31 August 2008

Palin: Presumed Innocent

Conservatives got more proof of what they call "liberal media bias" when certain media personalities instantly pounced on Governor Palin as if she were Dan Quayle in drag. A need was felt to disparage her mayorship of a small town as if that was a handicap rather than a resume reference. To add to the negative impression, Keith Olbermann, for one, insisted on emphasizing that Palin, if elected, would be one heartbeat away from an office held by a 72 year old cancer survivor. Leaving Palin's actual merits and flaws out of the discussion for a moment, I find this unfair. She is the governor of a state, a position that's usually considered a prerequisite for the presidency that neither Senator McCain nor Senator Obama (nor Senator Biden) has held. She has already distinguished herself among governors by her willingness to fight her own party elders. Generally speaking, the more "experience" we demand of candidates means that higher office becomes even more exclusively the reserve of the American Bipolarchy. Leadership outside the political sector should count for something if we hope to put independents into higher offices. Palin doesn't necessarily have that kind of experience, but shouldn't it be presumed that anyone who's been elected either a governor or a Senator is "prepared" to join a national ticket unless vetting exposes incompetence? Instead, she is presumed "innocent" by liberal media, meaning inexperienced, a babe in the woods, etc.

Real scrutiny should focus on her relationship with the oil companies in Alaska and the truth behind the "abuse of power" charge regarding her firing of a state trooper. Less relevant but still of interest are her positions regarding creationism and abortion; it's appropriate to ask whether Palin is a creature of the Religious Right. In any event, everyone should remember that their primary vote is for or against Senator McCain, and should be determined by their judgment of his positions. If you worry that he is old and will die soon, that fact alone should be sufficient to lose him your vote regardless of who might replace him. We're entitled to four years' value for our votes. Vice Presidents are a bonus, with the bonus in this case being Palin's photogenic appearance. She might fairly be characterized as a "trophy veep," since the characterization reflects less on her than on McCain. Otherwise, she should be presumed "innocent" in the sense that she shouldn't be attacked before people bother to take a closer look at her record and her beliefs. In simples terms, look before you leap.

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