Saturday, August 30, 2008

Sarah Palin Makes GOP History

Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin is Senator John McCain’s choice for Vice President. While his choice may have caught the pundits and talking heads off guard, his choice was perfectly logical and expected. Why did he pick Governor Palin? His decision was simple as you'll read. In fact, in many ways it was made for him.

First, the Republican hard core right; that is the Christian Right and the Rush Limbaugh’s of the GOP made it crystal clear that McCain wasn’t their choice and the only thing that would keep them from bolting from the party was basically selecting one of their own. Palin fits the bill. She is a very solid social conservative. Governor Palin reportedly belongs to the Assemblies of God, which is the largest group within the Pentecostal denominations. She is strictly anti-abortion, even in case of incest or rape. She opposes same-sex marriage and supports a non-binding constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. She supports teaching creationism along side evolution in public schools.

Governor Palin is an active member of the NRA (she hunts and fishes) as well as the Feminist for Life. She is pro-death penalty. On the environment, Governor Palin does not believe people are the cause of climate change (it’s a natural occurring phenomena), though she has proposed supporting efforts to reduce greenhouse emissions. She has proven to be a strong proponent of developing oil and natural gas resources through Alaska, especially along the North Slope. However, she has opposed efforts to add polar bears to the endangered species list out of fear that it would impact oil and natural gas exploration. On the money front, Governor Palin has a reputation for balancing budgets and leans in favor small government being the best government.

On health, Governor Palin believes healthcare should be market driven and flexible enough to maximize competition (that means minimum government interference but no national heathcare program). She also supports repealing so-called “nuisance taxes” and backs the Seniors Longevity Bonus Program. On education, she wants to fully fund K-12 and backs early funding of education programs. I found nothing on her positions on illegal immigration or making English the official language.

When Senator Obama threw away his campaign’s moniker of “Change” by nominating a Washington insider, Joe Biden, McCain seized on the opening. And who can blame him? Obama could have selected a woman (but not necessarily Hillary Clinton) or some other minority like Asian or Native American but didn’t. He could have picked someone from outside the Beltway but didn’t. Palin is a Washington outsider. She’s the first woman on the national Republican ticket. Like Senator Obama, Governor Palin has no appreciable foreign affairs experience though she reputedly opposes a long drawn war in Iraq. McCain and Biden are their respective party's foreign affairs experts.

As for her personal life, Sarah Louise Heath was born on February 11, 1964 in Sandpoint Idaho (Louise? Hum, come to think of it, she does look a bit like Tina Louise who played “Ginger” on Gilligan’s Island. I guess that would make McCain the “Skipper”). She holds a BA in Communications/Journalism with a minor in Political Science from the University of Idaho. Her nickname is high school was “Sarah Barracuda” because of her highly competitive nature. She has been married to Tom Palin since 1988 and the mother of five children. She is the first woman to be elected Governor of Alaska.

As an aside, this is the first time I can remember where both party’s nominees come from the same side of the nation. Obama and Biden are both from the east of the Mississippi while McCain and Palin are from the west of the Mississippi. Perhaps this is symbolic of just how divided America has become.

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