Electile Dysfunction 2008: Sizing Up the Veeps, Part 1 (McCain/Palin)

This country is suffering from a chronic case of E.D.–electile dysfunction, that is. When it comes to proving that they are up to the challenge of leading a country, none of our political parties can seem to get it up.

The marketing has become very precise, with analysts and advisors weighing in on the implications of every word, phrase, clause, sentence, and paragraph, telling us how a particular person or thought might appeal to demographic groups, states, and geographic regions. We get word of red states, blue states, green states, and purple states.

Trouble is, elections have devolved into micro and macro pandering games. This is why–where vice presidential picks were often little-regarded in the analysis of Presidential tickets–they are now looked at in the most critical of terms.

Can anyone remember–without looking at Wikipedia (Cubbie, with the photographic memory, is not allowed to answer this one)–Lyndon Johnson’s running mate in 1964? Can anyone remember Truman’s VP? Ford’s? I can–only because I’m a junkie–but how many people remember these things?

Much of the focus on VP picks began in 1984, when Democratic nominee Walter Mondale selected Rep. Geraldine Ferraro (D-NY) as his running mate. She was quickly thrown off-balance by revelations of her husband’s financial dealings, and–in the Vice Presidential debate–got clobbered by Vice President Bush. Reagan proceeded to win the mother of all landslides.

The GOP would take a hit 4 years later, when then-Vice President George H.W. Bush selected Dan Quayle, a new Senator from Indiana with little experience, as his running mate.

On paper, Quayle stood for all the right things that Reagan conservatives value the most. He became a Senator by defeating a well-established political machine. He had a certain charisma that one could expect from a rising young star.

Then, in his Vice Presidential debate with Senator Lloyd Bentsen (D-TX), he became the victim of the most imfamous retort in political history. Remarking that he was the same age as JFK, Bentsen responded:

Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.

That would be the first of many skewerings that Quayle would suffer, as a result of his own gaffes. Since then, the lesson has been clear: a President’s choice of running mate speaks volumes about his or her judgment. And both parties have been very shrewd in their VP picks. The closest thing to a serious risk since then was Sen. John Kerry’s pick of Sen. John Edwards (D-NC), a one-term Senator whose talk was better than his action, and who stood almost no chance of winning re-election in his own state.

In the VP debate, Edwards acquitted himself well, fighting to a draw with the shrewd, experienced Dick Cheney.

Yesterday, however, GOP Presidential hopeful John McCain made the mother of all outside-the-box picks: Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, a staunch conservative who took on a serious political machine–one dominated by Big Oil–in 2006, won the gubernatorial election, and has run an aggressive agenda of reform. Against the backdrop of failed attempts at reform by a Republican governor in Kentucky (Fletcher) and a Democrat governor in New York (Sptizer), she has proven herself quite well.

But, like Quayle before her, she has a dearth of experience. How much foreign policy expertise does she have? How well-versed is she on national security matters? How well-versed is she on macroeconomic policy? How well-versed is she on fiscal and monetary policy? In her debate with Biden, she will face those questions.

If she falls flat, she will become the latest laughingstock of the GOP.If she handles them well–and manages to land a blow or two on Obama/Biden–and avoid a Dan Quayle gaffe, she will become an instant Margaret Thatcher and will propel McCain to the Oval Office.

McCain’s selection of Palin is intriguing but not surprising.

He had to go outside the box on this one. Minnesota Governor Pawlenty was an inside-the-box pick with no new ideas and a fair amount of baggage (like last year’s bridge collapse).

Those most highly-touted–Gov. Mitt Romney (MA), Gov. Tom Ridge (PA), Sen. Joe Lieberman (CT), and CEOs Carly Fiorina (Hewlett-Packard) and Meg Whitman (eBay)–either had unproven conservative credentials, or were completely out-of-touch and unable to connect with most Americans.

Palin, on the other hand, seems like the dream choice for a VP candidate. Even my staunch Democrat friends–at the bar last night–all agreed: “Palin is HOT!” There was near-unanimous agreement that this could upset the whole dynamics of the election if she holds up well against Biden.

Her strengths?

  • Proven experience as a policymaker (Mayor and Governor)
  • Proven conservative credentials
  • Clean record of ethics
  • Proven corruption fighter
  • Good record of fiscal conservatism
  • Good record of social conservatism
  • Walks her talk
  • She has a son is in Iraq; one cannot accuse her of supporting a war that does not impact her directly.

Her weaknesses:

  • Virtual unknown outside her state
  • Little experience at the federal level
  • Little experience in foreign affairs.

Her archrival–Sen. Joseph Biden–has been in the Senate for 36 years. He has sat on several key committees, and knows how to talk, a good talk. He’s good with one-liners, but has been known to make frequent gaffes.

Her mission will be to show the world that she is ready for the Big Dance. She will need to show that she can talk intelligently on foreign affairs, speak authoritatively on fiscal and monetary policy, and relay her positions on social issues without coming off sounding like a hack. At the same time, she will need to land body blows on Obama-Biden.

This Vice Presidential debate will be the most-watched Veep debate ever.

If she does well, she will be a rock star. If she flops, Obama wins a landslide.

New Guest Blogger Ame Makes her Debut

Amir has chosen to allow me to be a guest blogger, without limitations (hehehe), here at Singlemind. I am honored and grateful.

In the interest of not writing another post in the comments section, I thought I would exercise my privilege and actually write a post as a post and share some personal thoughts about this article.

This woman did not write this in isolation; she is NOT the only woman who feels this way. In the very least, this is an extremely sad commentary on the sick reality reflecting more women that we would care to know.

As Believers, as Christians, as Christ-followers, this is extremely disconcerting. What have we (collectively as Believers) been doing while the world spun to depths like this?  Unfortunately, many just went along for the ride, oblivious to the blaring signs clearly stating the final destination.
If there’s one dollar, there are a million to be made, and being made, on relationship books. Why? Because stuff like this is prevalent.

There was a day when one would NEVER even THINK their marriage could POSSIBLY ever end shy of death. Now, it’s not uncommon for a bride or groom to wonder at least once about the longevity of their marriage before they stand at the alter.

How far will this go? How much, as a society, as Believers, will we accept? I want to say we wouldn’t treat our babies with such disdain, but I cannot. I want to say we wouldn’t treat our elderly with such disdain, but I cannot. I want to say there is no need to learn to protect oneself, but I cannot. I want to say there would certainly never be need for Amir and Pilgrim’s Mountain Kentucky Retreat, but, alas, I cannot.

Why, then, are we surprised when we devalue human life so much as a society, that this woman would devalue her husband to such depths and then write about it? Where, in society, is her moral compass?

I want to be able to devalue this woman for the way she devalues her husband, but if I do, am I any better than she? Do I condone her choices, her thinking, her actions, her writing? Absolutely NOT.

What I do, though, is fear her reflection of society, and even greater, I fear this reflection of her heart.

The Bible is clear about the law of consequences, that our choices are not ever made in isolation. The wages of sin IS death. Sin will ALWAYS give birth to death. (Actually, it wouldn’t hurt to take the time to read the whole first chapter of James.)

Following Christ seems more counter-culture than ever before. I am faced with this everyday with my daughters who are 10 3/4 and 8 1/2 and in fifth and third grades in public school. In what areas do I allow them to ride the wave of society. In what areas do I direct them to live a life counter-cultural for Christ. And, in what areas do I force them to live a life counter-cultural for Christ. How do I prepare them for middle school and high school (and perhaps college) where they will be smothered in secular humanism and feminism (even more so than now). How do I teach them to be thinking human beings and not take everything as they see it … or, more scary than that, how do I teach them to live from Truth and not from their feelings? (After all, they are VERY much “little” girls; VERY female; VERY feeling-oriented.) And if I desire to teach them such Truth, am I willing to live out such Truth in my own life?

Jesus Christ offers us a better way, but do I believe it enough to make choices in my life to reflect such truth?

What if we, as Believers, actually lived our lives in such a way that we resurrect that Moral Compass in our families, our churches, our neighborhoods, our society, our nation? We could then give the Ellen’s of this world another choice. At least then the Ellen’s would know their thinking is unbalanced … their friends would know their thinking is unbalanced … and they would have a direction to point to say, “Hey, look at them. I know they don’t have a perfect marriage, but they never think this way. I wonder why?”

I am a sinner. I am imperfect. I loose my “center.” And yet, God is merciful and gracious to continuously draw me back to Him, forgiving me and loving me (and loving me enough to allow me to experience the consequences of my choices.) Since we are to have the mind of Christ, I am very careful what I allow into my mind and thoughts. I am very careful what I hear and listen to and what I see and look at. And you know, my friends know this to be true about me, too – even my Christian friends. And when they are going through difficult times, I find them knocking on my door, sitting by my side, crying on my shoulder.

What choices do you make to live your life naturally for Christ? If you were Ellen’s friend, would she be able to look at you, at your life, and wonder that there are better choices out there? Would the Holy Spirit be able to whisper to her, “Hey, look over there – see this person? They have the same problems, but they don’t think this way?”


If It’s Palin, It’s a Disaster

Sarah Palin–current governor of Alaska–looks good on paper. Trouble is, she is as inexperienced as–and even less tested than–Obama.

If McCain has picked her, she will be a female Dan Quayle, perhaps with fewer gaffes. She will not hold a candle to Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) in any VP debate. She will be a complete liability on a ticket that can ill-afford such a liability.

Sure, on social issues she will satisfy the rock-ribbed conservatives–she’s pro-life on abortion and moderate on gay marriage–although her identification as a feminist (she’s a member of Feminists for Life) concerns me, as she is likely to be supportive of more nanny state federal programs at a time when we need less of them.

On foreign affairs, however, she is throughly untested. This is not good if you are dealing with someone who will be one gunshot away from the oval office, at a time when we will have serious moguls ahead for us in the foreign policy arena.

To her credit, as a governor she has experience as a policymaker, which neither McCain nor Obama nor Biden–Senators all–can claim. Trouble is, she only has two years of experience doing it.

Also, to her credit, she has an excellent record as an ethics reformer, a female version of New York’s LaGuardia. If McCain can use her to push an agenda of reform, maybe he’s got a chance.

If McCain has picked Palin as a running mate, he’s toast.

One caution, though: if she holds her own against Biden, then we have a serious race.

Will, Will, Keep Driving! She Wants a Divorce!

After describing her marriage in such unflattering terms, I’m left with the conclusion that the only thing Will–Ellen’s husband–did wrong was stop the car.

Seriously, that was one of the worst screeds I’ve read in a long time, and it only validates the worst of what Vox Day, myself, SXM, Anakin, Triton, and MLV have observed.

I’ve long contended the following:

(1) While no-fault divorce may be seen as a victory for equality, it has also driven men away from marriage. This is because the ensuing spike in the divorce rate has increased the overall risk of divorce, and–given the legal climate–a man will lose more in a divorce than he would have lost 40 years ago. As I said, the feminist may view that as “equality”, but that it is not without unintended consequences.

(2) As a result of the increased risk of divorce–and the implications that go with it–men and women have become more risk averse. I’m finding that establishing trust–among both sides–is quite difficult. Compounding matters, as we get older, we gain more baggage. We get burned, we make mistakes, we see the worst that can go wrong, and that only breeds more distrust and cynicism. We start thinking, “the worst is always possible.” It gets even worse when the divorces occur among believers.

If those factors are not bad enough, you get the Ellen Tiens of the world telling you that she DREAMS of divorce. Here is what she thinks of men:

Nor is Will the Very Bad Man that I’ve made him out to be. Rather, like every other male I know, he is merely a Moderately Bad Man, the kind of man who will leave his longboat-sized shoes directly in the flow of our home’s traffic so that one day I’ll trip over them, break my neck, and die, after which he’ll walk home from the morgue, grief-stricken, take off his shoes with a heavy heart, and leave them in the center of the room until they kill the housekeeper. Everyman.

If this is what women generally think of their husbands, then score one for Anakin and Triton and the Marriage Strike movement.

Here are her thoughts as she contemplates divorce:

Still, beneath the thumpingly ordinary nature of our marriage — Everymarriage –runs the silent chyron of divorce. It’s the scarlet concept, the closely held contemplation of nearly every woman I know who has children who have been out of diapers for at least two years and a husband who won’t be in them for another 30. It’s the secret reverie of a demographic that freely discusses postpartum depression, eating disorders, and Ambien dependence (often all in the same sentence) with the plain candor of golden brown toast. In a let-it-all-hang-out culture, this is the given that stays tucked in.

This is the Mid-Wife Crisis.

Mind you, when I say Mid-Wife Crisis, I mean the middle-of-married-life kind, not the kind where you go to Yale to learn how to legally brandish a birthing stool. As one girlfriend remarked, it’s the age of rage — a period of high irritation that lasts roughly one to two decades. As a colleague e-mailed me, it’s the simmering underbelly of resentment, the 600-pound mosquito in the room. At a juncture where we thought we should have unearthed some modicum of certainty, we are turning into the Clash. If I go will there be trouble? If I stay will it be double? Should I stay or should I go? Oprah.com: Six relationship decisions we’ve made for you

Our mothers knew better than to ponder such questions, at least not out loud in front of God and the hairdresser. They deliberately waited to reach the last straw until their children were grown and the house was paid for. At 25, they were ladies with lady clothes and lady hairdos — bona fide adults, the astronauts’ wives. By 40, they were relics.

But we, we with our 21st-century access to youth captured in a gleaming Mason jar with a pinked square of gingham rubber-banded over the top, we are still visually tolerable if not downright irresistible when we’re 30 or 35 or 40. If you believe the fashion magazines — which I devoutly do — even 50- and 60-year-olds are (lick finger, touch to imaginary surface, make sizzle noise) pretty hot tickets.

We are also tickets with jobs and disposable income. If we jump ship now, we’re still attractive prospects who may have another shot at happiness. There’s just that tricky wicket of determining whether eternal comfort resides in the tried-and-true or whether the untried will be truer.

Our mothers, so old too young, believed that marriage was the best they could get. We, the children of mothers who settled (or were punished for not settling), wonder: Is this as good as it gets?

What a cynical take on leaving the man who pledged to love you “for better or worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health”! She’s thinking in terms of whether she can get any better than she has. Has she not considered that–as she gets older–even if she is attractive for her age, she may find that no man with any brains will trust her?

And that’s what Ellen serves to undermine: trust. And that is one of the worst consequences of divorce, and it does not merely impact the parties dissolving the marriage.

This is because marriage is more than a mere legal contract. It’s more than a business transaction. If legalities and assets were all that mattered, one could merely incorporate. After all, business law is well-defined at the local, state, and federal levels.

No…marriage is a covenant. That is the reality that is inescapable. A covenant is more than a contract; it is a solemn agreement between a stronger and a weaker party, carries terms and conditions and obligations for each side, is in force as long as both parties live–and in some cases beyond that if it involves nations and families, involves witnesses, involves both parties committing to each other, and commences with eating, drinking, and–in ancient times–the shedding of blood.

(The woman’s loss of virginity–which typically results in a flow of blood–was actually viewed as the blood part of the marriage covenant. This is why in Middle Eastern cultures, it is not uncommon to have the verification of virginity before the wedding.)

While I am not suggesting that we return to the Middle Eastern variant of the marriage celebration, we must not forget that covenant nature of marriage. That nature has not gone away, as much as our legislation has attempted to make it so, and our culture of divorce is only bringing the covenant into disrepute.

When a couple divorces, they damage all of society. Why? Whenever one–often both–parties break their “for better or worse” vows, it causes others to question whether such covenant love is even possible, and by anyone.

That covenant love is how God loves us. He loves us for better or worse…for richer or poorer…in sickness and in health. Erosion of the marriage covenant causes those outside the Church to question whether God’s covenant love–an integral part of the Gospel–is even possible.

Along similar lines, when such divorces happen among believers, you get singles in the Church questioning whether they can trust anyone.

Fact is, no matter how good the marriage, both husband and wife will have habits and mannerisms that will irk each other. The husband will fail to put down the toilet seat; he will get grumpy at times; he may not be the most organized person. The wife will have her bitchy streak, will not always be “in the mood” when he is; will complain about his driving and his penchant for getting white clothes mixed with the colored clothes.

And those are the easy issues.

But the expectation is that not only will the two stick together, but also that they will love each other. For better or worse.

As Delta Charlie’s health failed, his wife–Bravo Charlie–worked extra hard to help keep him comfortable. Did she ever get tired? You better freakin’ believe it.

Ya wanna know what her outlook was, in the week before he died. Her own words (emphasis mine):

For better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health. And without regrets.

During my seminary days, she and I were at each other’s throats on any number of matters, and would be today if we wanted to make hay out of matters. When I talk to her, I almost never bring up anything I discuss on these pages.

That said, as for the way she acted out the covenant with Delta Charlie, she gets a hearty tip of the cap from me. She got it. And her kids will be better off as they grow up; they can appreciate a mother who went the extra mile, not just because it was a duty, but because she chose to love her husband the way God commanded.

When couples act out that way, they breed more trust. They serve as a witness to the world: they tell the world that God’s covenant love is reliable, just as the marriage covenant is reliable.

If the Church embraced that vision, even the Marriage Strikers might just reconsider.

Probable Checklist Error

Given the latest news about the latest Spanair disaster–that the wing dipped sharply before the plane crash–I’m thinking this was probably the result of a crew cutting corners with a checklist again. Either that or there was a hydraulic failure that resulted in loss of control.

Many accidents on takeoff or landing are the result of such checklist failures. When you have a crew that is rushed, or is tired, there is temptation to cut corners on checklists.

Trouble is, that is how people get killed.

Wacky News Stories

(1) I learned that WTF also stands for the World Taeqwando Federation.

(2) A Texas cop–facing suspension for having sex with prostitutes while on duty–is claiming it was a necessary part of his job. (Pilgrim can attest to this inside joke: the cop was “taking one for the team”.)

(3) A former U.S. diplomat, with a law degree from University of Pennsylvania, videotaped his sexual activities with two girls–one 16 and one 17–while on duty at the U.S. Consular offices in Brazil and the Congo.

(I mention the law degree because (a) the Ivy League law grad failed to realize that–given that the girls were under 18–any sexual media with them in it is legally classified as child ponography and (b) the Ivy League law grad ought to understand the history of Western abuses in the Congo to realize that we might take diplomatic offenses very seriously.)

He also attempted the “when in Rome, do as the Romans do” defense.

He was sentenced to the maximum 20 years in prison–two consecutive ten year terms.