The Democratic National Convention was in full swing and Mile High Stadium in Denver erupted with thunderous cheering, confetti and eventually fireworks. After much anticipation, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama finally revealed his running mate for the 2008 general election, Delaware Sen. Joe Biden. The hordes of news teams hailing from virtually every network had their differences when it came to their analysis of this choice, but one point they all seemed to agree on was that Biden’s 35 years of experience in the Senate would strengthen Obama’s ticket, so often criticized for lack of experience by the McCain campaign.
Two days later on Aug. 29, the world was introduced to relatively-unknown Sarah Palin. The Alaskan governor has 20 months of experience, a pregnant teenage daughter, a husband who works for British Petroleum, a child with Down syndrome and a promise to shatter the “glass ceiling” for millions of women disappointed in the Democratic nominee, assuming they would choose a candidate with values that are polar opposites of theirs. The McCain campaign admits that they took “some risk” in choosing Sarah Palin, but in the long run the controversy surrounding her could work wonders for those voters disillusioned with the Republican Party.
One scandal surrounding Sarah Palin’s nomination is mentioned nonstop and criticized more than others, and understandably so: her unwed, 17-year-old pregnant daughter. I have to admit I chuckled a little at this in light of the fact that Palin has always advocated and voted for abstinence-only sex education programs in Alaska’s schools. But the fact that her daughter is choosing to keep the baby and marry the father only reinforces Palin’s strong pro-life beliefs and is sure to win over many skeptical conservative voters doubtful of Palin’s experience.
The media has also fixated upon Palin’s limited experience domestically and abroad, and the McCain campaign has successfully shot its own argument in the foot, stating that Barack Obama is too inexperienced to hold the office of president. If McCain were to win the general election and then suddenly die in office (which is not entirely unlikely as he is 72 years old), someone with a little over a year of experience as governor would inherit the most powerful position on Earth. In her time as governor, however, she has vigorously fought corruption in the Alaska’s government and was head of Alaska’s National Guard, a post that gives her “special experience in national security matters,” in the words of McCain.
Though her personal life seems to be in turmoil, Palin’s strongly conservative values make her an ideal candidate for the Republican ticket, least of all because she is a woman. The personal life of political figures should be, as Barack Obama put it, “off-limits,” especially where the candidates’ children are concerned. The fact that Palin has a pregnant daughter would make no difference to me if I decided to vote for that ticket, nor would her lack of experience. After all, FDR only served a few short years as governor and eventually senator of New York. But I cannot get past the cheap political ploy to snare the women’s vote, especially that of the leftover Clinton supporters. Out of McCain’s short list of candidates, there were many with more experience and qualification for the vice presidency, but none so perfectly blended with what the McCain campaign lacked and the policies it already represented. Many Clinton supporters have instead begun to support John McCain, frustrated by the disunity within their party and a candidate that they feel does not represent their best interests. Although the political views of Hilary Clinton and Sarah Palin could not be more different, that doesn’t seem to matter when it comes to picking up that elusive female vote, which could make or break either party in the upcoming general election.
Maggie Fraser is a freshman premajor from Fort Worth.