Thursday, September 04, 2008

America's future

All things considered, the storm around the Republican Party's choice of VP nominee should have been highly predictable.

Let's face it, John McCain is 72. Were he to serve two full terms, he would leave office aged 81.

Eight Presidents of the United States, not quite 1 in 5, have died in office.

It may seem ghoulish, but the fact is that there is a significant chance that whoever John McCain might have chosen, they could indeed be called upon to serve as the leader of the United States were- God forbid- anything to happen to John McCain himself.

Of course, that also applies to Barack Obama, despite his being three decades younger than the Republican nominee. Although I do not particularly admire Senator Joe Biden, the fact is that in his thirty-five year service in the US Senate and in his own abortive runs for the Presidency, he has demonstrated his knowledge and indeed considerable influence in the American political system.

Sarah Palin has only been Governor of Alaska for three months less than two years, and Alaska has a population less than half of that of New Hampshire- or about the same size as Hamilton, Ontario. Her supposed executive experience leaves her totally ill equipped to assume office as the leader of the United States- and that is what we should be seriously considering as we weigh up the measure of the McCain-Palin ticket. I am on record as opposing the rise of a political class, and advocating breaking up this class. However Mrs. Palin is not outside politics- she is just from an exceptionally small an unimportant part of the American body politic. If we look beyond her political life, we do not find the kind of hinterland that could help to make her an informed and successful leader of her country.

Her education- a journalism degree completed at the University of Idaho- is little better than the much derided degrees in "media studies" in the UK, and makes a striking contrast with the institutions that the young Barack Obama attended- Columbia, Harvard Law School and the University of Chicago. Whatever the rights or wrongs of affirmative action, there can be no doubt that Sen. Obama has gained a first class education.

Beyond her education her sole hinterland is her family, which is why much attention is being paid to it though this, of course, comes before the National Enquirer turns its baleful eye upon the issue. Though I take my hat off to the Governor's eldest son for his decision to enlist in the American Army as a private, the fact is that- again- one gets the feeling that the Palin family does not respect the value of a good education. The latest imbroglio over the teenage pregnancy of the Governor's daughter reflects badly on a family that firmly espouses American Conservative principles. That the National Enquirer now alleges that Governor Palin has had an adulterous affair is beginning to make the Sarah Palin look like just as good material for Jerry Springer (who was Mayor of Cincinnati, a much larger city than Wasilla, Alaska), as the usual trailer-park trash.

All in all, the choice of Sarah Palin reflects very badly indeed on the judgement of Sen. McCain. That further problems seem set to emerge, I do not doubt.

They will be the fault of a man who chose misguided tokenism over common sense. John McCain knew that his VP choice would be carefully scrutinised. Instead of making a considered choice, it seems clear that he made a rushed, last minute decision. Through this choice, Sen McCain has demonstrated that his Republican colleagues were right to be fearful of his rashness and impulsive, maverick nature.

It should forfeit him the election.

12 comments:

Random said...

I'm afraid that you are not making any coherent sense, or else you are contradicting yourself.

First you complain that Palin has not enough experience, and claim that Biden would make a better President if called upon because of his experience and influence on the political system. Then you say that you oppose the rise of the political class, yet don't count Palin because she is from politics. Yet she is not from a political background, she entered politics for her own reasons, and made her own way.

So are you saying that anyone with political experience is in the political class regardless of their background, a class which you oppose, but that anyone without political experience should be ineligable for high office?

You cannot break up the political class without admitting some people with little experience but great skill in governing, as well as political manoeuvring. Whatever her time of experience she has used it to the full and shown aptitude, exactly the opposite of Obama's history. He has shown little ability in governing, he is just an adept speaker and politician. He has had more time than Palin in political roles, he just hasn't done as much with it. That is not what the office of President needs.

Education is not a good test of who will make a good political leader. There are many people with good degrees who have made terrible politicians, and many with weak or no academic backgrounds who are very successful.

In fact if you look at Obama's academic history it is ... I was going to say poor, but bizarre would be a more apt word. He was a tenured academic who didn't publish. He has a history in his political speaking of making statements suggesting ignorance of the US constitution, despite having held an academic post in constitutional law.

Nick said...

Aboslutely! Palin, although a young woman, seems to be cut driectly from the cloth of the old, fundalmentalist conservative that the Republicans are seeped with. Her views are now well known and it's a bracing thought that it's the year 2008 and we have someone with beliefs like hers running on a presidential ticket. And I agree with you that this shows the character and decision making abilities of McCain; if his VP pick was someone different the landscape towards november would change dramatically.

Temporary Eyesore said...

Let's not forget Cicero was a lawyer, he's bound to be biased towards his lawyerly brothers.

Newmania said...

I`m really surprised at this angle of attack , that business of ‘experience ’ is pretty much an illusion. That’s what civil servants are for .Her chief role is to enact the views she holds which people either work for or not . My own working experience tells me that any idiot can lurk in the recesses of a large organisation and a small one is exactly where you do have to know what you are doing . You seem to be arguing for the value of an educational and political elite like the Oxbridge Westminster Media elite we suffer here . Odd.
She seemed rather impressive to me .
What I find harder to imagine is that someone with such odd religious beliefs can be a credible candidate . A creationist , someone who believes gays are sinful and so on. Much the same applies to a Ruth Kelly , most Muslims , I suppose but then I have always found their position a bit peculiar. Her views on abortion are fierce as well , even by my standards and I would certainly like to see the upper limit lowered considerably
The strange thing about US Politics is that as Conservatives we are supposed to support the Republican Party and yet they are very different with little I notice of the sceptical pessimism that characterises Conservative thought in Britain . Liberals do sound a bit like the Democratic Party but were a Palin to appear in this country I would be horrified

Nick said...

yes newmania, I wrote about it myself the other day. Conservatives seem automatically to support the Reps but why? If a Palin type figure were to appear what support would she find - she'd barely be able to get elected as mayor to a town of 9,000 .......oh,wait......

Paul Linford said...

Possibly the most patronising blog post I have read in a long, long time.

"Mrs. Palin is not outside politics - she is just from an exceptionally small and unimportant part of the American body politic." What elitist claptrap.

Cicero said...

Oh come on Paul! Is "elitism" such a bad word? This woman shouldn't be let within 100 miles of the Oval office- she is a totaly unqualified, slightly barking creationist nutter with a few niggling ethics problems. Biden may be a fully fledged member of the pompous political elite, but he has at least had a passport for longer than two years and was talking about Iraq while the war was still being planned- unlike Palin who "hadn't thought about it" until last year.

This pick is reckless and stupid and should cost McCain the Presidency.

ewart said...

Newmania, you're almost there but not quite.

You have correctly identified that it's incongrous for the Tories to be allied to Republicans automatically. But they are, because this "sceptical pessimism" is much rarer than you think it is, in party which is actually full of neoliberal ideologues & culture warriors who want to politicise everyday life.

This explains why ConHome & their sorry tribe of followers are such enthusiastic McCain backers.

Paul Linford said...

Okay, if we're going to debate this...define what exactly you mean by "small and unimportant part of the body politic." Would you define Derbyshire, for instance, in similar terms, or the Highlands and Islands, or Cornwall? Is a politician seriously to be disregarded on account of the fact that they come from outside the Metropolitan elite?

Newmania said...

Ewart said -This explains why Con Home & their sorry tribe of followers are such enthusiastic McCain backers.


Partly Ewart (by the way, what you say about the Conservative Party is absolutely wrong ) ,but also because McCain is a more reliable hand on defence and a free trader which Obamah is not ( what else matters to us ? ). Also a perhaps stronger revulsion to the religiose clap trap self love and vacuous celebrity endorsement that accompanies the Democrats .You might call it idealism…
I think Conservatives are happy to let other people say what makes sense in their own country without wishing to make universal judgements. Liberals tend to imagine they have a monopoly on truth which we do not require. CS is actually talking about her adherence to religious beliefs no more ridiculous taken in a rational context than many more .
Would Mr. Cicero want Jews Muslims Catholics and so on banned from Political life because they believe in an after life of the sinfulness of homosexuality or , variously , the absolute sanctity of life . Of course not because he sees these as victim groups whereas he sees himself as a force of light and reason against the darkness of superstition which is fundamentalist Christianity. Personally I am tolerant of religious and culturally specific markers.
Lets be literal then. I accuses Mr C of being a far right religious bigot inferred this from his deriding Palins religious convictions and supporting an ultra low tax Part by UK standards

Not really , I wouldn’t want to upset anyone , just making a point.. I do know what you mean about Con Home though, and narrowly avoided being banned from Iain Dale’s site for calling Tim Montgomery a Po faced Nazi. He is the sort of Conservative I like least .( He is never never never funny…..)

( Would the Liberal Party be a small and unimportant part of the body politic ...?)

the doctor said...

I really am going to say " I told you so " when it's President Palin in 2012 .

Helen said...

Errm, small and unimportant? Alaska? What with all that energy and being close to Russia? What on earth are you talking about? May I suggest you read James Bennett's article in the Telegraph today about the pipeline she negotiated:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2008/09/09/do0904.xml

That will give you some idea how small and unimportant Alaska is and hos inexperienced Governor Palin (no law degree) is.