Author: Riley Kimball
Over the years, Sarah Palin has worn many hats. She has been a basketball star, a beauty pageant queen, a commercial fisher, co-owner of a car wash and a television sports reporter. In the last decade and a half, she has served Alaska as a city council member, a mayor, a part of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and, in the last two years, the state’s eleventh governor. Before Aug. 29, the name “Sarah Palin” garnered little to no response from the majority of citizens. However, since John McCain declared her as his running mate, Palin has become the subject of endless debate. Does someone with so limited a political resume nullify McCain’s criticism of Barack Obama’s experience?
As the mayor of Wasilla, AK, Palin led roughly 5,500 people. Even as governor, her constituency includes only 683,000. In contrast, Obama’s senatorial district houses 781,000. It would seem, based on these numbers and her two years in office thus far, that she has less experience. This has not stopped the GOP. Rather than assuming a defensive posture, touting Palin’s merits, the McCain camp has continued to attack Obama’s inexperience and is even claiming that Palin is better prepared for office than the Democratic candidate. Palin claimed that, as mayor of a small town, she, unlike Obama in his role of community organizer, had “actual responsibilities.”
Former Republican candidate Mike Huckabee pronounced his agreement when he said, “[Palin] has had far more experience making decisions in two years as a governor than somebody who has been in the United States Senate for 10 or 15 years.” In vindicating Palin’s limited experience, he suggested that executive experience carries significantly more weight than a career in the legislature. By that standard, Palin has more experience than McCain.
As superficial an excuse as Huckabee offered, Cindy McCain easily trumped him in terms of sheer idiocy. When questioned about whether or not it was smart to put someone with no foreign policy experience on the ticket, she reminded the American populace, “Alaska is the closest part of our continent to Russia. So, it’s not as if [Palin] doesn’t understand what’s at stake here.” As Stephen Colbert notes, “Alaska has Mt. McKinley, which makes it America’s closest point to space. So that means she has space policy experience.”
Clearly, the GOP is grasping at straws to present Palin as a qualified candidate for vice president, but McCain camp’s task is far greater than just validating Palin. If elected, McCain would pass the average life expectancy of American males during his first term. Moreover, McCain has endured four melanomas, so his medical history is not in his favor. Palin, therefore, could feasibly become the president if McCain were elected. Consequently, the contest between McCain and Obama must now include careful deliberation of Palin’s merits.
To suggest that Palin’s brief stint in politics surpasses the careers of Obama and McCain is ludicrous, as is the notion that her proximity to Russia grants her special authority on foreign affairs. She is certainly more conservative than McCain, so she may serve to tie up the religious right. However, the transparent attempt to draw in disenchanted Clinton fans is downright offensive. Voting for a woman with completely different values simply because she is not a man moves the feminist agenda backward. It suggests that the McCain camp believes women can be won over as single-issue voters following only the female candidates.
However, the greatest issue remains experience. McCain has demonstrated that he considers Obama too new to politics to function as president; clearly, in such sentiments, he disqualifies his own running mate as well. In this oxymoronic rejection of his own running mate, the Republicans will be eating their words this November.
Riley Kimball is an undeclared first year. He can be reached at [email protected]
This article has been archived, for more requests please contact us via the support system.