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Michael Russnow

Michael Russnow

Posted: August 30, 2008 07:53 PM

Sarah Palin: You're No Dan Quayle -- and That's Not a Compliment!


Wouldn't it be nice if the media pundits finally got it right and reported the story as I have?

John McCain has sold his soul -- I heard that from the ghost of Ray Walston, who played the devil in Damn Yankees. But he didn't sell his soul for something noble -- like beating the Yankees and going to the World Series. He sold it in the bleakest of hopes that he could convert angry Hillary voters to his cause.

This was hardly the act of a maverick, independent guy only wanting the nation's good -- someone who couldn't be wrestled to the ground by any organized group of political thought -- think evangelical conservatives. It was a gamble almost certain to lose.

If he'd wanted to steal Hillary voters and as a double trump show up Obama's inexperience and match Joe Biden's fortitude, why not go with someone like Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine, an individualist like he fashions himself who went a bit further and voted, unlike McCain, against removing President Clinton from office. It wouldn't have thrilled the conservatives, but where do they really have to go? To Bob Barr, a Libertarian? No, they'd suck in their tummies, take a deep breath and do anything to stop the upstart Obama machine and his lefty running-mate Joe Biden.

Olympia Snowe would have shown that McCain had guts and a bit of smarts that he's lately been reluctant to demonstrate. Wait a minute, he didn't show much of that when he was near the bottom of his class at Annapolis, a spoiled brat third generation legacy, courtesy of his father and grandfather, both distinguished admirals.

He would have revealed to one and all that he was a true hero -- someone who said I'm my own man, and not just coast on the sad fact that he was shot down and suffered as a prisoner of war. That's not heroic. It's extremely unfortunate, and I'm sorry as hell it befell him, as it did countless others who failed to profit from it as he has. I'm sorry he was forced to "confess" his sins to the North Vietnamese to avoid further torture; I would probably have done likewise. But we shouldn't exalt such people as having the sort of stuff that exemplifies wisdom and leadership, else Congress and the White House would be full of Holocaust survivors and victims of horrible crimes.

McCain used his war accident and awful circumstance as a launching pad to gain a House seat in Arizona and continued to ride it into the U.S. Senate even with the Keating Five/Lincoln Savings scandal for which the Senate Ethics committee rebuked him. Later, in 2000, after being trounced by the current president in the primaries for being presumed too left in his thinking, he determined to come back and reinvent himself as a true conservative, not unlike George Wallace who once said after a loss for governor of Alabama that "no other son-of-a-bitch would ever out-nigger me again."

But McCain is so anxious to win that he is not clear of thought. There is so much interest in Barack Obama, despite legitimate discussion about his experience on the national and international stage, that he doesn't trust his own capacities to best the Democrat in a debate. He feverishly looked around wondering whom to choose when Joe Biden became the Democratic vice presidential choice.

He flirted with his old enemy Mitt Romney, but realized the guy had so much flip/flop baggage and that it would negate the opportunity to show clips of Joe Biden disparaging Obama in TV ads when the same sort of thing could now be leveled against him. He seduced Tom Ridge and even courted a, gasp, Democrat, the turncoat Joe Lieberman, but realized all of the prominent capable folks had too many problems that could prove to be dead weight.

So in a misplaced manner, he figured he might pick up two birds with one stone and chose Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, a young woman of the far political right who would thrill his flagging conservative base and with twisted logic felt just the fact of her gender would bring alienated Hillary voters (especially women) to his cause.

And to heighten interest in such a choice, he selected a woman with little record to criticize, forgetting that this was the centerpiece of his whole campaign against Obama. Nonetheless, McCain's campaign boasted that she had more government experience than Obama. This is true if one counts such service in years as opposed to substance. She beats Obama twelve and a half years to eleven and a half, except that her stints, apart from her year and a half as governor of one of our smallest states, entailed a year chairing the Alaska Oil and Gas Commission, with the remainder on the city council or as mayor of tiny Wasilla, Alaska.

Do we believe that the Hillary voters will be more electrified with a woman who is against all forms of abortion, including rape and incest? A woman, though the daughter of a science teacher, who wants creationism taught in our schools? A woman who, like the Bush administration, is not at all concerned about the human effects on global warming? A woman who objected to the Department of Interior's listing of polar bears as an endangered species in order to protect the oil drilling companies?

Suddenly, Dan Quayle is looking a lot better. No, I was not a fan and loved Senator Lloyd Bentsen's comeback to him in the 1988 vice presidential debate when Quayle indicated his experience was similar to John F. Kennedy. It was charming and quite funny when Bentsen said Quayle was no Jack Kennedy. But at least in terms of legislative experience he was. Quayle had been a congressman for four years and a senator for eight years, which, whatever his shortcomings, leads me to my original thought: Sarah Palin, you're no Dan Quayle -- not by a long shot, and that's not a compliment.

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