The Traditional End of the Summer Season
Age and John McCain – Part 1

Senator McCain's Catastrophic Choice

category_bug_politics.gif Two days this week were to be devoted to a serious consideration of presidential candidate Senator John McCain's age. That will still happen, beginning tomorrow, but at the start of the holiday weekend, there was a sudden twist in the presidential campaign that is relevant to the question and deserves first mention. I’m sure you know I’m talking about McCain’s choice of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate.

First, here is a quick list (it cannot be otherwise) of Governor Palin’s qualifications, although you probably know this stuff by now.

  • For less than two years, she has been governor of one of the smallest states in the country (47th in population) with few of the problems of other states.
  • Before that, she was mayor of a town with fewer than 9,000 people.
  • She vetoed a state bill that would ban same-sex marriage, but only because she was advised it was unconstitutional. Then she suggested amending the state constitution to make ban legal.

  • She has no background in national issues unless you think supporting drilling in ANWR is sufficient.
  • She has no knowledge anyone has yet found of international issues.
  • It is doubtful she knows anything about the Byzantine rules of the U.S. Senate over which she would preside as vice president.
  • There are allegations of abuse of power of her office currently being investigated.

In short, Governor Palin has not a single credential that would qualify her to be vice president of the United States. The choice is ludicrous on its face and deeply puzzling when you consider that for Senator McCain to win the election, he must induce some Democrats and a lot of independents to vote for him. It is difficult to figure out how Governor Palin helps in this regard:

  • She supports drilling in ANWR.
  • She supports teaching creationism in public schools.

  • She vehemently opposes women’s right to abortion even in instances of rape, incest or the life of the mother.

  • As governor, she instituted a bounty of $150 on wolves allowing them to be shot from airplanes which often leaves them injured and/or leaves pups unprotected from predators.
  • She has sued the federal government to remove polar bears from the endangered species list.
  • She likes to hunt which means she kills animals for sport.
  • She is a lifelong member of the National Rifle Association.
  • She does not believe global warming is man-made.
  • She opposes stem cell research.

The political pundits are tying themselves in knots to explain Senator McCain’s bizarre choice. One suggested that she is “a natural.” Maybe that works in baseball, but not in governing and do remember, we are talking about governing if elected, not making speeches to convince people to vote for you. Another idiot pundit stated that she knows all about international issues because Alaska is just across the Bering Strait from Russia.

These are some of the “reasons” that have been given for Senator McCain’s choice:

  1. to lure disaffected Hillary Clinton supporters
  2. to resurrect his frayed maverick tag
  3. to shore up his reputation with evangelical Christians and social conservatives
  4. to lay claim to being an agent for change

If any thought went into this decision, I suspect all four were part of it, but I doubt they will work with the possible exception of number 3. Senator McCain’s primary argument against Senator Obama - lack of experience - had been failing, so a new direction was required. McCain chose shock as his best, new strategy. Governor Palin was the choice of a desperate man who knows 2008 is his last chance to reach the pinnacle of power he has sought for more than a decade.

Governor Palin’s lack of political and governing substance is critical to the issue of Senator McCain’s age.

Given that age, 72, his history of recurring melanoma, physical (and, undoubtedly psychological) toll of torture during his POW years, it is more conceivable than with some other 72-year-olds that Senator McCain could die in office. Those factors make it McCain’s professional and personal responsibility as a citizen and a leader to choose a qualified vice president who can carry on the office of the presidency in his absence.

In the most fearfully anxious and uncertain times in memory, he failed that responsibility catastrophically. "My record shows that I have put my country first," Senator McCain said in a new interview. In choosing Governor Palin, Senator McCain has put his country dead last.

Published in Time magazine this week, the interview is one of the most peculiar, mean-spirited and unresponsive by a politician I have ever read. It also contains this snarly exchange pertinent to the choice of his running mate:

TIME: There's a theme that recurs in your books...about honor. I wonder if you could define honor for us?

MCCAIN: Read it in my books.

TIME: I've read your books.

MCCAIN: No, I'm not going to define it.

TIME: But honor in politics?

MCCAIN: I defined it in my five books. Read my books.

With Senator McCain's choice of Sarah Palin, he has shown us that he does not honor, however he defines it, his country or its citizens. Honor requires a president, particularly an old president, to prepare for an orderly succession with a qualified vice president to carry on the business of state in the event of his death or incapacity. Senator McCain has dishonored us.

[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Ellouise Schoettle brings Daddy's Kites up to the present day.]


Can the McCain's nomination process get any stranger? He quickly became the sole contender for nomination. Then Palin is proposed as vice presidential candidate. It seems as if the Republican gene pool is exhausted. Are they scrapping the bottom of the barrel. Where was the multiple of serious contenders as happened both in Democat presidential candidate and the intense vetting process for their vice president?

lilalia: you know, if having a woman vice president is important to Senator McCain, without thinking hard at all, I can come up with four who are qualified and certainly there are more. I may not agree with most of their positions, but they are qualified:

Kay Bailey Hutchison
Olympia Snowe
Susan Collins
Elizabeth Dole

Thanks for this update as some of this I suspected but did not know. I also had the same thoughts about female leaders in the republican party who are far more qualified than Palin.

I told Mom after the Democratic Convention when the news media was going on to the point of nausea about the disaffected Clinton voters that McCain's smartest move would be to nominate a woman for Vice President. Of course I was assuming he would choose some one like the four women you mentioned. It would not have made any difference in how I would vote because, of course, he was still at the top of the ticket. However, I find his choice totally inexplicable unless he simply he needed a non-entity who would never question his judgement and who would cater to the social and religious conservative who now control the Republican party. I am also somewhat insulted if he thinks I am going to vote for him because his VP pick shares my gender. Not likely when that is all she shares.

Sarah Palin views excerpt from a Nov. 5, 2006 Anchorage Daily News article
"abortion (should be banned for anything other than saving the life of the mother), stem cell research (opposed), physician-assisted suicide (opposed), creationism (should be discussed in schools), state health benefits for same-sex partners (opposed)"

Our politics is about image more than policies. I disagree with her about everything and recognize that she is not remotely qualified, but she could do well in the campaign. She will be the pioneer woman, the maverick Mom, for people who rely on image. This is why Karl Rove recommends a campaign that looks good on TV with the sound turned off. She's made for it.

Only two words are needed to explain the McCain campaign's decision to select Ms. Palin for the VP slot: "arrogance" and "contempt"
They are so arrogant that they think they can get away with anything and they hold the American electorate and more specifically the female half in total contempt.

How did that song go several years back: "Everybody run, the homecoming queen's got a gun"

Meanwhile, over at SNL, Tina Fey must think she's died and gone to Heaven: this is a role she was born to play.

I believe Palin was selected because McCain can't compete financially with Obama by relying on public financing alone, but the only way he can tap the more deep-pocketed social conservatives would be for one of their own to be on the ticket. OK, Johnny, you want our money, we make the choice. In other words, he had no choice in the matter. The more qualified women office-holders you mention (Hutchinson, Snowe, et al.) are all in the Senate, and since it looks as if the GOP will get waxed in the Congressional races regardless of who wins the White House, they need every seat they can hold. Plus, Collins and Dole are involved in tight re-election campaigns, and putting one of them on the ticket would be tantamount to conceding that race. Again, I think his disregarding them is further indication of McCain's lack of control in his campaign.

Another Palin fact: discussing separation of church and state in an interview shortly after becoming Governor, she responded to a question about the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance by saying: "If it was good enough for the founding fathers, it's good enough for me." That phrase was added to the Pledge in 1954. What the founding fathers (most of whom were deists) would say about that is moot.

My thought is that McCain steamrolled his advisers with the choice of Sarah Palin. He is such an angry guy that people are probably afraid to say to him, "Uh, sir, that's an inane choice."

When I first heard who McCain had picked my first reaction was that he must be in the early stages of Alzheimer disease. Coupled with his bizarre answers in the TIME interview and his failure to give correct answers to many things he should know immediately. I don't think that analysis is far fetched. How many times have we recently heard from his friends that 'this is not the McCain we knew?' His aides have stopped letting the press ask questions on the Straight Talk Express because of his incorrect answers.
When not scripted, he seems to be lost.

According to those in the know, McCain wanted Lieberman and Rove wanted Romney. McCain refused to back down and picked Palin. Sounds more like pique than a pick.

1) Every Clinton supporter has been insulted by the insinuation that the only reason we supported her was that she is female. McCain is saying "any female will do"..."Clinton supporters will vote for Palin." Not bloody likely.
2) There is an intriguing idea going around that a deal was made with Palin...that she will withdraw to allow a white male to be added to the slate, while giving McCain the "benefit" of having chosen a woman.
3) "...professional and personal responsibility as a citizen and a leader to choose a qualified vice president who can carry on the office of the presidency in his absence." I should hope that this would be true regardless of the age of the presidential nominee.

You are so right! I cannot wait to see Tina Fey doing her on SNL!

If you liberals think you are sad at the Republican ticket, you are not alone. As a lifelong Buckley conservative (that's different from the far right wing social/religious issue people) I've been sad ever since Reagan left office.

I've never voted for a Democrat for anything, and this time around, like the last three times, I'm voting Libertarian.

Many of we Republicans are not happy campers over the McCain-Palin duo, believe me.

What's concerning me is that--inane and possibly demented as I agree it is--mccain's choice of Palin will turn out to be right, in terms of winning the election. Whoever thought Bush would beat Kerry in '04?

Dems can't bash her lack of experience without inviting the argment being made on right-wing blogs: she has more executive experience than Obama does. (Pls don't argue w/ me, go argue on their blogs!!)

This might've been Rove's brain.

Great post Ronni! I agree totally! His "Country First" slogan should be "Do Whatever To Win".

Can you visualize a debate between Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin?

You cannot compare her to Hillary. I agree with Mort. Here is the clincher: McCain did us a favor; he now insulted women, defined who he really is...and hopefully, gave Obama the election!

What depresses the bejesus out of me is the way the Republicans have stolen the last two presidential elections in this country. It scares me to death that despite ALL of the reasons why McCain shouldn't be elected (including his absurd choice for a running mate)it ultimately won't even matter because they'll do the same thing they did in the last two elections. I'm almost afraid to get my hopes up anymore.

The choice of Governor Palin surprised me, too, because I think the other choices would have helped McCain. Palin seems to have been chosen for shock value.

Curses on McCain! He made the long holiday weekend very miserable for me!

My wife, the devoted Democratic political junky, spent the entire weekend on the computer, reading the blogs, commenting and in general going wild over Palin's inadequacies. She would hoop and holler, and drag me over to the computer to read the latest she had found.

While I had looked forward to a quiet weekend reading and puttering around, she grabbed me up every five minutes, it seemed like, to babble about Palin.

So I had no rest, no peace, and have emerged this Monday wishing that the earth would open up and swallow McCain, Palin and the whole GOP!

"She likes to hunt which means she kills animals for sport."

Actually, it doesn't mean this at all. While she does not qualify for a subsistence priority on hunting (i.e., going to the "store" to get meat) because she lives in a suburb, she is entitled to hunt in certain areas for the larder.

Hunting purely for sport is illegal in Alaska; meat must be salvaged.

It is true, unlike so many who rely on hunting in Alaska, that her natal family (at least) has had the money and interest in trophy mounts of their shooting.

This is not to say that some Alaskans (especially the newly arrived and those in the urban areas) do hunt for sport as the primary motive. But I doubt very much that Palin does.

Is this 'list' the best you liberals can come up with?

What a bunch of hypocritical whiners.

If you didn't really think Palin was an effective choice your panties wouldn't be in such a wad! You're really running scared now and your desperation is showing in your meanspirited diatribes.

Ronni, I don't know how old you are, but judging from your photos at the top of this page, you don't look much younger than McCain!

Chronological age isn't what makes a person old, it's genetics, taking poor care of yourself and a negative attitude. Judging from your miserable outlook, you may even be OLDER than McCain and have no room to wail against his age.

As for Sarah Palin, she is definitely more experienced than 'The One.' She has NOTHING to hide like Barack and Michelle do. She doesn't speak in sound bites and mantras. She's not a closet socialist with criminal and radical friends. She doesn't cover up her history, hide her records or throw family members under the bus when they don't fit a staged perception.

I think you libs have a LOT to be worried about.

You missed one interesting Palin fact: until recently, she (and her husband) were apparently members of a wackjob secessionist political party whose members want to vote on whether Alaska should withdraw from the United States.

McCain seems to have thumbed his nose at all the more seasoned political hacks around him, said something like "if I can't have Joe Lieberman, I'll pick a nice looking little woman," and made a complete fool of himself and his party.

The man is unfit to be President. He's simply too erratic.

Palin is a lightweight. Extolling her so-called executive experience as making her more qualified than Obama is an old Republican trick. It strips the argument to a couple of bare data points while avoiding the context. I'll write more on my blog later this week.

I've never fired a gun in my life and don't plan to any time soon. Nonetheless, my views on hunting have evolved. When you look at what passes for "meat" in grocery stores these days, I can't fault anyone who wants food untarnished by steroids and growth hormones and who can't/doesn't want to pay Whole Foods prices. Plus, one of the regrettable outcomes of human settlement is the need to control animal populations for the greater good of the local ecosystem.

Ronni, McCain's picking this nonentity as his running mate reminds me of some of President Bush's memorable picks. "Heckuva job, Brownie!"

My blood went to the boiling point all weekend, too, thinking about the idiocy of McCain's pick (if indeed he had anything to do with it), the apparent rigidity of Palin's mindset, and the holy hubris to think we'd swallow it as women or anyone else rational.

What a hateful, totally ugly spirit that woman must have--imagine trying to get polar bears off the endangered list so you could have more oil!! And we can see how much 'abstinence education only' has helped her daughter! (If it'd been Chelsea, this self-righteous drivel about not bringing in politicos' kids wouldn't even be mentioned, and the Republicans would try to destroy the whole Clinton family by their vitriol around the issue).

Everything Palin stands for is anathema to me, and if the Republicans steal yet another election, we ought to draw and quarter the whole lot of 'em. Or move to Costa Rica.

Course I'm not biased or anything, just a furious progressive Democrat....thanks for clear speaking Ronni--now we have to get out the vote and make it a LANDSLIDE against these backwards looking idiots. GRRRRRRR!

Palin Fan must see something that is totally beyond my ken--and I'm a conservative. The Palin woman is just plain unqualified to be a heartbeat away from the presidency. Unfortunately, none of us has a guarantee of surviving to tomorrow--not McCain, not Obama....Just as the aftermath Hurricane Katrina showed us that the unimaginable can happen, the next president may not make it through his first day in office. I'd like the country to have a fighting chance of succeding should such an unthinkable event occur.

I do wish that people would not throw out cutting remarks about Palin's kids, however. Palin's parenting skills should no more be on trial than were Clinton's (or Pres Clinton's, for that matter). Saying that Palin should have control over her 17-year-old daughter (lock her up?) or that Clinton should have control over her husband (lock him up?) is absurdly unrealistic.

A final thought: It is just plain scary that anyone would seemingly brag about never having voted for a Democrat--or for a Republican--or for an Independent, as one commentor did, above. Makes me wonder if the logic machine was turned off in that human unit!

Joni ~ your comments about Republicans are insulting and so silly. If you believe that stealing a national election can really happen you are a wacko.

BTW, when Obama loses this election and all you peace loving, anti-war, tolerant progressive democrats feel like drawing and quartering all of the backwards looking idiot Republicans, maybe you should think twice [EDITOR'S NOTE: Threat of gun violence removed.]

I'd normally say, "Bring it on!" but in the spirit of crossing the aisle, and because I know you are so upset that Palin has energized the Republican Party, I will gladly buy you a one-way ticket to Costa Rica after the election if you promise to NEVER COME BACK!

Excellent post, Ronni! Wonderful comments by all of you with one exception. Yes, about Tina Fey! Perfect!

This has made me so upset that I will gladly take up PF's offer for the ticket to Costa Rica if McSame is elected. I didn't think things could be worse than having W and the boys in office, but that would be.

Btw, Palin Fan, you could have disagreed with Ronni without being mean-spirited and insulting. That was uncalled for.

I dunno, I'm looking forward to the moose hunts and snowmobiling on the White House lawn!

Maverick choice? You gotta be kidding. Johnny boy clearly knuckled under to the to the Dobson crowd and the "old boy network" of the RNC. They sure gave Obama grief about his growing celebrity status. Now here they are in the process of all but deifying "Pistol Packin Palin"! You watch..Ta comes Saint Sarah!

No one running is qualified. With Obama we will get a socialist country and with McCain, I'm not sure. Nothing makes sense anymore.

What? Tina Fey? That talentless bore isn't even on SNL anymore.

Wow... I'm reading all of this gibberish, but am unable to get a grip on the argument. All of the Obamamama's are complaining that John made a poor choice, yet you are angry about this. Please explain this position, when you are obviously pro BO. After that, perhaps you can explain how Barack is qualified to serve as POTUS. After that you can explain how Bitchy Biden with 29 years in the Senate represents change that ANYONE can believe in.

The truth of the matter is BO is the weakest candidate to be nominated for POTUS in American history. No leadership... okay, I'll give you that Harvard Law Review thing; no accomplishments in public office; good buddy to the domestic terrorist Billy Ayers (they ran a non-profit together... in fact they ran through millions of dollars and into bankruptcy. Too bad they didn't have the power to tax, eh?) Add all this to the witches brew of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and we have a recipe for a morally corrupt and fiscally bankrupt country... and you lose too. Vote for strong leadership and the kind of change that is healthy for the country. John and Sarah.

I've either lived too long or have the inmates really taken over our country?! This is a nightmare, on both sides. It's hard to believe this is happening and I for one have a current passport that needs some stamps in it!

For the first time in the history of this country...we don't have any real candidates to vote for.

We all should be afraid, very afraid.

The above poster is totally correct - Imagine McCain and his child VP choice, then imagine Obama the admitted cocaine user and Biden the plagerist and lier about his first wife's tragic death in an automobile accident (Google all these).

Ask the young people who they want, and why: Obama/Biden. There is actually a spirit of hope and involvement among the young today, who choose to not be cynical. I have not felt this spirit since I was a kid in the 60s with JFK as president. Obama and Biden can give the American people a sense of motivation to achieve the American dream again -- please do not withdraw from the election because you think Obama is flawed, of course he is, he is human, but if you don't vote at all, it gives McSame and the Republicans a better chance of winning, which would be a death knell. Vote for the program you believe in -- quality health care for everyone; workers who have some power over their employment situation; international relations based on respectful communication; our money going into education, infrastructure, and care for veterans rather than into the war in Iraq, etc. I am ignoring the whole Palin circus because I have never taken anything as seriously as I am taking this election, and I don't need to see the many Republican media distractions from the real issues. Rise above the bull and vote for the future of America -- Barack and the Dems have a vision to believe in.

I agree with the poster Georjina.

It is really a strange time in the history of the USA, that Obama, as charming as he appears to be, but with NO long term world issues experience, and John McCain, the aging "war POW" who is not well liked in his Own party BUT who is determined to be President at any cost, so he overlooks his choice of VP to pick Palin, are the two Parties choices on the ballot.

For candidates just to reach the primaries in each state,costs tons of money

Which means PACS and big corporations donating and putting their control on the process.

Neither McCain nor Obama is exempt from these factors, no matter how they portray themselves as their own man, Mavericks,etc.

It is with sadness that I will go the voters booth this November. I am far from satisfied with either choice!

Neither candidate YET has really come up with any sound plans or definite policies.

They spend time tearing each other apart,and the process nowdays seems to be about "image" over issues.

It is more important how they look on TV and UTube.

We are not casting a TV show or rock video here, our country is facing tough times and I have yet to hear a sound detailed plan from either candidate!

It appears that the RNC did nothing to vet Palin before McCain's announcement, which gives a certain amount of credence to the rumor that Palin will withdraw in favor of some other more qualified candidate.

In 2006, when Sarah Palin ran for Governor of Alaska, the Democrats (unlike the Republicans of 2008) vetted her. The documentation is extensive, and was published online at Mudflats.
Oh, and the nasty cracks Palin made about "community organizers"?

I guess McCain didn't fully brief Palin:

Terra Sigillata:
McCain calls young people to become community organizers

In this issue of Teaching Tolerance magazine, Barack Obama and John McCain both responded to requests for short essays on "how the next generation can get involved in the political process and grow more civic-minded to make America better."

While the essays are rather brief, Senator McCain took his limited space to stress that leaders have not tapped into the passion of young people who wish to be agents of change in their communities and the world, and expressed his admiration for those who have:

With so much at stake in this election, I am proud to witness the involvement of this new generation of Americans. They understand their participation is not limited to the ballot box: they are volunteering their time and effort to improve the well-being of our country. . .

. . .After 9/11, leaders in Washington missed an opportunity to call young people to service. Young men and women, who are willing to give of themselves and sacrifice, want a leader who will ask something of them. . .
. . .Young people understand the power that the political process wields as a force for change, and they are actively engaged in harnessing that power to bring about change for their families, their communities and their world. I see, in the efforts and enthusiasm of America's youth, that our nation's best days are ahead of us.

Jake Tapper of the ABC News blog, Political Punch, has also noted Senator McCain's strong support elsewhere for community organization; ABC News' Deputy Political Director Karen Travers pointed Tapper to this McCain quote:

"If you find faults with our country, make it a better one. If you're disappointed with the mistakes of government, join its ranks and work to correct them. Enlist in our armed forces. Become a teacher. Enter the ministry. Run for public office. Feed a hungry child. Teach an illiterate adult to read. Comfort the afflicted. Defend the rights of the oppressed. Our country will be the better, and you will be the happier. Because nothing brings greater happiness in life than to serve a cause greater than yourself."

I find Palin offensive and frightening

"Vet" Vetted" What a dumb term. "He vetted her" Really? Maybe it's just me.......

I find "you" offensive and frightening! What a bunch of over the hill liberal freaks here.

I don't think Palin's beliefs disqualifies her for the job since there are millions of people who think just like she does. They aren't my beliefs. One news show said polls showed there were two kinds of voters. The first kind picked a leader by issues and the other by personal attributes. Strangely enough the poll didn't say anything about having experience or what personal attributes count. Sarah Palin will appeal to millions of both kinds of voters. I think she's a personable candidate, but I'm an issues guy, and she doesn't match me in any way. I'm worried that a whole lot of women are going to vote Republican because that's the attribute that matters to them. I also figure a whole lot of Republicans will gloss over her resume simply because she's fundamental, likes to hunt, and is not green.

A friend of mine often comments that the Presidential election is just a high school popularity contest. In that regard, John McCain picked him one hell of a trophy running mate.

Jim Harris--On behalf of millions of women everywhere, I want to thank you for your high opinion of our rational thinking processes. What sexist garbage! Are you equally afraid that those voters who are black or "multi-racial" will vote Democratic because that's the attribute that matters to them?

Micki wrote, "With Obama we will get a socialist country...."

Doesn't it seem to you that with the government taking over businesses, the current administration has set us on the path toward socialism?

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