Sep 072008
 
Authors: Sean Reed

You may not be able to teach an old dog a new trick — but you can teach him how to fake it.

Last week, America got to meet the woman who will be vice president if John McCain wins the election this November, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin — and it went surprisingly well.

Leading up to Palin’s Wednesday night speech at the Republican National Convention, however, things were not going so well for McCain’s last minute running mate pick.

The existence of an ongoing ethics investigation over the dismissal of the Alaska public safety commissioner — for which she has now hired an attorney to represent her — had some eyebrows raised as to the effectiveness of McCain’s extremely rushed vetting process.

Then the real bomb exploded. Palin’s 17-year-old daughter Bristol, it was revealed, is five months pregnant.

In preparation for the onslaught of criticism from the Democrats, the Republicans went on the defensive, pulling out all the stops to convince voters that this revelation was not the big deal the media was making it out to be.

Nearly every speech at the RNC prior to Palin’s was carefully crafted to discuss any and everything about the former small-town mayor that did not involve talking about her daughter. At the same time, conservative leaders like Focus on the Family’s James Dobson came out of the woodwork to pat this brave woman and her daughter on their backs for providing a shining example of commitment to pro-life ideals.

Notably silent during all this hoopla, however, was the Obama-Biden campaign. Both men, over the course of the week, reiterated their commitment to keeping “children off limits” to attacks for political gain.

While it is admirable to see politicians choosing to take the high road rather than stooping to score cheap political points, it was really in their best interest to take this route.

The fact of the matter is, Bristol Palin’s pregnancy is a nonissue.

Critics can argue that Bristol’s little surprise is evidence that Palin is not active enough in the lives of her children to keep them from getting into this sort of trouble.

Considering her entire schtick in her speech Wednesday was that of devoted “hockey mom,” these kinds of accusations could call into question other claims she made that night.

But the reality is far different.

Palin has five kids — and kids have a knack for getting themselves involved in activities of which their parents would not approve. This is a classic case.

The hysteria over her daughter’s pregnancy boils down to an attempt by the media to find something — anything — remarkable about the surprise Republican vice presidential candidate. And the reality is, there’s really nothing there.

Palin is a confident, strong, conservative woman who is perfectly capable to serve as McCain’s second in command. It’s not as if the vice president really does that much, anyhow.

As a means to ease the minds of his more conservative base, she’s a perfect fit. Her job is to spew the party line verbatim to the hopefuls so McCain can continue to play outsider.

As it stands, his plan has gone off without a hitch. But that looming ethics investigation could be the penny that derails the “straight talk express.”

Time will tell if Palin’s selection was a blunder or a stroke of genius. So far though, it looks like McCain has hit a home run.

Editorials Editor Sean Reed is a senior political science major. His column appears Mondays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com

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