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Monday, September 8, 2008

Ron Walters on McCain-Palin

McCain Hiding Under Palin’s Political Skirt

By Ron Walters

The truth about the Republican nominee, John McCain is that because he has been unable to mobilize the base of his party (a fact on which the media has refused to focus) he has had to rely on his Vice Presidential pick, Sara Palin to do so. Hiding under her skirt of popularity, his campaign has come alive, with Palin as the putative nominee instead of him.

But because he has put her out there, Palin runs the risk of being vetted in public and it will not wash to say that her 17 year old daughter, Britol’s pregnancy is out of bounds. Remember the firestorm caused by Republican Vice Presidential candidate Dan Qayle’s rant against the fictional TV character Murphy Brown, who wanted to have a baby out of wedlock during the 1992 campaign, in a speech where he was trying to promote “family values.”

Because of the high number of teen pregnancies in the black community, conservative politicians have made subtle inferences about the immorality of blacks and linked it to the Democratic party for some time. At the same time, when they were in power, Republicans systematically cut job training, youth programs, poverty programs and anything that would help young teenagers have live positive options.

Rejecting help for pregnant teens seems to be a practice of Sara Palin, who cut a program proposed by the Alaska legislature just this year from $5 million to $3.6 million. This mirrors John McCain’s history of cutting programs aimed at reducing teen pregnancy over his career. Hypocrisy is not even close to the image they present as they embrace Bristol Palin and her unwed lover on the stage of Republican convention and legitimize their role in this election.

There is a question whether conservatives will be embarrassed as Sara Palin’s record comes more fully into view, with tad-bits like the patriotism she and her husband showed as members of the Alaska Independence Party which wanted to succeed from the US, or that she lied about her support of the “bridge to nowhere,” or putting the executive jet on EBay, or any number of things. Conservatives may feel locked in because she is the only “reliable conservative” on the ticket and therefore, may hold their nose and support her even though there are serious conflicts with their basic ideology and the Palin’s past behavior.

What I think we will see, therefore, is that Independents will reject Sara Palin’s hard right posture toward things like Abortion rights and continue to move toward Obama. However, Obama has to release Hillary Clinton or some credible surrogate from his campaign to expose the readiness of the new Republican star to be a heartbeat away from a 72 year-old president. Remember John Kerry.

Dr. Ron Walters is the Distinguished Leadership Scholar and Professor of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland College Park. His latest book is: The Price of Racial Reconciliation (U. of Michigan Press)

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