Guest Column10/02/08

Oct. 2, 2008


More on McCain and Palin

By Jim Collier

It is helpful that the Observer’s “Right to the Point” columnist, Mike Benevento, put his defense of Sarah Palin (“Barrage attacks against Palin,” Sept. 25, 2008) in the context of his own weapons systems officer days in the Air Force. It helps explain his understanding and acceptance of John McCain’s role in this matter. I find this relationship so compelling because in order to understand Democratic criticisms of Sarah Palin, you truly have to understand John McCain, who picked her in his first important presidential judgment call.

McCain has always been addicted to danger and making seat of the pants decisions. He wrote in one of his books that he endeavors to make fast decisions and before the other man does. When called before a hearing officer at the Naval Academy to determine why he should not be expelled because of constant disciplinary problems and poor academic performance, the night before he and some of his known “bad” buddies went out on the town, got drunk and came back in the early morning hours. While waiting for the hearing officer, he fell asleep and then turned on his obvious charm. The hearing officer, knowing full well the prominence of John’s Navy father and grandfather, accepted his pleas and allowed him to continue, only to graduate five from the bottom in a class of 899.

This addiction and disregard of possible consequences was demonstrated when, during an exhilarating ground level flight, he clipped some power lines and crashed his plane.

Navy pilot Cmdr. Philip Butler, who lived across the hall from McCain at the Academy and was shot down and imprisoned two years earlier than John, has publicly stated that McCain is too dangerous to be in control of nuclear weapons.

And so it was with his choice, very likely with little or no advice and consent, of an un-vetted Sarah Palin to be his running mate. As pundits have pointed out, it was a decision he makes too often to win the battle of the day, not the future, to make his base swoon, to appeal to Hillary supporters who might be mad enough to be attracted to a woman, any woman, as the VP selection, hoping she can get him past the election — not to ensure the competence of his selection should he suddenly not be able to continue in office.

If we understand John McCain, it is easier to objectively evaluate Sarah Palin. With a degree in history, Mike Benevento should understand that history is a gradual evolution and discovery of our human condition. Sarah Palin was presented to us as a totally blank slate, and it has only been since, with continuing investigation and evaluation, we have discovered the many weaknesses of Palin and put them in front of the public; not an un-aimed barrage based on possibly landing a damaging blow, but newly revealed truth.

And what have we learned? First, we have yet to hear the full story of her careening around five or six colleges before graduating. We now know that this churchgoing bible literalist, abstinence only supporter, did not get married in her church but eloped and gave birth to her first child less than eight months after marrying. She has a teenage daughter who is unmarried and pregnant and who obviously didn’t get the family values abstinence message Palin would gladly impose on our governmental sex education programs.

We normally couldn’t care less about these “moral” failings except that we don’t like being lectured to on moral and family values by those who haven’t lived up to them.

But Palin’s biggest failures include her continued lying — that’s the only word — about her role in the Bridge to Nowhere, in spite of the fact there was, at the time, no bridge project to say “no thanks” to and that she kept the juiciest earmark of all, over $230 million that could be spent any way her heart desired. She clearly was a vengeful, dictatorial mayor and governor, hiring unqualified cronies much the same as George Bush.

My own opinion is that being the governor of a small state with no income tax and a $5 billion to $8 billion surplus in revenues is a far less complex governance task than that facing the mayor of Burlington. By the way Sarah, you, above all, should know that Jesus was a community organizer and Pontius Pilate was a governor.

But for those who still are not convinced concerning Palin’s almost total lack of qualifications to be vice president, just listen to Katie Couric’s interview with her about why Alaska’s closeness to Russia qualifies her in the realm of foreign relations. Unbelievable! This proved to be even too much for the conservative “female” columnist, Kathleen Parker, an early enthusiast for Palin who, in her column Sunday, called for Palin to resign, to drop out of the race.

Jim Collier is a Williston resident and 1947 graduate of the United States Naval Academy.