Busted Halo
feature: politics & culture
September 2nd, 2008

The Sarah Surprise

Why John McCain’s running mate has changed the game


While watching Barack Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention on Thursday night, my conservative-leaning heart sank a little. “There’s no way,” I thought, “McCain will ever out-charisma this guy. And who’s he going to pick for V.P. that would garner any real coverage or excitement? Pawlenty? Romney? Capable politicians yes, but…(yawn).”

The next day, when Senator McCain named Gov. Sarah Palin as his choice for Vice President I felt kind of giddy.

Real surprises in political campaigns are a rarity. But Sarah Palin is the unexpected plot twist in a movie where you thought you knew everything that was going to happen.

As someone who’s gotten tired of the media’s love affair with Obama (a fact that even Jon Stewart consistently mocks), I loved seeing reporters completely thrown for a loop by this choice. I also appreciated the irony in the Obama campaign’s first reaction being insult and derision. They’re all about healing the politics of division in this country, ya know.

Good Choice
Why do I think Gov. Palin is a good choice? First, she’s solidly pro-life. I’ve read some writers who say that abortion doesn’t matter in this election, but I beg to differ. It’s the first factor I look at in a candidate, and I think many Christians of all denominations feel the same way. I understand we’re not supposed to be one-issue voters, but this is still an important issue especially in light of Obama’s statement at a 2007 Planned Parenthood meeting that he would enact a federal law removing any and all restrictions on abortion when he becomes President.

Gov. Palin’s pro-life beliefs are more than a political ideal. She chose to give birth to her son despite a pre-natal diagnosis of Down Syndrome. According to a 2007 study in The New York Times, “About 90 percent of pregnant women who are given a Down syndrome diagnosis have chosen to have an abortion.” So Palin walks the walk.

And now faced with the pregnancy of her unwed 17-year-old daughter, Bristol, Sarah Palin and her whole family are sticking to their principles and supporting the teen in her decision to have her baby. The Looney Lefty blogosphere has already been tossing around vicious lies and innuendoes about the Palins, and will undoubtedly laugh at the imperfection in this Christian family—as if Christians consider themselves perfect.

“Sarah Palin is the unexpected plot twist in a movie where you thought you knew everything that was going to happen.”

On the contrary, Christians know—or at least they should know—that people are fallible. When we inevitably fail to live up to the standards we profess, we have God’s mercy, grace and forgiveness to help us move forward with courage and hope. Based on their past actions, I think the Palins will be models of that courage and hope, and help their daughter face the future with the best possible support.

Then there’s the other life issue: the War in Iraq. McCain has been accused of wanting to continue the war indefinitely. But both he and Gov. Palin have a personal investment in Iraq. Gov. Palin’s son will be deploying there in September. And Sen. McCain’s son served in Iraq recently himself, a fact the Senator never exploited for political gain. It’s illogical that these two will take the issue of war lightly.

Inexperienced but Impressive
Gov. Palin also has a history of taking on corrupt elements in her own party and sounds well-educated on energy issues. Though her experience is minimal, her accomplishments during her political career are impressive. Unintelligent, weak-willed pushovers do not take on their own party and come out the victors.

Now Gov. Palin needs to prove herself on the national stage to a hostile media and opposition. It won’t be easy. On Saturday morning, I was reminded of Hillary Clinton’s accusations of sexism against the press and Obama campaign. I wrote it off as sour grapes at the time, but now wonder if Sen. Clinton had a point. Two male reporters on a network news show snarkily commented that they can hardly wait to see the Palin-Biden Vice Presidential debate. The condescending connotation was, “I can hardly wait to see Joe Biden wipe the floor with this chick.”

Being that not a lot is known about Sarah Palin yet, it’s possible she will be a lightweight. But being that not a lot is known about Sarah Palin, she may also be smart, dynamic and articulate. Underestimate her at your own risk.

Considering how sick I was a few days ago of this already long political campaign, I’m surprised to find myself excited at seeing how things go down in the next couple of months. Gov. Sarah Palin is responsible for that excitement. Yes, there’s a chance she’ll cause the McCain campaign to crash and burn. She may also be just what he needs to turn this into a real race. Let the games begin.

The Author : Tony Rossi
Tony Rossi is a writer/producer for various Catholic media and publishes the blog "The Intersection."
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Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
  • Ken

    A recent LA Times Report shows that a study of media done at Geoge Mason University shows that NBC, CBS, and ABC were all, in fact, harder on Obama than on McCain. That is documented fact, not “feelings.” You have no right whatsoever to decide–based on your “feelings,” no doubt–who is a real Catholic and who isn’t. “Pro-choice IS Pro-abortion” is not a fact, it is your opinion, based on your own prejudices. If you support the war in Iraq, or any war, for that matter, you support the killing of innocents to protect your freedom, and are no more “pro-life” than the head of an abortion clinic–that, too, is fact, not feeling. Offer your opinions all you want, but your opinions are not any better than anyone else’s, and you are just as swayed by your own feelings as anyone is.

  • Jim

    There is much ignorance posted in many of these comments. For one, although McCain may share some viewpoints with Bush, he definitely will not be “more of the same”. Just go to McCain’s website and read his policies to see what he really stands for. Pro-choice IS pro-abortion because you are not giving the child a choice so it can in no way be pro-choice. Whoa, are we saying just because Biden calls himself Catholic that he is, that’s like believing that Kerry was in full alignment with the Catholic church. Palin is tired of the political elites too and that’s why she wants to make a change and has already done that in Alaska. I’m sure she preached abstinence to her own daughter too but you can’t control another person’s actions 24/7. This election IS about economics – unemployment – loosing one‚Äôs home – health care – & good education for our young population and if you don’t think McCain/Palin want to revamp those things, you are sadly mistaken my friend. Again, I refer you to McCain’s site. Someone doesn’t know the definition of fraud and if the media wasn’t in a love-affair with Obama, why did Newt have to lock & load on the reporter the other night when Sarah’s credentials were being questioned. Please take the time to read the candidates’ actual websites to see what they really stand for instead of what your feelings are telling you they stand for.

  • Ken

    I, too, was impressed at first with Gov. Palin. It only took a couple of days for me to come to the conclusion that she’s a fraud. In the first place, it ought to go without saying that your “yawn” over the fact that other canditates are ‘merely’ competent politicians is irresponsible and just plain silly. Your comment about the media “love affair” with Obama is uninformed–studies and polls are showing that the media is demonstrably harder on Obama than on McCain. Palin’s claims that she is against earmarks are fraudulent; under her administration, AK received more “earmarks” per capita than most other–maybe any other–state. She “took on” Stevens and the establishment when it became politically convenient to do so; the same goes for her opposition to the Bridge to Nowhere: she was in favor of the project at first, and only came out against it when it became politically expedient to do so. Finally, the claim that she is pro-life is false. She is not “pro-life”; she is anti-abortion. Her support for the US invasion of Iraq indicates that she believes in killing people–even innocent people–if they threaten her idea of freedom, which is the same kind of reason a woman seeking an abortion would us–she is protecting her freedom. This, of course, holds true also for the entire “pro-life” agenda.

  • John

    Why is everyone in love with this nutter? Is goes to show that a pretty face can mask a lot of flaws. Joe Biden is going to clean her clock at the debate.

  • Brad

    I have to admit that as a skeptic I was surprised and impressed. We will learn much more when she is not reading a speech written by others in front of a friendly audience. Such as during the vice presidential debate and in interviews with less than friendly reporters.

  • Corinne Stoddard

    9/4/08 This morning’s news is that 5000 more people will loose their jobs – this time with GMAC.
    Tony Rossi – don’t you get it?
    This election is about economics – unemployment – loosing one’s home – health care – good education for our young population – hunger – NOT ABOUT Abortion
    and should not ride on that alone.
    We need LEADERS LIKE OBAMA AND BIDEN – who care about life as well as Palin does and even moreso!
    She sounded ‘nasty’ last night. Did she talk about healthcare – houses – education, employment -etc….NO!
    All of the above have to do with LIFE AND ITS CONTINUENCE.
    I hope you and others will understand the issues and look for some SERIOUS solutions to the myriad troubles that lie ahead if we don’t face these societal, social, foreign (you know we are not an isolated island anymore)

    issues HEAD ON.
    All of those

  • Monica

    You can’t pick and choose which life is more important Bill. Just because a muslim gets killed doesn’t make him/her any less valuable in the eyes of God than an unborn baby. God teaches us that ALL life is precious, not just white christians.

  • Bill

    I totally agree with you Tony. I am impressed with what I’ve seen of Gov. Palin to this point. I am going to Co Springs on Saturday to see McCain and Palin, and look forward to learning more in the future.

    As far as the life issue goes, many people I have spoken to, some in my own family, have said to be pro-life you need to oppose the death penalty and abortion. While I do oppose both, they are not equal, even in the Church’s teachings. In abortion, the person being killed has no chance of defending themself in any way, which makes this a more serious offense. In other areas such as war, and the death penalty, the person does have choices to make and ways to defend themselves. These run the gammit, from leaving the war torn area to fighting.

    Please do not confuse my comment with being cold toward the death penalty or victims of war. I just don’t think they can be treated as equal.

  • Catalina

    Well put Megan! I wholeheartedly agree with you and hope many others do as well!

  • Megan

    Thanks, Tony, for your article; I, too, am pleased to see a pro-life feminist in line for the White House… I just wish that she was a pro-life feminist who was willing to “walk the talk” about ALL life issues and not just abortion.

    I am NOT impressed with politicians who claim to be “pro-life” but also start illegal and immoral wars, slaughter civilians indiscriminately (and refuse to count them), support state-sponsored murder and torture of incarcerated people. When the Republican party starts talking about all of THESE as “life issues” with the same moral seriousness that they use when discussing abortion, then I might believe that they care about the lives of the most vulnerable people on this planet. For now, I have serious doubts about their integrity on any life issue at all.

    Until I believe that the Republicans are TRULY pro-life, this Catholic is voting for whoever is most likely to put a stop to the bloodshed EVERYWHERE – in our prisons, in the nations of the world, on our city streets, in our forests and oceans, and in the womb.

  • Sarah

    Sarah Palin admitted that she hadn’t paid much attention to the war in Iraq, but she knew enough to rightly call it a “task from God.” This is someone who’s not afraid to preach abstinence for your daughter, even though her own unmarried 17-year-old daughter is pregnant.

    Blind faith, it comes in all shapes and sizes.

  • Lynn

    What is Palin’s view on the death penalty? When that question is answered then we can truly know whether or not she is pro-life.

    And I disagree with Tony. I don’t even think abortion should be such a huge political issue, and I say this as a devout Catholic. The Iraq War has killed thousands of soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Middle Eastern people. Why is that not viewed as an atrocity?

  • sensei ronald panlilio

    I am catholic, and I been supportive of obama. He chose biden, who is a catholic, to be his vp. I am not surprised that mccain chose a female vp. I am surprised it was someone nobody had heard of. I believe he wants to appeal to the pro hillary democrats with this choice. And I too do not believe one issue makes a candidate. McCain is pro-war, while Obama is pro-choice. But his vp is a catholic, so hopefully they will balance each other out on abortion issues. Bush sent many men and women to their death in iraq, and killed many people of iraq, and did it all without the support of the united nations. Starting wars that are not supported by the global community is irresponsible leadership. You dont just start wars for the heck of it. Or make up reasons for starting wars like the weapons of destruction that were never found. I believe the war was a kneejerk reaction to 9/11. Someone hurt us, so we had to get revenge and hurt someone else. What happened to turn the other cheek. No Bush and McCain were all about an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. I am tired of these republican leaders who have demolished our budget, cost us millions of jobs, and lowered the average salary, and home values all across the country. All the while making the bush oil business rake in tons of money.

  • Peggy

    Thanks for a really good article. The press isn’t even giving her a chance! Any I also was getting really tired of the Obama love affair. Quit listening to the election crap long ago. Back at it now though!

  • Sarah

    Wait, Julie, does everything on this website have to be in line with the church’s teachings? I thought this site was for people of all religious backgrounds, and political views? For spiritual seekers in their 20’s and 30’s.

  • Julie

    Wow, there’s some not very nice comments on here for being a Catholic Christian website!

    Tony, thanks for a beautifully well-written article…one of the best I’ve read on Busted Halo in a while. True to the Church’s teachings, yet kind and mild at the same time. Thanks!

  • Claude

    I don’t understand how right-wingers like Shelly can bash any statement that doesn’t follow her own (or, more correctly, the bible’s) as a “leftist” opinion. It is what the extreme wingers (right and left) do to defend a weak opinion, there is no thought to it just a knee-jerk ignorant reaction.

    Shelly, I’m neither right nor left, I have my own opinion and I don’t hide behind idiotic statements like labeling pro-choice as “pro-abortion.” If I was, I would label you as a pro-fascist.

  • Brian

    One news commentator called Sen. McCain’s choice of Gov. Palin a “political gimmick.” Maybe so, but it was a brilliant one! Give this woman a chance, she has certainly spiced up the race and may yet surprise us all. I am impressed with her.

  • Shelly

    Thank you Tony..you were able to express the many thoughts I have had over the past few days. A perfect example of those “leftist” opinions, was Cokie Roberts’ comment….”Palin will relate to those who express sympathy over the situation with her daughter”. What an absolutely horrible comment and it certainly smacks of Roberts’ pro-abortion agenda!

  • Diane

    It is so depressing to see an adult fawn all over this hypocrite/politician.

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