McCain Picks Palin for VP: A Giant Step for Tokenism, Not Diversity

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Come on, now. Let’s be honest. Condoleeza Rice. Hillary Clinton. Sarah Palin. Which one of these names doesn’t belong?

Condoleeza Rice

Condoleeza Rice

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is probably a fine wife and mother. Let’s also assume that she was a good mayor. And she may be a great governor for her state. (After less than two years, the jury is probably still out. But I’ll let Palin’s fellow Alaskans be the judge of that.) However, I can’t believe that women in general, and supporters of Sen. Hillary Clinton in particular, won’t recognize that McCain’s selection of Palin as his veep choice is anything but a breakthrough for gender diversity in American politics. Let’s call it what it is: tokenism.

What made the campaigns of Sen. Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama historic and ground-breaking, in terms of race and gender diversity and the “ultimate glass ceiling” blocking access to the White House, is that they had to compete for their positions. They ended up finishing first and second in the race for the Democratic Party presidential nomination based on their performance and their qualifications in a hotly contested, grueling, 18-month race under intense media scrutiny.

The Republican response to Palin’s obvious lack of experience is that she has more executive experience than Obama has (and, for that matter, more than Clinton has), and therefore is more qualified to be VP than Obama is to be president (and, by inference, than Hillary is to be VP or President). Really? Executive experience over what? Palin is the governor of a state with a population of 670,000 people (there are 19 U.S. cities with greater populations), and a state budget of less than $3 billion. Most of the people in her own party have never heard of her, much less viewed her as a potential Leader of the Free World. Prior to that, she was the mayor of Wasilla, Alaska–population 8,500. (There are 11 schools on the 2008 Black Enterprise Top 50 Colleges for African Americans list [blackenterprise.com/Top50Colleges]  with student enrollments greater than that.)

Sarah Palin’s resume does not even come close to the achievements, experience and qualifications of Hillary Clinton–not by a long shot. In fact, Palin’s not in the same league with other prominent women Republican leaders (few as they are) such as Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice or Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas. Palin’s appeal to Pro-Lifers (because she chose to have one of her children knowing that the baby had Downs Syndrome) and those who are against gun control (Palin’s a life member of the National Rifle Association) are legitimate attempts to appeal to a conservative base that is not truly enthusiastic about McCain’s candidacy, but it hardly qualifies her

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  • Ken

    “Sarah Palin is no Hillary Clinton” is exactly the reason I’ll vote for the GOP ticket. Barak O picked Biden so that ticket smells a lot like liberalism run amok. As an evangelical Christian, pro-life, conservative, Sarah adds greatly to the Republican ticket. She’s attractive to the base. I believe that John McCain just won the presidency this morning.

  • Aaron Sworkin

    Choose a Negro with a thin resume… why that’s historic.

    Choose a woman with a thin resume…tokenism.

    Isn’t that about the size of it?

    The real difference is that he One i s about the most obvious politcal fraud in recent history, while Palin actual has real accomplishments rather than words.

  • The “Negro” was not chosen; he was ELECTED, after a grueling, 18-month long “job interview” with both our fellow Americans as well as the media.
    The woman was chosen. By one person (whose judgment is extremely questionable). After one meeting. Big difference.
    However, the larger point is that there are at least a dozen other conservative Republicans, at least a few of them women, who are far more qualified than Palin. How can anyone justify passing them over? The answer: no one can.

  • Jonni Good

    Someone at the DNC convention said that Obama made his first presidential decision when he chose Biden as his running mate. The same could be said of McCain – he made a politically-motivated choice when he picked Palin, pandering to the far right wing of his own party in defiance of his own centrist beliefs, and insulting millions of thoughtful women who think it’s time for a woman to be in the White House. Palin will win no Hillary votes for McCain based only on her gender, except for those few radical feminists who are willing to vote against their own consciences in order to get a woman (any woman) in the White House. But she may bring in some of the disaffected Christian Right folks who were so disappointed when McCain won the nomination. Then they just have to wait for the 72-year old president to pass on before his term is up, leaving the country with the most radically conservative president the country has ever had. The rest of us will just have to pray that Obama wins this election.

  • Karina

    Palin’s nomination is an insult to all the women that supported hillary and are now being used by the republican party to appeal to all the women who are not willing to vote for Barack Obama simply because he is black. Yes, that is the truth that has not been told! There is little difference between Obama and Hillary so…why not vote for him???? I myself would like to see a woman on the White House but not at the expense on putting somebody that has zero experience on world wide issues. Republican’s are an insult to use women on a ticket like that!!!

  • Michelle

    One of the biggest problems with Palin’s nomination is that–with only approximately 65 days left until the general election–McCain nominated someone that is largely unknown.

    Experience by itself isn’t the issue here. It’s important, but if it were so important then why is a former two-term governor of a much larger state called Texas ending his presidency with very low approval ratings?

    We mostly look towards experience as a way to determine how a person will govern–what kinds of decisions will the candidate make, can the candidate govern effectively and can the candidate be trusted to make good decisions for the future of me, my family and my country.

    While she is a governor with executive experience, _who_ is she?! It shows questionable judgment and selfishness that McCain would put America in a position to have to figure out who Gov Palin is with so little time before we have to make a decision that will impact 4 years of our futures.

    Meanwhile, Senator Obama has managed and run a groundbreaking, _profitable_ campaign engaging groups of individuals who never had a say before in politics. He also has garnered overseas support. If there were any doubts about his judgment, motivation and ability to get things done, just look at the past 19 months as a start.

    I’m bothered by having to rush to figure out who Gov Palin is, and very disturbed that McCain would put someone whom he has only allegedly met twice in a position to lead America should something happen to him _and_ only give voters 65 days to vet this person.

    Worse than that, he allegedly did not want her on the ticket, and made that decision to satisfy his conservative base instead of going with his first choices of Lieberman or Ridge. That’s not being a maverick, and that’s not making your own decisions. Do I want that kind of judgment in my president? No. I fear that if he were president, I would wake up one day to his announcing that he’s flying to the Middle East with a gun to find Osama Bin Laden himself! Yikes!

    That aside, from what I know about her positions and his–in particular, on women’s issues–I already know that I am not giving that ticket my vote.