Thursday, September 4, 2008

Thoughts on McCain/Palin '08

For the first time, a woman has a reasonable chance of becoming the next Vice-President of the United States of America. At long last, the Republican party has nominated a woman. Praise God!

Last night in St. Paul, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin addressed the nation on prime-time TV. Tonight, Senator John McCain will be giving his presidential nomination acceptance speech during the Republican National Convention.

And once again this morning, I'm sitting at my favorite coffee shop in deep blue Boulder, sipping my favorite blend of green tea, and enjoying the view of the Flatirons. But this time, instead of just listening to great music, I've also been listening to Mark Driscoll preach about King Jesus from the book of Revelation. And once again I'm reflecting on what's going on in our country.

Truth-in-Blogging Disclosure: I haven't read any of John McCain's books. I haven't read the biography of Sarah Palin either. (Okay, I've skimmed the opening chapters online, but that's it.)

Sen. McCain's book was written with the help of his speech-writer, Mark Salter. The biography of Gov. Palin was written by Kaylene Johnson. I'm not aware of any books written or co-written by Gov. Palin. If you are, please comment.

To read my thoughts about Sen. Barack Obama, click here.

What I Like About John McCain & Sarah Palin:

1) Both have publicly professed their faith in Jesus Christ. In the recent Saddleback Civil Forum, McCain repeated his oft-told story of worshiping God through Jesus Christ one Christmas in the dirt of a Vietnamese prison yard. I have not yet found anything with Sarah Palin's full Christian testimony in it. If you have, please comment.

2) Both McCain & Palin display a strong commitment to their spouses and children. McCain said that his greatest moral failure was the failure of his first marriage (he made this confession during the Saddleback Civil Forum, see link above). I love the fact that he and Cindy have adopted children from other countries who have skin colors different than theirs. I also loved seeing the face of Trig Paxon Van Palin during last night's RNC TV coverage. Children with Down's Syndrome are as much a gift of God as any other children! I'm sad and disappointed that Palin's 17-year-old daughter is pregnant out of wedlock, and I'm sad and disappointed that her pregnancy has become an issue in the national media. From all appearances so far, Palin and her husband have a strong marriage and as strong a family as many Christian families in the US.

3) I like that fact that McCain is old. Proverbs 20:29 says, "The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair." With greater age often comes greater wisdom. One thing people in this country need to do is learn to respect our elders.

4) I like "straight talk" and a loyalty to country and principle over party, as well as the populism reflected in Palin's small-town persona last night. Neither McCain nor Palin are perfect in these areas, but they do have impressive records and speak with credibility (ethos) about them.

5) McCain has pledged to run an honorable campaign. Quoting a recent Wall Street Journal article: "At a campaign rally in Cincinnati earlier this year, Mr. Salter [McCain's advisor & speech-writer, see above] intercepted Sen. McCain before he could take the podium. He whispered to his boss that the local radio host warming up the crowd had just made disparaging remarks about his Democratic rival, calling him repeatedly by his full name, Barack Hussein Obama. "You have to disavow his comments," Mr. Salter said. "Now." Sen. McCain apologized for the speaker's inflammatory remarks and promised to run an "honorable" campaign. (Hopefully, we'll see more of this type of behavior from McCain & Palin between now and November 4th. One can hope, right?)

6) John McCain's military service, POW experience, and years of service in government are to be admired (regardless of whether or not one agrees with his policies). All those who serve in our government should be treated this way. Sarah Palin's service in the PTA, as Mayor of Wasilla, and her public service in the State of Alaska are also to be admired. Serving others should be celebrated more in our country.

7) John McCain wants to end the war in Iraq. Whether or not you think that his proposals to end the Iraq War are responsible, doing one's utmost to end war is good and right. And the fact is that he was one of the few in our congress who spoke against the Bush administration's management of the war. Whether the Iraq War is a just war or not, we've got a war on our hands, and what a mess we have gotten ourselves into! Such is real life our fallen world. As the two ways to live outline says, humankind has failed to rule ourselves or society or the world as God would have us rule the world under His just and good authority.

8) Both McCain & Palin have a witty sense of humor. I'll admit it; Sarah Palin had me laughing out loud quite a few times last night (especially with her joke about the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull).

What I Don't Like About John McCain & Sarah Palin:

1) The sarcastic attitude displayed in last night's speech by Sarah Palin (and likely to be copied in some way by McCain tonight). Did Mark Salter also help Sarah Palin with her speech last night, or was all that sarcasm and mockery her own? To quote the same Wall Street Journal article from earlier this year:
"Mr. Salter and his boss [John McCain] have comparable world views, and both say they have sarcastic streaks. Sen. McCain said in an interview: "Mark writes the way I think. We have shared values and somewhat similar personalities. He's a true partner.""
While shared values and similar personalities may make a good partner in campaigning, it is no excuse for speaking so sarcastically against Obama. He is now a leader of one of our major political parties and more than that, he is made in the image of God. Christians shouldn't treat other people that way, especially other Chrstians, and especially their enemies. Didn't Jesus say something about that? Obama has also served this country in many good and right ways and he loves this country too. How committed is McCain to "running an honorable campaign"? Too much sarcasm in the future just may backfire on him. I certainly don't want Sarah Palin to start behaving like Ann Coulter, but I'm afraid that is her trajectory right now.

2) Why couldn't McCain give a better answer to Rick Warren's question, "How rich is rich?", during the Saddleback Civil Forum? Obama was right in saying that McCain is out of touch if he really thinks the rich/poor threshold is someone who makes $5 million a year or more. That's not where most Americans live. Not remembering how many houses he and Cindy own didn't help him look like much of a populist either. It made him look at least as elitist as Obama. Let's face it, as U.S. Senators, they both live in a world of power and prosperity that most of us have never experienced.

3) McCain/Palin '08 won the hearts of many evangelical voters last night (at least that's the perspective I'm getting from my email inbox this morning). I'm thankful for their stands and records on what I think are the most important issues in this country: life issues and marriage issues. But why don't Republicans seize the moment and recast the vision of the compassionate conservatism that got George W. Bush into office in the first place? I heard a lot about victory in Iraq last night, but I wish I had heard more about victory in the classroom, the hospital and the grocery store too. Evangelical voters need to remember that God will hold us accountable not only for our votes related to issues of life and marriage, but also for issues of peacemaking and social justice. I'll say it again: I'm more than willing to have the range of issues that evangelicals are concerned about expand to include education, health care, affirmative action, economic opportunity and ending war.

Concluding Assessment of John McCain & Sarah Palin:

John McCain is a great man and Sarah Palin is a great woman. Now that they seem to be gaining traction with evangelical voters in the US, it's time for them to do a heart check. The Republican Party is not the "Christian Party" in this country. To quote the politician-turned-prophet, Chuck Colson,
"Where is the hope? I meet millions of people who feel demoralized by the decay around us. The hope that each of us has is not in who governs us, or what laws we pass, or what great things we do as a nation. Our hope is in the power of God working through the hearts of people. And that's where our hope is in this country. And that's where our hope is in life."
The City of God is not The City of Man, as Augustine wisely taught. Jesus is (should be?) the real leader and ruler over American Evangelicals. Jesus' kingdom has come and it is coming:
"He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:32-33, ESV)
So, who am I going to vote for, you ask? If you've come this far and don't think you have a good guess, send me an email: obsessiveskier@comcast.net

13 comments:

Agnus said...

Did you say affirmative action? You want to see evangelical involvement in affirmative action? As in quota's? Giving preferential placement, employment, and university acceptance based on the pigment color of skin is not an evangelical issue. EQUAL opportunity is and basing decisions on measures of performance and skill.

I for one thoroughly enjoyed the sarcasm. I felt it was not personal in nature (certainly not as personal or as ignorant as some left-wing bloggers reporting that Sarah Palin did not provide adequate neo-natal care resulting in a baby with Downs). The attacks were not vitriolic but done with a smirk and confidence the republican party needs at this dire time in history. It was a refreshing and reassuring speech that laid waste to the doubts of the future of the republican party. She reassured conservatives that they are not the cause of the problem and are likely to win come November. The barbs and slights toward the Democrats was done in a witty and funny way. It was extremely refreshing (like a bath after a two week long camping trip) to here ideas and thoughts and direction for the future described in a way I agree with for a change. It seems like it has been too long. I have sat watching celebrity candidates orate and gesture, and wax and wane about Hope, Change, and the evils of GWB without answer. Last night we got our answer to the last 6 months of anti-conservative hype.
The democratic party is scared of Sarah Palin. She represents the anti-feminist. A strong mother who "clings to guns and religion" and has a sense of the real world most of us live in. I feel less despondent, less concerned, less scared for our future with Palin on the ticket.
I would like to see you evaluate Obama's choice for VP.
Information will be revealed regarding Biden and his record against the surge, against fighting the cold war, against Reagan politics, against tax cuts, against Christian conservatives, against unborn babies rights, and against small government. I hope he is preparing for his debate with Palin. Look out!

Theodore Van Rooy said...

gosh what a tough decision.

I like your post in that it actually gives me a decent idea about what these two (McCain and Palin) are about. Sadly I haven't the time myself to do the research.

That being said I agree that God wont hold us accountable on only two issues: abortion and gay marriage. It's even tempting to just throw the issue aside and say it wont get resolved.

But then when confronted with it how can you legitimately vote for Obama and Biden when they blatently defend a woman's right to choose abortion?

I can't.

But then again, shall I vote McCain because he's the alternative?

I suppose as long as I'm voting for someone I might as well really vote for the guy I like.

And though he'll never win... I'm going to go with Ralph Nader the consumer advocate who has likely done more for our safety and well being than any other politician out there (seatbelts anyone? safe airplanes?)

I would go for Ron Paul but he's not really an option.

Anyhow, will you be giving a run down of any of the third party candidates?

obsessiveskier said...

This week's exchange with my friend Vahe:

Vahe: Good assessment – again – let me guess – you’re voting for me … :-)

Scott: Of course!

Short and sincere...

brent said...

Hi Scott,

Again, I like your commentary. Although I didn't hear the speech, I tend to enjoy sarcasm as long as I feel like someone is laughing with me (or whoever) instead of at me. But I agree - if she gets to sounding too much like Coulter I would not be a fan.

To my earlier comments, I identify with a more balanced center position and don't like the extreme left OR the far right sneering at me as if their positions are superior to mine...

I think you're either voting for Vahe or McCain. Personally, I would call it a tossup. I talked to Vahe over at the school tonight and I think he would be a good choice!

hockeyboy5 said...

we've got a war on our hands, and what a mess we have gotten ourselves into!

What does that mean? All wars are messy. WWII was a mess. The Revolutionary War was a mess. Like it or not, we're in, and thanks to the surge, the results are getting much better. It would be horrible to just unilaterally pull out now and waste the sacrifices of so many when we're so much closer to leaving a country with more stability and freedom than it's had since Saddam took power.

was all that sarcasm and mockery her own

Wow, I thought she had a nice balance of good-natured humor and wasn't overly cutting at all. McCain was gracious last night. Did I miss it, or did you comment on the Democrats sarcasm as well?
They've been laying it on thick in their ads and convention. Perhaps both sides should cut back, but I saw more sarcasm in Denver than in Minneapolis.

Why couldn't McCain give a better answer to Rick Warren's question, "How rich is rich?", during the Saddleback Civil Forum?

That was a joke! I'm quite sure he picked $5 million because Obama made over $4 million last year, so that allowed Obama to pretend not to be rich, exactly what he's done in those absurd ads referencing the $5 million (which is what McCain predicted would happen).

I'm more than willing to have the range of issues that evangelicals are concerned about expand to include education, health care, affirmative action, economic opportunity and ending war.

Me, too, but how do you define concern? I'd like gov't to take less of a role in education and health care, abolish affirmative action, increase economic opportunity by cutting taxes and being less involved in the economy, and end the war by winning it. I daresay most Democrats would answer exactly the opposite on every one, and will read your statement as support for their side, which it may well be--it just wasn't clear what you meant. I'd like more clarification on those issues.

hockeyboy5 said...

how can you legitimately vote for Obama and Biden when they blatently defend a woman's right to choose abortion?

Theodore, my concern is that they go way beyond defending rights--they refuse to put any restrictions on govt funding to pay for killing babies--if that sounds inflammatory to anyone, explain to me just what abortion is then. Both men score 100% with the abortion rights folks at NARAL.

obsessiveskier said...

Agnus: I went to public schools in the far western suburbs of St. Louis. When I was in 6th grade, African-American students from the city started showing up in my classes through a "voluntary" desegregation-by-bussing program mandated by our Federal Courts. I have a number of friends from that period of my life who would not have had the same college opportunities had they not chosen to ride the bus for over an hour each way, everyday. Given our country's history of segregation, and the generational impacts that segregation has had in some of our minority communities, I think affirmative action is appropriate at times.

Theo: As we talked about at the Rockies game on Friday night, I won't be commenting on 3rd party candidates because it is very unlikely that they will win. I don't particularly like how entrenched our 2 parties have become. I'm thankful for Ralph Nader's work on seatbelt laws and airline safety, but I don't think he has the diplomatic skills to lead the US forward to better international relations. I think a vote for him, or any other 3rd party candidate at this point, is effectively a vote for either McCain or Obama. I don't like that reality, but we must admit that the 2 party system we have should be taken into account in our moral reasoning when voting.

HockeyBoy5: Yes, all wars are a mess, but I think I still have a valid point re: just war theory in the case of the war in Iraq, given the non-existence of Saddam Hussein's WMDs.

Agnus & HockeyBoy5: Sarah Palin sounds mean and hateful to our deep blue friends in Colorado. I'm glad you enjoy her sarcasm, but I don't, especially since she is positioned as an "evangelical". That's not the kind of witness that wins hearts and minds to the cause of Christ.

HockeyBoy5: If McCain was making a joke with the $5 million comment, why didn't he actually answer the question after the punchline? He should have answered that question as directly as he answered the others.

HockeyBoy5: Yes, I am willing to have the range of issues that Evangelical voters are concerned about expand to include some things that the democratic party currently supports, but since the Obama campaign wants me to exchange other, more important moral issues (ie life issues and marriage issues) for these lesser important moral issues, I cannot support the democratic agenda with my vote.

hockeyboy5 said...

I have a number of friends from that period of my life who would not have had the same college opportunities had they not chosen to ride the bus

I don't believe you can equate bussing and affirmative action. Bussing is giving someone an opportunity equal to someone else, while affirmative action is giving benefits despite a lack of qualification.

Given our country's history of segregation, and the generational impacts that segregation has had in some of our minority communities, I think affirmative action is appropriate at times.

I believe affirmative action hurts minorities. It creates a culture of entitlement and increases racism because qualifications are trumped by skin color or some other criteria. We'll have to agree to disagree on that one. I think affirmative action goes against Deut 25:13-15: "You shall not have in your bag two kinds of weights, a large and a small. 14 You shall not have in your house two kinds of measures, a large and a small. 15 A full and fair weight you shall have, a full and fair measure you shall have..."

Affirmative action is two kinds of measures or weights based on skin color or some other arbitrary measurement.

Yes, all wars are a mess, but I think I still have a valid point re: just war theory in the case of the war in Iraq, given the non-existence of Saddam Hussein's WMDs.

That's where we disagree. I think Saddam had WMDs and there's been lots of evidence that he had, and/or was developing, chemical, biological, nuclear and ballistic arms. I believe the chief of staff of the Israel Defense Force, who said Saddam moved numerous weapons to Syria. I believe Demetrius Perricos, acting executive chairman of the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVICUN inspector, who reported Saddam was moving wapons including WMDs from Iraq at the rate of 1,000 tons of metal a month to multiple European countries just before the war. Here's one link: http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=38213

Sarah Palin sounds mean and hateful to our deep blue friends in Colorado.

I'm sorry, but they are way too sensitive then. Barack and company have been at least as strong or worse in their attacks, and I don't think they've been mean or hateful. That's politics. I can take a little criticism. Sorry, this just perpetuates the stereotype of whiny liberals. Hateful? Let's hear some specifics, and then let's hold the Democrats to the same standards.

I'm glad you enjoy her sarcasm, but I don't, especially since she is positioned as an "evangelical". That's not the kind of witness that wins hearts and minds to the cause of Christ.

Please be specific as to what was so bad. Maybe I missed something. However, I could just as easily say Barack's policies and statements are not the kind of witness that wins people to the cause of Christ, either. Why does she get the heat, and not him, when he's a professed believer as well?

If McCain was making a joke with the $5 million comment, why didn't he actually answer the question after the punchline? He should have answered that question as directly as he answered the others.

McCain laughed, which is a good clue he was joking, and then he followed up with, "I am sure that comment will be distorted, but the point is, the point is, the point is that we want to keep taxes low and increase revenues. My friend, it was not taxes that mattered in America the last several years, it was spending. Spending got completely out of control."

Are you saying you wanted to insist on a dollar amount? Why? Any number was going to get criticized, and McCain knew it. Remember, he said he wanted everyone to be rich, so he wasn't trying to favor one group. Scott, you're a smart guy, so I have a really hard time believing you actually think McCain was serious, but even if he was, so what? If $4.5 million isn't rich, Barack can be comfortably middle-class, which is what he's trying to paint himself as anyway.

Jodie said...

I wonder if now that a few days have gone by and the facts have come out, showing what a sham Sarah Palin's speech really was at the RNC, and we've all had time to sleep on in, if you still think McCain/Palin is your choice.

I mean, bearing false witness overtly violates the 10 Commandments.

Does that take away her thunder? It's OK to lie so long as you are opposed to abortion?

What about having character?

"I think Saddam had WMDs and there's been lots of evidence that he had, and/or was developing, chemical, biological, nuclear and ballistic arms."

No, there has not been any evidence at all. Only hear say. Not admissible in court. Nobody has shown any evidence at all.

The evidence, or lack of evidence, says there were no such weapons in a very long time. Which makes the Iraq invasion an unprovoked attack on a nation that never did us any harm, on false pretenses. A sin against all of our values for which the entire world holds us in contempt.

Becky said...

hb5 and os: Until there is no discrimination, some forms of affirmative action are appropriate. I agree with both of you. Affirmative action is a dangerous tool and can reward less-qualified individuals. However, until biases cease to exist, it is valuable to have a system that *promotes* diversity, not only in race, but also in gender and ability.

hockeyboy5 said...

if you still think McCain/Palin is your choice.

Given our limited selection, yes.

I mean, bearing false witness overtly violates the 10 Commandments.

Name one innocent politician.

It's OK to lie so long as you are opposed to abortion?

No, but if I have to choose between a pro-life liar and a pro-abortion liar, I'll pick the former every time, assuming I believe them on the abortion issue. That said, I don't think Palin lied quite as blatantly as you think. She stretched a few issues, like waffling on the bridge and keeping the money, but all four candidates have been caught in distortions.

No, there has not been any evidence at all. Only hear say. Not admissible in court. Nobody has shown any evidence at all.


What would you call evidence? The UN documented numerous violations by Saddam that would justify holding him to account, including some related to missiles and WMDs. Do you simply dismiss the evidence as fabrications? If so, nothing could convince you.

obsessiveskier said...

Becky: I think I'm os, but I'm not sure. Am I right?

Becky said...

yes - for ease, obsessiveskier = os, hockeyboy5 = hb5.