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.
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.