But he didn't select anybody: he selected an evangelical social conservative with some libertarian leanings who is obviously ambitious, politically astute, but hardly immune to miscalculations and outright blunders.
Aside from all that: he selected a woman.
Obviously Alaska is too far away either for McCain's vetting team or the press to be able to do much research, because the people criticizing this pick have more credibility and accuracy problems than you can... Well, metaphors fail me here.
Let's see, first the far-left (excuse me, progressive and liberal) bloggers ran with the story that Palin had faked a pregnancy with a Downs Syndrome child in order to cover up her daughter's own pregnancy, announcing her grandchild as her own daughter to avoid the shame and embarrassment of it all. Ironically, other than photo-shopped images of the Palin daughter showing a presumed baby bump, there was never the slightest shred of evidence that this story was true. No testimony from a doctor, a nurse, a neighbor, nobody. Just pure innuendo and filth. But the adherents were so convinced that Palin just had to have faked a pregnancy that many of them found a way to declare themselves vindicated by the final proof that their story was utter BS.
In one of the most tendentious (that means intentionally misleading=a lie) postings to grace the Delaware blogosphere, Delawaredem entitled his entry The Rumors are True. Partly. The problem? The rumors weren't true at all, no matter how DD tried to spin it:
Bristol Palin is pregnant. Right now. She is five months pregnant, right now. So the rumors are partly right. No, Sarah Palin did not fake a pregnancy to adopt her daughter’s child back in April. But her minor unwed daughter is pregnant. Normally, I would make no value judgments on this, as it is none of my business or anyone else’s. But, when radical religous nutjobs like Sarah Palin make it their business to make value judgments about unwed teenage mothers and premarital sex and family values, it is every bit my business, for it is evidence that for all their pontification, they are hypocrites.
This is a wonderfully crafted slip past the land of no facts. The rumor was not Bristol Palin was currently pregnant, but that she had been pregnant a year ago, and that Sarah Palin had reacted to that pregnancy by concocting an elaborate conspiracy to fake a pregnancy. That wasn't true. That was never true. And Delawaredem knew that when he wrote the post. But he was so self-admittedly angry that an evangelical might stand for national office that he ignored the fact that everything he had previously written was crap.
What did happen? Sarah Palin and her family kept their teenage daughter's pregnancy fairly quiet for several months, and when vetted as a finalist for the VP position, she told the McCain camp about it. Then she announced it to the world.
So the rumors weren't true, but it didn't matter.
Nor were the rumors that she was a former member of the Alaska Independence Party, which DD passed on a couple days ago.
She had attended conventions of the AIP, and her husband was in fact a member, but not Sarah Palin.
Oh, but again the facts don't matter, because the argument now changed to how can we trust her if her husband is an Alaska secessionist. In a post entitled Today's Double Standards in Patriotism, cassandra said:
Remember how conservatives were oh so offended by Michelle Obama’s “proud of her country” remarks?
So when do these same conservatives get offended by the fact that Sarah Palin’s husband was a registered member of a secessionist political party for seven years? I mean, how proud of your country can you be if you want your state to leave the union?
So having been proven wrong on the AIP membership, do we regroup and admit our sources might just be a wee bit... wrong?
No, we drive on and make this weird equivalency argument that Michelle Obama's public statements in a campaign (which definitely did NOT rate the opprobrium that right-wing radio ladled out) should be compared Todd Palin's flirtations with one of the fringiest of fringe third parties that (and remember, I'm a third-party guy myself) is more of a huge drinking club than anything else. Find me a public statement by Todd Palin, as opposed to a membership card, and we'll talk.
No, what this really represents is a chance to pay tit-for-tat cheap shot even if the original, underlying basis of the whole story was ... incorrect.
Or how about the story that Palin slashed money for teen pregnancy programs, presented with gallons of outrage and about 1/32 of an inch of research over on Delaware Watch:
I really can't understand how a governor could slash funds for teenage unwed mothers unless increasing their hardship is supposed to teach those sinners a lesson. I believe that is about the correct righteous tone that masquerades for apathy and stinginess in "fiscally prudent" circles these days.
Of course, if one wants to get really biblical about the matter, one could always consider the significance of "Whatever someone sows that also he reaps" if you get my meaning.
Only one problem for Dana Garrett: the story is inaccurate if not completely untrue. Yes, Palin used her line-item veto to cut funding from $5 million to $3.9 million, but--as Shirley pointed out at Delaware Curmudgeon:
Heartless? Let’s look at the Covenant House balance sheet for 2006. At the end of the calendar year, they reported $4.3 million in assets and $212,887 in liabilities. Wow, pretty healthy, huh? Even their own financial report says, “an organization whose cash and equivalents greatly exceed its current liabilities might not be putting its money to best use.”
The organization’s IRS Form 990 shows that the funds described as being “slashed” was over a threefold increase from the government funds they received from all sources in 2006.
Shirley's last comment (not specific to Dana but to other bloggers in general) is particularly apt:
As usual, such hyperbole generates from those who cannot read a balance sheet.
My conclusion: Truth is no barrier in pursuit of a good knock on Sarah Palin. As a matter of fact, even outright lying on the part of some people is strangely not considered to be anything to be embarrassed about.
A separate question: how should Sarah Palin be rated as a politician and a potential VP?
That's tough, and hard to know until we have time to separate fact from spin, rumor, and lie.
But so far the only person I have seen take a legitimate shot at it is J. D. Tuccille at Disloyal Opposition. JD tries to ferret out the truth to be found, doesn't give her any passes, but doesn't want to lynch her, either.
It is particularly interesting (and an education for Delaware bloggers in real reporting; you should read the whole piece) to note how JD handles the Wassila Library book-banning episode:
More troubling are reports that Palin may be weak in terms of respect for free speech. Time examined her record as mayor of Wasilla and reports:Stein says that as mayor, Palin continued to inject religious beliefs into her policy at times. "She asked the library how she could go about banning books," he says, because some voters thought they had inappropriate language in them. "The librarian was aghast." That woman, Mary Ellen Baker, couldn't be reached for comment, but news reports from the time show that Palin had threatened to fire Baker for not giving "full support" to the mayor.
Note, though, that the claims of attempted censorship have come from Palin's political opponents -- she defeated Stein to become mayor and the story has otherwise been spread by Anne Kilkenny, a Wasilla Democrat. I'd like to see stronger sources for those charges.
And this is important, that caveat. Why? Well, take a look at what Anne Kilkenny said about the controversy recently:
While Sarah was Mayor of Wasilla she tried to fire our highly respected City Librarian because the Librarian refused to consider removing from the library some books that Sarah wanted removed. City residents rallied to the defense of the City Librarian and against Palin's attempt at out-and-out censorship, so Palin backed down and withdrew her termination letter. People who fought her attempt to oust the Librarian are on her enemies list to this day.
Sounds pretty dire? Crazed Christian book burner faced down by angry townspeople?
Except, as Time reports, those same angry townspeople re-elected Palin after that incident "by a landslide."
I agree with JD--book-banning bothers me immensely, but there is also much more to this story that we haven't seen yet.
That, however, doesn't stop people from going off the deep end; in reporting this story (curiously citing the New York Times who gives the Wassila librarian in question a different name than Time did), Mike Matthews at DWA literally froths at the mouth:
Forget Troopergate. Forget Babygate. Forget Secessiongate. This is the most frightening thing about McCain’s hasty pick. This not-yet-ready-for-primetime diva is more dangerous than we thought.
OK, Mike, but what about the point Hube raised in the comments, with which you agreed?
Hube: Regarding your post, Mike, I agree that this story is troubling for free speech (if accurate). Much like Obama’s asking for the DoJ to investigate a 527 group for running an ad about him and Bill Ayers, wouldn’t you say?
Mike: Agreed, big time. As much as I despise 527’s (including MoveOn and their ilk), I don’t think Obama’s actions are becoming of a leader…at all.
Now, let's parse this. Sarah Palin's attempt in a small town to have the library pull some books makes her more dangerous than we thought, but Barack Obama's heavy-handed attempt to get the Federal Department of Justice to muzzle political speech that he didn't like is only [un]becoming of a leader? Not dangerous? Not worthy of outrage? Only worth a quiet agreement on the comment page, after you'd completely failed to cover the other story at all?
Look, folks, I don't like Sarah Palin's take on a lot of issues, but as JD Tuccille points out, there is also evidence that she has often struggle against the urge to use her power to inflict those views as law or policy.
Guess what? She's a politician who has successfully re-invented herself at each level of her career. Like most of them.
Those who miss the point of this post will undoubtedly tell me about all the other problems Sarah has.
Right now, I'm not interested in hearing them, until the people willing to pass along any salacious rumor they hope is true start doing some serious fact-checking.
And maybe even look in a mirror to check on whether they like what they see.