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:
- to lure disaffected Hillary Clinton supporters
- to resurrect his frayed maverick tag
- to shore up his reputation with evangelical Christians and social conservatives
- 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.]