McCain’s Surprising Sarah Palin Selection

Lynda Waddington

Give McCain credit for surprising everyone, including many in the GOP. But who is Sarah Palin?

For the past 18 months the nation has had opportunity to discuss and
confront a myriad of issues: Infrastructure deficiencies, the Iraq war,
treatment of veterans, energy independence, government corruption, the
continued conflict in Afghanistan, education, the national deficit,
immigration, health care and, yes, even society’s perception of race
and gender. Conversations on these topics, however vital they may be to
the nation, do not easily lend themselves to the marketing jargon and
quick quips that have become the hallmarks of today’s Republican Party.

It should come as no surprise then, when even the most staunch
within the GOP are finding it difficult to be inspired by the party’s
candidate for our nation’s highest office, that Arizona Sen. John
McCain would reach out and tap an individual with a personal story loud
enough to drown out the collapse of interstate bridges.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, a former beauty queen, sports journalist,
city councilor and mayor, is the mother of five children. She has three
daughters: Bristol, 17, Willow, 13, and Piper, 7. She also has two
sons. Her eldest son, Track, joined the Army last fall. Her youngest
son, Trig, was born this past April and has Down Syndrome.

As Iowans saw when Rep. Janet Petersen took time off this spring to
give birth to her son, conservatives aren’t always tickled when a
female public servant takes time away from her duties to give birth. In
Palin’s case, however, there was a reason to celebrate the otherwise
termed “dereliction of duty.” While speaking with Michael Baggot of, Palin described her newborn as a “gift.”

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“We knew through early testing he would face special
challenges, and we feel privileged that God would entrust us with this
gift and allow us unspeakable joy as he entered our lives. We have
faith that every baby is created for good purpose and has potential to
make this world a better place. We are truly blessed.”

I’ve no doubt she and her entire family have been and will be
blessed by their new member. I’ve also no doubt that her choice to
carry this child to term played heavily in the vice-presidential
selection process — something that saddens me and should sadden us all.

Standing alone McCain had little hope of winning the emotional
support and excitement of social conservatives. Standing with former
Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, McCain’s own short-comings would have
been highlighted. While Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty definitely brought
a strong anti-abortion stance to the ticket, but he, like McCain,
lacked the ability to pull the heart strings of social conservatives
and make them want to support McCain. Palin, as a woman with a
compelling personal story, can provide McCain what no other individual
could. Even at the cost of lowering the national conversation once
again into divisive politics… even while publicly proclaiming his
desire for armed conflict to continue for 100 years… McCain has gladly
and gleefully grasped Palin’s “pro-life” credentials as a last resort
to motivate the previous supporters of Pres. George W. Bush to head to
the polls in November.

Looking past November and at Palin’s record in relation to
government corruption, however, it’s difficult to know the role she
will play if she and McCain meet with success in the general election.
In many ways, she is the true maverick, having bucked Alaska GOP
leaders to take on incumbent and fellow Republican Gov. Frank Murkowski
in a heated primary. Then rising above the monetary to defeat former
Democratic Gov. Tony Knowles in the general election to become not only
Alaska’s first female governor, but the youngest governor in the
state’s history.

She has built her administration on the foundation of old-time GOP
values such as fiscal responsibility and limited government. While
Republicans in the beltway have dived further under the covers with
their big oil partners, her administration is noted for seeking
independence from such interests. While Republicans in the beltway are
linked to lobbyists like Jack Abramoff, Palin sold a jet purchased on a
state government credit account on eBay for $2.7 million.

Although she is currently embroiled in a legislative probe
as to whether she abused the power of her gubernatorial office — a
probe not expected to be completed until after the November general
election, it’s worth noting that McCain, in his lust to entice social
conservatives, may have neglected to consider the ramifications of
bringing someone so well known for unearthing government corruption
into a White House so recently vacated by the Bush administration.

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