McCain gambles with the country’s future by picking Palin

| Op-Ed Submission

On August 28 no one knew who Sarah Palin was, and for a decent reason: mayor of a small town in Alaska for a few years before becoming the governor of the 49th state in the Union for less than two years. Hockey mom, huntress, family-oriented, beauty queen, conservative. As a rank-and-file Republican, Palin fell to the right of all the issues that you would expect. Nothing extraordinary about it.

On August 29, less than 12 hours after Barack Obama had given his acceptance speech and the Democratic National Convention had come to a close, Sarah Palin was launched into the national spotlight. This average governor suddenly became the name on everyone’s lips. Everyone was asking “Who is Sarah Palin, and why is she now John McCain’s vice presidential candidate?” The answer gives us deep insight into the heart of two candidates.

For months, John McCain’s campaign lacked excitement and energy. With no clear message, policies that strongly resemble those of the Bush administration, and a candidate who can only be described as less than vibrant, it was expected that McCain would pick someone to bolster his credential in the economy like Mitt Romney or appeal to the conservative base with Bobby Jindal. But McCain threw the long ball. He picked someone who would take the country by storm, someone that would bring the buzz back to his campaign and revitalize the base. Someone who would give him a shot at winning.

This indicates the clear difference between John McCain and Barack Obama. Obama’s selection of Joe Biden was one for both the vice president of the United States and campaigner. If anything were to happen to Barack Obama, there could be no doubt on either side of the aisle that Biden would be up to the task of serving as president. He has been a dedicated public servant for decades, with vast experience in foreign policy and domestic issues. He is not only a prominent figure to appear on the campaign trail; at the drop of a hat, he could step in and be a capable and effective executive.

Sarah Palin, on the other hand serves only one purpose: that of a campaigner. She has proven to be completely in the dark about foreign policy (she lacks knowledge about the Bush Doctrine, and she only got her passport 18 months ago). She has proven to be at best elusive with her claims about reforming the Alaskan government (flip-flopping on the Bridge to Nowhere, not actually firing the chef in the Governor’s mansion despite her claims to the contrary). Her grasp on the economy is average at best. She has proven adept at claiming to have positions on issues that are politically convenient (claiming to be in favor of giving aid to mentally disabled children while cutting money from the Special Olympics in Alaska). She is, by any stretch of the imagination, unfit to be president of the United States.

Now the astute political observer will note that this election is not about the vice presidential nominees. Quite right. This election is about the judgment of Barack Obama and John McCain. In picking Joe Biden, Obama looked seriously at the potential that he could conceivably need to step in to the Oval Office as president. John McCain took a political gamble, risking his political career on a hail mary. The only problem is that he is gambling with America’s future. As a man who has been through several bouts of cancer, it is an all-too-real possibility that if elected, and if the pressures of the presidency affect him and age him in a similar way that they have all of his predecessors, he may need his VP pick to lead the free world. Sarah Palin, a woman whose non-municipal public service amounts to less time than I’ve been in college, would be the president of the United States. She is unfit to lead, and based on his decision to rashly thrust her into such a high position, so is John McCain.

This election is about judgment and the ability to bypass opportunities to score political points for the sake of doing what is best for the country. The final day to register in Missouri, the only true bellwether state, is October 8. For the sake of this country, for the sake of your future and for the sake of the legitimacy of an executive that after eight long years of failure has the potential for renewal, vote. It’s all that stands between us and the possibility of President Palin.