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    August 30, 2008

    What was he thinking?

    Posted by: Chris

    Mccainpalin What a day for my Internet service to be interrupted! Right after I learned yesterday that John McCain had basically blown the presidential election by picking a singularly unqualified vice presidential candidate, the signal cut off. I am overstating the point, of course, but what the hell was he thinking?

    My hat's off to my friend Kevin and others for trying to put lipstick on a pig, but McCain has just punted on the single issue that was most likely to beat Barack Obama. Sarah Palin is completely unprepared to be vice president, much less president -- and far, far less experienced than Obama.

    The only point the McCain camp can tout is her executive experience as small town mayor and, for two years, governor of a small population state. Even that can't compare to Obama's management of a massive undertaking like a presidential campaign. (Just ask Hillary Clinton.)

    Kevin is right about gay political groups grossly overstating the case against her on civil rights issues, although he's overstating the point himself to predict "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." A great turn of phrase, though!

    Our friends at the Human Rights Campaign wasted no time in labeling her "anti-gay" and "a fierce opponent of equality":

    “America may not know much about Sarah Palin, but based on what our community has seen of her, we know enough,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “Sarah Palin not only supported the 1998 Alaska constitutional amendment banning marriage equality but, in her less than two years as Governor, even expressed the extreme position of supporting stripping away domestic partner benefits for state workers.  When you can’t even support giving our community the rights to health insurance and pension benefits, it’s a frightening window into where she stands on equality.”

    The truth, as Kevin points out, is far more subtle. Palin backed a 1998 state constitutional amendment that overturned a preliminary ruling by the Alaska Supreme Court on gay marriage, but then again, so did John Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee four years ago. He nonetheless received a hearty endorsement from HRC.

    Gov. Palin also vetoed a bill that attempted to defy an Alaska Supreme Court ruling that gay state employees could not be denied health benefits for their domestic partners. She backed an advisory ballot measure on the question and made clear that she disagreed with the court decision but ultimately abided by it:

    "We may disagree with the foundation [of the court decision]," she said, "... but our responsibility is to proceed forward with the law and abide by the constitution."

    Solmonese is right that it's a bit extreme -- and heartless, I would add -- to oppose health insurance coverage, especially since she claims to have many gay friends. After all, D.P. benefits are the norm throughout the private sector. But these days it's still something for a conservative Republican to respect the role of the judiciary.

    It's premature and a bit silly to label Palin "a fierece opponent of equality." (The blogs are a bit more bombastic, of course.) Unlike the man at the top of the ticket, Palin is said to be open to the idea of anti-discrimination laws that include sexual orientation, though I've yet to see a solid citation on that.

    With many reasons already to doubt Palin's qualifications and McCain's judgment for selecting her, it's entirely unnecessary to caricature her on gay rights.



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    1. tristram on Aug 30, 2008 11:00:55 PM:

      If HRC is overstating things, why has Palin's selection elicited delirious enthusiasm from Gary Bauer, Tony Perkins, the AFA, the FRC, and now, this ? -

      "Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, who initially said he could not vote for McCain but has since opened the door to an endorsement, called Palin “an outstanding choice that should be extremely reassuring to the conservative base” of the GOP. Dobson added that the ticket “gives us confidence he will keep his pledges to voters regarding the kinds of justices he would nominate to the Supreme Court.”

      “It’s an absolutely brilliant choice,” said Mathew Staver, dean of Liberty University School of Law. “This will absolutely energize McCain’s campaign and energize conservatives.”

    1. Greg on Aug 31, 2008 8:42:10 AM:

      I come to agree with the general argument that Palin is not yet ready to be President (but is anyone really ever). To focus on her experience, however, seems to me to be a serious political mistake.

      McCain chose her in no small part because, to many working-class voters, she'll seem like one of them. Jonathan Martin at Politico has it spot on it seems to me: "The media elite – as well as elite members of the GOP consulting community – have all but mocked Palin as a former smalltown mayor with zero Washington experience. But that view of her totally misses the cultural resonance she carries to crucial Republican power centers and could not be more at odds with the jubilation felt among true believers that one of their own is on the ticket." http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0808/13016.html

      I believe that the national polls are about right. This is a democrat year, but our candidate is dramatically underperforming the political environment; whereas their candidate is over-performing the environment. McCain has proven himself a tough and wily campaigner. So rather than howl at his stupidity, recklessness, whatever, we need to roll up our sleeves and get down to the hard work of campaigning, or this election will slip away.

    1. Greg on Aug 31, 2008 9:04:57 AM:

      By the way: I don't mean to suggest that arguing against a candidate is not campaigning. But we need to equip ourselves to make the right case. Working-class voters (who tend to be independent in their voting regardless of party affiliation -- think "Reagan Democrats") need to understand why McCain/Palin will not be good for them, regardless of whether they, particularly with her on the ticket, seem more like them.

      McCain jousted with the celebrity/elitist attack because both campaigns' internals show this to be a weakness for Obama. This is why Obama's campaign started talking about McCain's wealth even before the house gaffe, and, make no mistake, chose Biden for his working-class roots. Palin helps McCain keep up this attack. We need to argue the opposite.

    1. Kary on Aug 31, 2008 9:55:58 AM:

      She's an evangelical. What else do you need to know regarding her thoughts about gay people? The ignorant woman wants to teach creationism.....that disqualifies her from reason, logic, or intelligence. Fuck her.

    1. Chris on Aug 31, 2008 11:03:04 AM:

      tristam: Allowing Jim Dobson and Ralph Reed to decide for you who not to support is almost as dangerous as allowing them to decide who you should support. We have our own minds and need to review her record for ourselves and make our own judgments. Dobson and Reed care about more than gay rights as issues and are also protecting their own political influence within the GOP by coming around to McCain after being so harshly critical of him earlier.

      Kary: The Constitution outlaws religious tests for political office and applying your own personal test to disqualify all "evangelicals" from your consideration is far more "ignorant" than Palin's religious views make her and is bigoted to boot. Evangelicals range the political spectrum.

    1. tristram on Aug 31, 2008 11:41:57 AM:

      Chris - I'm by no means allowing the likes of Dobson and Reed to make my decisions for me, unlike John McCain.

    1. Strict Scrutiny on Aug 31, 2008 12:13:33 PM:


      To answer your question ("What was he thinking?"), he was making a desperate play to shore-up his support with his Republican/Evangelical base and was also hoping to appeal to Hillary Clinton supporters who were dismayed by Barack Obama's primary victory. I'm sure he was also hoping to "freshen up" his ticket with a youthful, energetic face.

      Ultimately, though, she will not appeal to most of Mrs. Clinton's supporters, for reasons I've previously stated, and her lack of credentials will help insulate Barack Obama from attacks about his level of experience. It looks like the evangelicals are more interested in McCain now, so perhaps that part of his strategy actually worked.

      Even with eangelical support,though, I still think McCain's campaign is in trouble.

    1. Allan on Aug 31, 2008 12:32:29 PM:

      The comments in freeperland and the blogs of CNN, ABC, et al, are so deliciously and disingenuously hypocrital.

      The same people who spent the last TWO YEARS telling us Obama was dangerous because he's a virtual unknown and we just don't know enough about him, even though he wrote two bestselling largely autobiographical books, was profiled by every television network and media outlet, campaigned in 49 of the 50 states, took part in two dozen nationally televised debates, until polls suggested that most Americans felt they were hearing TOO MUCH about him? The same people who on Thursday night, were not sure whether Sarah's last name was pronounced PAY-lin or PAH-lin?

      They have declared her to be a wise choice, eminently qualified to lead and more experienced than Obama.

      Sometimes you just have to laugh out loud.

    1. Hawyer on Aug 31, 2008 2:17:59 PM:

      All of the maverick AKA loose cannon epithets notwithstanding - I, for one, don't think McCain had a thing to do with Mrs. Palin's veep pick. (He only fucking met her once before introducing her in Ohio!) This has the Republican National Committee's fingerprints all over it.

      And make no mistake about it, it's an awkward leap of the straight-talk express onto the god-guns-&-gays bandwagon. Still reeling from lack of support from the evangelicals, this is a Hail Mary pass: one fetus into the end zone, Mary Palin, receiver.

      Without belaboring the obvious on her paper-thin resume - this is political tokenism at its Republican cynical worst. Do they really think they will reel in Hillary supporters on the strengths of Palin's vagina alone? Do they really advance the argument that she is presidential material?

      She follows in the wake of Dan Quayle, Clarence Thomas, Condoleezza Rice, et al - one and all soporific ideological ciphers, all winnowed out of the grab bag of right wing place holders - and set in place to troll for the political bottom feeders which the GOP must have to win elections.

      Jeez - is their campaign desperate!

    1. tristram on Aug 31, 2008 2:49:15 PM:

      Hawyer - yet the GOP does win the elections, and it's pretty clear that this will be another for them. I have never believed that Obama's chances of winning were any higher than his poll numbers - topping out at 45% on a good day. Right now, I give him a 35% shot. If Palin brings out the pro-gun, anti-choice voters in droves (which is going to happen), it bodes ill for marriage rights in FL, AZ and CA. If McCain/Palin and the three amendments win, the theocons will claim a mandate to reverse decades of progress for queers in this country.

    1. Scott on Aug 31, 2008 5:31:02 PM:


      Palin's supposed fifth child might not be her's. Her eldest daughter (16) was taken out of school five months before the pregnancy allegedly because of mono. Palin made a speech in Texas when she said her water broke. Instead of going to the hospital in Texas she finished the speech and then flew back to Alaska, a more than 11 hour flight. Alaskan government websites have been taking down photos the past two days of Palin when she claimed to be pregnant. The child allegedly has Down syndrome.

      My hypothesis: The daughter had sex with an eskimo and kept the pregnancy to herself until after she was three months pregnant making it impossible for her to have an abortion. Her mother then claimed to be pregnant to protect her daughter and her reputation as a upstanding social conservative. Palin claimed the baby had down syndrome so not throw people off as to why the baby doesn't look like her or her husband.


    1. Allan on Aug 31, 2008 6:00:18 PM:

      Scott, or whoever you are, you're not helping. WD40 will now claim that you are a paid operative of the Obama campaign for repeating that unsourced rumor here.

      BTW, your email address is invalid. Troll.

    1. Kris Jones on Aug 31, 2008 7:59:16 PM:

      Gov. Palin has more experience than Sen. Obama.
      Sen. McCain made a brillant choice, that's why the Democrats and HRCers are all mad.
      I look forward to a McCain/Palin Presidency.
      That partisan lying idiot Joe Smo and HRC can kiss my gay Republican ass.

    1. Allan on Aug 31, 2008 8:47:41 PM:

      Hey Kris, if Palin has the most executive experience, then why aren't you advocating for her to top the ticket? It's not too late, contact the delegates in St. Paul and demand Palin for President, McCain for VP.

    1. SteveMD2 on Sep 2, 2008 12:42:10 AM:

      Lets be simple about this issue. McCain, who would turn our the Supreme Court into a christian taliban gathering, deserves to be elected to the red hot house - you know what I mean, not the white house. And anyone who would run with him as VP deserves condemnation.

      McCain told us, in the Saddleback church scene, that he would destroy our last bastion of justice, the Supreme court, and fill it with the worst of the worst - religious bigots who would turn our nation into a right wing theocracy. And with time, we'd become more and more like the nation that gave us 9/11, Saudi Arabia. And then the stage would potentially be set for a world war based on religion. Maniacs like Bin Laden, still free because of Bush's lies and ignorance, would mount a new attack on us. And that could spark A new dark ages, as the world went to war between a billion Christians and a billion Muslims. The only difference would be that swords could be replaced with nuclear and other WMDs. Why, because McCain would be nothing but a tool, as Bush has been, of the religious extremists in this country. And their true beliefs have little to do with God, and are best described as they worship the golden calf of greed for power and money.

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