Vice President Palin?

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Well, well, well…John McCain has gone and picked a woman to be his running mate. Apparently he thinks that’s enough to appease Hillary’s supporters. But I would hope to God that they are smart enough to realize that not just any woman will do. There are so many things to be wary of about Sarah Palin, I just don’t know where to start.

She’s even younger than Obama (44)–and her experience stacks up like this: She has been governor of Alaska for one and a half years. Before that she was mayor of a town of 6300 people; before that she served on the city council. She has fought those who want to designate polar bears as endangered because that would disrupt drilling for oil. She is socially conservative: solidly against abortion and gay marriage. She even uses her own life (and child) as proof of her convictions: She and her husband chose to continue her last pregnancy even after finding out that the child would have Down Syndrome. (She also makes a point of telling people that her oldest son is entering the Army.) Well, good for her. To be fair, it may well be that it is the conservatives and the media who are making a big deal out of what are personal decisions. But I would be much more comfortable if she were pro-choice–how silly of me to think that she would be!

She’s all for mining, oil drilling, cutting timber and fishing and is a lifelong member of the NRA and a proponent of the right to bear arms. None of this is wrong in itself, but they are areas worth watching. Does she think that it is perfectly all right to carry concealed weapons, for instance? I already mentioned her fight to keep polar bears off the endangered list. She also opposed protection of salmon from mining contamination. There are some reasons for concern here.

Apparently she is a popular governor, but what do 20 months of governorship really mean anyway? Let’s just say it: she has been selected and groomed for a career in politics. (Much like Obama, I should say–or any politician, for that matter.) She has the right values to be McCain’s running mate. To hell with the experience.

I firmly believe that McCain chose her to stand for things that he doesn’t want to have to come out and say. He wants to appeal to moderates and disaffected Democrats. But he also wants to appeal to conservatives, evangelical Christians (did I say that Palin was president of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes when she was in high school and that she attended a Pentacostal church?) and women who want to see a woman–any woman–in the White House.

His plan could backfire. Many Republicans, conservatives and Christians are against a woman in the highest office (or a heartbeat away from it). Her inexperience may hurt her. She has zero foreign policy experience. She knows nothing about how things work in Washington. How is McCain going to be able to criticize Obama for his inexperience when he himself picked a vice president with even less?

On a more personal level, there may be Christians and conservatives who criticize her for not being more available to her family–after all, she has five children ranging from age 19 to four months. How can she help run a country and be a mother at the same time? (That’s not my position, but it could work against her among some voters.) And many women, even conservatives, may be (should be) wary of her anti-choice position on abortion.

But I have to admit that my heart sank a little when I found out about McCain’s choice. I have a feeling that his tactic will work, for the most part. My oldest daughter disagrees with me: she thinks that it will hurt McCain enough to get Obama into the White House. I hope that she’s right.

For more editorial, read this on feministing.com.
For more on Palin, read this article on Time.com from August 30, 2008.

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Ellen Keim

Ellen is a freelance writer, essayist and copy editor, living with three cats and a husband in Columbus, OH.

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