Thursday, September 4, 2008

Palin Speaks!

My initial thoughts on Palin's speech have me saying that she did a good job, but it could have been better. It was at best a decent speech and at worst a mediocre affair. I liked the humor injected into it, and she is a pretty good public speaker. My main issues with a lot of it is that it, in the Associated Press' words, "stretched the truth" in many aspects. There were also some attacks on Obama that I thought were uncalled for and were absent from the Democrats' speeches last week.

One of the first issues I had with the speech was this Iraq business. The McCain camp continues to say that McCain is a man of principles because he would rather lose an election than lose a war and that victory is in sight (both concepts mentioned by Palin). The problem with this is that victory has not been clearly defined by anyone involved. Is victory even possible at this point, with the country's deficit where it is, over 4,000 service men and women dead, disgusting treatment of soldiers returning home, private contractors exploiting the situation, and misleading intelligence and deceitful government leaders? If the McCain campaign wants to continue using this campaign schtick, they need a definitive meaning of what victory in Iraq is.

Then Palin went into a long diatribe about her family and what they all do and all of that. At this point the cameras were focused on the row of Palins (and one Johnston) in the crowd, and I noticed two distinct things about them. The first is that Levi Johnston looked like he was very uncomfortable. I feel bad for this kid. One minute he has impregnated his girlfriend in a small town in Alaska, and next he is flown to St. Paul for the whole world to see, sitting with his pregnant girlfriend who he is supposed to marry. He went from being a "fuckin redneck" looking to "kick ass" who was a big fish in a small pond in Alaska to an object of curiosity for 300 million Americans overnight. The other thing I noticed is, how the hell does that baby Trig sleep through all of this? From being passed around on stage a few days ago to listening to his mother's speech as people are standing up and screaming, he sleeps through it all. Unbelievable.

After her little family ditty, Palin went into a bit about small-town folks and compared herself to Harry Truman, the same man who used nuclear weapons against the Japanese at the end of World War II. In an era when we are in a war we should not be and the Republican party (McCain especially) are seen as true hawks, to compare oneself to Truman is not the best comparison to make in my opinion.

Then there was one line (which I had already read in an excerpt of the speech before she made it, so was expecting) that I thought was a little ridiculous. When she said that being a small-time mayor is "like a community organizer, only you have responsibilities," I thought it crossed the line. It was a shot not only at Obama, but every community organizer in the country who donates their time and effort to make a better community for the people living in them. Spending a good amount of time at my local Boys and Girls Club growing up (which is run by community organizers), I resent her statement saying that community organizers have no responsibilities. She talks a lot about "the people" and giving back to "the people." If she really knew about how "the people" are, then she would know how important community organizers can be to a community's people.

She also made an assertion that John McCain is a straight-talker and always "the same man." This YouTube video here begs to differ. It has become almost common knowledge that his campaign bus, "The Straight Talk Express," is a misnomer. In fact, there were many things in her speech that stretched the truth, as I alluded to earlier. The AP put together a little fact-checking article about this and it is an interesting read.

A few final negative points about the speech: she talks about her ticket being the one of "true reform." Is focusing on drilling rather than alternative fuels really "true reform." No, it's just giving us more of the same: oil. That's not reform. If an alcoholic is going broke from buying booze, would reform be giving him cheaper booze? Another line in Palin's speech that made me bristle was the one that says Al-Qaeda is "planning to inflict catastrophic damage" upon America and Obama is worried about someone reading them their rights, as if it were the worst thing in the world. In our justice system, everyone has rights. Obviously one's first reaction to a child rapist or a ruthless murderer is to kill them with one's own bare hands because they're scum. But, as John Adams once wrote, we are a nation of laws, not men. Plus, cases like Miranda v. Arizona, Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, and Boumediene v. Bush outline the rights for detainees in criminal and enemy combatant cases. Contrary to popular belief, these detainees have rights that the Supreme Court have outlined. So I guess what Palin was trying to say was that while she puts her blinders on and goes hunting for terrorists, Obama has the audacity to respect the law.

With all of these negative points, there is one thing I agreed with that Palin said. She said that when one is not a member of the political elite in Washington, they get a lot of kickback and rough initiation, for a lack of a better word, from the mainstream media. We saw it with Obama (Reverend Wright, George Stephanopoulos being an assclown). The media is now turning on Palin, with non-stop coverage of her pregnant teenage daughter. It's one thing to report on it once, maybe point out that Palin is pro-abstinence-only education, but to try to say that Bristol herself would have benefited from it (there's no way to know that at all) or to just rumor monger in general is taking it too far. So while Palin is being picked on a bit in the media, it's a two-way street, as Obama got his earlier in the campaign.

All in all, Palin gave a decent speech and she was well-spoken. The problem was that her facts were a bit off and she crossed the line with the community organizers line about responsibility. I have nothing against her as a person, I simply do not agree with her policies on nearly anything. She's going through a tough time with her family and I do not think that they were ready for the national scrutiny that awaited them with her accepting the VP spot. It's important to remember, however, that just as the media is digging into her life, the other candidates got it just as well. To sum up: she needed to do an unbelievable job last night and she did an OK one. Peace.

Photos - Palin with members of her family (and soon-to-be family) on stage at the RNC (, Palin delivering her speech (, McCain greeting Palin and her husband (, Sarah Palin yesterday (


  1. From a political scientist point of view, I don't think you are crticial enough of Palin. I think her spot as the VP candidate is an insult to the Republican Party and the electorate at large.

    Let's see...she is an embarassment to Republicans because she is an extremist. I thought the ideas of Republican government were based on as little government intervention as possible. Her idea of Republican values are anti-choice for women and government intervention in matters of same-sex marriage.

    From a Democrat standpoint, she's a walking, talking nightmare. Her policy beliefs are, frankly, frightening. Anti-choice, guns guns guns, bans on same-sex marriage, and disrespecting our environment. These aren't even conservative ideas, they are backwards and oppressive. Take, for example, her love for drilling. Last time I checked, Republicans and Democrats share the Earth and both were going towards greener initiatives. I mean, let's get real here!

    I am not sure of the logic beyond McCain's choice for VP candidate, but I find this ticket to be utterly disturbing. While I admire homegrown, self-made individuals like Sarah Palin and Barack Obama, there is something more to consider about an executive candidate that Americans often forget: diplomacy! Do we want another George Bush running around embarassing our country in the world political realm? The answer is surely NO!

    If Barack Obama is to be our world diplomat, I think it will help us stop this downward spiral of global disconnection. In an evergrowing global community, isolationism is wrong and ignorant. I think we need to seriously think about the message we are sending to our neighbors and the overall attitude we are going to portray. If we put McCain/Palin into officce, our foreign policy will continue to be one of isolation, pro-war, and cultural/religious misunderstandings.

    Questions/comments - I'm in 2210.

  2. A few points to "Alexandria" -

    "Political Scientist" -- hmm isn't that what all the athletes major in because it's the easiest subject?

    Palin being an embarrassment: (which by the way, “Alexandria” the political scientist didn’t bother to spell properly – use spell check on how to spell embarrassment – or, alas, I guess spelling doesn’t count in political science) is basically a crock. Most Republicans are quite pleased. She has injected enthusiasm into the campaign. Although she is very conservative, we Republicans prefer to dwell on the things she has done that are great and not focus on one issue (i.e. pro-life/pro-choice). Most polls in this country show that women are more concerned about the economy, healthcare, and national security – with abortion issues coming in 4th. Guess what? They are just like their male counterparts! On those issues, she has our support.

    Guns and Hunting: We should embrace certain cultural differences that we may have as states. Hunting in Alaska is much more common than….let’s say…Virginia, Massachusetts, or New York. She hunts moose. She also eats moose stew – her favorite food. I suppose you do not eat anything that had to be killed – or probably slaughtered? It’s a ridiculous conversation – too many other important issues to vet.

    Palin has stressed how, when, and why she wants to drill: If we do it under the strictest of guidelines, we can be effective AND efficient. We can incorporate environmentalists into the process in order to consult and guide us – which she already has done. Alaskans love their environment – they are the last ones who would jeopardize the earth. Let’s YOU get real!

    I do, however, agree that Barack Obama can be our world diplomat. Let’s make him an ambassador. Perhaps he can gain some experience that can lead to the top job in Washington…..or maybe write his third book…..that’s three more than laws he’s passed. Oh – sorry – he was too busy campaigning and not doing his job these last years.

    Lastly, McCain IS NOT George Bush. He has been criticized by the Republicans for crossing party lines numerous times. Democrats and Republicans both agree on this point. He can get people to work together and not alienate each another. It’s laughable to see him compared to Bush – but at this point – the Democrats will resort to anything.

    As for Mr. Raising Kane:

    Some babies sleep – others don’t – ever! He is a very cute child – I am guessing you were kidding about your comment here but you are correct. He does sleep through it all. It’s amazing. God bless him. It takes a special family to raise a special needs child. I was touched by Governor Palin’s comment about a family’s joys sometimes also being their greatest challenges. I believe she was referring to her son and also, potentially, to her soon to be grandchild and the circumstances surrounding it all.

    Community organizers: You missed the point entirely. Mrs. Palin responded to Mr. Obama saying that she had no experience and she was highlighting her mayoral responsibilities to his community organizing. Community organizers are great people – but please do not diminish the responsibilities of running a small town or a small city. Rubbish.

    Mrs. Palin has truly been targeted by the media: Either we open up the questions for everyone and their children, or for no one. Why doesn’t anyone hear about Biden’s son and brother who are currently being sued for fraud? Last I heard, fraud was illegal in this country. Why isn’t the press all over that story?

    “Obama has the audacity to respect the law.” – Really? Well I surely hope you understand the law just a little bit given that he admitted to doing “hard drugs” years ago. Which one of those “hard drugs” was legal? How respectful of the law was he?

    As for young Levi, get over it. We have no idea – nor will we ever – know what conversations were behind closed doors. An 18 year old boy knows about contraception and I would be willing to bet Bristol did as well. The blame is 50% his as is the responsibilities that follow. If she needs to stand with her family in an impregnated state, then he needs to have his butt standing directly beside her. Tough.
    Better yet, it was embarrassing that he wasn’t sitting straight up when the camera panned on him. All he did was slouch.

    On the War – or any war: McCain’s grandfather came home from WWII and died the next day from the stress that had been imposed on him. Pearl Harbor took John McCain’s father out of his life for 4 ½ years when he was 5 years old. McCain, himself, was a POW for 5 years during the Vietnam War. Which part of this life story do you think John McCain enjoyed most? Why would ANYONE think that war is something McCain is fond to embrace?

    As for Palin’s speech – it was brilliant.

  3. Firenze:

    Let's calm it down with the personal attacks on other commenters. Political science, by the way, is not what athletes major in because it is the "easiest." Each school also has different degrees of difficulty depending on the program. Not knowing which school Alexandria comes from, how can you assume what you assume about it? Plus, what makes all athletes dumb?

    Cite your evidence about these polls saying that women and men are concerned about the same issues. You seem to make a lot of claims with no evidence to back it up.

    About cultural differences: you say we should respect them, yet you say "we Republicans" when talking about the party; the same party that has demonized Islam because of cultural differences.

    I think you missed the point with the community organizer quip. She said that community organizers had no responsibilities. Coming from a childhood where community organization was a big part of my life, with members of my family deeply involved with it, it was incredibly insulting to hear her demean community organizers like that.

    As for Obama doing "hard drugs": this was reported on ad nauseum when it was first revealed and people have learned to accept it. Do we not forget that "your" president George Bush not only blew some coke in his day, but got arrested for drunk driving at the age of 30? Or Dick Cheney getting arrested for DUI twice in 8 months?

    As for McCain and the war: when you try to convince the American people that Saddam has massive weapons stockpiles when he doesn't, that is being fond of war. When you sing songs about bombing Iran, that's being fond of war (all of a sudden it's funny?). He may not have a love affair with it, but he sure wasn't trying to stop war when Bush and the Neo-Cons were licking their lips over Iraq.

    I think that we are all mature enough to not make personal attacks against each other over the internet; it's childish and counterproductive. If you want to argue points against people, that's fine, but to try to demean their education when in reality you have no idea of their background, I take issue with it. I also expect Alexandria to not respond in a personal and divisive manner. Peace.