The Sovereign Mind

Free thought on politics and real life

Posts Tagged ‘Sarah Palin

Snapshot of an Undecided Voter: T minus 6 days

with 2 comments


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It’s been almost two weeks since my last update, and I am still undecided.  There were a few times in the past few weeks that I thought I might decide, only to be reminded of what I don’t like about the candidate I was about the choose.

I won’t post the chart I used last time that maps out where I stand on all of the issues.  Instead, this time I’ll focus in on the key factors that keep me on the fence.

Why I might vote for Obama:

1) I agree with Colin Powell when he said this:

On the Obama side, I watched Mr. Obama and I watched him during this seven-week period. And he displayed a steadiness, an intellectual curiosity, a depth of knowledge and an approach to looking at problems like this and picking a vice president that, I think, is ready to be president on day one. And also, in not just jumping in and changing every day, but showing intellectual vigor. I think that he has a, a definitive way of doing business that would serve us well.

Republicans have often pointed out how Obama speaks well in front of a teleprompter, but when speaking off the cuff his words don’t come as smoothly. They insinuate that this is a sign of his lack of knowledge on the issues. Listening to him speak in the debates and in other venues, I actually get the opposite impression. He seems like a man who thinks about what he is saying, and tries to get his words in line with his thoughts. That means he doesn’t often come up with zingers off the cuff, but when he speaks I at least hear real ideas. Heaven knows it wouldn’t be a bad thing to have a president that thinks before he speaks.

Incidentally, I have been struck by the level of detail outlined on Obama’s website regarding his positions, in comparison to McCain. He clearly has done a lot of thinking and researching these issues (and has assembled a team that has spent a lot of time doing likewise). If we are to reject the politics of bumper stickers, then I think Obama deserves credit for that.

On the other hand, the McCain campaign has been panicky. They have relied on old politics of culture war (“Obama’s a celebrity”), of misrepresentation (“Obama will raise your taxes”) and of fear (“Obama is a terrorist’s friend” and “Obama is a socialist”). They have not spent much time talking about issues, and when they do it’s mostly bumper sticker slogans (“Drill, Baby, Drill”) that don’t inspire confidence that they’ve done much thinking. Granted, Obama has done his fair share of spin (“McCain wants to stay in Iraq for 100 years”, and “McCain can’t use a computer”). I don’t think either candidate has lived up to his promise to run a “new politics” kind of campaign, but in the balance I think McCain has gone further. For Obama, such moments are the exception to the rule, whereas McCain’s entire campaign seems to be revolved around such tactics lately. Perhaps that’s just because he’s losing, but for a man of integrity that’s no excuse.

2) I don’t think Sarah Palin is qualified to be vice president, and especially not president. McCain claims to have picked her because she is a maverick and a reformer. I agree that she is a maverick, but the reform spin has been mostly nullified in my mind by the finding of the ethics report that she overstepped her authority as governor of Alaska. In addition, being a maverick and a reformer is not enough to be president. You need knowledge and experience, both of which Palin lacks. At first, I defended Palin in the experience category, noting that she has more executive experience than Obama. However, even though both Palin and Obama are relatively inexperienced, Obama has proven he is knowledgeable (see #1) whereas Palin has reinforced her inexperience. It’s true that Obama has made some gaffes, but that is to be expected in a long campaign. Some of Palin’s comments, however, don’t appear to be just gaffes but reveal a fundamental lack of knowledge on the issues and a lack of judgment on where talking points should end and real discussion should begin. If she can’t handle the media, how will she handle foreign leaders?

Palin’s inexperience scares me, but the choice also reflects negatively on McCain. I don’t know if McCain really chose her, or if he was coerced to do it by the Republican party powers that be. But either way does not reflect well on him. If McCain really thought she was the best person for the job, that calls into question his judgment. If the choice was forced upon him, then that’s even worse–that means he is not really a maverick, but is beholden to the old political forces of party politics.

Why I might vote for McCain:

1) Obama is trying to sound like a moderate now, but his legislative record is very liberal, and recent comments regarding “spreading the wealth” hint at this as well. If the congress weren’t also ruled by liberals, this wouldn’t bother me so much given the points I outlined above. However, I have little reason to believe that Obama would stand up for the voice of moderation against Pelosi and Reid. That could spell disaster in terms of running up the deficit and helping our economy recover.

The argument has been made that Republicans have done nothing to help the deficit either. I agree, but McCain has done enough to convince me that he is serious about cutting spending, even though I don’t believe he can live up to his promise to balance the budget in four years. Obama has not done anything to convince me that he is serious about reigning in spending.

2) Looking only at issues in general, I tend to agree with McCain more than Obama. I side more with McCain on taxes, energy, and social issues. That’s not to say that his ideas have no flaws, however, and that Obama’s have no merit in my mind. But on the balance I favor McCain’s policies. If the campaigns and candidates were just the sum of their policy proposals, I would have decided for McCain a long time ago. But it’s not, nor should it be. It’s also about the candidates and how they run their campaigns, which can be viewed as the ultimate job interview.

Why I might (probably not) vote for Barr:

I’d like to stick it to both parties. I’ve written before about why third parties can be important to our political process, even without winning. So I would have no problem voting for a third party, even if I knew the candidate wouldn’t win, if I truly believed that the candidate was the best choice. But I can’t bring myself to vote for someone I don’t think would be a good president. I have some libertarian in me, the libertarian party is just a bit too libertarian for my taste. I would welcome them to have a role in our political system, but not as president.

So how will I make up my mind

The main question I will need to answer is which side of the candidate is real and which is fake. If I vote for Obama, will he be the liberal that he was as a senator, or the uniting post-politician he claims to be now? If I vote for McCain, will he be the maverick that I’ve admired in the past, or the same-old politician I’m seeing now? So, in the end, the policy positions have been laid out and nothing new is likely to come around on that front. So for the candidates, it’s all about convincing me that I can trust them. The candidates have one week to convince me one way or the other. Let’s hear the closing arguments.

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Written by Mike

October 29, 2008 at 7:25 am

The One Reason I’m Still Undecided: Palin

with 4 comments

Just when I start thinking I’m deciding to vote for McCain, Palin says something like this:

Just say “Yes”. Please.

My simple definition of a terrorist: Anyone who attempts or threatens to cause death or bodily harm in order to promote their own ideology.

Ayers, check.
Abortion clinic bombers, check.

Written by Mike

October 24, 2008 at 10:44 pm