Tag Archives: John McCain

Is She a Game-Changer?

Sarah Palin was no one’s expected choice for John McCain’s vice presidential running mate. And that in itself is remarkable. John McCain did exactly what a self-styled “maverick” leader should do: he picked the person no one expected he would.

My first reaction: this is a brilliant move.  Just as Obama picked a cynical old white man Washington career politician (Joe Biden) for his running mate, McCain counters by picking a young, idealistic, tough-as-nails woman from Alaska! That’s about as far from Joe Biden as you can get…

She’s a great pick for other reasons:

-She’s huge on family values and pro-life issues. This is what McCain needed to reassure social conservatives and Catholics.

-She’ll be a boon for the Western vote. The typically red-state West is in play this election, and she should give McCain’s campaign a big boost among western republicans and independents. She’s all about gun rights, small government, and traditional values. And she’s not Mitt Romney.

-She’s a woman! This is amazing and historic: the first woman to ever appear on a Republican presidential ticket. And in a year when Hillary was supposed to be there! I imagine a number of Hillary’s 18 million fans will wonder: why didn’t Obama pick Hillary for VP??? How embarrassing for the democrats that in a year when they had the best female candidate, they chose two male senators and let the republicans “break the glass ceiling.”

-She’s an amazing amalgam of likeable traits. She’s a “hockey mom,” played tons of sports in high school and college, was a beauty queen, is a hunter, a former union member, is married to a champion snowmobiler/fisherman, and has a son in Iraq.

-She’s a Washington outsider, unlike the other three people in the election. She has a small-town, down-to-earth feel (mother of five… and one baby just recently born) and will really appeal to the “Obama is elitist and out-of-touch” people out there…

-She’s a good speaker. I just watched her speech from Dayton, OH. She has the right mix of force/authority and deference. You can tell from her speaking tone that she can spar with anyone and hold her own, while also demonstrating a mother’s compassion.

-She’ll clean house. As governor of Alaska, she’s cleaned up some of the corruption in that state’s republican party. Republicans need someone like her, coupled with Maverick McCain, to clean house and rid Washington of cronyism and “good ole boy” clubs…

-She looks like Tina Fey!

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Desperately Seeking Evangelicals

It seems that everyday there is a new story in the news about how evangelical Christians are “up for grabs” in this year’s election. On Sunday there was this article on CNN.com about Shane Claiborne’s “Jesus For President” tour, in which the dreadlocked neo-monk said, “With the respectability and the power of the church comes the temptation to prostitute our identity for every political agenda.” Well said.

Then on Tuesday there was a story about Obama “reaching out” to evangelicals–a story that featured quotes from who else but Emergent guru Brian McLaren, who claimed that “there’s a very, very sizable percentage — I think between a third and half — of evangelicals, especially younger [evangelicals], who are very open to somebody with a new vision.” I wonder who he means?

Meanwhile McCain continues to all but ignore evangelicals, adding fuel to the “up for grabs” fire that is so eagerly announced by the mainstream press. He did muster a meeting with Billy Graham last weekend, which seemed more symbolic than anything. I love Billy Graham very much, but is the 89-year-old really the best person McCain should tap to get some evangelical momentum on his side? While McCain continues to cater to the over-80 set, Obama is busy inspiring the formation of young Christian political action committees, like the Matthew 25 Network.

But is anyone else a little weary of all this “seeking the evangelical vote” spiritual gerrymandering? Obama plays his evangelical card with characteristic finesse, but ten years ago would he be caught dead with the e-word label? I doubt it. And McCain… well at least he isn’t trying to pretend he is or ever was a card-carrying evangelical. He straight-up flaunts his ambivalence to the Dobsons of the world… and that earns him more than a little respect in my book. He’s not trying to be someone he isn’t.

I’m not saying Obama is lying through his teeth; I honestly do think he is sincere in his Christian faith. But in the terms with which evangelicals historically define themselves, Obama clearly does not fit the bill. And that is fine. Christians: it IS okay to vote for someone who is not exactly like you! We should be voting on the issues and qualifications of the candidates, not their church-going practices.

I guess I’m just fatigued by the whole idea that I—as an evangelical—am part of some monolithic group that will sway the election. Am I not free to vote for the person I think will be a better president for us? Do I really have to be “courted” and convinced by the candidates that my Christian point of view will be reinforced by them as president? That’s what happened when George W. Bush ran for president in 2000. And did everything become Christian and wonderful in America? Far from it.