When I heard that Senator Mc Cain had taken Alaska governor Sarah Palin as his running mate, my initial reaction was that it was brilliant. She is a woman, a reformer, a Washington outsider and she will mobilize the Christian Conservative base he desperately needs to win the election. And yes, contradictory as it may seem, there will be some women who think that shattering the glass ceiling is more important than actually fighting for women’s rights. But after looking at her record for five minutes, it is clear that Mc Cain has taken a huge gamble. His only effective trump card against Obama – the experience card – has just been given away. A completely inexperienced politician will be one heartbeat away from the most powerful job in the world. In a country still fearful after 9/11, Obama/Biden is starting to look like the safe, reliable option.
Though I vehemently disagree with Palin’s views on abortion and guns, they are a normal part of the American political debate and those views can be respected. Teaching creationism in schools and voting against equal pay for women are a different ballgame. If you haven’t made up your mind about Palin yet, then go to Huffington Post and listen as she giggles while radio presenters call her political opponent (cancer survivor) Senator Green "a bitch", "a cancer" and question whether she loves her children. I thought name calling was already admonished in grade school, but Palin has no problems supporting it live on the radio. Next, have a look at Palin’s sermon at the Wasilla Pentecostal church, where Palin finds the current war in Iraq a messianic affair in which the United States should act out the will of the Lord. It’ll be interesting to find out which part of Scripture she will quote as justifying a war which even republicans see as deeply flawed.
The question is of course is whether any of this will sway the Republican voter that was planning to support Mc Cain. Most probably it will not be her political and religious views that will bring her down, but her daughter's (second?) pregnancy. Obama has cleverly abstained from commenting on the pregnancy of Palin’s unwed teenage daughter. But unplanned pregnancies are a political issue, especially in a country with one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in the world. Conservative Americans are a rare breed who believe - in flagrant denial of the facts - that teaching birth control in school actually causes pregnancies, rather than preventing them. For a party so keen on avoiding abortions, it is time to explain, very loudly, that you cannot have it both ways.
What a marvelous job for Hillary Clinton in the coming weeks!