September 6, 2008
Source: Fox News
This doctored photo of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is one of a number of falsifications and rumors to emerge since she became Sen. John McCain’s vice presidential running mate.
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has been subjected to an intense amount of media and public scrutiny since she was named as John McCain’s vice presidential pick one week ago. Many of the attacks have come in the form of unconfirmed reports on the Internet. Among them:
1) Palin “Joined a Secessionist Political Party”
The Charge: Unsubstantiated Internet reports insisted Palin was once a member of the Alaska Independence Party, which critics call a secessionist political movement and supporters say is dedicated to seeking greater state control over federal lands across Alaska.
The Facts: Palin has been a registered Republican since 1982. There is no record of her ever being a member of the AIP, or any party but the GOP. Palin’s husband has been a member of the AIP in the past, but since 2002 has been a registered independent.
2) Palin Supported a “Nazi Sympathizer”
The Charge: “Palin was a supporter of Pat Buchanan, a right-winger or, as many Jews call him: a Nazi sympathizer,” Obama Florida spokesman Mark Bubriski was quoted as saying in a Miami Herald article.
The Facts: While mayor of Wasilla, Palin wore a Buchanan button during the sometimes presidential candidate’s 1999 visit. But Palin actually supported Steve Forbes in 2000, and served as a co-chair on his Alaska campaign.
In the weeks after the 1999 report of her wearing the Buchanan button, Palin said: “When presidential candidates visit our community, I am always happy to meet them. I’ll even put on their button when handed one as a polite gesture of respect. … The article may have left your readers with the perception that I am endorsing this candidate, as opposed to welcoming his visit to Wasilla.”
3) Palin “Wants Creationism Taught in School”
The Charge: Palin opposes the teaching of evolution, and would mandate the teaching of creationism in the state’s public schools.
The Facts: Palin said during her 2006 gubernatorial campaign that she would not push the state Board of Education to add creation-based alternatives to the state’s required curriculum, or look for creationism advocates when she appointed board members. She has kept this pledge, according to the Associated Press.
Palin has spoken in favor of classroom discussions of creationism, in some cases. “I don’t think there should be a prohibition against debate if it comes up in class. It doesn’t have to be part of the curriculum,” Palin told the Anchorage Daily News in a 2006 interview.
4) Palin “Was Nearly Recalled” While Mayor
The Charge: Palin was so controversial as mayor of Wasilla that she was almost recalled by a popular voter movement.
The Facts: The Wasilla City Council considered but never took up a recall motion after she fired a longtime police chief, who subsequently brought a lawsuit. A citizen’s group dropped their recall bid, and a judge ruled Palin had the authority to fire the chief.
5) Palin “Opposes Sex Education”
The Charge: Palin opponents say she supported the end of all sex education in public schools. In light of her daughter’s presumably unplanned teen pregnancy, this has been a particularly well discussed Internet topic.
The Facts: “The explicit sex-ed programs will not find my support,” Palin wrote in a 2006 questionnaire distributed among gubernatorial candidates. Palin favors abstinence-based sex education programs.
6) “This Picture Proves Palin is …”
The Charge: A slew of fake, Photoshopped or misdated photographs on the Internet purport to show Palin in any number of embarrassing or compromising poses. One photo claimed to show Palin standing poolside, wearing an American flag-themed bikini, toting a rifle with telescopic sight.
The Facts: The various photos are being discredited and shown to be fake on a number of Web sites. The original of the so-called bikini shot, probably the best-known of the pictures, was shown to have been taken of another woman, with Palin’s head Photoshopped above the body.
7) Palin is the grandmother, and not the mother, of Trig Palin
The Charge: The most salacious rumor of all, this theory holds that Palin did not give birth to her son Trig in April, and was actually covering up for her daughter, Bristol.
The Facts: There are a number of photographs showing an apparently pregnant Sarah Palin, as well as a number of published eyewitness accounts of her pregnancy. These include First Lady Laura Bush, who says she spoke with a pregnant Palin at a governor’s conference in February. An assignment manager for KTVA news in Anchorage, Cherie Shirey, has also been quoted saying: “We worked with Governor Palin many times in 2008. Our reporters worked her on location and in the studio and I worked with her myself. She was definitely pregnant. You could see it in her belly and her face. The whole idea that Sarah Palin wasn’t pregnant with Trig is completely, absolutely absurd.”
The McCain campaign, in an apparent effort to counteract the rumors, announced last weekend that Bristol Palin is five months pregnant, which indicated she would have become pregnant before Trig was born.
September 3, 2008
September 3, 2008
Source: The Dallas Morning News
ST. PAUL, Minn. – The moment John McCain selected Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, she ignited a fervent base of supporters – socially conservative women – who see her as the embodiment of their ideals and finally, a reason to embrace the ticket.
No amount of clamoring about teenage pregnancy is about to change that. Instead, it is stoking the ardor.
“She was a hockey mom, she became a mayor, she understands the values of America,” said Roberta Combs, president of the Christian Coalition of America. “Every day, American women especially face challenges in their private lives, and surely she is no different.”
Texas GOP chairwoman Tina Benkiser said she got goosebumps after hearing Ms. Palin was the vice presidential pick. Texas Eagle Forum president Cathie Adams called the bear-hunting, anti-abortion candidate “the kind of woman I’ve been looking for all along.”
In the last four months, on top of being selected as Mr. McCain’s running mate, Ms. Palin has returned to work after giving birth to a special-needs child, hit the campaign trail with five kids at home and told the world she has an unwed, pregnant teenage daughter.
To many fighting for what they call traditional family values, these challenges only make Ms. Palin more endearing and more representative of the trials that women endure. And the McCain-Palin team will need such voters in the tight race against the Democrats.
“If she can run a state, she’s smart enough to figure out how to get her family taken care of,” Ms. Combs said.
James Dobson, head of Focus on the Family, called Ms. Palin no less than a blessing.
“A lot of people were praying, and I believe Sarah Palin is God’s answer,” he told conservative leaders at a forum this week.
In a statement issued after the daughter’s pregnancy was revealed, Mr. Dobson was no less supportive.
“They should be commended once again for not just talking about their pro-life and pro-family values, but living them out even in the midst of trying circumstances,” he said.
While to some Ms. Palin is a Northern light, among other women’s groups she is a polar opposite and cynical substitute for Hillary Rodham Clinton.
“The fact that Palin is a mother of five who has a 4-month-old baby, a woman who is juggling work and family responsibilities, will speak to many women. But will Palin speak for women?” asked Kim Gandy, head of the National Organization for Women’s political committee. “The answer is clearly no.”
A Davy Crockett
Ms. Palin takes the stage tonight at the convention. To her fans, the popping of critics is galling: her paucity of national credentials, the investigation into the firing of Alaska’s public safety commissioner, and getting on a plane and flying for eight hours after she began leaking amniotic fluid.
To them, she is the Davy Crockett of politics, making moose jerky while routing corrupt politicians and slashing budgets. She is as pure anti-abortion as they could ever hope for. And, by the way, they believe she’s the woman who can shatter that Oval Office glass ceiling.
“When we first heard it was Sarah Palin, it was ‘oh my goodness.’ At first I cried. It’s just been a smile that can’t go away,” said Mrs. Adams of the Eagle Forum, an influential conservative organization.
As for the questions that have been cropping up since, “There is no pause for me, whatsoever,” she said. “I mean, they’re doing everything right.”
Ellen Malcolm, founder of Emily’s List, which raises money for female candidates who support abortion rights, sees it differently.
“McCain clearly sees the power of women voters in this election but has just as clearly failed to support any of the issues that they care about. His choice for vice president only reinforces that failure,” she said.
Ms. Palin has opposed contraception, abortion rights and protecting women in the workplace, her critics say.
Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison praised Ms. Palin and her handling of the announcement that her 17-year-old daughter, Bristol, is pregnant.
“My heart goes out to her family, and I think they are facing this crisis as any family would. Many people relate to issues where a child has made a mistake, and you want to work with that child and support that child. That’s what she’s doing,” Ms. Hutchison said.
Republican Jane Swift, the former Massachusetts governor who gave birth to twins in 2001, is the last woman to hold significant office while so publicly juggling a young family. But the pressures of motherhood and some self-inflicted political missteps forced her to drop out of her election contest, which was eventually won by Mitt Romney.
While male candidates – Barack Obama, for instance – have young children at home, Ms. Palin will be the first national test for women.
“We haven’t had a mother of young children serving at high national office. This election will tell us whether we are ready for that,” said SMU religion and politics professor Matthew Wilson.
For religious and social conservatives, a major indiscretion would have to be disclosed about Ms. Palin for her to lose their confidence, Dr. Wilson said.
“Otherwise they’ll be powerfully drawn to her,” he said. “She has helped to close the enthusiasm gap between the two tickets.”
September 3, 2008
WASILLA, Alaska — Dianne Keller, who succeeded Sarah Palin as mayor of this small city, proclaimed Tuesday afternoon that “the process for running the city of Wasilla is probably much like the process for running our country.”
That process, Keller told reporters, “is that you bring in advisers that you think are going to help you do what you need to do, what you’ve been elected to do. And I anticipate that anybody that gets elected will have that circle of advisers to assist them to do their duties.”
And she suggested that Palin’s six years at the helm of Wasilla, population 7,000, combined with her 20 months as governor of Alaska leave her better equipped to handle the executive branch than her GOP running mate, John McCain, or his Democratic competitors Barack Obama and Joe Biden, all of whom are U.S. senators.
“My personal opinion is that Sarah Palin has more executive experience than anybody on the ticket,” said Keller. “She was the mayor for six years, and as I shared with you it is a strong mayor form of government, which means you are the mayor for the city. You do make decisions on a day-to-day basis. She has been the governor for about 1½ to two years and I think that Sarah Palin is a very articulate individual. I think she shares the values that I share. And I think that she is a very quick study.”
Keller also said no one from the McCain campaign had called her to ask about Palin. That echoes what the city clerk, Kristie Smithers, told the local Frontiersman newspaper Monday, when she said no one had come to her office seeking documents about Palin since the 2006 governor’s race.
Keller had called the Tuesday news conference in a city park near a swing set to handle what she said was a deluge of media requests that has strained the city’s resources and tested the city’s collective patience.
She began by instructing the 15 or so assembled journalists to “follow my directions and write my name down. There’s another lady that lives in the city of Wasilla with the same name, and I know that she doesn’t want your phone calls.”
Keller was a member of the city council when Palin was mayor, and she said none of the current city council members served with Palin. She said she didn’t know when the city moved to a strong mayor form of government, when it increased its sales tax to pay for a sports complex or what its precise budget is.
She did, however, stress that the city has a “healthy budget.”
As such, Keller said she would “not be returning long-distance phone calls as we did not anticipate this cost in our budget, and I am going to keep our budget as we set it.”
September 3, 2008
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — President Bush led a convention chorus of praise for John McCain Tuesday night, hailing him as a “ready to lead this nation” and a courageous candidate who risked his White House ambitions to support an unpopular Iraq war. Republicans rallied forcefully behind vice presidential running mate Sarah Palin in the face of fresh controversy.
Barack Obama drew criticism from the convention podium when Sen. Joseph Lieberman said the Democratic presidential candidate voted to cut off funding “for our troops on the ground” in Iraq last year. By contrast, Lieberman, who was the Democrats’ vice presidential nominee in 2000, said McCain had the courage “to stand against the tide of public opinion.”
McCain was in Pennsylvania and Ohio during the day, campaigning his way into the convention city where the 72-year-old Arizona senator will deliver his formal acceptance speech on Thursday night.
Hundreds of miles to the west, in St. Paul, about two dozen men who were Vietnam prisoners with him a generation ago sparked chants of “USA, USA” when they were introduced to the delegates.
Bush reprised the national security themes that propelled him to a second term as he spoke — briefly — from the White House. “We need a president who understands the lessons of Sept. 11, 2001,” he said in prepared remarks. “That to protect America, we must stay on offense, stop attacks before they happen and not wait to be hit again. The man we need is John McCain.”
Inside the convention hall, former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson delivered a strong defense of Palin. He said the Alaska governor, was “from a small town, with small town values, but that’s not good enough for those folks who are attacking her and her family.”
He said McCain’s decision to place her on the ticket “has the other side and their friends in the media in a state of panic.”
Other Republicans — delegates and luminaries alike — defended Palin, who disclosed on Monday that her 17-year-old unmarried daughter is pregnant. In addition, a lawyer has been hired to represent the governor in an ethics-related controversy back home in Alaska.
Conservatives, slow to warm to McCain even after he clinched the nomination last spring, were particularly supportive.
“I haven’t seen anything that comes out about her that in any way troubles me or shakes my confidence in her,” said former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who ran unsuccessfully for the party’s presidential nomination this year.
“All it has done for me is say she is a human person with a real family.”
And Ron Nehring, chairman of the California state party, said video footage of Palin on a firing range was helping her cause.
“The reports I’m getting back is that every time they show that footage we get 1,000 precinct walkers from the NRA,” he told members of his state’s delegation, to laughter. “She cuts taxes and shoots moose. That’s Gov. Palin,” Nehring said.
Thompson jabbed at Obama on abortion, as well.
“We need a president who doesn’t think that the protection of the unborn or a newly born baby is above his pay grade,” he said in prepared remarks, referring to a recent episode in which McCain’s White House rival said it was “above my pay grade” to decide the point at which an unborn child is entitled to rights.
There were indications that Republicans thought they could turn Palin-related controversy to McCain’s gain. Officials said Levi Johnston, the 18-year-old father of the baby Bristol Palin is expecting, was en route to the convention from his home in Wasilla, Alaska.
McCain’s wife, Cindy, took in the evening program from a VIP box. So, too, former President George H.W. Bush, accompanied by his wife Barbara.
Bush, with his approval ratings in the 30-percent range, was relegated to a relatively minor role at the convention of a party that has twice nominated him to the White House. The president scrapped a planned Monday night speech because of the threat Hurricane Gustav posed to New Orleans. With polls making it clear the nation is ready for a change, the McCain campaign indicated there was no reason for him to make the trip to St. Paul.
The president referred to the years of torture McCain endured as a prisoner of war. Then Bush added, “If the Hanoi Hilton could not break John McCain’s resolve to do what is best for his country, you can be sure the angry left never will.”
“As president he will stand up to the high tax crowd in Congress … and lift the ban for drilling on America’s offshore oil,” Bush added.
As for Palin, despite Thompson’s remarks — and McCain’s declaration that he was satisfied with the scrutiny his aides had given the governor before her selection_ there were fresh disclosures.
Among them: that both as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, and as governor, she had sought earmarks for local projects. Her most recent round of requests totaled $300 for every Alaskan. McCain has frequently vowed to veto any earmark legislation, and has said she will be a force in his battle to wipe them out.
Additionally, the lawyer hired to defend Palin in an ethics investigation said he also is representing her personally and is permitted to bill the state up to $95,000 for work in the current case. The issue involves the dismissal of public safety commissioner Walt Monegan after he refused to fire a state trooper who had divorced the governor’s sister.
Republicans handed Lieberman the prime spot in the evening lineup, and he blended praise for McCain with criticism of Obama.
“When others wanted to retreat in defeat from the field of battle, when Barack Obama was voting to cut off funding for our troops on the ground, John McCain had the courage to stand against the tide of public opinion,” the Connecticut Democratic-turned-independent senator said in excerpts released in advance of his speech.
The decision to place Lieberman out front on the convention’s second night capped an unprecedented political migration. Only eight years ago, he stood before a cheering throng at the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles and accepted the nomination as Al Gore’s running mate.
In the years since, he lost badly in 2004 when he sought the Democratic presidential nomination, lost a Democratic nomination for a new term at home in Connecticut in 2006, then recovered quickly to win re-election as an independent.
Back in the Senate, his vote allows the Democrats to command a narrow majority, yet he has been one of the most outspoken supporters of the war in Iraq. He has traveled widely with McCain in recent months, and occasionally has angered Democrats with remarks critical of Obama.
One day after a frightening Gulf Coast hurricane prompted a subdued opening to the McCain convention, political combat enjoyed a resurgence.
McCain’s aides disputed a claim that vice presidential running mate Sarah Palin had once been a member of a third party — and accused Democratic rival Obama’s camp of spreading false information.
Obama spokesman Bill Burton said that as far as he’d seen, “the only person talking about her being in the Alaska Independence Party is the head of the Alaska Independence Party.”
“Their gripe is with those folks,” he said of the McCain campaign.
Protesters outside the hall vowed to resume demonstrations that turned violent on Monday and resulted in 286 arrests.
Associated Press writers Beth Fouhy in Philadelphia and Scott Bauer and Martiga Lohn in St. Paul contributed to this story.
September 3, 2008
Source: The Independent
The John McCain camp confirmed yesterday they had sent a “jump team” of lawyers and media communications experts to Alaska to handle the burst of potentially damaging publicity surrounding vice presidential pick Sarah Palin and her pregnant daughter, Bristol.
The dispatch of the operatives to Anchorage and also Wasilla where Mrs Palin was mayor and has a home left the impression of a campaign engaging in rapid damage control. It also gave rise to speculation that they were there to complete a vetting process that was not done properly in the face place.
Senator McCain, who will travel to St Paul, Minnesota, tomorrow to accept his nomination, denied yesterday that the normally exhaustive checking of Mrs Palin had been faulty. “The vetting process was complete and thorough and I am grateful for the results,” he said in Philadelphia. Aides had said earlier that he had known about the pregnancy of 17-year-old Bristol before offering the job to Mrs Palin.
Republican loyalists will rise to their feet as one this evening at their convention to welcome Mrs Palin, the Governor of Alaska, as she takes to the polished black stage in the Xcel Energy Center to accept the nomination and give her first major address on a national – if not international – stage.
After a somewhat toned-down start on Monday, because of Hurricane Gustav on the Gulf Coast, the Republicans got back on track yesterday and expect to reach a first emotional climax this evening with Mrs Palin’s address. The adulation, however, will mask anxiety that recent revelations about her private life and an ongoing ethics investigation could make Mrs Palin into a liability instead of an asset.
Convention planners intend that the acceptance speech by Mr McCain tomorrow, balloon drop and all, should be the high mark – though it will hardly match Barack Obama’s oration in the Mile High Stadium last week. Yet, it will have to compete with what happens tonight as Mrs Palin takes the stage.
The stakes for the 44-year-old mother of five and former beauty queen will be high indeed. She knows that the jury remains out on whether by selecting her as his number two Mr McCain has performed a brilliant electoral trick or committed something close to political harikiri. Karl Rove, the former political advisor to George Bush, said publicly yesterday that Mr McCain chose her with an eye to getting rather than to governing with her.
To this point at least, the excitement felt by conservative Republicans seems to be outweighing any private dismay at the morsels about Mrs Palin’s family life that have been leaking out faster than episodes in a soap opera. The biggest of them all, of course, being the revelation that Bristol is with child and that the young father, Levi, has a mouth grubbier than politics itself.
“It’s either brilliant or insane,” said the seasoned observer Charlie Cook, noting that media reports were wavering between two narratives on the Governor. “It will either be the fascinating, offbeat, not-off-the-rack maverick … or that her selection was a half-baked, cynical move by McCain that, while ‘outside the box’, probably should have been left in the box and never opened.”
Barely an hour in St Paul passes without some new detail about Mrs Palin life rushing through the corridors. Among these yesterday were reports that high among her socially conservative positions has been a long-held disenchantment with offering sex education in public schools because abstinence is the better answer. Never mind that Bristol apparently never got that parental memo.
Aides are also bracing, meanwhile, for any additional collateral damage that could emerge from an ethics investigation of Mrs Palin that was ordered by a committee of the state legislature in July. She has been charged by her political foes of firing the state’s former public safety commissioner because he did not sack a state trooper who is divorcing Mrs Palin’s sister.
Barack Obama, meanwhile, urged supporters to steer clear of the private affairs of Governor. ” I have said before and I will repeat again: I think people’s families are off-limits. This shouldn’t be part of our politics.”
September 3, 2008
The furore surrounding McCain’s running mate is a return to the old American politics of red state versus blue state.
A race that began as the West Wing now looks alarmingly like Desperate Housewives. Six months ago, you couldn’t help but notice the striking similarity between Barack Obama and Matthew Santos, the fictional but charismatic ethnic minority candidate who promised to heal America’s divide. Now, you can’t help but feel you’re watching an especially lurid episode from Wisteria Lane, as the real-life Sarah Palin fends off rumours of a fake pregnancy – and the accusation that her son is actually her grandson – by revealing that her unmarried 17-year-old daughter is expecting a baby and will soon marry the father, a young hockey player. Meanwhile, Palin has hired a lawyer to beat back a state investigation into claims that she abused the power of her office to remove her sister’s ex-husband from his job as a state trooper, a man who has admitted tasering his own 10-year-old stepson! Would even America’s trashiest daytime soaps dare squeeze that much action into just the first four days of a new storyline?
The McCain campaign has done it, thereby achieving in an instant one of its key objectives. At last people are talking about the Republicans, after months in which all the excitement had been on the other side. Ever since McCain introduced Palin to a stunned, unprepared political world last Friday, Obama has barely had a look-in. From conservative talk radio to celebrity gossip websites, there is only one topic: it’s all Palin, all the time.
In these reams of commentary, there is uncertainty about the only question that really matters: how will this saga, and Palin herself, play in the November election? Ultimately, will she hurt or hinder John McCain?
If it’s hard to tell, that’s because almost every new nugget we discover about Governor Palin can be viewed in radically opposite lights. The “family values” brigade might be shocked by the admission of premarital sex in the Palin clan; or it might be heartened that young Bristol – even the names sound like they come from a TV soap – has chosen to carry her baby to term and marry the father. So far, the latter reaction seems to have prevailed, with the Christian right, already smitten by Palin’s anti-abortion, pro-guns, anti-gay marriage stances, standing by its woman. Some McCain backers have even tried to turn the episode into a net positive: talkshow host Michael Graham wrote yesterday that Palin, with one son off to Iraq, another with Down’s syndrome and now a daughter set to become a teenage mom, had undergone experiences that millions of American women could relate to: “Sarah Palin is as accessible as Obama is exotic.”
Or take what was, until the soap suds started lathering up, Palin’s most obvious weakness: her inexperience. To political veterans, it’s ludicrous to propose that a 20-month governor of a state with a population of under 700,000 is ready to take over as president (not such a remote possibility, given that John McCain is 72 and has a history of cancer). They note that when Palin visited Kuwait last year, she reportedly had to apply for a passport: she had never travelled outside North America before. How could she possibly be ready to lead the world’s greatest military power?
But Democrats who make these points risk doing the Republicans’ work for them, falling into the wearily familiar trap of sounding like condescending coastal elitists, who look down their noses at ordinary Americans like the Palins. The blue-collar Republican base is already wild for the governor: every time they see a New York talking head say how absurd her candidacy is, they’ll like her even more.
Besides, the McCain camp is already hard at work spinning that all this inexperience is a good thing. It means, they say, that Palin will be a “breath of fresh Alaska air” in stale Washington, an outsider who had already dared take on politics-as-usual in her own state. Viewed that way, Palin has restored to McCain what always used to be his USP: his status as the reformer, fearlessly standing against the machine.
So she will go into the vice-presidential TV debate against the seasoned senator and foreign policy sage Joe Biden cushioned by subterraneanly low expectations. If she manages to utter several coherent sentences in a row, it will be declared a draw. If he so much as looks patronising or if he does an Al Gore-style sigh of impatience, she will be declared the winner. He’s a bruiser who would have been eager to crush any male opponent. Now he’ll be holding himself back lest he looks like a sexist pig.
There are some straightforward negatives for Palin that are not susceptible to even the most energetic spin. It’s not good that she turns out to have been for the notorious “bridge to nowhere” – a $400m project in Alaska that has come to symbolise wasteful, “pork-barrel” spending – before she was against it. It dents her image as a reformer and shows she flip-flops as much as any other politician. Not helpful, either, that in the 1990s she was a member of the Alaskan Independence party, which seeks a referendum on breaking away from the US. The firing of her brother-in-law, and the outstanding request that she give a deposition on the matter, under oath, will linger through the campaign. And the fact that the McCain camp seems to have started seriously vetting Palin after nominating her, only now sending lawyers and researchers to Alaska, reflects especially badly on McCain himself. (He met her properly for the first time last week, according to the New York Times.) It suggests the downside of all that maverick brio is a recklessness that is hardly suitable in a commander-in-chief.
What no one can know is whether that cost will be outweighed by the gains Palin brings, galvanising a socially conservative base that had been previously lukewarm towards McCain. What we can know already is that this election will share a depressing feature with the contests of the past 40 years: that America will plunge again into the never-ending culture wars.
For Palin cannot help but polarise the electorate. Everything that liberal, blue-state America can’t stand about her makes conservative, red-state America swoon. It’s not just about “Jesus babies and guns,” as Rush Limbaugh pithily put it. Palin also wants “intelligent design” – creationism – taught in school. When she was mayor of the small town of Wasilla, “she asked the library how she could go about banning books,” according to a local official quoted by Time. Palin was worried about “inappropriate” language. “The librarian was aghast” – and was later threatened with the sack.
In his stirring speech last week, Obama urged America not to “make a big election about small things”. Yet here we are, discussing not Sarah Palin’s record or programme but Jesus, guns, and as one feminist blogger put it yesterday, “the uterine activity of her family”. This is a setback for women, especially in a year that seemed to promise a breakthrough, but it is also a setback for America itself.
Obama made his name four years ago with a speech that called for an end to the civil war of red against blue. In 2008, he urged a different kind of election, one that would match the gravity of the hour. But the naming of Sarah Palin, and the reaction it has provoked, has dashed that hope. Americans are, once again, fighting over the questions that politics can never really settle – faith, sexuality – and pushing aside the ones that it can. And which it must.
September 3, 2008
Source: The Washington Post
ST. PAUL — Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican vice-presidential nominee who revealed Monday that her 17-year-old daughter is pregnant, earlier this year used her line-item veto to slash funding for a state program benefiting teen mothers in need of a place to live.
After the legislature passed a spending bill in April, Palin went through the measure reducing and eliminating funds for programs she opposed. Inking her initials on the legislation — “SP” — Palin reduced funding for Covenant House Alaska by more than 20 percent, cutting funds from $5 million to $3.9 million. Covenant House is a mix of programs and shelters for troubled youths, including Passage House, which is a transitional home for teenage mothers.
According to Passage House’s web site, its purpose is to provide “young mothers a place to live with their babies for up to eighteen months while they gain the necessary skills and resources to change their lives” and help teen moms “become productive, successful, independent adults who create and provide a stable environment for themselves and their families.”
Palin’s own daughter, Bristol, is five months pregnant and has plans to wed.
“Bristol and the young man she will marry are going to realize very quickly the difficulties of raising a child, which is why they will have the love and support of our entire family,” Palin said in a statement released by the McCain campaign. “We ask the media to respect our daughter and Levi’s privacy, as has always been the tradition of children of candidates.”
Earlier today the Associated Press reported that Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, opposed funding to prevent teen pregnancies, a position that Palin also took as governor. “The explicit sex-ed programs will not find my support,” she wrote in a 2006 questionnaire distributed among gubernatorial candidates.
Reporters asked McCain in November 2007 whether he supported grants for sex education in the United States, whether such programs should include directions for using contraceptives and whether he supports President Bush’s policy of promoting abstinence.
“Ahhh, I think I support the president’s policy,” McCain said.
Source: ABC News Blogs
September 02, 2008 4:40 PM
“I am appalled by the Obama campaign’s attempts to belittle Governor Sarah Palin’s experience,” said RNC Victory 2008 Chair and senior McCain adviser Carly Fiorina today in a statement. “The facts are that Sarah Palin has made more executive decisions as a Mayor and Governor than Barack Obama has made in his life. Because of Hillary Clinton’s historic run for the Presidency and the treatment she received, American women are more highly tuned than ever to recognize and decry sexism in all its forms. They will not tolerate sexist treatment of Governor Palin.”
Is attacking Palin for inexperience sexist?
The vice presidential running mate has served for two years as governor of a small state, than before that 10 years as a mayor of a small town.
Surely one could argue that the comments about Palin’s pulchritude, the questions about what kind of mother she is — those are comments that could raise an eyebrow if not ire.
Here is the McCain campaign’s backup evidence of chauvinism. I leave it to you to determine which of the following attacks you think are sexist.
Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL):
Obama: “Well, my understanding is that Governor Palin’s town of Wasilla has I think 50 employees. We’ve got 2,500 in this campaign. I think their budget is maybe $12 million a year. You know, we have a budget of about three times that just for the month. So I think that our ability to manage large systems and to execute I think has been made clear over the last couple of years.” (CNN’s “360 With Anderson Cooper,” 9/1/08)
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH):
Brown: “She’s been mayor of a city half the size of Blue Ash and governor of a state with half the population of Hamilton County. … John McCain failed in his first big decision as a potential president. He chose somebody with no experience to be a heartbeat away from being the U.S. president.” (Steve Kemme, “At Picnic, Brown Slams Palin,” The Cincinnati Enquirer, 9/2/08)
Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE):
Biden On Palin: “She’s Good Looking.” “‘From our perspective the whole deal is how does the government help you get back up without getting in the way?’ Biden asked. ‘There’s a gigantic – gigantic — difference between John McCain and Barack Obama, and between me and I suspect my vice presidential opponent. And that is that –’ The crowd laughed. ‘Well there’s obvious differences,’ Biden said, beginning to ham it up. ‘She’s good looking,’ he said, laughing.” (Jake Tapper, “Oh, That Joe! (Number 4 In A Series) — Biden On Difference Between Him And Palin: ‘She’s Good Looking,’” ABC News’ “Political Punch” Blog, blogs.abcnews.com, 8/31/08)
Former Senator And Obama National Co-Chair Tom Daschle (D-SD):
Daschle Attacked Palin As Having “Absolutely No Experience” And Being “Extreme Right Wing.” Daschle: “Three questions: With absolutely no experience, are we ready, if necessary, to place our future in her hands as commander in chief and our premier negotiator with other world leaders? Are we comfortable in having a VP who represents the extreme right wing, including the advocacy of creationism and a denial of any human responsibility in climate change? What happens if Gov. Palin is found to have abused her office in the firing of a police officer?” (“Politico Arena — Palin Edition,” The Politico, 8/31/08)
Obama Spokesman Mark Bubriski:
Obama Spokesman Erroneously Attacked Palin As A Supporter Of A Nazi Sympathizer. “Barack Obama’s campaign, perhaps miffed at all the Democrat-is-weak-on-Israel theme, started striking back at John McCain almost as soon as he tapped Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to be his running mate. Where the Dems are trying to paint McCain as more financially out of touch with people, they’re strongly suggesting that his Christian conservative running mate is no friend to the Jews. ”Palin was a supporter of [MSNBC analyst] Pat Buchanan, a right-winger or as many Jews call him: a Nazi sympathizer,” Obama spokesman Mark Bubriski wrote in an email.” (Naked Politics Blog, Accessed 9/2/08)