A good friend told me not long ago that he was reserving judgement on the presidential race until the running mates were chosen; that the choices would tell him more about the candidates, and he would choose then. He made, I think, a good point. My political inclination is more, shall we say, sharply defined than his, but I have been waiting to see what those choices would tell me as well.
What the choices “said to me” was a very mixed bag.
Obama’s choice tells me that he believes the Vice President must be qualified in all respects to serve as President, unlike McCain with his choice.
Obama clearly wanted someone who could serve as a governing partner, who could add wisdom and counsel and assist him in governing the nation. In that respect, McCain’s choice is a bit mystifying. While Palin has a reputation as a reformer and a maverick, it is a short and untested reputation and it’s doubtful in the extreme that she would be able to swing any real weight in Washington if elected.
Advantage Obama so far, but things go downhill after that, because then we have to look at the degree to which the choices reflect the political inclinations of the candidates.
Does Obama really embrace the governing philosophy reflected by Biden’s not only voting for but driving the most recent Bankruptcy Bill? And it was Biden who served as the initiator of bipartisanship on the Patriot Act. Just to name two cases of him not only supporting, but serving as leader of anti-populist measures. That conflicts badly with Obama’s populist message.
By contrast Palin does appear to be a real populist; steering funds away from corporate causes and into projects with benefits to the general public, which actually makes her a rather odd pick for a Republican. The caution is that we don’t really know her yet. Politicians always look good their first year or so, busily carrying out campaign promises and clearing the decks for later when the media will be less attentive, so how much of that is for real. It’s a rather thin resume, but to the degree that McCain picked her for this reason, that reflects well on him.
And forget this “troopergate” nonsense. Even if true, Washington politicians do worse than before breakfast just to warm up. A Washington reporter would not even dignify that story with a “pfffft.”
Biden’s foreign policy credentials are much touted, but they are only marginally less warlike than John McCain’s. He adds to Obama’s already stated intention to increase military spending, despite the fact the we already spend more than all of the rest of the world combined, and that we already have the largest deficit in our history. Like Obama, he wants more war in Afghanistan and wants a warlike posture facing Iran.
It does not seem that McCain picked Palin for her military expertise or views because Palin, bless her heart, seems to think guns are only for the purpose of shooting moose. Her only stated policy on Iraq is that she thinks we should have an exit strategy. She has no known position on Afghanistan or Iran.
Joe Biden is a Roman Catholic, but if he has any theory of government that relates to his religion I have yet to hear it. He is pro-choice based on minimizing the government’s ability to interfere in individual rights. He opposes gay marriage but supports civil unions and the provision of benefits to same-sex couples. I believe Obama holds the same views.
Palin does have religious positions, and they were a stated part of McCain’s reason for picking her. Abortion should be outlawed with no exception, and contraception of all types should not be allowed even between married couples. She opposes gay marriage and civil unions for gay couples. She opposes extending benefits to same-sex partners.
She has position on global warming: it is not man-made or contributed to by the actions of man, and no actions should be taken to curb it. Polar bears should not be placed on the endangered species list because she believes they are not endangered. Evolution is just a theory, no better of a theory than creationism, which is the true theory that should be taught in schools
To the degree that those extreme fundamentalist religious views reflect in any way the manner in which John McCain intends to govern, the selection of Sarah Palin utterly freaks me out. That makes him George W. Bush on steroids. The very thought that he embraces her religious beliefs as a governing theory chills me.
And Vice President… We should never let anyone with that extreme set of religious beliefs get anywhere near the helm of our government, let alone within a 75-year-old heartbeat of it.