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I am a self proclaimed coffee addict and Executive Director of a non profit missions agency working primarily in the Mexican cities of Oaxaca, Guadalajara, and Ensenada. I've been married for over 30 years to Chelle, and we have one grown son, Joseph, a graduate of Auburn University in Alabama.

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Monday, September 01, 2008

Is She Qualified? The Sarah Palin Question

Most of you know I am a political junkie. But one of the things I hate about politics is a tendency of true believers to see or admit flaws in their logic or their candidates.

The Bush Presidency provides us with a good example. On the GOP side at least.

There is little doubt that mistakes were made in the prosecution of the war in Iraq. Yet when asked about this, President Bush stated that he could think of none and in fact that he would do it all over again.

That response essentially gave the true believers the marching orders they needed. Make no concessions and admit no mistakes, no matter what. And the GOP leaning blogosphere has mostly complied.

On the Democratic side, the fact that their leadership, Barack Obama included, continues to deny the tactical success of the surge is just ridiculous. It is as if they are asking to believe them instead of our own eyes.

The problem with this type of thinking is that once you have sipped the Kool Aid, you tend to lose objectivity and the ability to see things clearly.

Perhaps the clearest most recent example of this is in regards to the GOP Vice Presidential Candidate, Sarah Palin.

Here is what we know about her political qualifications.

1. She served ten years on the City Council and as mayor of Wasilla, AK, a city of less than 10,000 people.

2. She is currently the Governor of Alaska, with all the responsibilities that come with that, including the management of the state budget and the state National Guard and State Defense Force. This includes her work on National Defense as Alaska is our closest outpost to Russia.

Now for the Straight Talk Express people, here is a little straight talk for you. Anything beyond that is life experience. It is useful in politics, but it is not a political qualification.

Full disclosure here. I lean to the democrats. I have attended Obama rallies and would be thrilled to have him as my President. But I have also supported John McCain and if I was being 100% honest, I believe he too would be a fine President.

Many of my blog friends are from the GOP side of the ledger, and as such, are big McCain supporters, and as a result Palin backers. Which is fine.

They have shared with me their arguments supporting her “experience,” which they unwittingly cite as a qualification to be President of the United States. Let me share a few.

She has a diverse background of experience as a professional journalist, city council woman, Mayor, Governor and Mother of 5.

All true.

She has gotten a lot done after being a Governor for 2 years. She has vetoed 300 spending proposals and has an 80% approval rating in Alaska.

All true.

She knows what she thinks and is very articulate, attractive, passionate, idealistic and courageous. She has shown enormous courage with her oldest son going off to serve in the military and her youngest son having downs syndrome.

All true.

She is a very competent person with a compelling story.

True again.

She should never be underestimated. She defeated the incumbent when she ran for Mayor and she defeated the incumbent Republican Governor in the primary before going on to defeat the Democrat in the general election.

All true again.

The problem here is that these are not objective [Dictionary time here… not influenced by personal feelings, interpretations, or prejudice; based on facts; unbiased: an objective opinion.] qualifications. Barack Obama has been called unqualified by both Republican and Democratic candidates and his resume is more or less the same as Palin’s. He has been savaged by the GOP for his lack of experience even though I would take his years as a Professor of Constitutional Law out of the experience column and put it into the qualification category.

If a Democrat was running with her list of qualifications, is anyone even going to argue that the GOP would not say that person was unqualified? If you seriously doubt that, you are not being honest with yourself. And please don’t give me the “She’s running for VP” argument. We all know that the VP must also be qualified to be President on their first day in office.

All day Sunday on the news shows, I watched as Republicans refused to answer this question, instead choosing to deflect to Obama’s lack of experience.

The fact that Obama has a thin, or as some would say, non-existent resume, does not mean that Sarah Palin does not have a thin resume also.

She has experiences. As does Barack. But experiences are not qualifications for president. Potentially useful for sure, but not qualifications.

To insist otherwise is political sophistry.

Comments on "Is She Qualified? The Sarah Palin Question"


Blogger Patrick M said ... (6:16 AM) : 

Sadly, politics is the art of adjusting the facts to fit the "truth" to justify your cluster of a candidate.

So let me restate a couple of things here, since the GOP has rallied 'round the Kool Aid cooler.

Sarah Palin does have almost as thin a resume as Barack Obama. However, she is also the only one with executive experience on either ticket.

However, since we have yet to see her under the pressure of the national spotlight, the value of her experience, or lack thereof, is not obvious yet. Her (first) convention speech will define her.

Oh, there's where Obama has more experience. He's spoken to a national convention before. ;)

But here's what's most important: Who do you want to look at for 4 years? On that, I'd vote Sarah Palin in a heartbeat. I'm just waiting for National Review's swimsuit issue!


Blogger Dave Miller said ... (7:31 AM) : 

I have some friends who are waiting for Tina Fey to play her in she SNL takeoffs!


Anonymous Gordon Mallon said ... (9:05 AM) : 

Here is a note sent to me by an Old friend who has lived in Alaska for about 30 years and is a political junkie.

"Having said that, I will confess I have received multiple messages and calls from family and friends down south wanting to know anything I can provide about a certain Gov. Sarah Palin.

"First, my reaction to yesterday's news was somewhere between complete shock and total stun. We had heard she was being considered, but I always figured that it was just a publicity thing for the campaign. Certainly I thought her chances of getting the nod were somewhere between never and really never. I was obviously wrong.

"First if there has ever been a thinner resume for a person seeking this position from a major party, I don't recall it. She spent 4 years on the Wasilla City Council and 6 years as it's mayor. To put it into perspective the population of Wasilla ranks below that of Cottage Grove, Oregon. The city has about 100 employees (which includes all of the part-time lifeguards at the city pool.) She served for a bit over a year as the Chair of the state's Oil and Gas Commission (a part-time job)(more on that in a bit) and has now been governor of Alaska for about 20 months. That's it. No federal work at all, no time in the state legislature, nothing.

"Her time on the Oil and Gas Commission was rather odd. She almost immediately had problems working with the full-time executive director of the Commission. This was almost certainly his fault and not hers. He had no business holding that job, since he was holding another job (chair of the Alaska Republican Party) at the same time. He was given strict instructions that Commission work and Party work must never cross. He promised he would do that. He didn't. He was caught using Commission materials and equipment to communicate party instructions. Sarah called him on it, squealed to the authorities and within a few months (Frank really did like him), he was out the door. However, part of the cost of this for Sarah, was so was she. (Frank preferred team players.) He is still the Alaska Republican chairman and his relationship with Governor Palin has been chilly. They tried to sack him earlier this year and failed. How he is taking the news of Sarah's selection is something that a lot of us would like to hear.

"Yes, she beat Frank Murkowski in the 2006 primary for Governor. However, at that point in his career, Frank could have been beaten by a properly trained harbor seal. His popularity among state governors was either 49 or 50. His administration would have loved the popularity numbers that California's Grey Davis had before he was recalled. Frank survived his term as governor here simply because our recall laws are unbelievably limited. Her defeat of democratic challenger Tony Knowles in the General was a bit of an acheivement, but I really think it was more Knowles taking the campaign far too lightly and having to deal with the fact that Alaska is for the most part a "red-state". She can be an effective speaker and worked hard to get the nomination.

"Since becoming Governor she has definitely NOT been afraid of ticking people off. We have a budgetary line item veto, which she has used ruthlessly for projects or tasks she didn't want. This has left a number of local legislators irritated, but her popularity figures have prevented them from doing anything. She has been accused of being a bit more kind to her old community in those vetoes. These budget cuts are certainly not needed to stay within revenues as the extreme oil prices of late have contributed to massive state surpluses. (In fact this year's check from the state will be $1200 more than normal as they are returning some of the surplus to us.)

"She has definitely been seen as a non-lover of Juneau. Juneau has dealt with a number of proposals over the years to move the Capitol to someplace else. One of the other places proposed was Wasilla. At this point Juneau is the Capital, but the steady creep of jobs from Juneau to other locales (Anchorage and Wasilla among others) has become somewhat noticable in Juneau. For this reason, Sarah's popularity in Juneau is not particularly strong. It doesn't help that she herself rarely lives in the Capital, and has actively sought to have the legislator hold sessions outside of Juneau. (A 1-day special session was held in Anchorage last year, and she wanted a longer special session held in Fairbanks, but a convention scheduled for the same time had every hotel room in the city booked.)

"She has been trying to work on improving the ethical standards of our elected officials in the state, which has become a major issue. At this point 3 former state legislators have been convicted by the feds for various corruption issues and 2 others are currently under indictment. Governor Murkowski's chief of staff has plead out to a corruption count and of course I would presume you have heard about Sen. Stevens' indictment. Personally I think all of these charges are only the tip of the iceberg. I know that we have far more corruption in our government than that. While working steadfast for this, Sarah has been a bit "bedeviled" by some problems of her own. The most recent problem many of us thought was the death knell for her VP hopes. About two months ago she canned the commissioner of public safety (he is in charge of the State Troopers among other things). No real reason other than seeking to revise the department's direction was given. She immediately appointed a police chief from the Kenai area to replace him.

"Well, the ousted commissioner then squealed that he had been shoved out because he had not fired a trooper who was in the midst of a very messy divorce with the Governor's sister. He claimed to have been pressured by the Governor's office to can the guy and had not done so. The governor denied everything. Then a recording of one of her staffers doing exactly that showed up. Whoops. The staffer has stated that he did this completely on his own and had no directive from the Governor to do this. Some believe this, some do not. This matter is currently still under investigation.

"Unfortunately for the Governor, the Kenai police chief turned out to be a total bust. Within days of his appointment it was revealed he had been disciplined for a potential sexual harrassment case. He had neglected to report that to the governor when he was appointed and within a few days he was gone. This time Sarah appointed a committee to find a replacement. They are still at work.

"Politically, I would say it like this. Take every national issue that Hillary Clinton has an opinion on and reverse it. That would be Sarah's position. Sarah is a true dedicated member of the NRA, is a definitely pro-lifer, is definitely against same-sex marriage and would be in favor of a much smaller federal government. On the international front, I have no clue what she would do because she has never had to say."


Blogger Dave Miller said ... (10:23 AM) : 

All good info Gordon, and not presented in ways as to be personally vindictive.


Blogger Patrick M said ... (4:02 PM) : 

Dave: Tina Fey's not good looking enough.

Gordon: This confirms most of my thoughts and instincts concerning the governor. Thanks.


Blogger Shaw Hussein Kenawe said ... (7:20 PM) : 


Re: The Surge

The MSM, and neither the Dems nor the Repubs have covered what Gen. Petraeus has said about the surge:

Petraeus Disagrees With McCain, Says Success In Iraq Was Possible Without The Surge

Gen. David Petraeus, top commander of coalition military forces in Iraq, recently sat down with Newsweek to do a “valedictory” interview before he takes up his new post as CENTCOM commander next month.

Newsweek reported that while Petraeus recognized that al-Qaeda in Iraq has been significantly diminished, he refusesd to say the terror group had been “defeated.” Moreover, Petraeus acknowledged that the recent successes in Iraq may have been possible without the surge:

Petraeus is careful not to credit all the progress to the surge of U.S. troops in 2007. The sea change came last year from a series of movements now known as the Awakening. […] So would the Sunni Awakening have succeeded without the surge? Possibly, he concedes.

Obama probably knew this, and that's why his answer has to be more nuanced. It would be simple-minded to just say "Yeah, the surge worked." Before examining what really happened.


Blogger Patrick M said ... (7:53 AM) : 

Dave: I think Shaw just confirmed something I said before:

Sadly, politics is the art of adjusting the facts to fit the "truth" to justify your cluster of a candidate.


Blogger Bullfrog said ... (12:56 PM) : 

Nice letter and it gives good detail of Palin's background. Some of it was a little subjective, ""First if there has ever been a thinner resume for a person seeking this position from a major party, I don't recall it." Whether her experience is measurably less than any other VP in US history, effective or not, is probably debatable.

Regarding Shaw's remarks, I think the assertion that admitting the surge worked is "simple" is pretty weak. The statement that the surge worked is a measure of whether what it was designed to accomplish was indeed accomplished. Saying it worked doesn't imply that the only thing that brought positive change to Iraq was only that effort. I think most people are savvy enough to know there are efforts made on all sides to bring peace and democracy to Iraq, not just the US.

patrick m: You have a knack for saying what I am thinking! What frustrates me about politics is, well, politics. There is always a bias, even from those responsible for just reporting the facts. What is worse is not even attempting to get past the bias and operating according to the political bias you agree with. It is the opposite of critical thinking.


Blogger Patrick M said ... (10:12 PM) : 

Bullfrog: If you want to take a look at objective observations despite a bias, you should see how I treated the Democrats on their convention week. Too many people in the blogosphere and NBC can't see past their ideology to look at speeches and see if they worked for their target audiences. I think I succeeded.


Blogger James & Emilee said ... (6:31 AM) : 

I like McCain. But I don't think I can vote for a vice president (who at any moment could become the president) who so easily mixes religion with her policies, and in fact uses her beliefs to justify them...
Palin on building a natural gas pipeline:

"I think God's will has to be done in unifying people and companies to get the gas line built, so pray for that."

and here she is on the Iraqi war:

"Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right. Also, for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending [U.S. soldiers] out on a task that is from God. That's what we have to make sure that we're praying for, that there is a plan and that plan is God's will."

Haven't we had enough of THAT with G.W.? (Hey guys, God told me during morning prayer that we are supposed to go finish the war my daddy started...you can't argue with me cuz I said Jesus told me!)

At least Obama, with all of his "inexperience," knows better than to use God to justify policy.

For those of you in Christian circles, isn't that what some would call "taking God's name in vain?" People who used God's name to justify things in the Old Testament had a tenacity for getting stoned to death for such things...


Blogger James & Emilee said ... (6:42 AM) : 

forgot to cite a source...:


Blogger Patrick M said ... (6:53 AM) : 

James & Emilee: Thanks for citing the source. Now I know where the lines that I'm going to call BS on came from (all too easy).

Here's the list of Sarah Palin Rumors, which includes your out-of-context quotes. Feel free to read and correct yourself.

If you missed it, a committed Christian (not including lapsed Catholics such as myself) views the world through the prism of God's will. However, that also means that their prayers ask to have His will be done, not theirs. Any good Christian knows that they will do what they believe is right, but that is subject to veto by the Deity.

But if you have a natural bias against Christianity, I can see how you could get so confused so easily. Time to expand your horizons Beyond the Left Coast.


Blogger James & Emilee said ... (10:24 AM) : 

its still pushing a little towards saying THAT it is God's will that they are doing it, not asking IF its God's will...I should have said those of US who grew up in Christian circles...plus I've read those quotes in other places that was just one of them...and the rumor page did not talk about the gas line quote, which is still saying that she believes her policy IS God's will...which is a cop out. Its like saying "God told me to break up with you." Whether or not God told you to do so or make such and such a policy is one issue, but just say you believe so. Saying "God told me so" is just saying "you aren't arguing with me, you are arguing with God." Man up, or in her case, woman up, and take responsibility for your policies, even if you believe God gave them to you.


Blogger Patrick M said ... (12:37 PM) : 

Well, we'll just have to see how she handles it when she gets into hard interviews and debates. That will decide whether she uses her faith as a foundation or a crutch.

BTW, I like arguing with God. Takes work. :)


Blogger Emilee said ... (5:40 PM) : 

Agreed. As of now I'm not sure which candidate I'm into yet...we'll see.


Blogger James & Emilee said ... (5:44 PM) : 

Agreed. As of now I'm not sure which candidate I'm into yet...we'll see.


Blogger Dave Miller said ... (8:19 AM) : 

In case you missed it, the quotes from Palin have been pretty widely circulated, not just on the Huffington Post. The video has also been played numerous times and is on You Tube.

However, I took her words, albeit delivered badly to say she wanted God to be watching over our troops.

The pipeline statement is more problematic, but if you believe God has His hand in everything, you gotta go with it.

James' question about 4 more years of someone invoking God at every turn is a valid point in a country where we have freedom to be religious, or not, but it is always a struggle.

Also Patrick, both James and Em are pretty committed Christians, having served with me many times and currently studying Spanish in Mexico.

They are good folks so play nice!


Blogger Patrick M said ... (10:49 AM) : 

Dave: Their original comment came off a little more strident and less religious than they probably intended. But as I'm a believer in revising and extending remarks, if they were offended, then they and you have clarified their position and I withdraw the jab.

If I may explain: The tension over on SPD has been getting a little high, as I've been getting a few Kool-Aid style Republicans posting. Needless to say, with my mix of liberals and hardcore conservatives that already comment, it started getting mean. In addition, we're in the final race, and you know that always gets nasty. So if I get a little intesne, just give me the nudge and I'll correct the record lickety spit.

By the way, who said I was nice? :)


Blogger James & Emilee said ... (1:16 PM) : 

Tina Fey DID just spoof her. Check it out:



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