September 4, 2008

Not Only Unqualified, But Dangerous Too

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Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin is the talk of the political world at the moment, having vaulted from obscurity to a position in the current campaign that could see her become the second most powerful person on the planet. By now, anyone even casually following the race for the presidency knows that Mrs. Palin is also at the center of a swirl of controversy because she lacks substantive national political experience, has made a number of questionable claims about her record, is embroiled in a state-level abuse-of-power scandal about which she is known to have lied, and her teenage daughter is pregnant despite - or perhaps because of - her abstinence-focused sex education policies, both public and, apparently, personal.

With GOP spokespeople decrying the "liberal media" over "sexist" attacks on the Alaska governor at every turn, all eyes were upon Mrs. Palin as she made her national debut at the Republican National Convention last night. Those expecting her to fall on her face - of which I was not one - went away disappointed; she was well-spoken and passionate, and clearly energized the members of the GOP base in attendance with sharp attacks on Democratic nominee Barack Obama. Those expecting the night and her speech to be marked by rank hypocrisy, personal attacks and the distinct lack of policy substance - of which I was one - got their money's worth.

Never mind the ridiculousness of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney braying about East Coast elites; disregard "America's Mayor" Rudy Giuliani - a man who has actually hosted Saturday Night Live - making smirking claims about Senator Obama's alleged celebrity status; and don't pay too much attention to the snide remarks about a lack of executive experience on the Democratic ticket from people backing a career legislator with none himself; there were plenty of blatant lies and meanness in Mrs. Palin's speech alone.

There are two very thorough fact checks of Governor Palin's RNC speech here and here, but it's worth noting some of the highlights (courtesy Hilzoy writing at CBS News' Political Animal):
  • Mrs. Palin claimed to be a friend to families with children who have special needs. While her youngest child was recently born with Downs Syndrome, and her position may have changed, as governor, she actually slashed funding for schools for special needs kids by 62%.

  • Governor Palin claims that her running mate, John McCain is the very figure of constancy. This extensive list of Senator McCain's personal reversals and policy flip-flops shows her to be either woefully misinformed or deeply untruthful.

  • Mrs. Palin stated that she turned down federal earmark funding for the famous Bridge to Nowhere, which has become the symbol for wasteful government pork barrel spending. Unfortunately, the requirement that those funds be spent on that bridge (i.e. the earmark) were removed before Sarah Palin became governor. She was therefore in no position to tell Congress anything about the bridge, and on top of that had voiced support for the bridge during her campaign. Later, in fact, she accepted the now-unrestricted money and spent it.

  • Mrs. Palin characterized Barack Obama as having "authored two memoirs but not a single major law or reform - not even in the state senate." In so doing she ignores significant legislation from the Illinois senator on everything from nuclear non-proliferation to ethics reform to the federal government's response to Hurricane Katrina. She also conveniently ignores the fact that it is Senator McCain who has written two memoirs while his counterpart has only scribed one.

  • Governor Palin claimed that although "America needs more energy ... our opponent is against producing it." In fact, Senator Obama's energy plan aims to develop substantially more energy than John McCain's. His plan, however, focuses on renewables, not carbon-based and fossil fuels. Further, the Democratic nominee was present for the last eight votes in the Senate on renewable energy, while Senator McCain was not.

  • Finally, the GOP's nominee for the vice presidency declared that Barack Obama supports plans to raise taxes and increase the tax burden on the American people by hundreds of billions of dollars. To the contrary however, independent and non-partisan analyses of both Senator Obama's tax plan and Senator McCain's have repeatedly revealed that the Republican scheme will provide tax relief to the wealthy at the expense of the middle class - the opposite of the Democratic plan - and have a more adverse effect on the national budget deficit.
Even beyond the Alaska governor's newly demonstrated affinity for self-aggrandizement, obfuscation and outright falsehood, there is a laundry list of reasons why she is the wrong person for the job of vice president. She is a far-right religious ideologue, a global warming denier, has a record of running up massive public debt, has advocated censorship in libraries, and she exploits her own son's military service to further her political career. In short, Sarah Palin is a George W. Bush Republican, and one who appears to relish that role even more than her running mate. She is not merely unqualified for the position of vice president - never mind president should something happen to John McCain - she's dangerous, too.

One of the more arresting things about Mrs. Palin's sudden elevation, is that - as the videos below demonstrate - it has generated an even higher level of spin, lies and hypocrisy from the Republican Party than usual. The first clip is audio of conservative pundits Peggy Noonan and Mike Murphy picked up by live microphones after an interview in which they sung the praises of McCain's number two. (Be sure to note the contrast.) The second is an extremely able round-up by The Daily Show's Jon Stewart of the trademark IOKIYAR standard as applied to the GOP's vice presidential nominee.


lokywoky said...

Thanks for all the research on this post. I am getting quite disturbed by the appearance yet again of Ralph Nadar on the public airwaves saying yet again that there is little or no difference between the Republicans and the Democrats.

I just want to scream "Do you have ears? Do you have eyes?" Sure, Obama is not everything I wish he was, I was far more interested in Dennis Kucinich. But the alternative - 4 more years of the same policies as the last eight - or even worse since if anything, McCain is even more bellicose than Dick Cheney in his desire to instigate armed conflict frightens me to death.

I hope that we Democrats don't get sidetracked by "The Sarah Show" and keep focused on McCain and getting Obama into the White House. We will not survive as a country if we don't.

PBI said...


I couldn't agree more - the estimable TBogg did a great post on that very subject back in February.

I'm starting to think that the Dems actually have a pretty good option with Palin: attack her record rather than getting bogged down in the inexperience issue. She's a true Bush Republican in the worst sense of the term, and there is plenty to dislike about the way she works.


amy * stem * said...

Very concise post, Mr. BI. Forwarding this to lots of people.

Good work,
Mrs. BI