On Friday, John McCain introduced Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. Palin was (and is) relatively unknown, and no one could know which lines of attack the Left would use against her. Four days later, though, we know how the Democrats plan on attacking Palin—and their attacks happen to be very weak.
There are three Democrat attacks against Palin: the criticisms of her maternal life, the inexperience charge, and “Troopergate.”
Complaints about Palin’s maternal skills center around the pregnancy of her teenage daughter Bristol. This is a particularly despicable tactic—the private life of Palin’s daughter can have no possible bearing on the campaign. These smears are wholly irrelevant, and there is really nothing else to say about them.
Another facet of the “bad mother” smear is the notion that Palin shouldn’t accept the nomination in order to preserve the privacy of her pregnant daughter. But by that logic, any candidate with a family shouldn’t be involved in politics. Attention comes with the territory—it is unfortunate, but the truth. And the notion that Palin can’t take care of her children while running, as some have charged, is just silly.
The inexperience argument is a bit more nuanced. I’m not sure that anyone could argue that Palin is very experienced—ten years as mayor of a small city and less than two years as governor do not make for a very seasoned candidate.
On the other hand, she is probably more experienced than Obama is. She has been in elected office longer—she began her time as mayor of Wasilla a year before Obama became a State Senator. And while mayor of Wasilla is only a part time job, it involves more governing than serving as a State Senator—which is also a part time job.
Apparently, everyone has forgotten about Palin’s service in the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, which she chaired from 2003-2004. It is responsible for overseeing oil and gas drilling and production in Alaska, and her work in this organization ensures that she is familiar with every detail of energy production in Alaska. She is an expert on oil drilling (at least as it relates to Alaska), a fact that cannot be repeated too often.
And Palin’s Alaska governorship experience is much greater than Obama’s Senate experience. Obama has spent nearly half of his Senate time running for President, while Palin has had to actually spend time governing in Alaska. Palin has more executive experience than anyone else on either ticket—and the presidency is in the executive branch.
Of course, it isn’t hard to be more experienced than Barack Obama, and having more experience than Obama isn’t exactly an automatic qualification for the presidency. So is Palin qualified? Yes, but just barely. She has much more executive experience than any other candidate running. Granted, she is simply the best of a bad lot in that regard, but the fact remains that she is still the best. And her governorship of Alaska, while brief, was effective—her approval ratings hovered in the eighties. Palin is not the most experienced candidate ever, and she would be much better with a little experience—but she is (barely) experienced enough.
“Troopergate” probably could do the most damage to Palin if it pans out—but it is a long shot. Apparently, Palin wanted Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan to fire her former brother-in-law, Alaska State Trooper Mike Wooten, which he refused to do. Later, Palin fired Monegan. Monegan claims that he was relieved because he wouldn’t fire Wooten. Palin denies this. (More on this story, though there isn’t much more, here).
Not a terribly damning story for Palin, and this story probably won’t go anywhere. Using this lame “controversy” as an attack, as many Democrats have done, is a sign of desperation.
Democrats have three avenues of attack against Sarah Palin. One is offensively irreverent (the Bristol pregnancy), one is a legitimate if flawed criticism (experience), and one is simply grasping at straws (Troopergate). Liberals can’t seem to find a reasonable narrative against Palin—a sign that she was a strong pick for McCain.