Whether or not Sarah Palin is a good mom has nothing to do with picking a vice president. Or at least it shouldn't, no matter how many media numbnuts trivialize our political system by playing to that illusion.
Now that the mainstream media seems to have progressed past the family-introductions phase of their coverage, they're digging into Palin's previously little-known record. The more they find, the more genuinely horrified I've become by the prospect of a Palin vice presidency. Behind her LensCrafters-model looks, I detect a backward-thinking, theocratic extremist with a serious oil addiction.
Palin, we now know, has a penchant for penny-ante corruption befitting a small-town mayor and empty-state governor: She used her influence in an attempt to shaft her brother-in-law; paid herself a travel allowance while working at home; fired a librarian who wouldn't consider censoring books; and rewarded the head of the Alaska National Guard three days after he changed his tune to declare that, oh yeah, Palin did take control of the Guard and, not only that, she's "a great leader." Now let's look at the rest of her record, and why the prospect of a Palin win is very scary indeed:
• Palin is against allowing women or girls who have been raped or impregnated through incest to get an abortion. She stated that her belief is so strong, she would still oppose abortion even if her own daughter were raped.
• Under Palin's leadership, the town of Wasilla enforced the unbelievable policy of charging rape victims for their own "rape kit" sexual assault exams and forensic testing.
• Palin's religious views put her well into nutjob territory. From the age of 12 until 2002, Palin was a member of the Wasilla Assembly of God, and still has close ties to the church, which is led by the Rev. Ed Kalnins. The church is part of the creepy, utterly theocratic "Third Wave" movement whose members believe in conducting "spiritual warfare" and "doing battle for Jesus" to help them "take dominion" over the United States. They also believe in demonic possession of entire geographic regions and in the spread of family "curses." We're talking "medieval" to the max, and that's who formed Palin's beliefs. On June 8, less than two months before she was picked as a VP candidate, Palin attended a multichurch event in Wasilla called "One Lord Sunday," at which she was publicly blessed, with the "laying on of hands" by Kalnins. Earlier in the day, Palin revealed that before she was elected governor, she had been "anointed" by an African cleric known for driving out "the spirit of witchcraft" in a town in Kenya. Later, Palin flashed her theocratic credentials by telling everyone that "God's will has to be done in unifying people and companies to get [a new] gas line built, so pray for that." Palin is entitled to her own beliefs, but voters are also entitled to decide whether they want someone with those beliefs to be in the White House.
• God's Own Pipeline, by the way, and contrary to her claims at the GOP convention, exists only on paper. Not one section has been laid and the pipeline won't be finished for at least 10 years.
• She believes that creationism should be taught in public schools.
• A supposed fiscal conservative, Palin has increased the deficit in both her town and her state.
• She doesn't think global warming is largely a man-made phenomenon.
• She opposes stem cell research.
• She refused to spend more money to fix a state school system that "boasts" the lowest high school graduation rate in the country.
• She has ties to the Alaskan Independence Party, which advocates Alaskan secession from the United States, for crying out loud. So much for the GOP slogan "Country First!" Her husband Todd was a member until 2002, and earlier this year, Palin addressed the AIP convention, where she told them she shared the party's "vision," and finished with a hearty "Keep up the good work, and God bless you."
• Palin's environmental record is abysmal. She has aligned herself with big oil and coal companies, and hawks drilling, drilling and more drilling for oil, with little concern for developing alternative energy sources. She's allowed big-game hunters to shoot bears and wolves from low-flying planes; hell, she's done it herself! She tried to stop the government's efforts to list polar bears as an endangered species, because it would "cripple offshore energy development." She opposed a state initiative that would have banned metal mines from discharging pollution into salmon streams. She approved laws that let oil and gas companies triple the amount of toxic waste they can dump into an inlet that serves as a major fishery.
This column just skims the surface of Palin's record, but it's a record that reveals her as a right-wing extremist's dream candidate. For the rest of us, it could be a nightmare.