The Palin VP Paradox: A Pawn In a Geopolitical Game? - GET POLITICAL w/ VIC LIVINGSTON
• Still no convincing reason why McCain picked someone so untested
• Did he choose her it because he felt he had to?
Could John McCain's odd GOP convention adventure of the past week be subtitled, "The politics of induced schizophrenia?"
He headed to the twin cities after a running mate selection that seemed incongruous with arguments he had made in earlier campaigning, as well as those he proffered in a spry but unconvincing acceptance speech. Now, in the wake of an address that was well-viewed but not over-enthusiastically reviewed, McCain's selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin still perplexes the pundits as well as some worried GOP insiders.
In one fell swoop, McCain took off the table in this year's presidential politics the experience factor -- arguably his strongest suit against the candidacy of Democratic opponent Barack Obama. The experience factor also explains why Obama felt compelled to choose long-time Washington politico Sen. Joe Biden as his running mate.
McCain's Thursday night convention wrap-up employed a biographical film that was heavy on P.O.W. images, making the case that he's a fighter who's well-prepared, battle-tested and ready to lead the nation as commander-in-chief. Viewers also can read into the narrative this subtext: Torture and psychological pressure couldn't break McCain's spirit or alter his core beliefs.
But what about the here and now? Short-term Gov. Palin, despite the ballyhoo about her sass and brass and all the convention hype that she's a "maverick just like McCain," cannot be described as someone who's well-prepared, battle-tested and ready to lead. Less than two years as Alaska's governor and four years as a small-town mayor comprise a thin resume for the 44-year-old mother of five, who puts "hockey mom" first when asked to define herself.
Palin supplicants, with a straight face, point to her line authority over the Alaska National Guard, and the state's proximity to Russia, as proof of foreign affairs bona fides. The argument is both specious and outrageous.
Her newfound acolytes describe her as a brave "reformer," citing her battles with state party regulars. Yet this is a woman who had the temerity to brag on her opposition to earmarks and the infamous "bridge to nowhere," when in fact she hired lobbyists to secure Congressional pork for her state -- some $300 million this year alone, about nine times as much pork per person as the national average.
Palin appears to adhere to hard-right positions on social issues ranging from sex education and gun control to censorship in the public library.
Recordings of Palin's remarks in her church reveal what some might see as an embrace of apocalyptic dogma. The mainstream media, perhaps intimidated by the McCain campaign's charges of "sexism" in their Palin coverage, have yet to explore this angle of inquiry. Certainly she is entitled to such beliefs; but those asked to elevate her to executive office deserve to know much more about the doctrines and values which have shaped her thinking.
As of this writing, the McCain camp is keeping Palin under tight wraps, having granted an extended interview thus far only to People magazine. The mainstream media is offering Palin a soapbox, what amounts to free political advertising. But the McCain camp apparently has chosen to make the media its whipping boy, as reporters quite rightly seek to learn more about Palin's background, experience, qualifications, temperament and fitness for executive office.
Bereft of interviews with Palin herself, the media is left to dwell on what might be termed The Unsinkable Molly Brown/Annie Get Your Gun angle -- interviews with past friends and associates, tales of her frontier woman habits and pastimes, and puff pieces about her good looks, her vocal screech and her honeybun hairdoo.
And then there are those ostensibly private, family issues being doggedly investigated by such outlets as the National Enquirer, fresh off its deadly pursuit of former Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards. Some say such personal matters should be off-limits; when someone is seeking high office, that is rarely the case these days. John F. Kennedy's exploits with the secretaries "Fiddle" and "Faddle" were well-known to some Washington media insiders in the Camelot era; such secrets could never be kept in the current tabloid climate.
This emerging profile of the woman her high-school classmates knew as "Sarah Barracuda" stands in contrast to McCain's, although his youthful traits and his volatile temperament have earned him some colorful nicknames as well.
On social issues, Palin appears to stand much more to McCain's right. Despite his conversion to an anti-abortion stance, McCain has favored reproductive rights for women in his political past and is considered to be a moderate on a broad range of social issues.
McCain has consistently refused to wear his religion on his sleeve; his recent appearance with Barack Obama at that Saddlebrook forum was one of the rare times when he's elaborated on matters of faith.
And with more than three decades of public service under his belt, combined with his command of a naval squadron, McCain's experience and qualifications are unassailable.
So what explains his selection of Palin, especially when he was rumored to prefer as his running mate a longtime confidante such as former Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge or Sen. Joe Lieberman, both of whom are pro-choice on the abortion issue? McCain, you may recall, had hinted that he wouldn't rule out a pro-choice running mate. He'd only met Palin once before, at a conference earlier this year. And reportedly, he only took a very short meeting with her just before the convention when he offered her the job that's potentially a "heartbeat away" from the presidency.
There's something oddly inconsistent with this Palin pick. Something troubling, unsettling.
Is it possible that some of the same advisers who counseled against Ridge or Lieberman lobbied heavily for the little-known and untested Palin? And is it possible that McCain only grudgingly acquiesced? Some media reports tend to answer those questions in the affirmative.
But here is a question that few have asked, at least not publicly: Is possible that even Palin doesn't realize that she could be a pawn in an ideologically-driven game -- an under-the-radar exercise of power with serious consequences for every American citizen, and for people of every nation worldwide?
Could the Palin pick be just one ingredient in a secret geopolitical stew that's been simmering on a back-burner for some time?
My mission here is to merely raise such questions and to provoke discussion and debate on subjects that seem to cry out for furthering airing. Your comments are welcome.
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