Friday, August 29, 2008

Linked Up, Northern Exposure Edition

What a day. McCain has tabbed a virtual stranger as his No. 2, Obama and Biden are cruising on the good vibes of their special moment in Denver and today is virtually Christmas for a college football fan like myself.
I can barely sit still. Do you know how good it feels to wake up and realize that "College Gameday" is on the tube? More on that later:

I wouldn't allow anyone into my home after meeting them once. And I might think long and hard before agreeing to meet that person for dinner. Thus, I find it incomprehensible that John McCain would invite Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin along for his journey to the White House under similar circumstances. Does this not seem sketchy? This sounds like a John Edwards move. I can make you a celebrity overnight, Sarah.

For someone whose hallmark accomplishment in public office is pushing ethics reform, Palin sure seems headed for troubles of her own on that front. And let's be honest: ethics reform is an overrated bit of public policy, especially in a time of war and recession and general dissatisfaction with the course of the federal government. Sorry.

We've heard that Palin has executive experience. Ok. Fine. But let's say Obama tabbed the mayor of Austin or Jacksonville to be his veep. Ludicrous? Well, both cities have more people than the entire state of Alaska. And a mayor is most certainly an executive position.

Is it not ironic to think that Republicans are seriously (uh, maybe) courting women who would have voted for Hillary Clinton? Mrs. "Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy" herself? Think anyone would have seen this coming 10 years ago?

I think it's unconscionable that anyone would be in favor of, say, a 12-year-old girl being forced to have a child that was the product of rape or incest. Not Palin.

That said, Democrats should show more humility in their attacks against Palin and in their rush to make Alaska seem irrelevant. It'd be good to avoid getting tagged as elitists again. Just ask the sensible questions, keep bringing the heat and let Palin expose herself. That debate against an attack dog like Joe Biden will a sight to behold.

For Palin's sake, I hope she's prepared to be vetted like no No. 2 in history. The national press won't waste any time in trying to pry into every nook and cranny of her closet. There's a huge difference between the intensity, talent and resources of reporters from the Washington Post and, say, the Anchorage Daily News.

Not to mention, dealing with legislators in Alaska as opposed to those on Capitol Hill is a jump in league on the scale of Pop Warner to the NFC East. I've covered small-town politics before, in Texas, Louisiana and Florida. Trust me: she never ran into an opponent like John Kerry in Juneau.

Much like Palin, I own a journalism degree, a minor in political science and I worked as a sports journalist for several years. Unlike Palin, I'm nowhere near qualified to run for public office on that scale. Maybe I'd feel different if I lived in Alaska.

If McCain and Co. wanted to change the conversation and win the news cycle the day after Obama's spine-tingling speech in Denver, it absolutely worked. In that regard, it was the only smart aspect of the pick.

Palin seems to hate polar bears. Her opposition to listing them as an endangered species has drawn fierce criticism. "She's either grossly misinformed or intentionally misleading, and both are unbecoming," said Kassie Siegel of the Center for Biological Diversity. "Alaska deserves better." Palin forms strong opinions about complicated issues in spite of the facts? Sounds like she'll fit right in on the ticket.

Palin is the nation's hottest governor. Really? Then again, doesn't seem like there's much competition for that honor. I wonder if that's how McCain ultimately chose her over Tim Pawlenty and Bobby Jindal? That would make more sense than trying to convince us she was qualified for the job.

And I hope this renewed national focus on Alaska spurs some cable TV network to start airing more reruns of "Northern Exposure." I loved that show as a kid - I had a little crush on Maggie O'Connell, who oddly enough, looked a bit like a younger version of Palin.

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