August 29, 2008
Posted by: Kevin
But many Americans down in the lower 48 are asking themselves, who the hell is Sarah Palin?
The Governor of Alaska is perhaps best known anywhere for having an approval rating of around 90% in her home state, which for any Republican these days is a remarkable achievement. And Palin is 44 years old, three years younger than Barack Obama.
And no matter who she is or what she believes on a full range of federal matters of interest to gay people, the press releases calling her the girlfriend of Satan and the most dangerous, hateful maniac in history are no doubt flying off the laser printers of gay Democratic hacks as we speak. They will wisely leap on how unknown she is, and will burst into a chorus of screeching like the finger-pointing little girls in "The Crucible." They saw Goody Palin with the Devil.
What little I know about her is that she is a native of Idaho and a social conservative, but cut from the Alaska cloth in terms of her politics. She is much more active in the pro-life movement, largely tied to the symbolism of her personal experience (she gave birth to her fifth son in April, who was diagnosed with Down's Syndrome early in the pregnancy).
On gay issues, there is a discordant mix. Palin said during her 2006 campaign for governor that she has many close gay friends, and that she is "not out to judge anyone." She used her first veto as Governor to strike down a law which would ban domestic partner benefits for same-sex couples, effectively clearing the way for those benefits to be granted, when the state's Supreme Court found the measure unconstitutional. She complied with the decision, but also said she would support putting the issue to the voters in a referendum. "Signing this bill would be a direct violation of my oath of office," she said at the time. In April 2007, 53% of the voters in Alaska gave their approval to putting the issue on the ballot this year, but the measure has not been put forward. Palin also supported the state's ban on gay marriage in 1998, and said she didn't know whether being gay is a choice or not, but the exact quotes on those positions are not available anywhere. All of this needs a lot more definition from Palin herself.
However, for those who continue harboring a concern that Barack Obama does not have the experience to be President, Palin's resume is even thinner. A year and a half in office as governor, and years of experience in civic politics before that. No national experience and no foreign policy background. The one area where she has some real gravitas is on energy policy, which is a crucial one in this election. However, as those who doubt Obama's experience may persist in them, one could also argue that Obama's camp couldn't credibly lob the same criticism at the number two on the GOP ticket when their number one has the same problem. McCain would win that draw in the minds of many.
Palin was elected in 2006 -- an upset victory against better funded and better known candidates, on the worst year for Republicans in a generation. For those who followed that race, she truly earned it. At a time when the state's GOP establishment is sinking in sleaze - embodied in the now-indicted Senator Ted Stevens on corruption charges - Palin personally went public with her knowledge of a corruption scandal that involved the state's Republican Party chairman and the Republican state Attorney General, both of whom were brought down by the scandal, and she crusaded against much of the pork barrel spending that Stevens himself became famous for, including the infamous "Bridge to Nowhere". All of this is in line with McCain's own reformist agenda, and she is probably the most successful maverick Republican in office. Perhaps McCain will bask in her success, and the pick is more one of synchronizing attitude on reformist zeal. Palin will also be a ferocious running mate, and an effective attack dog, if her upset 2006 campaign is any indication. She will also spend her time going after every disaffected Hillary voter she can sink her nails into, especially in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Iowa and Michigan, among other states.
I'll leave it to Log Cabin to do the grunt work of reaching out to Palin and McCain and reporting back to all of us on their progress. Nobody else will have any hope of impacting the ticket. Their endorsement is not a dead letter now, as Romney has been brushed aside. The question is whether McCain wants to gain it, no matter which non-Romney has joined as his veep.
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