Biden has been in the Senate for 39 years. Palin’s résumé is incredibly thin: small-town mayor and governor of Alaska for less than two years.
The GOP presidential nominee, John McCain, is hardly ancient at 72. But he is vulnerable actuarily. He has had serious skin cancer. It is frightening to think of a President Palin if a President McCain dies.
Of the 43 presidents, eight have died in office: W.H. Harrison, 1841; Zachary Taylor, 1850; Abraham Lincoln, 1865; James Garfield, 1881; William McKinley, 1901; Warren Harding, 1923; Franklin Roosevelt, 1945; and John Kennedy, 1963. Another president, Richard Nixon, was forced to resign in 1974.
McCain boasts that his country always comes first but actually he thinks first of McCain. He cynically picked a poorly credentialed running mate because she is a Great Diversion from his 95-percent support of the disastrous President Bush.
Columnist Richard Cohen of the Washington Post calls the choice “opportunistic and irresponsible.” Columnist Maureen Dowd of the New York Times ridicules Palin as a “glamorous Pioneer Woman, packing a gun, a baby and a Bible.”
McCain has reversed his occasional maverick positions to appease the Right. He would rather be president than right.
All summer McCain accused Barack Obama of lacking the experience to be president. Palin has far less experience than Obama. Karl Rove, GOP smearmeister, called it “not a governing decision but a campaign decision.”
McCain’s campaign manager admits it, declaring that “this election is not about issues.” Appearances are all. Palin proves it. She is a babe with a come-hither look, a rambete, a beautiful foil to the aging warrior, top gun McCain.
Unfortunately, such superficialities attract boobus Americanus.
Palin’s ideas are appallingly reactionary. She opposes abortion, gay marriage, benefits for same-sex partners and stem cell research. She supports sexual abstinence programs. She debunks global warming.
She wants drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, belittles the Endangered Species Act, calls the listing of the polar bear unscientific and thinks it great sport to shoot wolves from a helicopter.
Palin insists on the literal truth of every word in the Bible. She urges teaching of creationism. She sees the troops in Iraq as doing a “task that is from God.” It is “God’s will” that the federal government contributes to a gas pipeline in Alaska. She says Christ will return in her lifetime.
Her foreign policy expertise? She can see Russia from Alaska. She says her son is going to Iraq to fight the 9/11 perpetrators. Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11.
Palin denies her past with anti-rhetoric. She favored the “Bridge to Nowhere” but now denies she did. She says she opposes tax increases but raised taxes as mayor of Wasilla. She says she opposes pork-barreling but delights in federal largesse for Alaska. She says she opposes political corruption yet served as chief fund-raiser for the corrupt Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska. She rails at the political establishment, which McCain has served 26 years.
Her gibes at Obama are sophomoric. She absurdly says Obama is more concerned about the rights of terrorists than their threat. She belittles Obama’s altruistic and commendable community organizing.
National conventions are a charade, all about marketing. The hypocrisy of the GOP convention was flabbergasting. It trumpeted change while masking the fact that McCain is McSame. It talked insurgency yet it has been running the White House and Congress for most of the past eight years.
Convention delegation differences were stark. The GOP delegates were white, rich and conservative, the Democratic delegation loaded with minorities, women and progressives.
Biden? He is hardly a paragon. He was on the wrong side when he voted for the Iraq war. Wrong again in backing so-called free trade acts that hurt workers. Wrong again to push the bankruptcy bill clamping down on millions of families mired in debt. And wrong again to flack for the credit card business.
As head of the Senate Judiciary Committee he gave the nation the reprehensible Justice Thomas, refusing to allow corrobative evidence for Anita Hill’s scathing indictment of Thomas’ sexual harassment.
And, oh my, how Biden talks and talks and talks.
Still, Biden is a liberal. Except for the Thomas lapse, he has fought for liberal judicial appointments, has superb environmental credentials and battled valiantly for the Violence Against Women Act.
He stands for everything Palin does not.
Jake Highton teaches journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno.