Saturday, September 27, 2008

Bailout; Erratic McCain; Presidential Debate; Sarah Palin Qualifications

What a few weeks. We got a chance to see John McCain at his erratic best, bouncing between saying the fundamentals of the economy are sound then turning around to his panicky reactionism, claiming he's not attending the debate (then he is, then he's not, then he is), saying he needs to rush to Washington to help negotiate the bailout, then blowing up the agreement that was well on its way to being sealed, etc., etc.

In spite of all of that, McCain is alright. He's had major experience in the Senate and has been on the right side of a number of issues during the Bush years (even though he voted with Bush 90% of the time): he worked for campaign finance reform; he spoke out against Alberto Gonzales's ghastly Department of Justice tenure; and most importantly, he spoke out very forcefully against Bush and Cheney on the torture issue - and with his experience as a tortured POW himself, he has massive credibility.

BUT - even if Obama and McCain were dead even, or even if McCain had the slight edge, two factors overwhelmingly favor Obama: (1) for the sake of the individual liberty of ALL Americans, we CAN'T AFFORD any more of the sort of socially conservative Supreme Court justices Bush appointed, and that McCain would try to appoint; and (2) Sarah Palin is simply unqualified to be president.

On the first, Bush appointed two Justices - John Roberts and Joseph Alito - who come from the "command and control" side of the Republican Party. Adding to them the two such Justices already on the Court, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, and we have close to a majority on the Court who unquestionably favor government power over protection of individual liberty. Individual liberty hangs by a thread - Anthony Kennedy, the fifth conservative on the Court, comes from the libertarian side of the Republican Party and he's the one who's been making the difference in a number of the 5-4 decisions protecting the individual. On the other side, Justice Stevens is in his 80s, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg has had health issues - and G-d forbid if anything happened to either of them or David Souter or Stephen Breyer, the President would have the chance to seriously change the tone of the Supreme Court. We simply can't afford that.

Second, Sarah Palin. Can we now agree that she's unqualified? Take a look at the Katie Couric interview from a few days back. It's embarrassing - and scary. Bob Herbert of the New York Times said it this morning, for the first time I've heard from anyone - for the good of the nation, John McCain should recognize her serious deficiencies and appoint someone else. Sarah Palin is not qualified to lead the country. If John McCain is the "maverick" he keeps claiming to be, he'll set aside personal ambition for clear-eyed reason. Will he do the right thing and nominate someone else? Don't hold your breath.