Thursday, September 18, 2008

120. Who is really not ready to lead

I do not know which is funnier- George Bush trying to explain the financial crisis, John McCain believing that he is needed to help solve the financial crisis, or the prospect that Sarah Palin might know anything about the financial crisis. I mean really, Bush talks to the public like we all are a bunch of third-graders, McCain, just 10 days ago, said that the economy was fundamentally sound, and Palin is being sheltered from the media- just in case they might ask her about the economy.

I was at a fundraiser last week when one individual suggested that it was difficult to tell the candidates apart- that they were all moving to the center. That assessment is wrong on two accounts. First, there is a difference between Obama and McCain, a big difference, but worse, much worse, is Palin. She is proving, the more we learn about her, to be an unqualified candidate and cultural extremist.

If the presidential election was between Bush and Palin, I would vote for, gulp...Bush. In fact, not only would I vote for Bush, I would campaign for Bush. It seems, at this point anyways, that Palin is in way over her head. Not only does she lack serious leadership experience; she has only a moderate education and is culturally recluse. Furthermore, her religion leapfrogs Bush's beliefs, as she appears not only conservative, she is evangelical. It is one thing to have your beliefs; it is another to act as though you have never heard a decent counterargument to them.

The cute and tough "hockey mom" persona is quickly eroding into small town politician, one that, like Bush, has the superciliousness to think that people will believe whatever she says. She appears to be an actress portraying a presidential candidate, repeating well rehearsed lines, being, as best-selling author Sam Harris noted, led around by the McCain team like a "pet pony."

Harris further notes that her religious convictions include worshipping in churches that enjoy "baptism in the Holy Spirit," "miraculous healings," and the "gift of tongues." Disturbing video was recently released showing her being "protected" from witchcraft. And, finally, Harris notes due to her affiliation with the Assemblies of God Church, she might believe "that Biblical prophecy is an infallible guide to future events and that we are living in the ‘end times.'" The implications of these are obvious.

The first ever presidential endorsement by the Human Society Legislative Fund, made up of Republicans, Independents, and Democrats, unanimously selected Obama. Their selection only moderately had to do with Obama's excellent record with animal protection, or McCain's lukewarm record, rather it was Palin's abuse of animals.

Quoting from the press release:

"Gov. Sarah Palin's (R-Alaska) retrograde policies on animal welfare and conservation have led to an all-out war on Alaska's wolves and other creatures. Her record is so extreme that she has perhaps done more harm to animals than any other current governor in the United States.

Palin engineered a campaign of shooting predators from airplanes and helicopters, in order to artificially boost the populations of moose and caribou for trophy hunters. She offered a $150 bounty for the left foreleg of each dead wolf as an economic incentive for pilots and aerial gunners to kill more of the animals, even though Alaska voters had twice approved a ban on the practice."

It might be her culture; however, there is a brutality about her. The video from these hunts are disturbing, absolutely dreadful. Hunting moose might make her interesting in some circles; aerially eradicating Alaskan wolves so that trophy hunters will have more animals to kill for fun simply lacks morality.

The few interviews that Palin has agreed to, again, have been very concerning- to the point that, if it was not for her arrogance, I would feel bad for her. She consistently struggles with any question that includes an unscripted matter of substance. Anti-intellectualism might have been cute and entertaining over the last eight years; but it is not so funny anymore.

I wrote previously about a Democratic politician that I thought lacked the necessary qualifications, again, such as experience, education and social diversity, to be an executive for the people. This is not a partisan evaluation, our country's welfare is too important. This is not the time for putting "ordinary people" in charge of the most influential country in the world. Harris notes in his Newsweek article that in regards to issues like "nuclear proliferation, the ongoing wars in Iraq or Afghanistan, global climate change, a convulsing economy, the rise of China, etc." that "Palin does not seem competent even to rank these in order of importance, much less address any one of them."

This election is critical; our economic systems are at risk. As the most important issue of the election, I consider simply two ideas. Who created this situation and who offers the best chance to get out of it? The Republicans have clearly created most of this mess- so much so that if the situation were reversed; if the Democrats had been in the charge the last eight years, I would vote Republican without hesitation. Secondly, I have no confidence that either McCain or Palin has any real understanding of the economy, much less the ability to lead its recovery.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

119.Palin pick shrewd, questionable

Wow! I must say it was perfectly orchestrated.

The night before, Barack Obama had given one of the most impressive acceptance speeches in recent political history. He discussed his modest upbringing, the ineptness of the last eight years, addressed and dismissed his perceived his weaknesses, and challenged McCain to debate our most important issues. He was clear, brilliant, tough and carried himself like a president should.

However, just before noon the next morning, before Barack's speech fully made its rounds on the national news networks, McCain announces that he has selected Sarah Palin as his running mate.

I thought it was either a brilliant political move or a move of desperation. Either way, it was a bold move, and I look forward to a 2008 election that features young, old, black, white, male and female. It was obviously a strategic pick, as was timing of the announcement, and showcased the advantage of having the second move.

Clearly, Sarah Palin was not chosen because she was the most qualified candidate; I do not think she was even the most qualified Republican woman. And, if Hillary Clinton had been named as the Democrat's Vice-President Candidate, there would be no Sarah Palin.

Immediately, experience again moved to the forefront of the debate, as Democrats noted that it was difficult for Republicans to attack Barack Obama's lack of experience, when an unknown Alaskan governor was one "heartbeat" from the White House. It seems that Republicans traded the experience debate in exchange to target women.

Gusty move.

Experience is certainly a factor, for both Obama and Palin. However, what exactly qualifies as the proper experience when it comes to being president of the most powerful nation in the world? After all, George W. Bush is the son of a two-term vice president, one-term president, served as governor of one our country's largest states, has a brother who was the governor of another major state, and had four years of experience as president under him before he was re-elected. If experience was a factor, he should have been the best president in history! In contrast to the expectations, many will argue that he will be remembered as one of the worst.

The most valuable experience is leadership and the ability to handle the pressure- and that can be accomplished in many ways, none of which I would argue is a definitive predictor of presidential success.

The idea that the Republicans chose "this" woman is interesting, because Palin is the polar opposite of Clinton, and the woman voters they were targeting. Palin rushed to make this appeal, which I thought was premature (and very politically cliché) since most of us knew very little about her. I also think that it is offensive to women that she and the Republican Party believes that liberal Clinton supporters will throw their value and principles down the toilet to elect a very conservative politician- just because she is a woman. Furthermore, she acted like this was ground-breaking, more glass ceiling talk; actually, the Democrats traveled this path (nominating a woman for vice-president) decades ago.

Regardless of her experience and appeal to Clinton supporters, and although I would disagree with almost all of her political positions, my first impression is that she has some political common sense and that she handled the thrust into the national scene very well.

However, there are questions. I must start by saying that I do not envy having one's life torn apart. At the same time, we do not know anything about her...and there is some concern. The investigation into "troopergate" suggests that she might not be above abusing her power, and that she possibly has a vindictive side. I think she needs to fess up that abstinence-only programs do not work- since it did not even work in her own house hold. However, the most pressing question for me is the secessionist involvement. How much does she really love America if she wanted to take her state and leave it? I think we need to hear more about this.

In the end, I think she will need to move pass the clichés, and let us hope she does not fall victim to the political culture of Washington. That part of her seems refreshing, an appeal shared with Obama. Of course, to do that she will have to ignore the advice of John McCain, who is clearly well entrenched in Washington politics. And in the end, we must remember that it is still McCain versus Obama.

It should be an interesting election season, and I look forward to some open and honest discussions. There is too much at stake, and too big of a mess to cleanup, to be consumed with political spin, negative campaigning and empty promises. We need more from our political leaders, and we need to support those that share our values, our beliefs...regardless of color, age or gender.