Saturday, September 06, 2008

Palin Comparison

This year’s presidential election became much more interesting with John McCain’s choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate.

Sarah Palin is not the right wing monster the left makes her out to be, nor is she the stalwart reformer that the Republicans would like to think she is. She is an ambitious politician who has embraced the mantle of the religious right when it has been convenient (God wants that gas pipeline built, halleluiah), but has been willing to buck her party’s establishment and the religious right when it worked for her as well. She has good political instincts and is an effective public speaker, but she’s no less of an opportunist. She’s nicer to look at than Joe Biden.

The media’s immediate skepticism of her candidacy and the avalanche of tabloid media coverage of her daughter’s pregnancy only made her a more sympathetic figure in the eyes of the Republican Party faithful. The New York Times ran an article about Palin (since removed from its web site) openly questioning whether she would be able to balance her demanding family life with her duties as vice president.

McCain’s real coup with this selection is not just picking someone who both shored up the conservative Republican base and made a grab for independent women and fringe Hillary Clinton supporters, but in picking someone who has now become the most interesting candidate in this race. Obama held that mantle for the past year and a half with the help of an adoring media. Everyone knows who he is and most have had a chance to form an opinion about him. The person that the people I work with were talking about the most over the last two weeks (the “water cooler” discussions that don’t happen near the water cooler) was Sarah Palin. With this one pick, McCain made his campaign exciting and newsworthy, garnering valuable publicity and capturing attention away from the Obama camp. That’s smart politics.

I cannot vote for the candidates of either major political party. Both tickets support policies that are unconscionable if not outright treasonous, in my view, and I plan on writing in Ron Paul. However, the more I learn about Sarah Palin, the more I want to move to Alaska. Caribou burgers, snow machine races, gun-toting women and vast wilderness—Alaska just might be for me.

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