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A bad call, calling us to reconsider

Full Speed to Port!

Posted: September 2, 2008 7:28 p.m.
Updated: November 4, 2008 5:00 a.m.
 
For a moment, let's all suppose we're all young soccer moms. And let's suppose that we've got four kids, three at home - one is a newborn with profound disabilities.

Now, let's suppose our teenage daughter is in trouble - she's unwed and pregnant. And let's also suppose we've long made a big public stand on how our family supports "traditional family values."

Finally, let's suppose that some wrinkly old white-haired dude from out of state offers us the second most important job in the world! But there's a catch. The job requires 110 hours a week, and we have to subject our kids to near motherly abandonment.

Topping it off, if we take the job, we'll knowingly throw our kids - especially the pregnant one - straight into the invasive, embarrassing spotlight of hyper-intensive international media.

As ordinary Santa Clarita "family values" soccer moms, would any of us remotely consider taking such a job? Would we trade the love, care, and protection of our kids for national fame and power?

No, you wouldn't. Neither would I, and neither would my wife, Carrie. Indeed, in a quick poll, I haven't found a mother or father in our town who would. For us in Santa Clarita, "family values" means "family first."

Sacrificial suicide bomber

But last Friday, just 16 hours after Barack Obama gave his historic acceptance speech to an estimated TV audience of 40 million - a speech so impactful that even Republican Evil Emperor William Crystal gushed and called it exceptional - John McCain hastily attempted a clever tactic, hoping to neutralize the Obama convention surge.

With apparent scarce vetting, McCain threw political newbie Sarah Palin into the political arena like some sort of sacrificial Republican female suicide bomber, cynically exploiting her for the purpose of exploding Obama's political momentum.

But McCain's hasty pick for political suicide bomber brought unexpected civilian casualties. First up, Palin's "abstinence only"-schooled pregnant teenager, who's now been rudely outted in the international press.

And likely next up is Sarah Palin herself as a nasty Troopergate unfolds and her paper-thin education and scant experience leaves her vulnerable and exposed in front of America's lights and cameras.

I don't know what McCain was thinking when he hastily picked Palin in his reactive response to Obama's hugely successful convention. But it doesn't appear he was thinking clearly - and he certainly wasn't thinking of Palin, herself.

So, in two short days after Palin's selection, the McCain campaign is forced to cough up news that Sarah Palin's unwed teen daughter is pregnant.

With that one news release, John McCain inadvertently also coughed up a national-level example on of how abstinence-only sex education doesn't work. No small hit against his party's platform.

Oh the irony

With that revelation, John McCain provided America a national-level lesson on the perils of career moms not being home to raise their families. A stinging irony, considering his selection.

And with that news, McCain also served up a national-level feast of hypocrisy, when he himself struts family values but taps an overwhelmed mom to fill out his ticket in a cynical ploy for votes.

And when we learned this weekend that John McCain's vetting missed Palin's family problems, John McCain gave us a crystal-clear national-level view into his propensity to shoot first and ask important questions later. Not a character trait to ignore, considering our last Republican leaders invaded Iraq first, and figured the reasons later on.

And now, with Sarah Palin's daughter nationally exposed and likely humiliated, John McCain provides national-level understanding of the prospective V.P.'s poor judgment when under influence of people of power. Better to see it now than later.

And if all this weren't enough insight and enlightenment, along comes Hurricane Gustav as a backdrop to McCain and Palin and the whole of the Republican Convention.

Gustav itself poignantly provides America a national-level history lesson of the perils and tragedies of political picks and appointees who aren't up to the job at hand. Remember "Well done, Brownie"? Might we see the same with Palin?

Palin describes herself as a family-centered Alaskan hockey mom. That's as fair an assessment as has been made of her yet. She's the one who's been most honest about her experience and education.

A four-year journalism degree from the University of Idaho. No law degree. A short stint as a TV sports reporter. Eight years as a mayor of a town so small her job there could best be compared to HOA president of the Valencia Summit.

And 18 months as governor of a state so sparsely populated that the West San Fernando Valley has more people.

Political magnet

Palin is a good woman and young politician who's not overstated her qualifications. The problem isn't Sarah Palin, but rather John McCain's exploitation of her as an attractive and compelling Republican woman, cast up and fluffed up into the Veep position as a vote magnet.

Here in Santa Clarita, we're a high school football town. And we've turned out some exceptional quarterbacks, many of whom also exhibit strong personal character. But of all these gifted young QBs, would we ever - even with our enthusiasm for all their strength of youth - would we ever send them out to play against 300-pound offensive line monsters in the Super Bowl?

No way. But that's just what's happening today with Sarah Palin. And John McCain is the thoughtless, selfish head coach who's cynically thrown her out, unprepared, onto the mean national political playing field.

While no Santa Claritan would ever consider sending a young, untested high school quarterback into the Super Bowl - would you really send out Alaskan hockey mom Sarah Palin as Leader of the Free World and as American commander in chief?

Can you really envision Sarah Palin staring down Vladimir Putin or taking on the complexities of the Middle East?

A cynical call by McCain, indeed.

Gary Horton lives in Valencia. His column reflects his own views, not necessarily those of The Signal. "Full Speed to Port" appears Wednesdays in The Signal.

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