Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Bob McElvaine: is McCain a "maverick" or just reckless?

I would like to think that some of the delegates at the Republican Convention in St. Paul have sense enough to wonder whether their success at making Presidential elections into referenda on religion and Victorian sexual morality is not an unmixed blessing. But there is little evidence of such thought eminating from the GOP. In his latest post, Bob McElvaine takes a look at the inherent contradiction between denying women the right to choose on abortion and bragging about Bristol Palin's "decision" to have her (first?) baby without benefit of the marital formalities. And what her selection tells us about that bold Maverick McCain.

Reckless John Disses America by Robert S. McElvaine

Barack Obama is right in saying that "people's families are off limits and people's children are especially off limits." The major public issue raised by the revelation of the pregnancy of Sarah Palin's daughter is not about the daughter, whose personal life is none of our business.

The central public issue is not even about Gov. Palin herself. (Although it is certainly worth noting to the public that her statement said that she and her husband are "proud of Bristol's decision to have her baby, which plainly indicates that the daughter had the choice that Gov. Palin and Sen. McCain want to deny to other women.)

No, the huge public issue raised by this and other revelations in the days since Friday's startling announcement of the selection of Alaska's governor as the Republican vice-presidential candidate is about John McCain.

The campaign said on Monday that McCain knew about the pregnancy when he selected the grandmother-to-be. That is very hard to believe. Indeed, McCain spokesman Steve Schmidt later would only say that McCain knew "last week," leaving unclear whether that knowledge came before or after the selection.

If, as seems highly likely, John McCain did not know about what was an "open secret" in the Palins' hometown, it is a further indication of just how reckless the Republican nominee is.

It becomes more apparent by the hour that Sen. McCain chose someone to put in the position to become president of the United States knowing very little about her. He had met her only twice. The vetting of her done by his campaign was extremely hasty and cursory. It was revealed by The Atlantic on Monday that there was not even an FBI background check done on her.

There is, of course, a serious issue about whether Gov. Palin is qualified to be president. But the issue on which Democrats and the media ought to be focusing is less whether she is fit to be president than what McCain's know-almost-nothing-about-her selection says about his fitness to be president.

We already know where having the sort of president who makes snap judgments on the basis of looking into eyes and fancying that he is seeing souls gets us.

The selection of a vice-presidential nominee by whim puts the lie to McCain's "Country First" slogan.

By being so careless (and care-less) in selecting a person he would put a heartbeat away from the presidency, Reckless John dissed America and showed that the accurate slogan for his presidential bid should be "CAMPAIGN FIRST."

It's Reckless John, Stupid!

[For more info on Palin, see Memeorandum]

[Historian Robert S. McElvaine is Elizabeth Chisholm Professor of Arts & Letters at Millsaps College. His latest book is Grand Theft Jesus: The Hijacking of Religion in America .]

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