Thanks to Hurricane Gustav, the Republican National Convention’s “will it or won’t it happen” debate, and Sarah Palin, the media didn’t get much of a holiday this Labor Day, did they? The latter — Sarah Palin, the Governor from Alaska chosen to be Senator John McCain’s running mate — was an especially hot topic this weekend as news broke nearly every hour it seemed with some new revelation. Having spent the weekend absorbing every ounce of coverage on Palin, I woke up this morning with the clear hunch that Palin may end up dropping out of the VP spot this week — but not wanting to rush to judgment, I decided to weigh the various pros and cons of her leaving the race. Place your bets in the comments!Scandal #1: Bristol Palin, 17, is pregnant.
Why It Will Hurt Her: Palin is an avid supporter of abstinence education as the method of dissuading teenagers from participating in pre-marital sex. What does it say about her leadership that she can’t even get her daughter to live by one of her strictest moral codes?
Why It Won’t Hurt Her: Bristol’s pregnancy is none of the public or the media’s business. As Barack Obama said, “”I have said before and I will repeat again: People’s families are off limits. And people’s children are especially off limits. This shouldn’t be part of politics. It has no relevance to Governor Palin’s performance as a governor and/or her potential performance as a vice president. So I would strongly urge people to back off these kinds of stories. You know my mother had me when she was 18, and how a family deals with issues and teenage children, that shouldn’t be a topic of our politics.”
Scandal #2: Did Palin fake her pregnancy with four-month-old “son” Trig?
Why It Will Hurt Her: Bloggers went nutso this weekend with the theory that Palin faked her pregnancy to cover up the fact that Trig is actually Bristol’s child with current baby daddy Levi. The “evidence” — MySpace profiles (belonging to Levi’s sister, for example) and photo captions — has since been changed/deleted, but did enough people see it and decide the rumor was true? And does it even matter if it’s true, as scandals of this nature may be too distracting for McCain to withstand?
Why It Won’t Hurt Her: Careful conspiracy theorists! Usually rumors like this are dismissed and refuted quickly and without long-lasting repercussions. This is Washington D.C., not a V.C. Andrews novel come to life.
Scandal #3: Palin’s husband Todd was busted for a DUI 22 years ago.
Why It Will Hurt Her: Drunk driving is not easy to excuse, especially when the excuser is the potential future First Husband (in the event of McCain being otherwise, uh, detained).
Why It Won’t Hurt Her: Um, it was two decades ago. Water under the bridge. Besides, George Bush used to be an alcoholic, Cindy McCain reportedly abused prescription pills, Laura Bush’s car accident killed her friend in high school, and Bill Clinton smoked pot (but didn’t inhale!). Yawn.
Scandal #4: Palin is facing an ethics investigation for the firing of Alaska’s Commissioner of Public Safety
Why It Will Hurt Her: She’s accused of firing Walter Monegan because he refused to fire State Trooper Mike Wooten — Wooten is Palin’s sister’s ex-husband. Using your political position to exact personal revenge is a big no-no. And any sort of ethics scandal, whether it’s true or not, doesn’t make for positive media coverage during an election.
Why It Won’t Hurt Her: It’s he said/she said, and it would come as no surprise if this scandal was settled and swept under the rug within the week.
Scandal #5: McCain’s plan to get the Vagina Vote may backfire considering Palin’s stance on issues related to the vagina.
Why It Will Hurt Her: If McCain’s goal was to woo Hillary Clinton supporters, he made a bad choice in selecting a woman who does not share most of Clinton’s political beliefs, particularly ones related to women’s issues — Palin is anti-choice (in all cases, including when the woman is raped), pro-abstinence only education, supports limited access to birth control, and anti-gay marriage.
Why It Won’t Hurt Her: Palin may not win McCain female voters who won’t support anti-choice candidates, but she does help solidify the support he has in the Evangelical community — Palin’s Christian values are very much in line with the Republican base and they’re already rallying behind her.
Scandal #6: Palin wasn’t fully vetted before being chosen as McCain’s running mate.
Why It Will Hurt Her: Had McCain sent representatives to vet her before last Thursday (and the process is still continuing as we write), perhaps he would have known about many, if not all, of these “scandals” in advance of choosing her. Not being vetted calls into question McCain’s own decision making abilities.
Why It Won’t Hurt Her: While Democrats have pointed out Palin’s inexperience, Republican supporters say she’s equally, if not more, experienced than Barack Obama. That is certainly a point to be debated, but regardless, vetted or not, McCain’s choice was made and changing his mind would only make him look indecisive and weak.
Scandal #7: Palin was reportedly once a supporter of the Alaska Independence Party.
Why It Will Hurt Her: The AIP platform calls for defense of “states rights” and to “seek the complete repatriation of the public lands, held by the federal government, to the state and people of Alaska.” In layman’s terms, the AIP indicates they wants to secede from the rest of the U.S., or as they’ve emphasized, “its primary goal is merely a vote on secession, something that Party advocates say Alaskans were denied during the founding of the state.” The problem is it’s kind of weird to have a Vice-President helping to lead a nation, when they once supported a group that wants to have a vote about breaking up with that same nation.
Why It Won’t Hurt Her: Palin was supposedly once a supporter of the AIP, but isn’t any longer. And the AIP doesn’t staunchly want to secede — they just want to vote on it.