Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Qualifications

Upon further reflection.

I still do have reservations about Palin's personal decisions and how they impact her political decisions. But those are my personal feelings and I am very uncomfortable with those issues being front and center in a national debate.

I am especially uncomfortable at the way the discussion's being framed as an assault on Palin as a working mother. I do not apologize for my opinions - far more balanced for me as concerns about both Palin and McCain than the way they're echoing around the public discussion - but I do apologize for the extent that my comments on this blog played into that noise.

These personal issues are merely one of the several areas in which I am uncomfortable with Sarah Palin as a candidate. I wish the media, the blogs, everybody would spend more time on the other issues. For example:
  1. Palin wanted to ban books from the library (and reportedly threatened to fire a librarian who opposed her).
  2. Palin wants to eliminate a woman's right to choose.
  3. Palin supports the teaching of "creationism" in public schools.
  4. Palin injects polarizing positions into issues that should be community-building (like guns and abortion into a local race that should be about roads and schools).
  5. Palin supports abstinence only education. (To clarify, she is against against sex education and the teaching of contraception in schools and other institutions that receive federal funding.)
  6. Palin supports secrecy in government, not letting local department heads talk to local press without her permission when she was mayor.
  7. Palin thinks that "community organizing" is a big joke, a laughable endeavor.
  8. Palin has no foreign policy experience, and got a passport and traveled outside the US for the first time last year.

These positions scare me in a candidate for the second - and potentially first - highest office in the land.

Many believe that Palin's experience is on par with Obama's. I disagree, especially with regard to the experience that matters most to me in this election, and here's why.

Palin
  1. Two terms as mayor and city councilmember of Wasilla, Alaska (then population around 5500, I believe) which is not inconsequential, but is at most a stepping stone toward the Vice/Presidency. Palin's take on her own executive experience, so commonly touted by her party as being twice that of Obama's and Biden's (not to mention John McCain's, I suppose): According to an October 1996 article in the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman, when asked how she would "effectively run a city without experienced leaders," Palin said: "It's not rocket science. It's $6 million and 53 employees."
  2. One year as chair of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.
  3. 18 months as governor of Alaska. (This is significant experience, for better and worse, but I'd prefer to see more than 18 months of it.)

Obama
  1. 8 years in the Illinois senate (iVAWA, EITC/tax cuts, early childhood education, videotaping of confessions and interrogations in capital cases)
  2. 3-1/2 years in the U.S. Senate (sponsoring 131 bills, co-sponsoring 4-500 more, including tax-spending accountability and ethics reform)
  3. Extensive foreign-policy experience, including serving on three of the four Senate Committees dealing with foreign policy issues (no other Senator matches that record).
  4. "Obama has also traveled extensively in his capacity as a member of the Foreign Relations Committee and has visited Russia, Ukraine, and Azerbaijan in Asia; Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, and the Palestinian Territories in the Middle East; and Chad, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, and South Africa in Africa."
  5. There's also the pre-public life experience, including his degrees and his history actually living abroad.


Palin has experience being the boss, and that's very important in a Commander-in-Chief. Obama also has experience being a boss, though not in elected executive office. That particular experience, while important, is far less critical to me than the sophisticated understanding of international issues necessary in today's world.

I presume that we're spending so much time contrasting Obama and Palin because of McCain's age? It seems an unusual way to go into an election.



Regarding the convention tonight. Giuliani's speech - and the reactions to it - were some of the ugliest politics I have have ever seen, and I've watched a lot of these conventions. It made me feel sick to my stomach, the way I feel when I've said something I shouldn't have, or have silently witnessed someone being bullied. I felt like I needed a shower.

I liked what Palin said about children with special needs. I liked it a lot. But I didn't like the way she made political hay out of her son's upcoming deployment. (But how cute was was that adorable little girl licking her hand and smoothing down her baby brother's hair?)

19 comments:

Lynnie said...

I just cannot imagine people would vote for Palin if she were running for President, which is what we have to imagine she is doing, you know, just in case. She is so new to the game. I wouldn't vote for anyone who is "for" the things she is for, regardless of whether they were a working mom, a black man, a white father, etc. That absolutely doesn't matter to me.
Anyway, I'm just repeating other people's thoughts who say it much more eloquently, but it's her beliefs that prevent me from voting for her.

Stushie said...

She nailed it last night for blue collared workers and small town America. It's going to be a close race between now and November unless someone breaks away or does something stupid.

OneTiredEma said...

Thanks for your thoughts--I really agree with your points.

And Giuliani had me literally hissing at the TV. Going on and on about celebrity and politics, when I really think that if it were not for 9/11 nobody outside of NY/NJ/CT would know who he is. I may not have agreed with Palin, but at least she seemed to (mostly) be in it for a fair--if rough--fight. Rudy not so much.

Kelly said...

You have to be fair Sarahlynn,

if your going to summarize Palin's qualifications as "18 months as governor", then don't flesh out Obama's senate experience.
If we were to flesh out Palin's Gubernatorial experience we would see some glaring discrepancies.

Obama is going down in the history books as the least qualified candidate to run for president. If Palin was running for President, Obama would still have the claim to that historical fact.

In reality, I think people are going to look at this election more practically than idealogically. I have to get my gall bladder taken out. I want a surgeon who has successfully done the surgery before and not someone who has written about it, had meetings about it and worked to change the surgical supply company.

Penny L. Richards said...

She talked about "special love," and being a "friend and advocate"--uh, NO. I don't want "special love" for my kid, I want accessibility, I want funded school programs, I want his rights protected. She should talk about "special-needs kids" when she has something substantial to offer (I mean, beyond a record of cutting funding to the school programs meant to serve them).

The Obama campaign has had a disability policy page up for months; still nothing from the McCain campaign. No contest on this issue.

grace said...

I agree with what you have said here, but I also think Obama has one important qualification that nobody makes mention of. He is a constitutional law scholar. He's an academic expert on the U.S. constitution. Why is that not worth anything to anyone? I just don't get it.

Tracey said...

As I was watching Palin's speech last night I found myself wondering "I wonder what Sarahlynn will say about this tomorrow?". :)

1. Guiliani's speech was repugnant. I found the mudslinging to be especially repellent.
2. I found myself thinking that Palin, as an individual, seems likable enough, but we are at such complete opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of core issues that her politics and views make me shudder.
3. I found Palin's kids to be pricelessly cute, though I did feel the amount of camera time on them to be pandering.
4. I kept wondering if Cindy McCain was going to break she appeared so brittle.
5. Republicans scare me.

Sarahlynn said...

1) Lynnie, yep.

2) Stushie, and yet she didn't mention health care, increased funding for education, the housing crisis, or the cost of college education, among other issues of critical importance to working class and middle class Americans. She said feel-good stuff about small town America (my roots, too). Where's the policy in that?

At least one focus group of moderate, undecided white women was turned off by the heavy sarcasm in and partisan nature of Palin's speech, which was clearly designed to appeal to the Republican base; it will be interesting to see what the longer-term reaction is. This morning, the media is suggesting that in a couple of weeks it will be back to being all about Obama and McCain, the two candidates that matter most.

3) Onetiredmama, I agree. And that backdrop behind Giuliani was so over-the-top that at first I thought it an extremely tasteless joke.

4) Kelly, I'm an editor, so I will rephrase your comment then respond to what I think you should have said:

In fairness, here are some things you left out of Palin's accomplishments as governor: X, Y, Z.

Obama is the least qualified candidate to run for president. If Palin were running for President, Obama would still be least qualified.

I think people are going to look at this election more practically than ideologically. I have to get my gall bladder taken out. I want a surgeon who has successfully done the surgery before and not someone who has written about it, had meetings about it and worked to change the surgical supply company.


I mentioned just a couple of the issues Obama has focused on as a legislator above, either because they're particularly important to me as a voter, or because they're things that Palin and other Republicans are specifically accusing him of not having experience with.

You keep talking about Palin's experience and Obama's inexperience, yet you refuse to provide examples other than the fact that's she's a governor. Perhaps you don't know them? (I'd also debate that "least qualified" candidate in history claim.)

I hope that voters do look at this election practically. And I like your gall bladder analogy. Two people have experience being the boss, though in different jobs. One person has experience with constitutional law and foreign policy, the other doesn't. Guess who gets my vote this year.

5) Penny: exactly! I'd love to hear some specifics about what being a "friend" to me means.

6) Grace: YES!!!

7) Tracey, :) Also, I can't wait until all this is over! I can't help watching and participating in my democracy, but I'm finding it very painful this year.

somebody's mama said...

When they announced Palin I thought that McCain was just making an effort to schmooze those who were still avid Clinton fans, and may want to come on over to the dark side, I mean to vote McCain. I'm not sure how anyone who just met someone could feel comfortable enough to select them as their VP, seems a little bit frightening to me. I'm not at all impressed by her experience, or shall I say lack thereof.

I thought it was wonderful the baby was so involved, and sweet of the sister, but as a mother of a teen daughter who is also a mother herself, I couldn't help but wonder if this family was a little more broken than they let on. Simply because I know what a struggle my family has faced as a result of my teen daughter's decision.

I hope that so-called special needs community doesn't lose sight of reality merely because they see a mother of a child with a disability, who may be take a more active role in the world of disability--or not, who knows?

I'm certainly not voting for the old man and his new friend. That's all I'm saying.

Sarahlynn said...

One thing to clarify: Kelly, I edited your earlier comment because you started with, "You have to be fair Sarahlynn."

While I was in it, I inadvertently fixed some spelling, grammar, etc., but that wasn't my original intent; it's just a byproduct of my past experiences in editorial.

The facts of the matter are that:
1) I don't "have" to do anything, least of all on my own blog, and rarely respond well to being told what to do. (You, of course, are free to say whatever you like on your own blog.)
2) I disagree with your use of the word "fair." Even if I thought you were using the word properly, I am hardly network news, tasked with presenting all the information to the world. If you're curious about someone's experience, please feel free to inform yourself and bring that to the discussion.

Somebody's Mama, hello! Isn't Trig an adorable baby? I found myself jealous of Cindy McCain last night; I wanted to hold him!

I definitely thought of you and your experiences with D when I heard Gov. Palin's family story.

And your point about how she may - or may not - take a great role in the world of disability is well taken. The fact of the matter is that Obama has been a great advocate for funding disability-friendly programs, while the Republicans tend to refer to that sort of thing as "big government" and want to "cut spending."

Sure, cutting spending sounds nice. But they really do mean cutting the services that help my child and as a parent it's my job to be aware of that, not swayed by pretty political rhetoric!

Caminante said...

Over here from RevDrMom. I am glad she introduced me to your blog... when I get some time I will do some back reading.

(I hope this doesn't come off as sounding like one of those stupid spam notes. I really am a person, just an exhausted one who doesn't have a lot of brain power right now.)

Sarahlynn said...

Not at all. What spam could include RevDrMom? Welcome, Caminante!

I'll also have to spend more time on your blog when I am not so sleep-deprived and sickish. I love your art, and it will help me brush up on my Spanish (first impressions).

Moo!

Sarahlynn said...

I liked McCain's speech tonight; it wasn't nearly as hateful or divisive as what we heard last night. (Which is, of course, because he has others to do that work for him.)

I think he did a good job. And I think he did an especially good job handling the anti-war protesters. I mean, I disagreed with a lot of what he said, but he said it well, and, for the most part, respectfully.

Kelly said...

Thank you Sarahlynn for editing my words so you could better understand them.

No you don't have to be fair on your own blog at all, and I apologize for the poor assumption that this is a character trait you would embrace.

I had mistakenly assumed that your posts were somewhat conversational in nature and that you were open to discourse.

I also didn't know that this would hit a such raw nerve and elicit the exercise in arrogant editorializing.

But, as you said, it's your blog and I will take my leave so you can continue with your Obama empire building.

Feel free to edit this to your heart's content.

As a small parting gift and show of goodwill, I will leave you with this. If you are genuinely concerned with your child's future education, here is a link to Capitol Recap's page on Palin's education reform. After inherating a budget that slashed funding for kids with special needs by 64%, Palin pushed through a budget that increased funding for each child with special needs by 175%.

http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2008/04/30/35recaps.h27.html

I understand that Obama already has your vote locked up.

Lucky for him.

Sarahlynn said...

Ah, yes, it is true. I am a very imperfect person, and Kelly has stumbled upon one of my big bugaboos: I really really hate to be told what to do, and I react poorly to it.

For the record: I left Kelly's comment alone, I just rephrased the quote in my response to her, leaving out the "you have to" part. And leaving in her spelling and grammar mistakes when I did so felt sort of passive-aggressive, so I fixed them. Then I felt weird about that, so I wrote a separate comment explaining what I'd done. And now I figure that I've spent waaaay too much time on the whole, unimportant thing!

Kelly clearly doesn't want to have "discourse." She wants to come here, attack and insinuate, then stomp off when challenged to share specifics rather than rhetoric.

She challenged me to share more specifics about her candidate's great accomplishments . . . but she didn't name any herself.

Until, as a parting shot, she shared some useful information with us! Imagine how differently this might have gone if Kelly had started out that way.

I hope that McCain's campaign does more to address the disability rights issue and quantify what Palin meant by being a "friend" to us parents of children with special needs. (Unlike what McCain kept saying in his speech tonight about cutting and cutting and cutting spending.) I hope that Palin convinces the man at the top of the ticket to make some significant improvements to their platform in this area. I'm pleased to learn that Palin appreciates big government when it comes to children like hers and mine. We have something else in common, there.

(I suppose it's worth noting that the Alaskan school funding was actually a re-allocation rather than additional spending. More money now goes to students with disabilities and rural schools, but most of the money came from elsewhere in the educational budget, rather than significantly increasing the budget. Also, the reforms - again, yay for the reforms! - were "based on recommendations issued by a legislative task force last year." So I don't know if it's fair to say that Palin "pushed" them through. Regardless: she increased government spending for kids with special needs, and I appreciate that.)

RobMonroe said...

Did you notice when she increased spending for children with special needs, though? I believe it was last spring as she was planning the arrival of her own child with special needs talk about timing, eh?

http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2008/04/30/35recaps.h27.html (note, this is April of this year)

Sarahlynn said...

Yeah. It's a hard thing, to have compassion for others' plights.

I feel like that's what the Democrats have been talking about, at least, for my whole life.

Stushie said...

And yet, Sarahlynn, the Democrats managed to do nothing for the last eighteen months whilst in control of Congress...

Whoever wins this election, I hope that they will stick to their promises and totally change the way Washington operates.

Sarahlynn said...

The Legislative branch - including the Democrats - are certainly imperfect and often gridlocked/ineffective/meek.

But to be fair, without enough votes to override the inevitable threatened veto, there's a limited amount they can accomplish.