hypocrite – her daughter marrying the guy and the two of them keeping the child. So I say we are on very thin ice when we try to make this an issue or proof of hypocrisy.

The marijuana thing really wasn’t a big deal for Clinton except for the way he explained it: “I didn’t even inhale.” It reconfirmed the belief in many that he was a weasel. Obama has admitted the same and no one has made an issue out of it. But I do agree with you about hypocrisy on the drug issue – GW Bush was a known cokehead, a crime punishable by many years in prison, and it just was glossed over, and he was allowed to get away with a “no comment” response.

September 3, 2008 @ 12:00 pm | Comment

Up late watching the fun on a few different networks. I know Fox News has its agenda, but CNN seems more slanted left recently than I ever remember… I guess they’re competing against Fox in a race to the bottom. Oh well.

@Kumra, point taken that it’s not about me, living in a red state, and usually voting how I do. But the other side is true. I have a unique vantage point as a moderate in a place representative of much of America, and I take pretty decent temperatures of the common folk. My perception is no doubt skewed, living where I do and having life experiences as I have. I tend to think, though, it’s less skewed than some of the authors of some of the wild trollbait comments going on. I also like to think of some of you guys being under the influence a couple hits of Maker’s Mark after (or during?) a long day. At least that would be a reasonable excuse.

I still think it’s an important note that some women would like to see a woman on the ticket regardless, regardless of their stance on abortion. My wife’s support of Hillary, now Palin (McCain), is probably not too much of an aberration. It likely means there are millions of women like her, who would just prefer a woman in power for once. Which raises an interesting question… those who would like to see a minority or woman in office, do they really mean that? Or do they just want one who agrees with them? It seems like the latter, on both sides of the aisle, myself included in that indictment.

@Kevin, totally agree with the tendency of some Repubs to be so judgemental. It works against them most of the time, and right or wrong, this tangential scandal will be used against them. But dude, I don’t think McCain was stationed in Vietnam, he just flew over the place, landing back on his aircraft carrier. The ground pounders actually in country, doing the heavy lifting and daily combat – they were the ones needing much deserved relaxation.

I see the polls… and they may stick that way. But, the worm will probably turn (yet again), to quote “Platoon”…. the Palin thing is troubling on the surface, but it still might be beneficial for the Republicans. My guess is the amount of vitriol for Palin is in some ways proportional to the threat McCain is offering.

The race is about the top level guys. Start comparing Obama to Palin, and it downgrades Obama… especially when their experience in office is arguably comparable.

September 3, 2008 @ 1:35 pm | Comment

I love to see Palin as president of USA. It will be truly hilarious.

“Abstinence only” didn’t work, not for her 17-year-old daughter and not for herself. It will be funny to see her keep popping out down syndrome babies by “intelligent design” in white house, but please stop dropping bombs to kill babies in faraway land. America is truly a wonderland, you are hero mother if you are determined to give birth to the down syndromes.

September 3, 2008 @ 1:35 pm | Comment

Matt: My wife’s support of Hillary, now Palin (McCain), is probably not too much of an aberration. It likely means there are millions of women like her, who would just prefer a woman in power for once.

Do you know how insulting that is to women? To say, with no evidence except it’s true for your wife, that “millions” of women will vote for Palin simply because she’s a woman and despite anything she stands for is a bit, um, peculiar. So you’re saying they can pick a woman, any woman, and millions will vote for her simply on the grounds of her gender? I don’t believe it. I believe millions of evangelical women may vote for her, or millions of Catholic women, or maybe millions of Republican-voting women – but Hillary’s supporters? Liberal women? Democratic Party women? Especially with all the new evidence coming out that there is way less to Palin than meets the eye? Well, maybe, but if you look at the chart in the earlier comment I called out up above, you’ll see that most of the millions who are changing their minds since Palin was unveiled as the best veep the GOP could find are moving to Obama. I repeat my premise that the only women Palin will draw to her are fringe voters – mainly evangelicals, far-righters or those looking for a “pro-life” litmus test; Palin can justify to them pulling the lever for McCain. She may also pull in some hitherto undecided Catholic voters, but not enough to make any difference, and surely not enough to balance the millions of women who are now realizing what a trainwreck this choice would mean for America.

September 3, 2008 @ 1:59 pm | Comment

GOPer line—

This is purely a private, family matter. Adolescent high jinks, nothing more. It should be left strictly to the family – and no one else ! – to decide what is best.

Unless, of course, she wants an abortion, in which case the government should step in and put a stop to amoral behavior.

.

September 3, 2008 @ 2:08 pm | Comment

I think it went down like this… Obama thinks…hmmm… need to pick a VP. How about the most experienced Democrat in the Senate, someone who’s been in the public eye for decades… oh, wait, that guy’s 90 years old… o.k., how about the second most experienced guy, in the Senate for almost 36 years… yeah.. Joe Biden…

McCain thinks… hmmm.. need to pick a VP, but if I pick a Mormon or a Democrat then Rove will jump down my throat.. geez… what do I do… who do I pick.. o.k., think quick, how about woman? Guys, find me a woman Republican and let’s get this done…

The rest, as they say, is history…

September 3, 2008 @ 2:10 pm | Comment

@Richard,

Chill out homie. It’s conjecture. I said “it likely means”. And it likely does. However:

It is probably more insulting to women to assume, like you and others seem to do, that there is only one party associated with female empowerment. There are certaintly women out there who are for Palin, because they represent achievement for women’s rights. Hillary is that woman, like it or not – Palin is that woman, as is Pelosi, or Rice, or the late great Shirley Chisholm. All of these women have earned positions of power in what’s mostly a man’s game.

I say again: I know a woman who was for Hillary, but is now for McCain, because of Palin. Maybe that will change, but that’s the score right now. Maybe it’s silly. Maybe she’s so busy working and living that all she knows is that she’s for her women. I assert that she’s not alone. Women are busting ass across the country and they identify with a woman working to suceed in an unfair world.

Just one little snapshot. Nothing sexist about that, but I sense it in your comments, speaking for women as you do.

September 3, 2008 @ 2:42 pm | Comment

Richard:

Obama’s experience is rich compared to hers??

Come on – I usually agree with most of what you say, but that is a bit of a stretch.

4 years in Senate, most of which spent campaigning for Pres.

versus – executive experience.

Neither knows anything about foreign policy, that’s why MCCAIN is leading the ticket.

As was said rather perceptively, would you rather have your teacher or student there for on the job training. I will take the student.

No contest

September 3, 2008 @ 2:52 pm | Comment

Bigdog, wait – I am not saying Obama has tons of experience. But he does have much more experience than Palin, which is setting the bar very low, of course.

Go back to the comment above where I cite the AP article. Obama has been deeply involved in community affairs since 1985. His years in the state legislature count. Is he at all on an experience level of, say, Cheney or Rumsfeld or of Clinton or Chris Dodd or Al Gore? No. Is he more experienced and has he shown more commitment to fighting for causes than Palin? Yes, much, much more.

September 3, 2008 @ 2:58 pm | Comment

It’s curious how narrowly “experience” gets defined here. Obama was raised outside the US and is the product of a multicultural marriage. HEEEELLLLLOOOOO!!!! That blows away McCain or Palin, period.

Michael

September 3, 2008 @ 3:25 pm | Comment

Michael, agreed. He also has oratorical experience that mustn’t be discounted. A great leader depends on communications, and that skill always served Bill Clinton very well, as it did Reagan and JFK and MLK. The president is essentially a super-lobbyist, a salesman. Look at how Bush failed with his social security initiative at the start of his second term. His “reform” would have been god-awful, but he may have pulled it off had he not presented it in such a sloppy and incoherent manner.

September 3, 2008 @ 3:29 pm | Comment

This sounds ominous:

The annual Pew Religion and Public Life Survey recently reported that after voters gauged how liberal McCain and Obama were, “the average voter places themselves much closer to McCain than to Obama.”

Forty-nine percent of Americans say their “moral values” are conservative, while only 20 percent say they are liberal. About half of voters, when asked to assess the moral values of the candidates, described Obama as liberal while nearly six in 10 said McCain was conservative.

Given the intensity of Palin support among conservatives, McCain may very well end up with greater flexibility than ever to make his own direct appeal to independent voters. Palin can keep social activists at ease — and excited — while McCain seeks to reclaim his maverick image with a more direct appeal to those Hillary Clinton supporters and undecided swing voters.

On the other hand, the bookies say it it’s likely McCain will drop her, and I have to agree. She is simply too divisive – she may well got the way of Eagleton.

September 3, 2008 @ 7:23 pm | Comment

does this look ominous to you richard?

http://tinyurl.com/5z957z

if mccain drops her it’s all over, anyway. it would display an appalling error of judgment.

personally, i don’t think obama is the messiah, and i think there are issues with a lack of experience (surely he would have been a better 2012/2016 candidate?) but he is preferable to mccain.

September 3, 2008 @ 7:59 pm | Comment

Si, I am impressed. I thought you were a proud member of the GOP.

That story about Obama hitting 50 percent is encouraging. And I think McCain already stands accused of an appalling lack of judgment. I can’t wait to watch the moose-hunter debate Joe Biden, if she’s still around.

September 3, 2008 @ 8:08 pm | Comment

I will take you up on that wager Richard. I’m betting that Palin won’t be dropped… to do so means the end of the McCain ticket. Sure loss. It didn’t go so well for McGovern… why do you think McCain would like to repeat that bit of history? Wishful thinking?

Any of you folks been to Alaska? It’s a quirky state filled with rugged people. Lots of hunting and fishing and outdoors sports, and the main industry is oil. Palin is very representative of that tradition.

My opinion is that it’s going to be closer than the polls currently reflect. McCain’s no Bush, and real people know it. Everyone’s tired of Bush.

September 3, 2008 @ 9:04 pm | Comment

Matt, I agree with you that Palin will not be dropped, it would be a political suicide for the McCain campaign. I think they will just tough it out. Let’s see how Palin’s speech goes tonight.

I also give you that Palin is very representative of Alaska. McCain will secure the highly competitive states of Alaska and Idaho. But she’s far too right to court the Hillary supporters. Again, if you watched Freddie Thompson and Joe Lieberman’s speech last night, the republicans are again running a very divisive partisan.

The two party politics in the US is making me sick. Anyone watched Larry King last night? Jesse Ventura and Ron Paul are what this country needs. Nobody talks about the 9 trillion federal debts like it doesn’t exist.

Paul> Obama >>>>>> McCain

September 4, 2008 @ 12:54 am | Comment

Richard, as I think I said above, I would not touch the experience argument, because it’s not clear that Obama is more “experienced” than Palin, and you end up comparing a Presidential candidate to a Vice Presidential candidate. This is not a good place for the campaign to be.

September 4, 2008 @ 1:48 am | Comment

I think it does show a sort of hypocrisy that people can feel right in their gut… nevertheless, I agree that it certainly should not be a campaign issue. There are much bigger fish to fry, without a doubt.

September 4, 2008 @ 5:38 am | Comment

>>because it’s not clear that Obama is more “experienced” than Palin

A year and a half ago she was the part-time mayor of a town of 6,000 in Nowhere, Alaska. She became mayor by garnering like 700 votes — total. I really don’t see how anyone can compare her experience to that of Obama: 4 years in the Senate, 8 years in Illinois state legislature, Harvard Law etc. Obama has been on the national stage for 4 years. Millions of voters have spoken on the question of his judgment and experience.

Palin has been on the national stage for 4 DAYS. Oh, but she lived in Alaska, which is close to Russia sort of, so she’s a foreign policy genius. etc. And her “executive experience” dealing with zoning issues for bowling alleys and fishing licenses and trying to get books banned from the Wasilla library that had the word “ass” in them or claimed that Jesus didn’t ride a dinosaur certainly prepared her for VP of the USA.

I guess I see no reason not to laugh at the ridiculous claims that she has as much experience as Obama. But I do agree that it is more important to point out her extremist religious views, her corruption problems, and her association with a secession party (Splittist!! Right here in the USA! She will never split the motherland!)

If I see any Chinese with a “Free Alaska!” banner I’m going to boycott 85% of all the goods I buy.

September 4, 2008 @ 1:24 pm | Comment

FACE IT.

Obama’s gonna lose. I sense it.

Palina’s got the GOP fired up. Question, why are dems always so stupid? It’s because they whine too much, like the ONES on here on this site.

September 5, 2008 @ 3:04 pm | Comment

@ Surprised?

If Obama loses, then the citizens of America have truly hit an intellectual low.
People should not vote for McCain just because his VP (who I hope gets dropped, or ruins his ticket) is a woman. Look at her hypocritical behavior…she is just a female Bush, no good for this country. And her wanting to remove sex education from the country is a big issue for me. I, for one, am not interested in having a evangelical nut job so close to being pres. Palin has a history of LING about her views, and with today’s technology, everyone can find out about it.If people would take the time to read, even YOU would know how horrid she is for this country.

September 9, 2008 @ 11:17 pm | Comment

[...] As The Duck presciently noted back almost a month ago in this comment, this was sooo predictable: Meanwhile, the big story here, as stated earlier, is about McCain, not [...]

September 27, 2008 @ 4:13 pm | Pingback

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