Palin pick raises judgment questions for this Western voter

So his choice as a running mate of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is supposed to help Republican presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain with voters in the critical American West? Well, I’m one pale male Colorado voter and a father of three who is singularly unimpressed.

Granted, I’m a registered Dem, but isn’t the McCain camp counting on some of us — not just the turncoat Reagan Dems of the ’80s — along with a slew of independents, to carry him in the swing states of the West? We’re supposed to love his maverick ways, which he has so conveniently cast aside for the last six months.

I’ll admit that McCain’s emergence over the summer was worrisome for me as an Obama supporter because of McCain’s penchant for bucking the Republican Party machine and flying in the face of the arch-conservative fundamentalist Christian elements that are such a turnoff to Dems, independents and some moderate Republicans to boot.

Now McCain’s back to his old maverick ways in selecting a veep candidate, but he’s done it in a way that so clearly exposes the hypocrisy of those very fundamentalist elements that lash out at the decaying morals of our nation (as fomented by liberal Hollywood elite), the deterioration of family values and the growing promiscuity of our youth.

Even as McCain’s TV ads blast Sen. Barack Obama as a shallow celebrity with no real substance or experience, McCain seems to have gone for just that type of person for VP in one of the most critical campaign decisions he’ll have to make.

Palin, who’s a year older than me, by all accounts (including some from friends and family I have living in Alaska) has been a decent governor the past two years, but they all say her qualifications before that as a small-town mayor and record since then in no way make her worthy of being one heart attack away from the Oval Office.

And the news about her teenage daughter having a child out of wedlock and the fact that the McCain people didn’t fully vet this information or deal with it in making the Palin announcement on Friday shows me a huge lack of judgment on McCain’s part, and underscores a glaring double standard.

It’s OK for the Republican Party to criticize the Spears sisters for setting a bad example for the youth of America — and intimate that Obama has the same loose morals — but if it’s one of their own, then Palin suddenly becomes a pro-life heroine.

Easy to make that choice about being a teen mother when you have either the governor’s mansion or the Naval Observatory (the veep’s housing in Washington) to fall back on to raise the child. The majority of teen moms in this country don’t have that luxury.

Which is why teenagers should at all costs avoid becoming parents — a message I hope Palin instilled with the proper amount of fervor the past 17 years and one I’ve been drilling into the psyche of my three sons. I know kids make mistakes and families encounter crises, but is that something we want played out inside the Beltway?

And the other Republican qualifications being touted for Palin — that she’s a young, attractive (although if that’s drop-dead gorgeous in Alaska, I think they’ve all been living up there a little too long), hockey mom who hunts and fishes – are all great, but in no way things I look for in a vice president. A spouse, maybe (if I were looking), but not a veep.

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About the Author

David O. Williams

is an award-winning reporter who has covered energy, environmental and political issues for years. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and Denver Post. He's founder of Real Vail
and Real Aspen.

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