BY BREEANNA SVEUM
Critics of Senator McCain’s policies and platform should be pleased with his most recent political blunder: the nomination of Sarah Palin, the freshman governor of Alaska who has been relatively unheard of until now. The nomination comes at a tumultuous time for Palin: She is under investigation for allegedly trying to have a state trooper fired after a bitter divorce from her sister, and her 17-year-old daughter is five months pregnant.
Despite the opinions of many Republicans, not to mention Barack Obama, that Bristol Palin’s pregnancy is a private family matter that is irrelevent in her mother’s politics, Bristol’s pregnancy is a reflection of Sarah Palin’s platform as a conservative Republican. Palin has been very outspoken on the matter of abstinence-only sex education in public schools. She does not believe that teaching teens about contraception is necessary, and that abstinence until marriage is the only option for preventing pregnancy and STDs. But her daughter’s pregnancy shows how reliable abstinence-only education is – that is to say, it isn’t at all. If Sarah Palin can’t properly instruct her own daughter about the merits of remaining abstinent until marriage, how can she expect the rest of the country’s teens to do so?
But Sarah Palin has said she’s proud of her daughter for choosing to keep the baby and marry the father. That decision is, as Obama has said, a family matter and politics should stay away from it. But the problem isn’t that Bristol Palin wants to get married at 17 or that she’s chosen to keep a baby she’s most likely not ready for. The problem is that Sarah Palin, as a conservative and potential Vice President, and possible President if necessary, wants to impose these same decisions across all families in America, regardless of their decisions. She’s is a champion for pro-life, which is fine in the privacy of her own home. But it is not her decision to make for the rest of the women in the country.
Until Wednesday, the McCain camp claimed it knew about Bristol’s pregnancy as well as the investigation over the Alaskan trooper before he chose her as his running mate and that all of this information came out in the vetting process. Recently, they have admitted that the news about Bristol was last minute, and they didn’t find out about the trooper investigation at the time because the FBI did not want to run a background check on political candidates.
So McCain chose a running mate without full knowledge of her circumstances, and even when told, he chose her anyway over Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, another finalist in McCain’s decision-making process.
Still, it seems odd that he would stick with a running mate like Sarah Palin. She’s young at the age of 44, inexperienced in her first term as governor of Alaska and prior service as mayor of a town of 6700, and attractive. Sound familiar?
It should, because young, inexperienced and attractive are the characteristics McCain condemns in Obama.
To be fair, Obama’s choice of Biden, an older white male with over 30 years of experience in the Senate, is equally reflective of his opponent, but Obama’s choice balances his ticket, providing experience and age, while McCain’s choice just seems hypocritical.
So why did McCain chose Palin? He has yet to give any concrete reasons. The only new quality she brings to the Republican ticket is a pretty face. She’s definitely not the person I’d want running the country upon McCain’s death, which is possible; the man’s 72. Why not Pawlenty or Mitt Romney or even Joe Lieberman?
I’m inclined to assume it’s because she’s a woman because, frankly, that’s the only value that I can see.
What little faith in humanity I have left begs me to reconsider this assumption, that of course McCain isn’t really stupid enough to think former Hillary Clinton supporters will flock to his camp because he’s added a woman to the ticket. Similarly, it begs me to believe Clinton supporters wouldn’t cross party lines just to see a woman in the White House somewhere.
It is a desperate ploy by the McCain camp to win voters with a female VP, and it’s deeply offensive to the intelligent women who support candidates based on their issues and their perceived ability to run the country and even the free world occasionally.
Critical though I may be of Sarah Palin, I am actually overjoyed at McCain’s pick. In a time when people are critical of the government and tired of the same old Republican politics, everyone is looking for change. McCain’s just making it easy for us to decide.