"I was confused. I was wondering why McCain wanted Michael Palin for Vice President."
Like the rest of us, my friend Bob woke Aug. 29 to the words that "Palin" was selected as the Republican vice presidential candidate. Bob's mind went to the most logical image of a Palin he could fathom — the writer, documentary producer and former, if one can ever be a former, member of Monty Python — Michael Palin.
The entire nation needed to down a cup of coffee (strong and black), a cup of tea (sweet and hot) or a shot of bourbon (two-fingers and neat). Our national intellect shook out the cobwebs and realized it was Sarah Palin, governor of the great state of Alaska and a great unknown to the rest of the nation. In fact, all most of us know about Alaska is what we have learned on Discovery Channel's "Deadliest Catch."
This is not an endorsement of Barack Obama for president. In fact, I was excited about McCain's primary candidacy eight years ago, though I worked for Gore in 2000. I knew that the senator from Arizona was a true westerner, an independent thinker and one who was not afraid to speak his mind. Yet there seems to be something wrong with the 2008 picture.
As the media searched the Internet and Alaskan archives to learn more about Gov. Palin, my interest turned to the strategy that led to this unusual selection. Was she chosen because of her solid conservative values and philosophy? Or a badly-guised endeavor to pull in the female vote and disgruntled Hillary supporters to the McCain-Palin ticket? Was it an attempt to capture the western American vote, to show independence from Washington and Beltway politics? Is Sarah Palin just a better public speaker than Mr. McCain and will hold up the campaign? Could it be (E) "All of the above?"
The Sunday talking head shows were ablaze with chatter of the selection. Every Republican leader was on message Sunday, spinning Palin's management and executive experience. She was a mayor and is the popular governor of Alaska. She is a solid conservative, pro-life and life member of the NRA. In the eyes of the GOP, Palin is perfect.
Yet the GOP representatives avoided the all-important questions: Palin would be a heartbeat from the presidency; could she lead the nation?
In fact, with all of the Republican and conservative criticism of Sen. Obama's lack of knowledge and experience, the choice of Gov. Palin is confusing. Leading a town of 9,000 and governing Alaska for fewer than two years are not solid qualifiers. Palin has no apparent foreign affairs experience. And though the Alaskan $4.4 billion annual budget is substantial, it could not pay for the military expenses in Iraq for two weeks. She did fight the oil companies, but this is not leading United States armed forces in the worldwide battle against terrorism.
Palin is under investigation by the Republican-led Alaskan legislature for possible ethics violations. On Monday, we learned that the governor's 17-year-old unmarried daughter is pregnant. If Palin cannot rule her state ethically, if she cannot lead her family through her "superior" moral convictions of abstinence, how can she lead a nation?
The questions on the lips of every reporter and citizen are simple: Did Sen. McCain check Sarah Palin's background before offering her the No. 2 slot? Will her name give the Republican ticket the winning edge, or will it send the campaign over a cliff? I am thinking "No," and the latter.
No, it was not Michael Palin, but maybe he should rewrite the words of "The Lumberjack Song" as the new McCain-Palin campaign song. And I foresee the next Monty Python feature movie: "The Holy Grail: the American Version." American politics know irony. We now need a solid dose of humor. Desperately. Now.
David Rosman is a business and political communications consultant, professional speaker and college instructor in communications, ethics, business and politics. He welcomes your comments at ProfDave1011@netscape.net.