Palin and Politics

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My husband says that I’m obsessed with Sarah Palin and I guess I am. Here’s only the second woman to be on a presidential ticket in the same year that another woman almost won the bid for Democratic candidate. The two women couldn’t be more different. For one thing, Hillary is 16 years older than Palin. She only has one child; Palin has five and is a self-confessed “hockey mom” which is not a characterization anyone would use for Hillary. Palin has zero Washington experience; Hillary is a senator from New York and spent eight years in the White House as a very involved First Lady. Palin is anti-abortion, Hillary pro-choice. Hillary recognizes that we face very real problems in the environment, Palin does not. Palin is anti-gay, anti-gun control, and pro-war; Hillary is the opposite. Of course, stating issues this way is too black and white. Hillary isn’t against guns in toto and Palin probably does acknowledge that some controls are necessary. (I would hope.) But it is the basic mindset that I’m getting at here.

I watched most of Palin’s speech last night. While it was good, it wasn’t on par with Hillary’s. And I was uncomfortable with the way that Palin used her family. She introduced her oldest son because he is deploying to Iraq next week. She used her youngest son as the reason that she would be especially sensitive to special needs children when she is in Washington. (As if she’ll have anything to do with enacting legislation.) She obliquely referred to her oldest daughter’s dilemma when she stated that all families have challenges.

And what about her daughter? Palin has been quoted as saying that she is proud of her daughter’s decision. What decision? Did Bristol Palin really have a choice? Palin’s spokesmen insist that the young couple had planned to marry before the pregnancy happened and that the baby is “just a bonus.” Are you kidding me? The parents were going to let a 17 and 18-year-old get married? I can’t even imagine the pressure Bristol and her fiance are under to “make things right.” Did they have a choice in that matter either?

I hate it when politicians twist the truth. I’m not saying that Palin is the only one who does. But does that make it okay? She also misrepresented her handling of the “Bridge to Nowhere.” She was originally for it and even after the project was scuttled, she didn’t return the money to the federal government but gave it to her constituents. No wonder they love her.

I’m trying to be as fair-minded as possible, but of course my commentary is biased because I’m not for the same things that Palin is. (For the most part.) And I’m still smarting from the rejection of Hillary. I’m also worried that Obama doesn’t have what it takes to win this election. His motto about change is wearing thin. So is his delivery. He’s eloquent, yes, but not particularly passionate. What I heard in Palin’s speech last night was passion. Obama needs to ramp it up and be clear about where he stands on the issues. But maybe he’s afraid to address the issues, because he’s knows that he will probably have to concede on some of them. Or that he will be labeled as a–oh no!–liberal.

One thing that Palin’s appointment has accomplished is that it has brought the socially conservative issues to the forefront again. Considering the number of people who want a return to the values of our forefathers, that could really hurt the Democrats. Not that Dems don’t have socially accepted values. But the more that the Republicans emphasize theirs, the more the Dems look like they don’t have any. After all, it’s hard to stand up for abortion when you know that many people consider it to be murder. It’s a lot easier to have a position that is shaded sharply in black and white. Dems have always been willing to see the grays. But that just tends to make them seem wishy-washy or relativistic to those who want easy answers.

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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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