Saturday, September 6, 2008

Who is Sarah Palin and Why the Hell Did John McCain Pick Her as His Running Mate?

Was John McCain suffering from dementia? Was he high on crack, or what?

No sooner did he select political neophyte Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate did the skeletons finally came crashing out of her closet with a loud thud. First came the ethical issues concerning her abuse of her elected position as Governor of Alaska. Then came the bombshell announcement that her seventeen-year-old daughter is pregnant with child -- in full light of her position supporting abstainence-only sex education.

Talking about karma coming back at you.

Palin's under-the-radar status was what McCain was looking for. And what he saw in her, I wish I knew. Not surprisingly, as Arianna Huffington is quick to observe:

Along with all the things she brings to the table -- fresh face, mother of five, hockey mom -- Palin is notable for what she doesn't bring: a track record.
If McCain had picked any of the far more experienced candidates on his short list, they would have come fully equipped with a long paper trail implicating them in the horror show that is the Republican Party of the last eight years.

Huffington goes on to point out:

McCain doesn't just need someone with a fresh face; he desperately needs someone with fresh ideas. That would have been the real maverick choice.

Instead, he's got someone who, in perfect agreement with the Republican platform, believes abortion should be illegal even in cases of rape or incest or to save the life of the mother.

He's got someone who, in defiance of science, doesn't believe global warming is man-made, (and who) wants creationism taught in schools.

He's got someone who wants to further increase the health-care burden on the patient.

He's got someone who wants to ban all stem-cell research.

The Republican Party isn't in dire electoral straits because Middle America loves these ideas but just wants to see them implemented by a woman.

The Republican Party is in dire electoral straits because its ideas are outside the mainstream. And in choosing Sarah Palin, McCain has moved his ticket even further from the center of the country. Yes, she energizes the GOP base -- a fact that should scare the hell out of any Republican who cares about the future of the party.
The problem with today's GOP isn't the packaging; it's the product.

Meanwhile, a concurring Sidney Blumenthal hypothesized that McCain selected Palin on impulse in a declaration of independence from Karl Rove, who was pushing for Milt Rommey for the Vice-{residency. As Blumenthal points out:

My information is that Karl Rove wanted Romney and pushed him. McCain pushed back. He really wanted Lieberman. That was completely out of the question. Palin is the result. One element of the Palin nomination is McCain establishing himself apart from the Bush/Rove political operation, even as his campaign manager, Steve Schmidt, is one of their creatures. From the outside, it's often hard to figure out how vicious and divided the Republicans can be with each other.

But what really upset a lot of people -- myself included -- was Sarah Palin's willingness to use her pregnant teenage daughter as a exploitive political prop. As
As Bonnie Fuller astutely notes:

"Sarah Palin may be running for Vice President...but is she any different from the woman who sold the story of her daughter Jamie Lynn's pregnancy to a magazine for $1 million, or from the father that allowed 15-year-old Miley Cyrus to be photographed semi-nude for Vanity Fair supposedly to further her career?
Despite her supposed "Family Values" credentials, she and her husband Todd are being just as exploitative of her teenage daughter, Bristol, as any of these celebrity parents have been. Actually, even more so.

Like Elizabeth and John Edwards, they knew they had a ticking time bomb of a family secret, that they were hiding from the public, when they stepped into the limelight of the Presidential race. But the Edwards were adults and were aware or should have been, that the primary public fallout of their decision not to reveal John Edwards' affair would fall on themselves. They would bear the shame of their decision to deceive the American public about their family crisis. Their children would be off limits.

Not so in the case of the Palins. They took center stage with the full knowledge that their 17-year-old's five-months-along pregnancy was about to become front page news around the world. Bristol Palin hasn't been the star of a major kids TV show like Jamie Lynn or Miley Cyrus. She has not chosen a life of celebrity. But now, thanks to her mother's decision to accept the Republican Vice Presidential candidacy, her private life — her sex life — is as exposed as if she had long been a cover regular on Star or US Weekly.

She has unwittingly and literally become the poster child for her mother's anti-choice and abstinence-only education policies.

Fuller goes on to add, "Seventeen year-old girls are not yet adults, they are highly emotional human beings who are still trying to find their own identities and to establish self-confidence. They are easily embarrassed, they care tremendously what their friends think, and their relationships with guys are always on a dramatic rollercoaster. They are not ready to get married, raise babies or to deal with public embarrassment and humiliation.

But Bristol Palin isn't a policy poster child, or a celebrity, she's a real live 17-year-old trying to cover her growing bump with a baggy sweatshirt or by holding her 4 month-old baby brother as a shield. She's now planning, according to her mom's statement, to marry and spend her life with her 18-year-old boyfriend, Levi Johnston, a guy who uses the "f" word as his major descriptive adjective on his MySpace page. He also until yesterday described himself as someone who "likes to hang out with the boys...and just f---in chillin," and who doesn't want kids on that same page, until it was yanked off of public view.

What kind of parents today — this is 2008 — want to doom their daughter to a "shotgun" marriage with a guy who doesn't want kids? It's going to be tough enough for Bristol to finish high school, let alone go on to college and realize any ambitions of her own, without being trapped in a marriage that neither young person is probably ready for. And if self-described "redneck" Levi isn't happy about being pushed into parenthood and marriage, you can "f---in" expect he'll make sure that Bristol knows about it.

I bet that poor Bristol Palin probably doesn't feel like she has the right to object to anything her mother and father are doing or saying right now. Like most teenage girls she is probably insecure and is blaming herself for her own predicament.

Blaming herself for not being abstinent and instead being one of the 60% of American high school seniors who are sexually active. Blaming herself for getting pregnant like 3 out of 10 American teen girls do each year. And now blaming herself for possibly derailing her mother's vice-presidential ambitions because of that pregnancy. There's no way that she's not going to do what her parents want, in order to bolster her mother's image, even if that means supporting her mother's platform and getting married at 17.

And just imagine if John McCain and Sarah Palin are elected to two terms in office. Bristol's every move as a teen mom will be under scrutiny — Britney-style. Her marriage to Levi Johnston, will have to work or her parents' image will be tarnished. Talk about pressure, Bristol.

Sarah Palin also needs to ponder this: if she succeeds in "normalizing" her daughter's pregnancy, making it almost seem sort of glamorous, will other teen girls look at this and say what is the problem with having a baby? asks Sarah Brown, the CEO of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancies.
In that case, Palin's exploitation of her daughter hasn't just hurt Bristol's own young life, she'll hurt countless others."

But what's even creepier still is the notion that Sarah Palin is George W. Bush in drag. And we all know too painfully well what Dubya's presidency has wrought. As Alec Baldwin points out on his most recent posting on the Huffington Post:

We know nothing about Sarah Palin. Nothing. Which is not anywhere near enough information to elevate her to the position whereby she would succeed McCain if he died in office or suffered a catastrophic illness. At 72 years of age and in questionable health, McCain's fitness to coach a high school football team would be in doubt, let alone the grueling reality of the presidency of this country.

John McCain is, statistically, more likely to die or suffer some catastrophic illness during his first term than any other man that has sought the office. Who would succeed him? George Bush would succeed him. Someone with no record. No experience. Only question marks. Everywhere. Forget about the fact that Palin looks a lot like a really attractive TV star I know. Underneath all the Tina, she's George.

And they said Dorothy Gale had it easier in the Emerald City of Oz.

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