So, I don’t know how often I’m going to do this, this being talk politically on my blog. I know this speaks ill of a former news editor / former managing editor / former editor in chief of a student newspaper, but political news bores me / infuriates me. I hate campaigns – I hate that politicians often seem to think so little of us as citizens, that they submit us to smear campaigns, play the emotion card at any given moment, and assume that we will research as little as possible, and might be swayed by the sneakiest of actions.
But, in spite of my annoyance at political news and campaigning I think voting is very important, if not only because it can achieve giving the people what they want, than because it’s our right as citizens and should be utilized so that we can always say we had a voice, a chance to speak our mind and stand for what we believe in. As a woman, my “vote” has been fought for hard, and I think it would be rude of me to ignore it.
And as a woman, I’m kind of annoyed with the news that McCain has chosen a female as his running mate, according to the New York Times, as “a gamble that an infusion of new leadership — and the novelty of the Republican party’s first female candidate for vice president.” Now, maybe there was more to it than that – perhaps the fact that Palin was voted “Hottest Governor in America.” And according to SFGate.com, “A former athlete and beauty queen, Palin’s approval ratings hover in 90 percent zone.“
Basically, in this election, both major candidates have chosen a VP who is strong where they are weak – which totally makes sense, but at the same time, you have to wonder that while Obama chose a VP who has more political experience and more experience in International Affairs, McCain chose a candidate with less political experience, who happens to be a girl, and purportedly an attractive one. Is that all he thinks he needs?
Well, feeling the need to educate myself better than what your basic news media is going to tell me, I turned to my favorite, “Everything there is to know” source, Wikipedia. Here’s what I found out:
photo by Alaskan Dude, photo links to photographer's flickr profile
Palin holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Idaho where she also minored in politics.
Her husband, Todd, is a Native Yup’ik Eskimo. Outside the fishing season, Todd works for BP at an oil field on the North Slope and is a champion snowmobiler, winning the 2000-mile “Iron Dog” race four times. The two eloped shortly after Palin graduated college; when they learned they needed witnesses for the civil ceremony, they recruited two residents from the old-age home down the street. The Palin family lives in Wasilla, about 40 miles (64 km) north of Anchorage.
On September 11, 2007, the Palins’ son Track joined the Army. Eighteen years old at the time, he is the eldest of Palin’s five children. Track now serves in an infantry brigade and will be deployed to Iraq in September. She also has three daughters: Bristol, 17, Willow, 13, and Piper, 7. On April 18, 2008, Palin gave birth to her second son, Trig Paxson Van Palin, who has Down syndrome. She returned to the office three days after giving birth. Palin refused to let the results of prenatal genetic testing change her decision to have the baby. “I’m looking at him right now, and I see perfection,” Palin said. “Yeah, he has an extra chromosome. I keep thinking, in our world, what is normal and what is perfect?”
Details of Palin’s personal life have contributed to her political image. She hunts, eats moose hamburger, ice fishes, rides snowmobiles, and owns a float plane. Palin holds a lifetime membership with the National Rifle Association. She admits that she used marijuana when it was legal in Alaska, but says that she did not like it.
In 1996, she challenged the incumbent mayor, criticizing wasteful spending and high taxes. The ex-mayor and sheriff tried to organize a recall campaign, but failed. Palin kept her campaign promises, reducing her own salary, as well as reducing property taxes 60%. She ran for reelection against the former mayor in 1999, winning by an even larger margin. Palin was also elected president of the Alaska Conference of Mayors.
In 2006, Palin, running on a clean-government campaign, executed an upset victory over then-Gov. Murkowski in the Republican gubernatorial primary. Despite the lack of support from party leaders and being outspent by her Democratic opponent, she went on to win the general election in November 2006, defeating former Governor Tony Knowles. Palin said in 2006 that education, public safety, and transportation would be three cornerstones of her administration.
Highlights of Governor Palin’s tenure include a successful push for an ethics bill, and also shelving pork-barrel projects supported by fellow Republicans. Palin successfully killed the Bridge to Nowhere project that had become a nationwide symbol of wasteful earmark spending. “Alaska needs to be self-sufficient, she says, instead of relying heavily on ‘federal dollars,’ as the state does today.”
Palin is strongly pro-life and belongs to Feminists for Life. She opposes same-sex marriage, but she has stated that she has gay friends and is receptive to gay and lesbian concerns about discrimination. While the previous administration did not implement same-sex benefits, Palin complied with a state Supreme Court order and signed them into law.
She supported a democratic advisory vote from the public on whether there should be a constitutional amendment on the matter. Alaska was one of the first U.S. states to pass a constitutional ban on gay marriage, in 1998, along with Hawaii.
When the Alaska Creamery Board recommended closing Matanuska Maid Dairy, an unprofitable state-owned business, Palin objected, citing concern for the impact on dairy farmers and the fact that the Dairy had just received $600,000 in state money. When Palin learned that only the Board of Agriculture and Conservation could appoint Creamery Board members, she simply replaced the entire membership of the Board of Agriculture and Conservation. The new board, led by businesswoman Kristan Cole, reversed the decision to close. The new board approved milk price increases offered by the dairy in an attempt to control fiscal losses, even though milk from Washington was already offered in Alaskan stores at lower prices. In the end, the dairy was forced to close, and the state tried to sell the assets to pay off its debts but received no bids.
-from Wikipeida entry on Sarah Palin
One issue I’m not a fan of, according to the same New York Times article referenced above:
“She differs with Mr. McCain on a controversial environment issue that centers on her home state: she supports drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve. Mr. McCain’s opposition to drilling — even after he changed positions and began advocating for off-shore oil drilling — has upset many Republicans.”
Okay, so there is some good and some bad, but let’s all agree, her role as VP would be more important than being an attractive woman, and McCain had certainly better admit to as much.
Now what about Obama’s pick of Senator Joe Biden? Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about him:
Photo by marcn - photo links to photographer's flickr profile
Born and raised in Scranton, Pennsylvania for ten years prior to moving to Delaware, Biden trained as a lawyer and became a senator in 1973 at age 30, the fifth-youngest senator in U.S. history. He has served as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, dealing with issues related to drug policy, crime prevention, and civil liberties. He is a long-time member and current chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and has worked on resolutions concerning the Yugoslav wars and Iraq War.
In 1966, while in law school, Biden married Neilia Hunter. They had three children, Joseph R. “Beau” Biden III, Robert Hunter, and Naomi Christina (“Amy”). His wife and infant daughter died in a car accident shortly after he was first elected to the Senate in 1972. His two sons, Beau and Hunter, were seriously injured in the accident, but both eventually made full recoveries. Biden was sworn into office from their bedside. Persuaded not to resign in order to care for them, Biden began the practice of commuting an hour and a half each day on the train from his home in the Wilmington suburbs to Washington, D.C., which he continues to do.
In 1977, Biden married Jill Tracy Jacobs. They have one daughter, Ashley, and are members of the Roman Catholic Church. In February 1988, after suffering from neck pains, Biden was hospitalized and underwent lifesaving surgery to correct two brain aneurysms, one of which began leaking. The hospitalization and recovery kept him from his duties in the U.S. Senate for seven months.
Biden’s elder son, Beau, had been a partner in the Wilmington law firm of Bifferato, Gentilotti, Biden & Balick, LLC until he was elected Delaware Attorney General in 2006. Beau is a captain in the Delaware Army National Guard, where he serves in the Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps. He is set to be deployed to Iraq in October 2008. Biden’s younger son, Hunter, works as a lawyer in Washington, D.C., serves on the board of directors of Amtrak, and previously worked in the Commerce Department.
In 1981, Biden received an honorary degree from Saint Joseph’s University. Since 1991, Biden has also served as an adjunct professor at the Widener University School of Law. He teaches a seminar on constitutional law.
Biden has been involved in crafting many federal crime laws over the last decade, including the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, also known as the Biden Crime Law, and the landmark Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA), which contains a broad array of measures to combat domestic violence and provides billions of dollars in federal funds to address gender-based crimes. In 2000, the Supreme Court ruled that the section of VAWA allowing a federal civil remedy for victims of gender-motivated violence exceeded Congress’ authority and therefore was unconstitutional. Congress reauthorized VAWA in 2000 and 2005. In March 2004, Biden enlisted major American technology companies in diagnosing the problems of the Austin, Texas-based National Domestic Violence Hotline, and to donate equipment and expertise to it.
Biden is also a long-time member and current chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. In 1997, he became the ranking minority member and chaired the committee from June 2001 through 2003. When Democrats re-took control of the Senate following the 2006 elections, Biden again assumed the top spot on the committee in 2007. His efforts to combat hostilities in the Balkans in the 1990s brought national attention and influenced presidential policy: traveling repeatedly to the region, he made one meeting famous by calling Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic a “war criminal.” He consistently argued for lifting the arms embargo, training Bosnian Muslims, investigating war crimes and administering NATO air strikes. Biden’s subsequent “lift and strike” resolution was instrumental in convincing President Bill Clinton to use military force in the face of systematic human rights violations. Biden has also called on Libya to release political prisoner Fathi Eljahmi.
Biden is a leading advocate for dividing Iraq into a loose federation of three ethnic states. In November 2006, Biden and Leslie Gelb, President Emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, released a comprehensive strategy to end sectarian violence in Iraq. Rather than continuing the present approach or withdrawing, the plan calls for “a third way”: federalizing Iraq and giving Kurds, Shiites, and Sunnis “breathing room” in their own regions. Iraq’s political leadership united in denouncing the resolution, and the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad issued a statement distancing itself. Senior military planners cautioned that a partition policy would require American military presence of 75,000 to 100,000 troops for years to come.
Various interest groups have given Biden scores or grades as to how well his votes align with the positions of each group. Biden has a lifetime 72 percent score from Americans for Democratic Action through 2004, while the American Conservative Union awarded Biden a lifetime rating of 13 percent through 2007. Biden has a lifetime average “liberal” score of 77.5 percent, according to a National Journal analysis that places him ideologically among the center of Senate Democrats. The ACLU gives him an 86 percent lifetime score, with a 91 percent score for the current session of Congress.
-from the Wikipedia entry on Joe Biden
Great. Where does this leave me? I’d kind of been counting on the VP picks to help sway me, but there are things about each candidate that I like, and things I don’t like. It’s Obama / Clinton all over again for me. I really don’t know where I lean, although I’ve said for some time now that I’m planning to vote Obama, in truth, now that I know McCain isn’t choosing Mitt Romney as his running mate, I have no true reason to be disappointed regardless of which way the election goes – Romney being the only candidate I feel strongly against.
In the last election, after being a huge Dean-ebopper, I eventually came around to the slightly terrifying looking John Kerry and voted for him with enthuasiasm. Living in New England, it seemed certain he would win, so when Bush took office I was more than a little shocked, and then, more than a little heartbroken. And I suspect that this election is doing a number on me. Kind of like the numbness that follows a bad breakup, I think I’m afraid to truly care one way or another, and maybe relieved that I don’t. I plan to vote Obama at this point, because he seems my best pick based solely on issues, but part of me wishes I cared more…