9/02/2008

A Question of Judgment

Hillary broached the 3am phone call scenario during the primaries and John McCain and the Republican machine have echoed it now that we are moving into the general election. Basically, it asks the question: "If the phone rings at 3am with a national security emergency, who do you want to take that call?"

Of course, the implication is that Obama does not have the judgment to handle such a crisis. Yet, McCain's choice of Palin shows some shocking lapses in judgment from a man who wants to imply he is the person best suited to assess all the options and come up with the best decision.

On Monday morning, Ms. Palin and her husband, Todd, issued a statement saying that their 17-year-old unmarried daughter, Bristol, was five months pregnant and that she intended to marry the father.

Among other less attention-grabbing news of the day: it was learned that Ms. Palin now has a private lawyer in a legislative ethics investigation in Alaska into whether she abused her power in dismissing the state’s public safety commissioner; that she was a member for two years in the 1990s of the Alaska Independence Party, which has at times sought a vote on whether the state should secede; and that Mr. Palin was arrested 22 years ago on a drunken-driving charge.

Aides to Mr. McCain said they had a team on the ground in Alaska now to look more thoroughly into Ms. Palin’s background. A Republican with ties to the campaign said the team assigned to vet Ms. Palin in Alaska had not arrived there until Thursday, a day before Mr. McCain stunned the political world with his vice-presidential choice. The campaign was still calling Republican operatives as late as Sunday night asking them to go to Alaska to deal with the unexpected candidacy of Ms. Palin. -- New York Times

So, here we have the "maverick" who chooses a candidate without knowing much about her. It was clear he just wanted a woman and he wanted a woman who said the right things and hated all the right people and issues so he could assuage the Religious Right. Unfortunately, he didn't take the time to see if her words matched her deeds. Is that good judgment?

The pregnancy thing is enough, but what really troubles me are her ties to the Independence Party in Alaska. While not quite as nutso as some of the other minor parties, they have at various times lobbied for leaving the United States to be an independent nation, annexing themselves to Canada, or requiring that Alaska remain a territory (like Puerto Rico). Palin was active in the party in the 1990's and attended their convention in 1994. Certainly, such radical views are not conducive to someone who will be required to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States and possibly have to step in as the President in an emergency. What would be her first act should she have Presidential powers? Perhaps sign an Executive Order allowing Alaska to secede?

I don't think the argument can be made that Obama is not "patriotic" for not wearing the requisite Chinese made lapel pin like McCain when McCain has the poor judgment to ask a secessionist to be his running mate. After all, Palin's former party slogan was "Alaska First, Alaska Always!" Not, "USA First, USA Always!" In fact, their founder stated categorically: "I am not an American, I am an Alaskan!"

Poor judgment is all this pick was. John McCain acted like a bush league strategist and not someone who would be competent in the White House. He wanted a woman and he wanted an Anita Bryant type to appeal to the hate groups and religious nuts. What he got was a former beauty queen with a history of dodgy political associations, ethics violations, family troubles, and drunk driving arrests.

I don't want McCain answering that phone at 3am. Really, I don't.

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