Palin is a Distraction

So Sarah Palin has introduced herself to her party and the United States, we’re assessing her as a woman, candidate, mom… and we’ve taken our eye off the ball.  Vetting Palin for her party, the press and the American public is timely and imperative, and by all means this process should continue and it should be a through job.  As voters, however, our time is precious.

There are sixty days until the election and this is when we should be informed of detailed policy plans, assessments of our current state of affairs and strategies for the next few years. We’ve gone from the platform and issue driven excitement of the primaries to a presidential election which is being framed to closer resemble a nomination for the homecoming king and queen. As a country we’re getting wrapped up in Bradgelina triva, a so-called mommy war and a candidate we can “relate to”. 

Enough already, lets talk politics, that’s what elections are for.  Lets start with foreign policy…

Our current Vice President is on his way to Georgia right now, I’d like to hear a bit more about that from the VP contenders.  The New York Times speculated today that “An expanded package of humanitarian and economic assistance is not likely to face significant opposition in Congress. Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr.,the chairman of the Foreign Relations committee and now the Democratic vice presidential candidate, has already expressed support for a sizable aid package.”  Not surprising since he recently returned from Georgia at the request of President Mikhail Saakashvili. Here we’ve got a great example of both parties working together to stabilize a highly volatile region, showing dedicated support to NATO, a united Europe and the promotion of democracy over a Russian flirtation with authoritarian regime.  Yes, it’s another oil war, and Cheney’s first meetings were with representatives of BP and Cheveron, but somewhere in there I think the humanitarian aspects of the mission eked out and for the moment the United States is showing a unified face not plagued by partisanship.

McCain has also spoken in favor of economic relief to the area. This came on the recommendation of his foreign policy adviser Randy Scheunemann who simultaneously was a lobbyist for the Republic of Georgia, and who’s company received a $200,000 dollar lobbing contract after the candidate’s remarks were made. Scheunemann has since stepped down from Orion Strategies, so I guess that means he’s no longer part of the “Washington Elite” that Palin was referring to earlier tonight. Maybe he’s just one of the “permanent political establishment”.  I’m wondering if she’s planning to, “carry myself in this spirit as vice president of the United States. This was the spirit that brought me to the governor’s office, when I took on the old politics as usual in Juneau … when I stood up to the special interests, the lobbyists, big oil companies, and the good-ol’ boys network”  I’m wondering if these standards of corruption fighting will apply to her own advising team. Better watch your ass Schenuemann, I hear she’s a lipstick wearing pit bull.

I was enormously disappointed by tonight’s speech because I really did want to hear her plans, the only policy discussion was a titular nod to energy and oil. Again I’m wondering how she’s simultaneously standing up to big oil companies, while building a massive pipeline and squeezing Alaska until it’s resources are depleted.  Can we also all as a nation acknowledge that the 1984 double speak of “clean coal” is an oxymoron, seriously, it’s bugging me.

As for the party pooping Gustav, and references to Katrina…there are differences between talking about a hurricane region so you don’t appear like you’re ignoring it, and proposing ideas which can protect and advocate for these communities in the long run.  Addressing issues of poverty and climate change are essential to the management and rehabilitation of the gulf states and I’ve no idea where she stands there (though if she continues to have her speeches written by Bush lackeys I can take a guess).

Absent too was a mention of the housing market and the rapidly weakening US dollar.  The Treasury Department is set to bail out Fannie May and Freddie Mac who have seen “90% of their capitalization deplete since January”.  Can we please talk about this?  I’m watching my friend’s starter homes in California drop in value over one hundred thousand dollars while city declares bankruptcy.  And when that bailout comes, who’s paying for it and how?  So what’s the strategic plan here and how about economic stimulation?

While we’re at it, can we get back to talking about the war in Iraq beyond the well deserved “support our troops” comments.  I’d like to hear how the candidates foresee stabilization in the region, what and how long will be the US involvement what will be the cost to US taxpayers?  How about education and health care, they didn’t get mentioned either, and heck I thought those were women’s issues. Global warming, immigration, race relations, all of these things and more need to be discussed and examined NOW.

In other campaigns there have been cleverly orchestrated bait and  switch moments, and we as a public have become distracted.  This election is too important however, I would like to return to the national conversation which had such strong promise.

I’m in the middle of reading Madeline Albright’s “Memo to the President Elect“, in it she offers sagely advice not just to the candidates, but to the public, especially where we should hold our expectations for a world leader.  “Our military has been deployed to the point of exhaustion, including our National Guard and Reserves.  Our international economic leadership has been hurt by an inconsistent approach to trade and by budget policies that have spun the gold of surpluses into the straw of record deficits. Our alliances in Europe and the Asian Pacific have been strained.  And on nuclear weapons, human rights and the rule of law we are thought to be hypocrites.  Your job as president will be to recapture what has been lost and proceed from there.  You must begin with the understanding that our right to lead is no longer widely accepted.  We have lost moral legitimacy.”  It is my sincere hope that the candidates and their running mates will address these issues as opportunities and forecast to our country what they plan to accomplish in the next four years.


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