Spinning Sarah Palin

            Media figures and politicians on both sides of the fence are working hard to spin the selection of Sarah Palin as Republican vice presidential candidate.  Some would have you believe that Palin is the second coming of, um, Eleanor Roosevelt (if Roosevelt had been a Republican, a governor, a Vice President, and a beauty pageant contestant).  There are others who want you to believe she is the second coming of the worst caricatures of Dan Quayle. 

            So what’s the truth?

            Here’s the good news for Republicans: she has inspired the social conservatives.  I read an AOL article that said some social conservatives were literally crying (after they figured out who Palin was and what she stood for).  And these were happy tears (you know, like when you watched “Rudy” and finally near the end of the last football game, the coach let Rudy in for some plays).  McCain had made conservative Christians nervous by hinting that he might go pro choice and also by not ruling out picking the Latter Day Saint candidate.  McCain needs all three major groups of Republicans in his corner if he is going to win the election: social conservatives, fiscal conservatives, and military hawks.  Palin energized the first category, and she is saying all the things the second category wants to hear. 

            Here’s the bad news: there are two things, actually.  One, because she is still a relative unknown, any negative revelations about her will stand out more as the election gets closer.  The missteps of the other three (McCain, Obama, and Biden) have already been reported and people have a tendency to move on.  With the election only two months away, any scandals involving her might not have a chance to wear off.  Two, because she is younger than Obama and a first term governor of a small state, it will be difficult for Republicans to make an issue of Obama’s experience without looking hypocritical.

            In addition to the legitimately good and bad stuff regarding Palin, there is also a lot of rhetoric floating around.  It is sad that her 17-year-old daughter is unmarried and pregnant.  But it is not an example of some kind of hypocrisy on Palin’s part, nor does it render her advocacy of abstinence-only sex ed. in schools as illegitimate (if you’ll pardon the expression).  Person A is never a hypocrite because of the actions of Person B.  And sex education did not fail Palin’s daughter.  By the age of 16-17, she knew where babies came from and how to avoid being pregnant.  One can debate the pros and cons of any school program, but one situation does not settle the argument. 

Palin is a Washington outsider.  Obama needed an insider VP to increase his credibility as a man who can get things done, so Obama made a smart choice as far as his objectives were concerned.   McCain is a Washington insider himself, so he needed an outsider to increase his credibility as someone who can relate to regular Americans.  If Palin withstands the media scrutiny, she will definitely be a smart choice for McCain.