More Than a Hockey Mom

The Democratic and Republican National conventions are over, schools are back in session and the presidential campaigns are all fired up. The summer has been eventful: Beijing hosted a controversial Olympic season teeming with record-breaking athletes, Russia’s invasion of Georgia gave the U.S. chilling flashbacks from the Cold War and the two Presidential candidates picked their running mates. Barack Obama’s seemingly safer pick, Senator Joe Biden of Delaware, has been praised for his experience and record in Washington. On the other hand, John McCain’s running mate, Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska, has energized the conservative base but has drawn harsh criticism from the left. As an independent, I strongly support non-partisan solutions and hoped McCain would select Joe Lieberman. However, although I don’t agree with her politics very often, Palin, an intelligent and politically shrewd pick, would make an effective Vice President. Sarah Palin’s critics have belittled her as a moose-hunting hockey mom. While she may have overemphasized her cultural hobbies and mommy credentials, she made those statements merely to create an air of familiarity with voters who have been skeptical about McCain. The public is correctly concerned, but her hobbies by no means define her political career. Governor Palin is the most popular governor in America, achieving an 80 percent approval rating, and it’s not because of her accurate shot. These superficial criticisms merely highlight the hypocrisy of this partisan election. Teenage bloggers and liberally biased pundits rightly cried foul at suggestions that Obama is an unpatriotic Muslim who befriends terrorists from the ’60s; however, they are now participating in the smear campaigns harsher than those about which they previously whined. Many have criticized Palin’s lack of experience. They are correct in that she does not have foreign policy experience. What these skeptics fail to recognize, however, is that no governor has foreign policy experience, but many of them have made excellent Presidents, such as Reagan and FDR. This is because governors have executive experience; they have been in important leadership positions and have already made tough and important decisions. Neither Obama nor Biden nor McCain has such knowledge. This kind of experience may very well be more valuable than the legislative and foreign policy expertise that senators acquire. When liberals denounce Palin for her “lack of experience,” they simply undermine their own candidate. Barack Obama has no executive experience, no significant foreign policy expertise and no legitimate legislative achievements. The one bill he claimed to have sponsored was one that required nuclear companies to report their leaks. The truth, according to the New York Times, is that he stopped the bill at the last minute and consequently received major donations from nuclear companies. Unlike Palin, Barack Obama is running for President of the United States and, also unlike Palin, has no significant record or experience that proves him ready. As Rudy Giulani said, he has “nada.” Palin’s time as governor may not have been lengthy, but during her limited time in office she made great progress for Alaska. When she was inaugurated, Alaska was the most dishonest state in America. One of her first acts as governor was to create a bipartisan ethics reform bill, which closed many loopholes that permitted Alaskan politicians to accept bribes and drastically reduced corruption in the state and in her own party. Palin also transformed the department of natural resources in Alaska into one that would not acquiesce to the brides and dirty practices of the oil companies by firing several top officials and even appointing a new director. Tim Bradner, an oil industry analyst, stated, “ The governor is not a negotiator. She is a non-negotiator. She draws lines in the sand.” Despite originally supporting the “bridge to nowhere,” Palin shrewdly and courageously rejected the $398 million redundancy that would have connected Ketchikan, Alaska to Gravina island and benefited only few, rich constituents. The only possible blemish on her impressive career is the perhaps ethically questionable firing of a publicsafety official for not firing her former brother-in-law. Palin claims, however, that her estranged brother-in-law and her sister divorced many years ago. She stated that he holds no grudges against him and that the true cause of the firing was that she needed more results in dealing with bootleg and alcohol abuse in rural villages. Her explanation seems plausible, given her reputation for firing incompetent officials quickly. Biden is an experienced and respected Senator. He, however, has character flaws that make him unfit for the second most important job in America. For example, he ended his 1988 Presidential campaign after he was caught plagiarizing a British speech. The Vice President of the United States must have honesty and integrity, especially in this crucial election. Biden has shown us his lack of such values. Many are reassured that Biden’s connection with Washington will help Obama in office; in fact, by selecting Biden, Obama has almost admitted his lack of experience. Biden himself stated that Obama was not ready for President. Biden, a “Washington insider,” also undermines Obama’s promise of change. Obama has not yet proven his ability to “change” Washington, and Biden has not been particularly bi-partisan or reform-minded in his career. McCain and Palin, on the other hand, have proven records of working with Democrats to battle corruption and earmark bills. Obama is certainly brilliant, but he and Biden wouldn’t bring the “change” that they advertise. Here’s some advice for Senator Obama and his running mate: Stop making empty and unproven promises of non-partisanship that you will break a few months later. Stop changing your positions whenever the media opposes them. Stop claiming middle-class tax cuts when in reality you are raising taxes for anyone who works for a big or small business and anyone who buys clothes or food. Stop promising to spend even more than Bush did and continuing to increase the deficit. And, most importantly, stop underestimating Sarah Palin. The incumbent, corrupt and well-funded Republican governor dismissed Palin as the menial Mayor of Wasilla when running against her in the Alaskan Republican primaries. Instead, she beat him by 30 points. She has been counted out before but has consistently fought back and won. In her own words, “What’s the difference between a pitbull and a hockey mom- lipstick?” Sebastian Becker is a two-year Upper from New York, N.Y and a Commentary Associate.