Friday, August 29, 2008

Palin Unqualified To Serve As Vice President

At, Dermot Cole writes:

Sarah Palin’s chief qualification for being elected governor of Alaska was that she was not Frank Murkowski.

He was at a low point when he took out ads saying “Maybe I should consider a personality transplant,” but his presence in the 2006 GOP primary helped her capture the nomination and go on to beat Tony Knowles.

She did not win because of her conservative credentials, her grasp of policy details or because of her track record as the mayor of Wasilla, an office she won in 1996 by collecting 617 votes.

National GOP spokesmen—including the VP also-rans—went on and on Friday about how Palin is to “the right” of John McCain, that she is an “economic conservative” and that she will attract supporters of Hillary Clinton to the Republican party.

She is an engaging and charming politician and I have nothing negative to say about her character, her tenacity or her service to our state.

I don't even have major concerns about her performance as governor. She is smart and excels in dealing with people one-on-one.

I like what she did on oil taxes and think her gas line plan may work in the long run, though that won’t be clear for years.

This is one of the most stunning news events in the history of Alaska.

However, in no way does her year-and-a-half as governor of Alaska qualify her to be vice president or president of the United States.

One of the strange things Friday was that so many commentators and politicians did not know how to pronounce her name and had no clue about what she has actually done in Alaska.

Some claimed that she has gotten a gas pipeline going after three decades of inaction, which is far from the truth, while others said she is the most popular governor in the nation, so she must be doing something right.

What the national pundits didn’t say was that Palin has served as governor of Alaska during a time of unprecedented oil wealth, which has helped preserve her popularity.

She has not had to make difficult budget and tax decisions of the sort that cost Murkowski at the polls.

Perhaps the strangest claim repeated endlessly on the news channels is that she has proven she can cut taxes and reduce the size of government in Alaska. She may have cut taxes as mayor of Wasilla, but that's not the same as cutting taxes as governor of Alaska, where there is no state income tax or sales tax to cut.

When he was governor, faced with a growing gap between oil income and expenses, Murkowski proposed a series of budget cuts and tax increases that—along with the selection of his daughter Lisa to replace him in the Senate—made him the most unpopular governor in Alaska history.

By contrast, record oil prices since her election have helped Palin avoid anything as sensitive as cutting off the Longevity Bonus or proposing a tire tax or wildlife viewing tax.

The comments from GOP politicians about how she championed budget cuts, reduced spending and “stood up” to Sen. Ted Stevens on the “bridge to nowhere” are a distortion. The Alaska budget is growing, not shrinking. To claim that the $1,200 payouts due to Alaskans in September have anything to do with restraining government growth, as McCain supporters are doing, is false.

It's true that she deserves credit for collecting much of the excess cash rolling into the state treasury. She championed a multi-billion-dollar oil tax increase, against great opposition from the oil industry and leading power brokers in the GOP, at a time when oil prices were rising and the previous tax law had become suspect.

The old law was at the center of the political corruption scandal that continues to ensnare politicians other than Palin.

The tax increase proposed by the governor and approved by the Legislature has temporarily taken all pressure off the state government to reduce spending.

With her selection by McCain, Palin will be subjected to intense scrutiny by the national news media for the first time. It will be unlike anything she has seen in Alaska.

I may be proven wrong, but the decision announced by McCain strikes me as reckless. She is not prepared to be the next president should something happen to McCain.

The main charge against Democrat Barack Obama is that he dose not have the track record to be president. The choice of Palin effectively removes that from the GOP arsenal.

Palin said Friday, in an exchange carried on CNN, that her 13 years as a member of the Wasilla City Council from 1992-96, mayor of Wasilla from 1996-2002 and governor for a year-and-a-half add up to “good experience” for the vice presidency.

McCain and Palin will have to prove that to the American people before November.

HALCRO: Blogger Andrew Halcro, the former state representative and 2006 candidate for governor, said: "McCain has put one of the least qualified politicians in the country a heartbeat away from the presidency."

"With Republicans on the verge of spending the next 40 years wandering in the desert because of their inability to manage government, McCain's choice highlights that he just doesn't get it," Halcro said.

BEGICH: U.S. Senate candidate Mark Begich responded to the Palin news this way with a prepared statement: “This is a proud day for the people of Alaska. Congratulations to Governor Palin for making history for women, our state and our country.”

OBAMA: Democratic Presidential Nominee Sen. Barack Obama and running mate Sen. Joe Biden released the following statement:

"We send our congratulations to Governor Sarah Palin and her family on her designation as the republican nominee for Vice President. It is yet another encouraging sign that old barriers are falling in our politics. While we obviously have differences over how best to lead this country forward Governor Palin is an admirable person and will add a compelling new voice to this campaign."

RESPONSES: The Web site said "Democrats jumped at the opportunity to frame Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) as inexperienced and unqualified minutes after John McCain announced the Alaska Republican will be his running mate."

The Web site quoted Obama spokesman Bill Burton as saying: "Today, John McCain put the former mayor of a town of 9,000 with zero foreign policy experience a heartbeat away from the presidency," Barack Obama spokesman Bill Burton said.

"Governor Palin shares John McCain's commitment to overturning Roe v. Wade, the agenda of Big Oil and continuing George Bush's failed economic policies — that's not the change we need, it's just more of the same," he said.

The Web site said Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) also issued a statement attacking Palin's inexperience, calling the pick "troubling."

"Certainly the choice of Palin puts to rest any argument about inexperience on the Democratic team and while Palin is a fine person, her lack of experience makes the thought of her assuming the presidency troubling," Schumer said.

Schumer added, "I particularly look forward to the Biden-Palin debate in Missouri."

YOUNG: Rep. Don Young said: "Congratulations to Governor Palin. This is an historic event for Alaska and the nation, and I will actively support the McCain-Palin ticket to be elected our next President and Vice-President.

STEVENS: Sen. Ted Stevens said: "It’s a great day for the nation and Alaskans. Governor Palin has proven herself as a bright, energetic leader for our State and will bring the same energy to the Vice Presidency. She will serve our country with distinction – the first Alaskan and first woman on the Republican ticket. I share in the pride of all Alaskans."

MURKOWSKI: Sen. Lisa Murkowski said:

“John McCain has taken a bold step today in choosing Gov. Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate. Gov. Palin has risen to every challenge she’s faced, and her choice is historic for Alaska and for the women of America. Sarah brings a great deal of excitement to the campaign and she makes Alaskans proud."

OUTSIDE COMMENT: Boston Globe columnist Joan Vennochi writes:

"McCain is treating women voters as if all they care about is gender. Views and experience don't matter. Elected in 2006, Palin is governor of a state with a population that is one-tenth the size of Massachusetts. Her prior political service was as mayor of a town of 5,700 people.

"What about Alaska is at all similar to the rest of the country? The Iditarod is fun, but it's not the answer to the country's infrastructure problems.

"McCain may believe the pick shores up his own credentials, demonstrating that he doesn't need a Joe Biden to buff up his resume.

"But given his age, voters need a special comfort level with McCain's running mate. If McCain wins, the next vice president would be a heartbeat away from a man in his seventies."

FACE TO FACE:A report on CNN suggests that McCain and Palin met in person for the first time at a conference in February and that the governor traveled to Flagstaff this week and met McCain a second time. The network said he told her that she was his choice for the ticket Thursday.

PALIN BOOK: This from the Associated Press.

NEW YORK (AP) _ John McCain's surprise choice of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin (PAY'-lin) as his running mate has given a biography of her the kind of boost that her Democratic counterpart, Joe Biden's memoir received when he joined the ticket.

The book titled "Sarah: How a Hockey Mom Turned Alaska's Political Establishment Upside Down," has jumped into the top 200 on, where shoppers now have to wait one to three weeks for shipment.

The book written by author Kaylene Johnson was released in April, and had sold out a small first printing of around 7,000 copies.

Publisher Kent Sturgis says a paperback version will be hurried out, with an expected printing of 50,000.

Sturgis tells The Associated Press that he was "happy as a clam even before today," but this is "unbelievable

OBAMA CALL:A Fox News reporter offers this account of Obama offering congratulations to Palin.

"At 4:50 p.m. EDT Obama called to congratulate Palin from his campaign bus. According to senior adviser Robert Gibbs, Obama told Palin she would be 'a terrific candidate and that he looked forward to seeing her on the campaign trail.' Gibbs also said Obama wished Palin 'good luck, but not too much luck.'"

ARNOLD: California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said, in an interview on KCRA-TV: "She has the strength to go and push back. She had the strength up there to fix the budget problem that they had, to reform the system and also to push back really hard on the bridge to nowhere. I think that she's cleaning up the mess up there and I think she has tremendous courage."