2008-09-11 / This Week's Attitude

This Week's Attitude

Unconventional & Other Wisdom On Recent Conventions
By Neil S. Friedman

Now that the Democratic and Republican conventions are history, the candidates are on the campaign trail for the next eight weeks hoping to sway voters to their side. Independents and fence-sitting voters must disregard the events' painstakingly staged theatrics and choreographed speeches crammed with pauses for predictable ovations from dutiful listeners and determine who deserves to lead this nation.

Even so, any candidate promising change should eliminate that word from their vocabularies. The whole purpose of a presidential election, without an incumbent, is to change things. If they're not for change, what are they doing in the race?

Instead of vowing to make changes, candidates should give voters earnest insights into how they plan to do it. Americans are craving change, not lip service. We certainly don't want another four years of needless GI deaths and a failing economy while we contribute billions of taxpayer dollars to the oil-rich Iraqi government as, among other vital domestic issues, America's neglected, aging infrastructure continues to weaken and crumble.

Once considered a maverick, who periodically snubbed the party line, John McCain has evolved into your standard politician. His previous unorthodox credentials progressively relaxed each time he voted with President Bush in the last seven plus years, which was about 90 percent of the time. And in spite of his out-of-the-blue selection of spunky Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate, the choice may seem innovative to the stodgy, white male-dominated, minority-challenged GOP, but the Democrats shattered that ceiling 24 years ago when Rep. Geraldine Ferraro was paired with Walter Mondale.

If McCain's strategists think the gun-loving, conservative Christian hockey mom can lure disenchanted Hillary Clinton supporters to their side, they haven't been paying attention. And, if some women are so disgruntled they're keyed up with a member of their gender on the Republican ticket, they should remember the former beauty queen runner-up's views radically differ from Clinton's.

Palin is the antithesis of Clinton on many controversial issues. She's anti-choice on abortion, even if the situation involves rape or incest; she maintains that humans have had no adverse effect on global warming; her gubernatorial inauguration was sponsored by BP, one the of the world's biggest oil companies; not only is she an avid Second Amendment advocate, but she also backs the unsportsmanlike method of hunting from planes; she wants creationism, an unscientific, religious concept, taught in schools; she prefers abstinence-only teaching to sex-education in public schools (more on this later); she supported her state's gay marriage ban, and as mayor of a town with a population under 7,000, she sought the dismissal of a head librarian who refused to ban books with 'inappropriate' words.

Palin has referred to the war in Iraq as "God's task," ignoring the little detail that it was a Bush administration priority from the onset. (Maybe she believes Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld consulted Him after 9/11.) She once commented, "I haven't really focused much on the war on Iraq." If she's going to be a heartbeat away from the presidency, she's got a lot of focusing to catch up on.

Some pundits crowed that Barack Obama's selection of Joe Biden for his running mate emphasized the former's foreign policy inexperience, but Palin is greener in most domestic and foreign issues and unqualified to assume the presidency if McCain was president and took ill or worse.

Come to think of it, the only way Sarah Palin would qualify as a vice president is if she goes on a hunting trip and shoots a companion.

In her convention speech, Palin pointed out that she isn't part of the permanent political establishment in Washington, DC. Nonetheless, and despite her whirlwind debut, perhaps someone should remind Palin that even if voters excuse her negligible credentials and she becomes the first female vice president, she's going to have an awfully hard time bucking the system, no matter how much noise she makes. Congress ain't the Wasilla city council, Miss Congeniality!

In her convention speech, Palin referred to Congressional earmarks as "wasteful spending," but in two years as governor, she requested nearly $750 million in special federal projects — the largest amount per capita in the nation.

You know the epitome of wasteful? The notorious "bridge to nowhere" project Palin endorsed before realizing it was a political liability Flip-flopping like that makes her a perfect fit in DC.

The GOP's vice-presidential nominee gave a well-crafted, rave-reviewed speech that wowed the crowd in St. Paul last week because she's a fresh face with an overrated pit bull-without-lipstick demeanor. But underneath her hunter's garb and hockey jersey Sarah Palin is your garden-variety neoconservative the GOP embraces. And the primary reason the McCain team selected her was to appease the intense bitterness Evangelical Christians hold for the party's nominee.

As a member of the party that historically — and hypocritically — flaunts family values, Sarah Palin advocates abstinence for teenagers, but apparently neglected that parental obligation with her own 17-year-old daughter, Bristol, whom she introduced — after the detail was reported on the Internet — as a positive model of teen pregnancy.

Throughout its convention, the GOP blamed Democrats for Congressional ineptitude, but until the 2006 elections, the Republican majority in BOTH houses was responsible for most current troubles.

Furthermore, the Republican gathering shied away from references to its sitting president or vice president. Obviously, the GOP hopes the public overlooks the Bush years by November 4th.

If John McCain genuinely wanted to illustrate his maverick quality, he'd have tactfully denounced Bush and company for eight years of mismanagement. But for members of the party in power that kind of boldness is rare.

So much for real change!

Whether or not Sarah Palin proves worthy in the next few months remains to be seen. Nevertheless, it's largely up to McCain and Obama to convince voters by Election Day which one is capable of bringing about the essential changes America needs for the next four years.

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