It seems that some politicians are given a free-pass when it comes to even the most basic knowledge. Take Sarah Palin. If you look at the list of statements that this woman has made over the last 3 years, it is mind boggling that anybody would ever want her as the leader of the free world. Let’s review her history here:
This is the same woman who told Charlie Gibson of ABC in a nationally televised interview that her foreign policy expertise included the fact that Russia could be seen from an island off the coast of Alaska. This, I might add, is an island that Palin had never once set foot upon. “You never know when ole Mr. Putin is gonna come flyin’ over here…”. Yep. She actually said that.
When asked which periodicals and publications she has been reading to keep up on national and world affairs, Palin told Katie Couric that she reads “them all”. Whenever Palin is baffled by a question she uses her standard “I like ’em all” answer, and that’s what she did. To this day, we still do not know what Palin reads to keep informed about national issues. Until four years ago, she never even had a passport and had never left the United States.
Sarah Palin has stated publicly that she does not accept the theory of evolution, not even understanding the meaning of the term “theory”, and that she believes in a literal translation of the Bible. This means Palin believes mankind walked alongside living dinosaurs and that the world is only 6,000 years old. Of course, when asked which book of the Bible she likes most, she would no doubt say, “I like ’em all.” Certainly, people are free to believe whatever they like, but Palin’s rejection of the scientific method hardly makes her the ideal leader of a nation of 300 million people which share a variety of beliefs.
When asked by Glenn Beck who her favorite Founding Father was, Palin stumbled with the question, then said– you guessed it– “I like ’em all.” When pressed by Beck, Palin said she liked George Washington the most, not knowing that Washington was a general and not one of the Founding Fathers. Furthermore, in her stone ignorance, she chose a man who actually favored a strong central government as well as the formation of a national bank. In other words, George Washington stood for everything that Palin says she is against. More recently, when asked what notable role Paul Revere played in the Revolution, she said he “warned the British” that they couldn’t just “come over here and take our guns…” by “ringing bells” and repeatedly firing his muzzle-loaded flint-lock rifle.
Probably one of Ms. Palin’s most hysterical misstatements occurred during the campaign when she referred to “the great country of Africa”. More recently, she didn’t seem to know why there was a North and South Korea. One has to wonder if she can’t figure out who’s buried in Grant’s Tomb.
During a Tea Party convention, Palin made several insulting remarks about President Obama, one of which accused him of being “a law professor lecturing the American people behind a lecturn using a teleprompter.” Of course, she failed to realize that she was doing precisely the same thing, only she was using the palm of her hand instead of a teleprompter.
What Palin is best known for is her bald-faced lie about “death panels” during and after the health care reform debate. Despite the fact that every fact checking organization had debunked that outrageous lie, Palin has stuck to her guns. Of course, she would never admit that private insurance companies already utilize de facto death panels by denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions and canceling the policies of people who become ill.
Palin has referred to President Obama on numerous occasions as a socialist, but refuses to provide her definition of the term, no doubt because she doesn’t have it written on the palm of her hand. She doesn’t care that Obama hasn’t nationalized a single business, nor has he put any government employees into the boardrooms. Of course, Palin believes that Obama should have just let the auto companies fail, even though doing so would have caused hundreds of thousands of Americans to lose their jobs and essentially turned over that industry to foreign manufacturers. In recent weeks, we have learned of the remarkable rebound of the US auto industry and the fact that they have repaid most of the funds that the Obama administration LOANED to them. Not surprisingly, you won’t hear Sarah Palin talking about that.
In a closed meeting at the White House, Rahm Emanuel told a group of liberal activists that their idea to air attack ads targeting conservative Democrats who were against the health care reform bill was “f’ing retarded”. Palin, who has inserted her special needs child into the political arena before, demanded that Emanuel immediately resign. Then, when Rush Limbaugh said on national radio that all Democrats are retards, Palin went on FOX News and defended Limbaugh’s use of the word and his characterization of all Democrats. While his use of the term was insensitive and inappropriate, Emanuel said that an idea was “f’ing retarded”, while Limbaugh was using the term to describe a group of people he doesn’t like. But, according to Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh should get a pass. This could be a blatant case of hypocrisy, but it could also be that Palin is just too dim to understand the difference between what Emanuel and Limbaugh said.
Sarah Palin never speaks in specifics and is always on the attack, never offering a single constructive alternative. Why? Because she doesn’t know what the specifics are. It is far easier to make insinuations, and attack with empty-headed sarcasm than it is to develop your own well thought out ideas and articulate them in a comprehensible manner. We all get a good laugh about Sarah’s gaffes, but the time to stop laughing has come. This is a person who is building a political movement on the cult of her personality. She is a classic fascist masquerading as a populist who has managed to win the hearts and minds of far too many Americans. Even if she never ran for president, her influence on our political process and election outcomes could do great damage to the country.
Elia Kazan, the Academy Award-winning film director, said many years ago that the greatest danger to our democracy would be having person of no ability or intellect elected to high office based solely on their personal charm.
Only a man under tremendous emotional stress would do something like this with millions of people watching him on network television, knowing his primary objective was to instill confidence in his audience about his leadership skills and intelligence. It is an example of a man who has lost all sense of awareness of his surroundings and what is at stake. On its surface, this was a vaguely humorous, candid moment where a person has just let their guard down. But, in reality, it is an emotional breakdown of sorts that is manifested as a momentary loss of dignity and control. Presidential candidates are supposed to be smart enough and poised enough to avoid this kind of lapse.
Not even close. She and McCain can use that term over and over again, but it still rings hollow when you look at Palin’s record in Alaska. Cronyism is a disease that George Bush suffered from, and it led to dozens of appointments of totally incompetent bureaucrats to key positions in government. The sole basis for their selection was either friendship or shared ideology. The particular expertise required to do the job they were appointed to do was irrelevant. Palin has suffered from the same condition. If you look at her appointments when she became governor, you can see an all too familiar pattern. One is particularly relevant. Palin’s choice for attorney general, Talis Colberg, stirred considerable controversy. A virtual unknown beyond her circle of friends in Wasilla, Colberg had a private law practice with no partners and little management experience. As attorney general, he now oversees hundreds of legal professionals. Colberg was criticized by both Republicans and Democrats for his handling of the investigation of Palin’s actions involving her ex-brother-in-law– aka “Troopergate”. A Superior Court judge overruled Colberg’s move to block investigative subpoenas in the case. John McCain proudly states that his running mate will reform Washington. Based on her past and present behavior, it is doubtful that this is anything more than another empty campaign slogan designed for most gullible and uninformed voters.
John McCain’s claim today is that, because he has already been “tested”, no foreign power would dare risk creating an international crisis with the United States if he is president. McCain thinks he has been tested for two reasons: First, because he survived 5 years of torture and captivity and, second, because he sat in a jet cockpit on an aircraft carrier during the Missile Crisis, awaiting orders to bomb Cuba.
What McCain doesn’t realize when he tells the aircraft carrier story is that it was a calm, highly intelligent, relatively inexperienced young president who played a key role in preventing that crisis from escalating into a world-wide catastrophe. If John McCain had been president in September of 1962, it is doubtful that the outcome would have been the same.
As for McCain’s years as a POW, certainly that experience tested his ability to survive and overcome great personal adversity. But that is hardly the kind of testing that is relevant for a leader who has to remain cool, make thoughtful decisions on complex issues, and manage the people who carry them out. Being emotionally tough and resilient are good qualities, but they are not pre-requisites for an effective president.
Barack Obama has been tested all his life, but in different ways that make him better suited to be president. His intellect, communication skills and ability to master complex problems were constantly tested, and the results of that testing are self-evident. But the real question here is which candidate would be the most likely to make an impulsive decision if such a crisis were to unfold?
Considering John McCain’s temperament and pugnacious attitude, I suspect that he would be more easily baited. He has said himself that one his heroes is Teddy Roosevelt, the president who charged up San Juan Hill. Like Roosevelt, John McCain sees himself as a warrior first and statesman second. He’s been fighting all his life, trying to live up to the legacy of his father and grandfather, who were both Admirals. The problem is, John McCain never commanded a company, a platoon, or a squad. He was a “maverick” fighter pilot, and a mediocre one at that. As a senator, he has never played an executive role, a point which his own running-mate recently expressed.
So, the question remains, where has John McCain been tested, and how did he perform on this alleged test? Being president is not a contest of wills or a physical challenge. It’s not about being the one who is most willing to charge up the hill, in order to win that elusive “victory”. The job is considerably more complicated than that.
As if Americans didn’t have enough to be afraid of these days, we also have John McCain’s and Sarah Palin’s campaign. Taking a page from Joe McCarthy and Josef Goebbels, these two candidates have resorted to the lowest forms of character assassination, guilt-by-association and repeated lies in order to frighten voters away from their opponents. First, Barack Obama was the devoted follower of a racist, anti-American ‘fire & brimstone’ pastor who made some inappropriate and inflammatory remarks about the country. Then Obama was a close personal friend of a convicted felon in Chicago. After that came the news that his closest personal friend was an “unrepentant domestic terrorist”, ergo Obama probably had terrorist sympathies. After all, he wasn’t born in America and he was probably a closet Muslim trying to infiltrate our government and destroy us from within. None of that appeared to stick to the wall, so now we’re hearing that Barack Obama is a raging socialist who wants to “redistribute the wealth” and punish rich and poor people alike with heavy taxation while putting the government deeper in debt with his huge spending programs. The only thing that the McCain/Palin ticket has yet to resort to is telling us not to vote for Barack Obama because he’s a black man. But you can probably read that theme between the lines of McCain’s ongoing campaign to paint Obama as a mysterious and suspect figure who refuses to tell the truth about himself. All of these tactics are the tools of a tyrant and John McCain knows it. Palin, who seems totally unaware of the world around her, doesn’t appear to care that her strident, shrill statements at rallies are polarizing the country at a time when it should be coming together. She has no concern that her repeated slurs might be fueling dangerous levels of hatred among the fringe dwellers in her party. After all, getting elected is more important than unifying the nation during a time of crisis. They can worry about working with a predominantly democratic Congress after the election, right? The duplicitous, hypocritical and grotesquely irresponsible tone of the McCain/Palin campaign is indicative of its two candidates’ lack of judgment and indifference to the country’s precarious situation. Most disturbing of all is that thousands of voters are attending these rallies, screaming epithets about Obama, and cheering the continual deluge of lies from the stage. When people are afraid, there are those who will try to take advantage of that fear for their own purposes. That is what is happening right now in the McCain/Palin campaign. In his desperate pursuit of the Presidency, John McCain has forsaken his honor and his self-respect. His running mate, who believes that mankind walked alongside living dinosaurs, has given up nothing because she had nothing to begin with except a pretty smile and the ability to read from a teleprompter. On or before November 4th, voters need to reject these divisive tactics and prove to the extremists in both political parties that they will never work again.
John McCain was a high-strung young man long before he disappointed his father, Admiral John McCain Jr., with his dismal academic performance at the Naval Academy. Graduating 894th in his class of 899 midshipmen made him a man with something to prove. His short, stocky frame was well-suited to the cramped cockpit of a jet fighter, but it didn’t help him live up to the imposing image he needed, so he over-compensated by being physically tough and taking risks, especially when he flew. At the Academy, he had been a boxer and wrestler who was often in trouble with superior officers. When you put this kind of A-type personality into cruel captivity for five years, take away all of his dignity and torture him into betraying his country’s Code of Conduct, it’s going to do some serious psychological damage that doesn’t just go away. In my opinion, McCain shows all the symptoms of someone suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. His manic body language, with constantly clinched fists and jutting thumbs, rapidly blinking eyes, tightly clinched jaw and grimace-like smile are physical manifestations of psychological issues. McCain had a well-earned reputation in the Senate for being ill-tempered and profane, and his inability to control his emotions was painfully evident in the last debate. In the last five years, McCain has also been faced with battling a lethal form of skin cancer, which cannot help but add to his stress levels. It is my belief that John McCain’s erratic choices during his campaign have been an expression of his emotional duress. Even some of his long-time supporters have described him as being “tightly coiled.” Whether you’re a Republican, Democrat or Independent, you have to be somewhat concerned about a man with these issues being put in charge of our country at such a fragile time. Yes, John McCain is a fighter. The problem is that he has been fighting all his life and doesn’t know when to stop.