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The ZetaTalk Newsletter
Issue 93, Sunday August 31, 2008
Weekly news and views from around the world and beyond.
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Palin as VP

Grabbing the spotlight after the Democratic convention, Republican presidential candidate John McCain announced his choice for VP - Alaska's governor Sarah Palin. A former beauty pageant winner, Sarah is not only a fresh face but a beautiful fresh face. She is friendly to big oil companies, unfriendly to environmental issues, and shares McCain's anti-abortion platform. She has far-right credentials, without question, so would thus be pleasing to the evangelical vote McCain fears losing. She even advocates teaching creationism in public schools. But is she too far to the right? There are many problems with this VP pick, which the media has just begun exploring, like potentially creating a problem with the Jewish vote which Lieberman as a VP choice would have immediately firmed up. But then, Lieberman is pro-choice and would have offended the evangelical vote. One must make choices, it seems. Oops, McCain has potentially offended the Jewish voters.

Palin a 'Far-Right, Pro-Life Zealot'
August 29, 2008
Jewish Democrats have started to hit Sarah Palin hard for her association with former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan, which seems to have amounted to her being seen wearing a Buchanan button in 1996.

Then there's the issue of experience, an issue the Republicans are always emphasizing when complaining about Obama. Palin is very inexperienced, with less than two years as a governor and beyond that only her experience being a mayor of a small town - Wasilla, Alaska, population 8,471. Alaska itself has a population of only a half million, whereas large metropolises in the US are typically composed of several million people each. Oops, there goes the Republican argument on Obama not having experience.

McCain has been behind Obama steadily in the national polls, and losing on a state-by-state electoral count in state polls. What to do to shake up the race and gain the upper hand? The choice of Palin as VP was immediately seen as an attempt to grab disenfranchised Hillary fans. According to polls taken ahead of the Democratic convention 30% of Hillary fans are thinking of voting for McCain. This may or may not prove true come election day, but 30% of 18 million votes is a huge number. McCain obviously went for the gold.

McCain Gambles on Inexperienced Conservative
August 29, 2008
The choice represented a bid by Mr McCain to win over disgruntled former supporters of Hillary Clinton, undercutting Democratic efforts during the convention to reunify the party. Ellen Malcolm, president of Emily's List, a pro-Democrat group that supports women candidates, challenged the notion that Ms Palin would appeal to former Clinton supporters. "McCain clearly sees the power of women voters in this election but has just as clearly failed to support any of the issues that they care about," she said, highlighting Ms Palin's support for overturning the Roe v Wade ruling that legalized abortion.

Early reports indicate that woman are offended by this choice of just any woman to replace Hillary, who fans saw as competent and earning her place on the national stage. Then there is the issue of Palin's opinion that women who are the victims of rape or incest should be denied access to abortions. Not exactly a woman friendly position. Oops, offended the Hillary fans, and women voters in general!

Palin: You're no Hillary Clinton
August 29, 2008
None of my pro-Hillary female friends are falling for this obvious GOP pander. To the contrary, McCain's selection of Sarah Palin as his VP is drawing hoots of derision. Once they learn that Sarah Palin opposes rape and incest exceptions for women seeking abortion, they completely write her off. One female friend said: "Sarah Palin is to the movement for women's equality what Clarence Thomas is to civil rights. She's an extremist and an enemy to the cause that has been fought on her behalf. Someone should stand up and say: 'I know Senator Clinton. Senator Clinton is a friend of mine. And Sarah Palin is no Hillary Rodham Clinton.' "

Then there is the issue of calling attention to McCain's age and poor health. Voters nervous about McCain's numerous senior moments on tv and frequent bouts with melanoma skin cancer were reminded of all this by his pick of a very young inexperienced person for VP. If McCain falters in the presidency, who will take the reins? Oops, spotlight on the age and cancer issue again, reminding voters.

McCain Gambles on Inexperienced Conservative
August 29, 2008
The pick could be suicidal by undermining Republican attacks against Mr Obama's inexperience and drawing attention to the health concerns surrounding Mr Mc-Cain, a cancer survivor who would become the oldest first-term president if elected. Mr McCain's vice-presidential pick was considered more important than usual because of his age, which increases the likelihood of his vice-president having to take over.

And last, but not least, we have a Palin scandal for the media to chew over and explore - Wootengate. Here's the story in the words of an Alaskan blogger.

What is McCain Thinking? One Alaskan's Perspective.
August 29, 2008
Sarah Palin's sister Molly married a guy named Mike Wooten who is an Alaska State Trooper. Mike and Molly had a rocky marriage. When the marriage broke up, there was a bitter custody fight that is still ongoing. During the custody investigation, all sorts of things were brought up about Wooten including the fact that he had illegally shot a moose (yes folks this is Alaska), driven drunk, and used a taser (on the test setting, he reminds us) on his 11-year old stepson, who supposedly had asked to see what it felt like. While Wooten has turned out to be a less than stellar figure, the fact that Palin's father accompanied him on the infamous moose hunt, and that many of the dozens of charges brought up by the Palin family happened long before they were ever reported smacked of desperate custody fight. Wooten's story is that he was basically stalked by the family.

After all this, Wooten was investigated and disciplined on two counts and allowed to keep his position with the troopers. Enter Walt Monegan, Palin's appointed new chief of the Department of Public Safety and head of the troopers. Monegan was beloved by the troopers, did a bang-up job with minimal funding and suddenly got axed. Palin was out of town and Monegan got "offered another job" (aka fired) with no explanation to Alaskans. Pressure was put on the governor to give details, because rumors started to swirl around the fact that the highly respected Monegan was fired because he refused to fire the aforementioned Mike Wooten. Palin vehemently denied ever talking to Monegan or pressuring Monegan in any way to fire Wooten, or that anyone on her staff did. Over the weeks it has come out that not only was pressure applied, there were literally dozens of conversations in which pressure was applied to fire him. Monegan has testified to this fact, spurring an ongoing investigation by the Alaska state legislature. But, before this investigation got underway, Palin sent the Alaska State Attorney General out to do some investigative work of his own so she could find out in advance what the real investigation was going to find. (No, I'm not making this up). The AG interviewed several people, unbeknownst to the actual appointed investigator or the Legislature! Palin's investigation of herself uncovered a recorded phone call retained by the Alaska State Troopers from Frank Bailey, a Palin underling, putting pressure on a trooper about the Wooten non-firing. Todd Palin (governor's husband) even talked to Monegan himself in Palin's office while she was away. Bailey is now on paid administrative leave.

As if this weren't enough, Monegan's appointed replacement Chuck Kopp, turns out to have been the center of his own little scandal. He received a letter of reprimand and was reassigned after sexual harrassment allegations by a former coworker who didn't like all the unwanted kissing and hugging in the office. Was he vetted? Obviously not. When he was questioned about all this, his comment was that no one had asked him and he thought they all knew. Kopp, defiant, still claimed to have done nothing wrong and said to the press that there was no way he was stepping down from his new position. Twenty four hours later, he stepped down. Later it was uncovered that he received a $10,000 severance package for his two weeks on the job from Palin. Monegan got nothing.

So what do the Zetas say about this choice and what does it say about McCain's judgment and chances in November?

ZetaTalk Analysis 8/30/2008: Did John McCain shoot himself in the foot with his VP choice? Big time. He was losing, and desperate, as the private polls his campaign had been taking revealed the gap between he and Obama to be far larger than the public polls reveal. Obama has energized voters, so that many young people and people of color have registered to vote. The count of new Democratic voters far outnumber new Republican voters, by a factor greater than 4 to 1. These new voters are not included in the polls of likely voters - those who voted in the past two presidential elections. Then there is the enthusiasm gap, where Democrats are more likely to make it to the polls in November. Given that the arguments the McCain camp were making were not making any headway against Obama, they were desperate for a game changer. Seeing the significant number of disgruntled Hillary fans making claims they would vote for McCain, this seemed like the largest voter block that could potentially be swung to McCain. So what is wrong with this choice?

First is that he has offended Hillary's strongest block - older women who had been discriminated against during their lifetime - and treated them like second class citizens. Standard fare, after not being given equal pay and opportunity for equal work, is being thrown over for a younger woman. McCain has already been branded for this tendency by his history of running out on his first wife, a former beauty queen who was crippled in a car accident. McCain then took up with Cindy, an unspoiled beauty. Now with the VP choice he has selected another beauty queen far younger than McCain. Regardless of all arguments, the element of being dismissive of women's true qualifications for office and chosing women only for their beauty, is obvious. This is intuitively obvious to the older women voters McCain hoped to attract. Standing next to McCain, Palin seemed like his mistress, a reminder of McCain's age and that his attitudes toward woman are from a different era. Obama has a wife who is a strong woman, competent and even earning more money than he at her day job. McCain now stands in contrast to Obama on this issue, and is losing on this issue to an extent not yet evident in the polls.

Second, McCain has gone beyond his tendency to surround himself with lobbyists and to be susceptible to money interests and plunged himself into a new and very fresh scandal - abuse of power. The Keating 5 scandal is in McCain's past, wherein he went to bat for Keating during the savings and loan crisis, trying to get regulators to go easy on his friend Keating. This is far enough in the past to be put aside by most voters, but what does his choice of Palin as VP say about his judgment and tendencies? She is embroiled in a controversy, an investigation, that could result in impeachment proceedings against her in Alaska. Without question she wanted to fire her former brother-in-law from his job as a state trooper and insisted, in person and through intermediaries, that this be done. This in and of itself would be considered a lightweight scandal in scandal-prone Alaska, but when she fired the highly competent head of the Department of Public Safety simply because he refused to do her bidding she crossed the line. This is not only criminal. This is grounds for impeachment and reflects badly on McCain's judgment.

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