So Senator John McCain chose first-term Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. For all the talk of possibly picking someone pro-choice or even a democrat, McCain has chosen to mollify his Christian conservative base by choosing a staunch conservative as his vice presidential candidate–and the spin cycle begins on a level we have not seen since Bush led America into the Iraq war.
As expected, McCain spokespersons such as Tucker Bounds and Steve Schmidt demonstrated that their past careers included stints as circus acts because they masterfully jump through hoops when dodging questions concerning Palin’s qualifications (
watch Campbell Brown embarrass Bounds
). Every argument I have seen from any republican over the past few days basically goes like this:
“Governor Palin has more legislative experience than Senators Obama and Biden.”
Challenge: “Being mayor of a town of 7,000 and head of the PTA does not qualify for Vice President.”
Reply: “Governor Palin is the most popular governor in the country.”
Challenge: Governor Palin’s 80% approval rating in Alaska does not mean 80% popularity in the country (after all, Bush had a 90% approval rate as Governor of Texas)
Reply: “You should not demean the role of a woman who has come this far and she should not be diminished or belittled by these sexist attacks.”
Challenge: Well, McCain said that foreign policy experience should count more than change so why would he pick someone with no foreign policy experience?
Reply: “Governor Palin has more executive experience than Senators Obama and Biden. It’s the top of the ticket that counts, not the bottom.
Thus the circular logic has begun and this is all the republicans will keep saying until and after Election Day. In the eyes of the republican base, Governor Palin can do no wrong and must be defended vigorously. It’s almost like watching the birth of the clan during D.W. Griffith’s “Birth of a Nation” where the White woman has to be protected from the Black man (who is now a presidential candidate as opposed to a runaway slave). Ferraro did the same thing.
The pregnancy of Governor Palin’s daughter and Palin’s child with Down syndrome highlight the hypocrisy of the Republican Party. They espouse family values but praise the fact that Bristol is keeping the baby and marrying the boyfriend. How can they support family values when they are promoting teenage marriage? I have not seen evidence out there supporting the notion that teen marriages as a result of pregnancy promote healthy marital relationships. Furthermore, democrats should be highlighting the fact that Bristol at least lives in a country where she can choose to keep the baby in the first place. Lastly, Palin’s first son was born 8 months after her marriage, according to the
New York Times
, but this is also of no consequence to the Christian conservatives, who now (based on hats worn at the convention) support unwed mothers. Unwed mothers was never my issue, it was theirs until now.
What bothers me most is the exploitation of her child (Trig) with Down syndrome. Every article I read about Palin cannot neglect to mention that her son has Down syndrome. CNN contributor Bill Bennett (Republican former Secretary of Education) went so far as to say that Palin should be praised for even choosing to have a baby with the disease in the first place. I’m reminded of comedian Chris Rock’s skit when he stated that
men shouldn’t seek praise for being fathers to their children
— “It’s what you’re supposed to do!” The more Trig’s disease is brought up as some huge anchor, the more it is going make children with Down Syndrome look like complete burdens on any family. I don’t know what it’s like to raise a child with this disease or any other, but I think that any good parent who is in that situation loves his or her child unconditionally despite the many challenges and resents having this thrown in their face. Her choice to have and raise this child should not be looked at as some badge of honor–it should be looked at as raising her child–period.
So yes, all Republicans must rally around Palin and this will be great for McCain. Republicans like Bill Bennett are comfortable stating that Palin should be praised for Bristol having her baby but at the same time suggest that crime in the inner cities would decrease if
Black women aborted their babies
. They vilified Senator John Edwards for his affair but say it’s OK that McCain cheated on his
sick wife because he was a POW
. They can decry the ills of inner city youth but then shower praise on the same indiscretions as long as the children have supportive families. Senator McCain and Governor Palin are not running in order to serve the entire country. They are running to be the President of the Christian conservative nation. The base has been excited like never before and Obama and others would do best not to underestimate them–after all, George W. Bush won two terms. McCain and Palin can do no wrong until we show them in this election who is truly on the side of the right.