August 30, 2008 | Ronda Jambe

McCain’s Folly – the view from New Jersey

Today John McCain gave himself the big shot in the foot (or maybe head) that may be decisive. He has chosen as his Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who is known for taking on the oil companies in Alaska, which she has been governor of for 18 months. Prior to that she was mayor of a town of 5,000 souls, where she apparently acquitted herself well. She has no background in national politics, and this could work badly against McCain when he tries to claim that Obama has limited experience.
Seeing the (sorry, but it was so obvious) badly dressed and coiffed Alaskan commentators on the media about this surprise appointment, it was clear that Alaska is an outpost of little national significance, except as a source of oil and gas. Palin has made her rather small reputation as someone who has opposed the Republican corruption in her state, while encouraging oil exploration.
Alaska is a state much affected by global warming; you may have seen the videos of Eskimo villages collapsing as the permafrost melts under sea side homes. It is, of course, the area where drilling for oil in the Arctic Wilderness areas is hotly contested. One might have expected her to make clear her full support of this drilling, and to offer some justification of it. But no, all she offered was platitudes and the information that her son will be going to Iraq in September.
Coming from Australia, the importance of the military in government campaigning here is kind of disturbing. Almost no dimension of life is free from the flags, the professions of support, the reminders of past and present sacrifice. But there is very little mainstream reminder that just maybe Vietnam was as big a mistake as Iraq is proving to be. That would introduce cognitive dissonance, and they couldn’t handle that. It would put McCain’s heroic war record in a different perspective. My mother said something precient: someone who has suffered as much as McCain as a prisoner of war has got to have been affected, or maybe distorted by the experience.
Only the Democrats are willing to look at the lessons that still need to be learned about American adventurism, and I’m not convinced they are looking as deeply as they should be.
What becomes irritatingly apparent here in the US is the gap between what is said online and the TV comments. here was little or no mention of her being under investigation. No one seemed to mention her support of creationism, or the environmental issues in Alaska, although in a quick search on the internet, those details of her life pop up quickly.
She is also opposed to gay marriage, but has granted some benefits to partners of gay people. She is opposed to abortion, even in cases of rape or incest, and is an evangelical Christian who thinks creationism should be taught as an ‘alternative’ in Alaskan schools.
Palin is 43, and has 5 children. The last is just 4 months old, and has Down’s Syndrome. Presumably, the task of looking after this brood, and particularly the special child, can be outsourced. Family values would seem to sit well with privitisation in this case.
In announcing her candidacy, McCain mentioned that she was on the Parent and Teacher Association, and along with her long term membership in the National Rifle Association, who could doubt her ability to run the world’s most powerful military force, if McCain (and I certainly don’t wish it on him) should have a third recurrence of melanoma?
In short, she is a small town player in a very big game. So far she has been assisted by having been up against people who were either corrupt or widely disliked, and she is popular in Alaska. But in her speech, with McCain at her side, she mentioned nothing of any significance or interest. There was no sharp indication of great intellect, or passion, or knowledge. After seeing the outstanding individuals speaking the last few days at the Democratic Convention, she came across as a third rate candidate, clearly not up to national office of such ranking.
Having passed a law on ethics reform, she is now herself under investigation for ethics. The suspicion is that she fired a Public Safety Director because he would not fire her former brother in law. Said ex-brother in law apparently is a jerk. It is all up in the air, but reinforces the idea that these are small people occupied with small and parochial issues.
Tomorrow I’ll present a prespective on the Democratic Convention, where my former cynicism about Obama was subsumed by information about his background and that of his wife.

Posted by Ronda Jambe at 9:59 am | Comments (2) |
Filed under: US Politics


  1. The race for the White House has a strange concoction of bedfellows.It seems the Republican Party have their candidates in order of experience,but the Democrats have quite the reverse.If we take Biden and McCain to be on a par it would be concievable that they would both be vying fo the Presidency.However, The Democrats have picked an unknown of dubious connections to lead them against McCain,and I find that quite odd.Clinton was by far the superior candidate,experience and popularity wise, but in their infinate wisdom the party gurus have,against public opinion
    decided to go for the wild card.
    As far as credentials go,I would certainly not be placing any credence on Obama’s experience as opposed to Sarah Palin’s already demonstrated nous in her role as Governor of Alaska.
    The Democrats have got their sums on this matter badly wrong by alienating a large contingent of Clinton supporters who will not be voting for Obama to precisely demonstrate to the Delegates that they will not be dictated to.
    Sarah Palin will suprise a few on the way and create some uncertainty in Joe Biden’s ego.

    Comment by alf welch — September 1, 2008 @ 12:08 pm

  2. Mr. Obama will not be $ellected as the next President. Too many Amerikans are racist and bigoted… and Amerikans consider ignorance and $tewepidity to be a badge of honor. Many Amerikans are in extreme denial… but most of them are clueless, a condition even worse than denial. Also… Amerika’s corrupt electoral college “voting” $ystem, a tool used by Amerika’s corp-rat plutocratic ruling class, will arrange things to happen for Mr. McCain (a.k.a.: the $on of Cain). Obama is out!
    However… WE PREDICT that the next President will be Sarah Palin. Three months after McCain is $worn into office (a.k.a.: the oval orifice) he will resign for health reasons (McCain’s super $ecret cancer). Sarah Palin will then become the next President of the United $tates… probably in April or May of 2009. Old Coyote Knose! Old Coyote Knose! And ewe folks out there might want to mark this commentary for future reference.

    Comment by Guy Fox in Key West/Havana — September 1, 2008 @ 3:07 pm

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