“Is Sarah Palin a Mormon?” Many Are Asking

Ever since I put up this post announcing McCain’s VP pick of Alaska governor Sarah Palin, I’ve been surprised how many people are wondering if Palin is a Mormon.

Check out my search engine stats (updated 6 p.m. MST):

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Clearly, I’ve become the official Sarah Palin Mormon link (especially after this post).

It’s amazing this many people are wondering. Perhaps because she was born in Idaho and attended the University of Idaho?

I’m not an expert on Palin’s religious life, but I will say I am confident that she is NOT a Mormon. She is a Protestant, a member of the Assemblies of God.

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101 Responses

  1. That is… kinda funny.

    My t-shirt is now going to say “Obama is Unexperience, Palin is Mormon” I think.

  2. Maybe it’s just because she looks so much like a young, newly-sustained second (emphasis on “second”) counsellor in a ward Relief Society presidency? ;-)

  3. I thinks it’s because she has 5 kids and Mormons tend to have a lot of kids and not be prochoice. Afterall, 5 kids is a lot in 2008. Most people just do not have that many kids these days.

  4. She is not LDS. Welcome to the world outside Idaho and Utah. People still have families and are happy. Perhapes this is a shocker, but really people… there are wonderful people, god fearing, who hold onto family values besides “Mormons”. Time to get your heads out of the sand!

  5. She’s from Idaho, is one of 7 kids, has 5 kids herself — couldn’t help wondering! You’ve got the right keywords, I guess.

  6. I’ll bet she is from a LDS family. No “career woman”, at 44, has five kids – the last, just four months old, in 2008 unless it a deep part of her culture. Maybe she switched churches for her husband and/or her career.

  7. I read somewhere that she attends an Assembly of God church in Alaska.

  8. I think it’s because when her dad heard she had been chosen as McCain’s running mate he exclaimed, “Holy Cow!”

  9. She was raised in the Assemblies of God. And saying “no ‘career woman’, at 44, has five kids, etc.” is a huge generalization. True, it is unusual in today’s culture, but not unheard of. I know of one woman at my church who is a “career woman”, 37, and has five children (2 are adopted, but still, 5 kids to take care of).

  10. http://www.adherents.com/largecom/lds_aog.html

    It is widely known that AoG and LDS members have nearly identical practices in a wide variety of moral areas, including proscriptions against alcohol, abortion, tobacco, narcotics, R-rated movies, gambling, extra-marital sex (including homosexuality), immodesty, etc. Both groups practice similar forms of tithing and missionary work/evangelism (including well-organized, institutionally directed geographical expansion).

    Just because LDS people may share similar beliefs, does not make her ‘like’ LDS people. Mormons mistakenly thought Bush & Cheney shared their values. NOT!

  11. Key quote:

    [Republican nominee Sarah] Palin doesn’t support legalizing marijuana …. But when it comes to cracking down on drugs, she says methamphetamines are the greater threat and should have a higher priority. Palin said she has smoked marijuana — remember, it was legal under state law, she said, even if illegal under U.S. law — but says she didn’t like it and doesn’t smoke it now.

    “I can’t claim a Bill Clinton and say that I never inhaled.”

  12. I’ve been getting “Sarah Palin mormon” hits against two of my blogs for the last day or so but then again, I’ve been getting “Barack Obama mormon” hits against my Adventures in Mormonism blog for many month — so much so that I finally added a comment to one of my Obama posts there saying, “Actually, we’d love to have him, but he’s not LDS.” ..bruce..

  13. Palin has to have Mormon history; her genetics are too like her LDS sisterhood. If she had to change to please her husband, AoG is the perfect choice. Whose baby is that? Is it her daughter’s, like many people are saying? Who has seen the birth record? News reports say Sarah kept the pregnancy a secret for 7 months, and there are reports the daughter was absent from school for weeks.

  14. I think it’s quite funny that so many Mormons, upon seeing a person with a strong family and solid values, assume that they must be Mormon. Perhaps it’s more forgivable since she’s from Idaho, but Heather makes good points. Mormons are just a small part of the large group of good people in the world.

  15. Look at Heaths in history of Mormon church, and that is your answer.

  16. Ryan,

    What is especially funny is that a few commenters of this post are insisting that she must have been from a Mormon family or have Mormon DNA…

    Good grief!

  17. Here’s a hypothesis….

    Is it possible that so many Mormons were craving for Romney to be the VP that when they found out it was Palin, they thought, “Well, maybe SHE’s a Mormon!?”

    The funny thing with all of this is that I was so relieved to find out that Romney was not the VP (for reasons I have expressed before, concerning many Latter-day Saints who will suddenly be McCain fans. But what’s happened is that the person who was actually named to be the VP is being turned into a Mormon, and thus perhaps allowing for the same outcome (though certainly to a smaller scale). You can bet that tons of Latter-day Saints are thinking, “She seems so much like a nice Mormon woman. I wasn’t a fan of McCain before, but I’m definitely a big fan of McCain-Palin now!”

    As someone who is (right now) voting for Obama-Biden, I actually think that Palin is a decent pick. She complements the ticket rather well.

    BUT — the more I think and read about it, the more I realize that this judgment is dependent on her remaining the VP. In other words, she is a major gamble to be the person who is a heartbeat away from the presidency. And this is something that the GOP and McCain supporters are not addressing. So let me remind any of these supporters that Sarah Palin has zero (yes, zero) foreign policy experience. The number one thing for the VP is to be ready to lead from day one. Not after one year or four years or eight years — but the very beginning. This is the number one criteria of a good VP. In this respect, Palin absolutely fails — and she knows it. She was interviewed about being the VP months ago, and you could tell by her answer that she didn’t think she was ready. It is true that she has some important economic experience, especially pertaining to energy issues.

    So, all you McCain-Palin supporters out there … can you give a defense for why Palin can be the commander-in-chief (do I need to remind you about the extensive freedom the commander-in-chief has about waging war even in limited cases without Congress approval?) from day one. If not, then we are rolling dice with her as the VP.

    I know, I know, people will shoot back about how Obama has no experience. I do realize that he has only been in the Senate since 2004, but he has been on the foreign policy (or whatever it’s called) committee the entire time. And he has demonstrated the wisdom to back himself up in this very important security-related issue by selecting Joe Biden.

    McCain, on the other hand, though he is 72 years old and has had melanoma 4 times, has decided to roll the dice concerning America’s future. In terms of the number one pre-election contest (selecting the VP), Obama wins hand down. Obama, but not McCain, has chosen substance and security over pandering and politicking.

    Just think about the possibility of a Palin-Huckabee executive … Am I the only one scared here?

  18. Click here for photo proof that Palin is definitely not a Mormon. Apparently there is video too, but you’ll have to fish for that yourself.

    UPDATE 9/2/08: Actually, turns out this picture is a fake. She really did do the Vogue photo shoot, however.

  19. Well said, Dennis! Very funny stuff. Mormons, still angry about Mitt’s demise (first as Presidential candidate and now as VP), cannot bear the thought of voting for a Democrat! Deep down, they know they must vote Republican, no matter how angry they are about Mitt. Believing Palin is a Mormon makes us feel so much better about McCain! If only she has Mormon DNA!

  20. Dennis —

    Let me take up your challenge.

    First, you try to argue that Sen. Obama has spent time on the Foreign Relations Committee and therefore is prepared to handle foreign policy. That might have been true — if he’d ever bothered to show up. But, Obama started running for President on the very first day he was in the Senate. So, he hasn’t been around. The past two years he has had the highest absentee record of any senator, even exceeding Tim Johnson who had a stroke.

    Obama’s record is so thin it is laughable. He got elected to the Illinois Senate — then became notorious for being absent and, when there, voting present.

    He got elected to the U.S. Senate — and then went on the road to run for office.

    His only real job was as a community organizer — that means professional protestor. He organized demonstrations.

    Before that, he was editor of the Harvard Law Review yet only wrote one article.

    So, Obama lacks experience not only with foriegn policy but with any form of decisionmaking.

    Contrast that with Governor Palin.

    She was first elected to the city council and then mayor of her community. Anyone who has ever done local politics know that these are belly-to-belly positions. Making choices on local taxes, local roads and local policing and fire services is the highest form of accountability. Anything you do will be scrutinized.

    From there she ended up on the Alaska Oil Commission. There, she accused the state GOP chair of corruption — and he is now serving jail time. She demanded that the oil companies pay on the basis of how much they made of Alaskan oil, not a flat fee. She prevailed.

    Next, she challenged the corrupt governor of Alaska and beat him soundly. She now manages a budget of over $5 billion and tens of thousands of employees. She has cut spending, sold of the governor’s plane on E-bay and provided a tax cut to offset higher oil prices.

    Pretty impressive record. She’s been in the political world implementing change for more years than Obama has and her responsibilities and accountability have been greater. Her judgment in each case has been superior — and she’s got things done.

    Now, to foreign policy. If elected, she’ll have as a tutor John McCain — the guy who provided the pathway to victory in Iraq. The same man who nailed Russia on the invasion of Georgia while Obama was saying it was somehow the U.S. and Georgia’s fault.

    She’ll also have the benefit of John McCain’s foreign policy team which is A+.

    Her background, her running mate and their foreign policy team is better than the skills John Edwards had in 2004.

    But, most importantly, she is #2 on the ticket. Flawed Obama is #1 on the Democratic one.

  21. Steve,

    We’re simply going to butt heads over most of what you’re saying. We clearly see things differently.

    I will simply say this: Palin has zero foreign policy experience. Zero.

    This is not the case with Obama — who by the way has gained some of his best foreign policy experience in the years he has been running for president. Not to mention his getting it right on the war in Iraq, and HIS foreign policy team. Palin has had none of this.

    In terms of risk factor for having a commander-in-chief in office with zero foreign policy experience — that is way higher for the McCain-Palin ticket than Obama-Biden. That’s really all I am saying. Palin has done a number of impressive things in office. But a vote for McCain-Palin is a gamble, in terms of the possibility of a president with zero foreign policy experience. And there’s not much time between now and January.

    And if it were the other way around, the GOP would be all over this.

  22. Obama got it right on Iraq??

    Let’s see . . his approach was that we should simply withdraw. That would have led to absolute chaos and defeat.

    McCain advocated the surge . . before virtually anywhere else and the replacement of the head general. That led to Petraeus.

    Petraues comes in, leads the surge and violence falls off dramatically. Sunnis switch sides and turn on Al Queda. The Iraqi government begins national reconciliation. Now, there is discussion of turning the country over to the Iraqi forces and drawing down U.S. troops.

    It is true that a drawdown is now in the cards. But, Obama’s approach would have led to us leaving in defeat. Instead, we are victorious

    Iraq shows Obama’s shallow judgment, not his strength.

  23. I googled ‘palin mormon’ but not because I was wondering if she was Mormon, but rather because I wanted to find out if there was anything online about what she thought about Mormons.

  24. that photo of Palin on the Vogue cover is a fake. Look at her face closely and you’ll see how obvious it is.

  25. Attending the University of Utah (stepchild of the Utah higher education system as Brigham Young U gets most of the money and all the attention) and having 5 kids fits the mold of Mormonism.

    That does NOT, however, prove anything. Large families are quite normal in Alaska, and U of Utah is a high quality (cheap) education. I was wondering, but only out of curiosity. This election IS NOT about who is a Christian (I’m one) and who is not. It is about who can lead this country (McCain can) and who is merely a media creation (Obama), i.e. an empty well tailored suit.

  26. BTW, anyone who claims that Obamiden (either of them) has ANY foreign policy experience is suffering from a VERY severe case of rectal defilade.

  27. this is hilarious . . .

    from an outsider in S.E. Idaho

  28. […] 30, 2008 by Todd Wood Is she Mormon?  Dennis fills us in on the first and biggest […]

  29. Sarah Palin was born in Sandpoint, Idaho. Family moved to Alaska when she was three weeks old. Has lots of family in northern Idaho.

    Attended the University of Idaho. Degree in journalism. Was a sports broadcaster. Married her husband and they ran a commercial fishing, rv, hunting business.

    She was raised Lutheran. Attends a non-denominational protestant church.

  30. Earl, I’m interested in you defining what constitutes foreign policy experience. Do you have to fight in a war or be a POW?

    I think it’s important to remember that military experience may not always be the best prep for foreign policy. Think of the military’s wishes during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Had we followed their counsel, specifically Curtis LeMay (who had a huge amount of military experience), we would have had nuclear war. This is why America puts civilian’s in charge of military.

  31. When I heard this clip where Sara Palin laughs when a talk radio announcer calls one of her political rivals “a b**** and a cancer” I knew she could not be LDS or from any religion that cared about keeping other’s dignity.


    The Anchorage Daily news reported this on January 25th, 2008 http://www.adn.com/opinion/story/293639.html

  32. that photo of Palin on the Vogue cover is a fake. Look at her face closely and you’ll see how obvious it is.

    Yes, I admit I was fooled on this one at first. It is a fake. She really did do a photo shoot for Vogue, though.

  33. My blog (which covers LDS topics often enough) has been getting similar inquiries.

  34. Jack Kemp referred to Palin as Mormon on FoxNews, that is why I was curious.

  35. I am just wondering how many Mormons are going to vote for the Republican ticket now that Sen. Palin is on it. If you read the Proclamation to the Family, is she nurturing her family by leaving a newborn with Down Syndrome for someone else to nurture.

  36. Palin was touted as being Mormon but many of those websites were altered or taken down. She is now a Protestant evangelical??? What in the hay is that?

    After Romney’s experience, the Repubs decided she would not be a Mormon.

  37. pkb,

    She never was a Mormon.

  38. I was actually doing a search to see what other LDS folk thought about Palin. Especially since she is a mom to young kiddos. And yes being LDS and having my values even though I am really stinking excited about the idea of someone like her in
    Washington I have to wonder should I be so excited about it. I think in general moms should be home. I was curious to see what my kiddos would think about me getting a job even though I never would and my 6 yr old actually started crying saying he really liked having me home when he got home and to please not get a job, of course I reassured him.

    On the other hand having 5 children I am so grateful women nurses were there when I gave birth. I would have been very uneasy being surrounded by all men. I can’t imagine a man standing in the bathroom with me waiting for my first pee making sure I didn’t pas out.

    I don’t believe in working on the Sabbath, but of course we still need firemen, police, doctors and nurses all LDS people know there are exceptions for necessary things. I am really excited of the thought of someone being in there to clean up Washington.

    So this was the conversation I was hoping to find when I typed in my search.


  39. I’m curious what people thought about Sarah Palin’s speech at the GOP convention.

    I personally was sickened at the snide attacks and divisiveness of her speech. And, to a lesser degree, Romney’s speech.

    Let’s just be very clear about something that was revealed by this evening’s convention. The GOP is not about bringing the country together. It’s about war.

    After hearing Palin’s speech, Deena Larsen’s comment (where Palin laughed after a political rival, who had cancer by the way, was called “a b____ and a cancer”) makes all the more sense to me…

  40. I thought Governor Palin’s speech was great. She introduced herself and family well, made it clear that she is not a typical politician, slammed the media for their outrageous treatment of her, proved her experience (especially in contrast to Senator Obama), and made the case for electing Senator McCain President.

    Dennis, did you watch the DNC convention? Senator Obama likes to talk a good game about a “new politics” but I assure you that the Democrats are sending a stream of arrows in our direction that is pretty thick. You probably don’t notice since they aren’t directed at you or perhaps you think we deserve it. Well trust me, I think that most of the jabs that were given tonight were well deserved as well.

    I thought her speech was great. This line was pure karma based on how Obama’s campaign ridiculed her experience as a mayor: “I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a “community organizer,” except that you have actual responsibilities.”

    I think the difference in tone between the Democratic and Republican convention was interesting, but I’ll bet that someone on the opposite side of the political spectrum would not see it the same way as I do. The overall mood of the Democrats, based on the text of the speeches, seemed very dark and depressed to me. “Gosh life sucks right now, we better elect Obama so that he will make it better.” I don’t get that vibe from the Republicans. Maybe it’s because we are technically the incumbents and it’s not in our interest to paint America as being down in the dumps, but I suspect it’s more a difference in how the two parties look at life and the nation.

  41. Palin came out swinging, which is what she needed to do to move the conversation beyond the vetting process and her daughter’s pregnancy and whether a mother of young children can be a good vice president. I found nothing in her speech that was terribly out of the ordinary for this kind of setting. Of course she caricatured her opponents’ positions and pandered to the audience. She was simply preaching to the converted, just as all convention speakers do. If you regard the purpose of her speech as to galvanize the party behind its chosen nominees, she did a great job.

    Of course the incumbent party will champion maintaining the present course (at the risk of sounding intolerant and divisive) while the challenger will speak only of change and bringing everyone together to accomplish it. I doubt that, were the Democrat and Republican positions switched, that impression would change.

  42. I have noticed that Palin never mentions benefits to the middle class. While I believe perhaps she is a fall away from the LDS church. Her soon to be son in law by his namesake is clearly LDS.
    I also find it interesting that whenever those running for the Republican Nomination ever mention tax reductions , there is NEVER any mention as to whom these tax reductions apply. ? I doubt very much that any of such reductions do actually apply to the middle class. Which for a majority sake except those whose heads are in the clouds are you and I . Only those making over 250k per year will gain anything financially by electing another republican into office. If that is your agenda. Other than that, the last eight years speaks for itself. If you want a war for the next 100 years , Elect McCain! He has already promised that to you. If you actually believe the war on terror somehow began with Sadaam. If you think these folks will benefit you whom are majority middle class, vote for them. If you feel they share any moral issues aside from their own. go ahead and vote for them. As for me, it is truly more of the same. And we just can not afford it anymore.

  43. Aluwid,

    We clearly see things differently. Nothing that Obama or Biden have said (or McCain for that matter) can compare to the sarcasm and sensationalism of Palin’s speech. In fact, many people (including Democrats) have been upset that Obama has not been tougher on McCain. I can certainly agree that there have been arrows towards the direction of the GOP, but they hardly compare to the hockey stick of Palin, the lipstick-wearing pit bull (in her own words).

    Let’s be clear about what Palin’s speech was. It was a way to rile up the base. In fact, what annoyed me most about her speech was not even anything she said. It was that she stopped every 10 seconds for applause, as though she was giving the state of the union address. But there was very little of substance in her address. And in the whole evening for that matter. CNN’s Rebecca Sinderbrand puts it better than I can:

    For the second night in a row, a lot of the rhetoric at the Republican convention Wednesday evening seemed left over from the last cycle, when the fight against terrorism dominated the race.

    The economy is the biggest voter concern this cycle, and the theme of the evening — but it didn’t top the agenda Wednesday night. The policy prescriptions were minimal; the party-issued signs proclaiming “prosperity” made for a jarring sight.

    The language and terror focus were left over from 2004. The evening’s tone was vintage 1992, with just a hint of culture war.

    Surveys suggest Democrats hold the advantage on the dominant issue this year, so Republicans looked to redirect the anger and with base-pleasing swipes at the media and liberal elites.

    Former primary season rivals Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani set the evening’s tone with sarcastic broadsides that brought the crowd to life; Sarah Palin followed the trend, her scorn layered under a sunny smile and small-town demeanor.

    After a week of enduring tough headlines and dodging the spotlight, the Alaska governor re-emerged and delivered a speech that thrilled the crowd. Palin also proved she inherited President Bush’s gift for sprinkling speeches with Biblical references – like her claim of a “servant’s heart” — that won’t register with much of the population, but resonate deeply with evangelicals.

    Her adoption of the evening’s bitter tone may have fallen a bit flat. A focus group of white married women who watched the speech didn’t care for her sarcasm.

    But these same voters found her impressive and authentic. They wanted to know more about her personally. And McCain senior adviser Carly Fiorina, who has been at the forefront of outreach efforts to former Hillary Clinton voters, can claim some success: More than one woman in the focus group said Palin reminded them of the New York senator.

    The top targets of the night were Barack and Michelle Obama and the news media, with the Democratic Congress close behind. The outsider language that dominated the evening might have struck a dissonant chord: this is, after all, the party that had controlled the White House for the past eight years, and Congress for 12 of the last 14.

    But the GOP seemed at times to be struggling with its identity.

    So far this convention, praise of Bill Clinton, a VP family connection to the Steelworkers Union, and attacks on Wall Street have all drawn cheers. President Bush’s appearance was barely longer than a commercial break; beyond that, his name has been mentioned in prime time fewer than half a dozen times.

    And on the night the party nominated its vice presidential hopeful, the man who currently holds the job didn’t rate a reference.

    Oh, and regarding Palin’s quote that you loved so much about how community organizers have no responsibilities. This is absurd and is getting to the level of “my dad can beat up your dad.” I disagree, first of all, that Obama or Biden “ridiculed” Palin’s experience as a small town mayor. They questioned how relevant that executive experience would be to being the VP, and that is a very legitimate question. Certainly, one can pose the same questions about Obama’s community organizing, but doing so would be too calm and rational for Palin. Instead she has to completely discredit anything that he has done — saying community organizers have NO responsibilities? (a lie). That Obama has not authored a major law or reform? (a lie). The chants of “Zero” by the RNC, as though Obama has accomplished nothing at all? (a lie). Whatever you can say about what has been coming from Democrats, they are not trying to say that their opponents are worthless. They are not questioning patriotism or motives. They are not launching the character attacks or taking subtle digs at family members. This is the difference between Democratic politics and Republican politics, and it is a major reason why I, along with hundreds of thousands of other Americans, have been disenchanted with the Republican Party.

    America needs less pit bulls (with or without lipstick), and more clear speaking, fair minded leaders. Obama is not perfect in this regard, but, in my view, he is far above Palin, Romney, Giuliani, and McCain.

  44. Dennis, I disagree on several things, but I agree on this: The Romney and Giuliani speeches were not impressive. These were simply filled with cheap shots and GOP talking points to rile up the base. They didn’t contribute to the dialog, and they didn’t convince me that McCain/Palin is the right choice. Wasted opportunities.

  45. Biden Quotes:

    “Ladies and gentlemen, your kitchen table is like mine. You sit there at night before you put the kids — after you put the kids to bed and you talk, you talk about what you need. You talk about how much you are worried about being able to pay the bills. Well, ladies and gentlemen, that’s not a worry John McCain has to worry about. It’s a pretty hard experience. He’ll have to figure out which of the seven kitchen tables to sit at,”

    “In an Obama-Biden administration, we will not have an attorney general who blatantly breaks the law. We will not have a president who doesn’t understand the Constitution. And I will not be a vice-president who thinks he’s not part of any of the three branches of government.”

    “George Bush and his administration are going to be judged harshly by history. Not for the mistakes they made but for the opportunities to unite America and the world they squandered.”

    “Last night, at the Republican convention in Minnesota George Bush said, and I quote, ‘the man we need is John McCain,’” he said. “John’s earned his endorsement, he’s voted with him 90% of the time. So, it look like we have another Minnesota Twins team up there.”

    Obama response to Palin’s pick:

    “Today, John McCain put the former mayor of a town of 9,000 with zero foreign policy experience a heartbeat away from the presidency,”

    But you probably view all the attacks as grounded in truth and appropriate, because they are coming from your side of the aisle. Likewise I view the attacks of the Republicans to be appropriate, and quite funny.

  46. I have to be honest about something Aluwid:

    The comment Biden made about not being a VP that thinks he’s outside of the three branches of government really resonates with me. Cheney is a creepy, shady dude and has been for a very long time. I’m greatly unsettled by the fact that he became such a powerful figure. I think Biden’s comment there is spot on.

  47. Aluwid,

    If you’re trying to compare these quotes to Palin’s speech, the comparison is pathetic, with the exception of the one Biden quote about McCain’s kitchen tables. That’s one quote, compared to Palin’s entire speech.

    The other Biden quotes, as well as Obama’s, are hardly controversial and lack the sensational and sarcastic rhetoric that you saw in Palin’s speech. And Obama’s reference to “zero” (Palin’s zero foreign policy experience) is actually accurate. Palin has zero foreign policy experience. Zero. None. Nada. She knew she couldn’t counter this claim, so she simply directed her rhetoric elsewhere. At least she didn’t say that the Obama campaign was being sexist, a ridiculous accusation by Carly Fiorina and other GOP surrogates. These accusations are laughable, desperate, and pathetic. As are the accusations of sexism in Harry Reid’s staff calling Palin’s speech “shrill.”

    But Palin is not totally to blame here. Most of her speech was written by one of George Bush’s speech writers — before Palin was even selected as VP! Palin simply stepped into the attack dog role that the McCain campaign had already cut out for her. The shoe (er, skate) fit perfectly.

  48. Rutkowski,

    And that quote is not simply a way to paint Cheney badly. It is accurate. Cheney argued that his office is not part of the Executive Branch, and so his office was exempt from a presidential order to submit statistics regarding documents it classifies and declassifies as confidential.

  49. Uh yeah, all Democratic attacks are absolutely grounded in truth, not hyperbole whatsoever, and gosh darn-it, those Republicans deserve it!

    Face it Dennis, you’re in the tank. So am I, the opposite tank, but take off your blinders and look at the situation fairly.

    Rutkowski, I understand the reasoning behind all the attacks, I really do. But there are reasons behind the attacks on the other side as well. Why do you think the wisecrack about the styrofoam greek columns was received so well?

    BTW, the whole “speechwriter” meme is pretty desperate on the part of the Democrats. Funny how I never heard about the behind-the-scenes speechwriters that *all* politicians use. Why do you suppose that is?

  50. Aluwid,

    I never said the Democratic attacks are not hyperbole whatsoever, nor that the Republicans deserve them. I dislike all such attacks and they turn me off (on both sides). That being said, Palin’s speech was in a league of her own.

  51. The Wall Street Journal has an excellent Page One article today (no subscription required) describing Palin’s record as both mayor and governor. I think it serves as a great basis on which to continue further discussion of her merits and qualifications for higher office.

  52. Interesting debate. I must say this…

    The Obama campaign’s calculated tendency to refer to Palin as the “former mayor of a town of 9000” is quite disingenuous, just like the GOP’s continual references to Obama being a community organizer. Yes, Palin was the mayor of a very small town. But, for the last two years, she has been governor of a state. Obama spent time in the Illinois state legislature – I know several people on state legislatures, it’s not a big deal. But really, I think the only valid comparisons are between her time as governor and his time as US Senator.

    I find it almost comical that everyone is comparing Obama’s experience to Palin’s experience, since Obama is running for Pres and she is running for VP. This is because Obama cannot compare to McCain on experience (not a slam – just a fact, for better or worse).

    But, if we must compare, here is the comparison. Obama has been a US senator for essentially 2 years. During this time, he has indeed worked on legislation, but the things he really got behind just weren’t a huge deal. The bipartisan deal on non-proliferation, for example, was basically a formality that required zero political risk. He didn’t have the guts to stick with the immigration bill that he originally praised for its bipartisan nature; he folded on this issue because he didn’t want to anger unions, who he admits have sway over him. Senators don’t make a ton of decisions – I know this is GOP talking points but it’s true – and they are absent for tons of votes, Obama and McCain both being exceptionally guilty (even before the Pres campaign). However, being a US senator and serving on committees is a big deal. It gives a national viewpoint that no governor, especially of a small peripheral state, can obtain.

    As for Palin: being governor carries much more responsibility than being a senator. Governors make way more decisions and are much more directly accountable for their actions. The executive nature of the office gives a better preview of the Presidency than a senator can get. That said, she was governor of a very, very small state with few international (or even national) concerns.

    So, I think the experience thing between Obama and Palin is really a draw. Neither have a lot, but both have some – albeit of different kinds. The little experience that both have, though different, would help them in office. I think it’s strange that Obama would jump on the experience issue, since he has spent most of his time trying to argue that it doesn’t matter – that coming from outside Washington is what matters (and Palin certainly has more on that topic than Obama).

    As for other types of experience: neither candidate possesses much foreign policy experience. Simply living close to Russia doesn’t count, nor does command of a small state national guard or living by a big oil pipeline. Living in Indonesia for a few years as a child doesn’t count either. Obama certainly lacks the depth of foreign policy knowledge that McCain has, as is evidenced by some of his comments that he has had to quickly hedge (like speaking with dictators or the Georgia crisis). These were comments that no person of either party who closely studies IR would have made. That said, Palin has never been in a position where she had to think on the spot about difficult FP situations, so she is entirely untested. My guess is that she would do as bad as, or probably worse than, Obama.

    Luckily both campaigns have someone with a wealth of FP experience and knowledge – McCain and Biden. I consider this issue to now be even (that was the brilliance of the Biden selection). I get annoyed that the GOP talks so much about McCain’s war record – yes, we respect him for his service. But being in the military is not always the best FP experience. I consider McCain and Biden nearly tied.

    Another crucial point of comparison is inextricably linked with Obama’s big claims. He claims to be a great bipartisan unifier, changing the old politics. I don’t buy it (but I still like the guy). His career in the Senate has been one of obediently following the party line. He has calculatingly avoided any political risk, as evidenced by things like the immigration bill. Palin is a different story. She made her career based on taking on old GOP interests. Yes, she is a social conservative to be sure. But she has not been afraid of risking her political career to take on the big boys. I’m sorry, but I see nothing like this coming from Obama. And, I know McCain has voted with Bush 90% of the time, but was anybody watching the GOP primaries?!? The GOP power brokers simply don’t like him, because he has never been afraid to speak out against them.

    This all said, it’s clear that the McCain and Palin of Sept 2008 are just more party loyalists, both having compromised their independence to placate the BASE. This makes me wonder. If they get into office, will we see the old McCain and Palin, who I think would put country above politics, or the new ones, who simply follow the party line? I don’t know.

    I think an Obama presidency is more predictable. That doesn’t necessarily mean better, but I think we know what we’ll get. Not so much a new kind of politics, but a change nonetheless from the Bush admin. Yes, the change will be back to the usual Democrat presidency – try to redistribute wealth to the poor and raise taxes on big business. A more moderate, less aggressive foreign policy. Liberal social policy. I think the difference between this Dem admin and the last one, Clinton, is that Obama’s promises indicate a massive increase in the deficit, many economists suggesting around $340 million per year, which in the long run will severely limit our policy options. But I won’t argue that the GOP could do any better. Essentially, the change that Obama will bring is not the type of change he promises, but it will definitely be a change from the Bush admin. And I think that’s what the country wants.

  53. On the original topic of this post, here’s a WSJ article on her religious upbringing – clearly not LDS:

    Palin’s Faith Is Seen
    In Church Upbringing

  54. Ryan,

    You should try to publish that last comment in BYU’s Political Review. With a little minor editing, it is fair and excellent. I don’t agree with everything, but I continue to be satisfied by your assessments.

    I agree that Obama should have kept his mouth shut about the size of Palin’s town. Still, I think that Palin’s rebuttal last night was ridiculous. One thing to add to your assessment about experience. It is completely fair for Obama and other Democrats to play up how Palin has zero foreign policy experience. This is a relevant issue for any vice-president, but especially for the VP candidate of a 72-year old who has had cancer four times. In this respect, there is far less risk with Obama-Biden of having a completely untested and inexperienced person — in terms of foreign policy — being the commander-in-chief. If Obama and Biden are smart, they will fine-tune their criticism of Palin as having zero foreign policy experience and why this is important (notice that she didn’t dispute this last night). They will stay out of the small town stuff. And they will keep most of their focus on their policies and how McCain = Bush.

  55. @ Dennis – that’s exactly what I was referring to re: Cheney

    @ Aluwid – I was looking at that comment in isolation. The other parts of Biden’s statement were definitely attacks (Bush doesn’t understand the Constitution? Pfffft. Goofy, unnecessary statement), but an attack can be true. Cheney has gone on record stating some of his weird ideas about where his role lies. Some attacks stretch the truth and are disingenuous, but that one is spot on.

    @ Ryan – really nice comment

  56. She looks alot like my Mormom sister who with four kids at age 47 wants to have another.

    Also, Levi, the boyfriend. Levi is a Mormon prophet.

  57. Let me ask a question please; If God’s word is Eternal. And Babylon is a land cursed of God. Then , is not Babylon a land still cursed of God?
    Then how can Mrs. Palin claim this war is God’s task? How can GW claim to be directed of God to liberate a land that has not known any length of such peace in thousands of years. A land known as Babylon.

  58. Dennis, you are not the only one scared out there. Palin vs. Biden made a difficult decision between McCain & O’Bama easy. She’s deceptive (she originally lobbied for the bridge-to-nowhere & said no only after Congress killed it anyway), in comparison to her Assembly of God church the Mormons are mainstream, she’s not afraid to abuse power (take her action against her sister’s ex-husband), she’s obviously got her priorities screwed around (she should be focusing on her FIVE children, including the troubled pregnant teen & handicapped child), and she’s as unpatriotic as any ex-Confederate secessionist (view the Utube clip of her addressing the 2008 AIP convention if you doubt that one),

  59. The Palin candidacy weakens the GOP’s arguments that experience is the big issue this year and that Republicans make choices based on the interests of the country and not on political calculation.

    Ryan, you wrote “Obama has been a US senator for essentially 2 years.” Since he was elected in 2004, I wonder why you characterize him as being a senator for only two years.

    It is true that for the last year he has been running for the presidency. This is a huge executive task with a huge budget. He succeeded in defeating the Clintons, a task I don’t think any other Democrat could have done.

    Sarah Palin has been a governor for less than two years, having been elected in 2006. Alaska has been blessed with high oil prices of late, so it is a good time to be Governor of Alaska. Could she have run for president this year and have become the GOP nominee in her own right? I doubt it. Was she on the short list of presidential possibilities a year ago? Again, I doubt it. That doesn’t mean she couldn’t be a decent president, it does mean that most people didn’t consider her to be presidential timber.

    We have had many presidents and nominees with less experience than Obama or Palin. Lincoln is one of my favorites. He spent time in the Illinois legislature. He served two years in Congress. He had a gift for oratory.

  60. Good points, Leo. My mistake. I would consider Obama to have been Senator for three years, instead of two as I said. I think my points remain valid.

    True – Palin could not have been a GOP nominee in her own right. But, obviously, neither could Biden, so the point is moot. This is why I find the debate funny. We’re comparing Obama, the candidate for president, to Palin, a candidate for vice president. If I were the Obama campaign, I would avoid matters of experience as they have in the past. If the Dems want to use experience as a key issue, Obama is out right away. If you’re going to say you like president’s with little experience as you do, then you must stop criticizing Palin’s lack of experience.

    Finally, for obvious reasons, Palin is getting questioned about her ability to become president more than other VP candidates. This is unfair. Yes, McCain is 72 years old. Other than his cancer, he is in fantastic shape. Considering the quality of doctors and preventative care he will receive in the White House, this is a bit ridiculous. Dennis, if McCain is elected and dies of cancer within the next four years, I will buy you a sandwich at the Cougareat.

  61. The negative attacks that Obama made in his acceptance speech (This author listed it as more negative than Palin’s):


    A sample:

    “1. John McCain likes to say that he’ll follow bin Laden to the gates of hell — but he won’t even go to the cave where he lives. ”

    We hear what we want to hear.

  62. Ryan,

    You certainly make a good point about the whole Obama vs. Palin thing (pres. vs. vp). It is true that the Obama campaign and other Democrats immediately jumped on her experience, but I don’t think they were trying to compare Obama with Palin. They were simply saying that it seems a bit inconsistent for McCain to have said what he has said (especially regarding foreign policy) and then put someone like Palin as his VP.

    At any rate, Obama has not (mostly) taken the bait for setting himself up for comparison with Palin. It’s so interesting that one rather mild sentence from Obama about her experience earned so much derision from Palin. Yes, the media has slammed Palin pretty hard, but Obama and Biden have said almost nothing but positive things about her.

    Anyway, Obama was recently asked about his experience relative to Palin, and he was right on target. He said something like, “Look, I’ll let Palin talk about her experience and I’ll talk about mine.” He also said that he’s doesn’t have much to say about Palin — he’s not running against her, he’s running against McCain. He also — wisely — took issue with what she said about community organizing, but did so in a very calm and non-personal way. As an aside, whatever you can say about Palin’s speech, her line about community organizing is going to end up hurting the GOP some. The idea that a grassroots community organizer doesn’t have “actual responsibilities,” but a bureaucratic mayor does, will not sit well with the left or the middle. And it shouldn’t sit well with the right.

    But I digress, and I’m going to move my (recent) focus away from Palin. I think, Ryan, she has simply earned so much attention because of her newness and surprise (being a woman doesn’t hurt also — I’m probably sexist for even saying that :). But I think you will see attention on Palin decrease dramatically — and I think that’s actually what McCain wants because now that he has fired the base up he needs to schmooze all of the undecideds who Palin, Romney, Giuliani, and co. just ticked off.

  63. One more thing:

    I seriously wonder if Palin will talk to voters in battleground states in a sharply different way than she did in her convention speech. She accused Obama of double-speak; let’s see if she continues her rancor across the campaign trail.

  64. Aluwid,

    Certainly we can’t remove ourselves from our biases.

    That analysis is interesting — though to be fair it is not a comparison. It is only an analysis of Obama’s speech compared to general statements of Palin’s. But that’s not important. The number of negative statements is not as important as HOW the statements are said. Palin had a few really biting and sarcastic negative attacks which you did not see from Obama (or McCain, for that matter — I’m not simply picking on Republicans). You could compare Biden’s comment about McCain’s houses to Palin’s attacks, but not any of Obama’s.

    Palin’s remarks about community organizing, Obama’s acceptance speech, and his supposed messiahship were far and away more personal, biting, and in-your-face.

  65. Dennis,

    He analyzed Palin’s speech in a similar manner here:


  66. Thanks for the link, Aluwid.

    After reading Palin’s attacks again (and I would use a broader definition of sarcasm than this author is using, but that is not important), I’ve noticed what I think is the thing that ticks me off the most about her speech. She gives Obama no credit for anything. Now this might be hyperbole, but come on, can you not give your opponent any credit for doing anything that you would consider worthwhile? Certainly she can, but she chose instead to totally rip into Obama and reduce him as a completely empty, self-serving, do-nothing politician. I think that a slim minority of Americans would agree with her, even if they do think Obama is slim on experience.

    Obama has never done this (not even for Bush), and that is the difference between certain GOP attacks and what you will hear from him.

  67. “At any rate, Obama has not (mostly) taken the bait for setting himself up for comparison with Palin.”

    I disagree. He took it, and took it badly. His comment that he has greater experience because he has run a campaign is incredibly amusing.

    “Yes, the media has slammed Palin pretty hard, but Obama and Biden have said almost nothing but positive things about her.”

    Purley political. They can divest themselves from the attacks knowing full well that their colleagues and the media will do it for them. A member of Obama’s campaign was on the radio today basically saying Palin’s family was fair game.

    “He also — wisely — took issue with what she said about community organizing”

    You are familiar with what he “organized” right?

    “You could compare Biden’s comment about McCain’s houses to Palin’s attacks, but not any of Obama’s.”

    You said it shouldn’t be a comparison between Palin and Obama but you did it again. Compare McCain and Obama. I didn’t here much sarcasm or many biting comments from McCain. He even honored him a little at the beginning of the speech.

  68. Tim J

    You are familiar with what he “organized” right?

    Not sure if I’m following you here. You’ll have to say more, because whatever point you’re trying to make is completely lost on me.

    You said it shouldn’t be a comparison between Palin and Obama but you did it again. Compare McCain and Obama. I didn’t here much sarcasm or many biting comments from McCain. He even honored him a little at the beginning of the speech.

    Fair enough, though I saw myself as comparing all four individuals. Certainly what you’re saying about political motive for avoiding negativity while letting surrogates do it for you can be applied to McCain as well.

  69. Dennis,

    I think downplaying what Obama has done is a clever trap. It forces him to try to trumpet his experience and accomplishments, but that only reinforces how little they are in comparison to McCain or other recent Presidential candidates. It’s really in his best interest to move away from this topic as soon as possible.

    On that note, Rasmussen had the following to say:

    “Voters are evenly divided as to whether Palin or Obama has the better experience to be President. ”

    Of course Palin is running to be VP…


  70. See here regarding Obama’s community organizing:


    “Certainly what you’re saying about political motive for avoiding negativity while letting surrogates do it for you can be applied to McCain as well.”

    I agree both sides do it, but the Palin attacks have been a little bit more of an obvious example. McCain, to my knowledge (I’ll admit I’m wrong if given evidence), hasn’t had to denounce his campaign’s own press release on the oppostion as Obama was forced to do.

  71. Aluwid,

    I agree, but I think Palin would have been more effective if she more honestly downplayed him and gave him a little credit. That would serve the same purpose of setting up the clever trap you’re talking about, without turning off so many people and looking like such a bully (may help for the GOP base, but undecideds don’t like bullies from my experience).

  72. “Of course Palin is running to be VP…”

    But McCain’s dying! Oops, God forbid of course…

  73. Dennis,

    From what I understand the VP candidate is supposed to be the “attack dog” while the Presidential candidate stays above it all and acts the role of a statesman. At least that is how the pundits have been describing the traditional campaign strategy while they were still guessing who the VP pick would be for each candidate. And that is how they described Biden immediately after he was picked.

    I think Palin is acting exactly as would have been expected, throw the barbs to deflate the opponent so that McCain doesn’t have to. Biden has been doing, and will continue to do, the same. (Plus Obama is rolling out his army of “female surrogates” to battle with Palin :-)


  74. Tim,

    Great joke related to that (following Palin’s speech):

    “From now on, when a Democrat says “But what if McCain drops dead on his first day in office?!?!?!” I’m going to say ‘dude — don’t tease me like that.'”

  75. “Plus Obama is rolling out his army of “female surrogates” to battle with Palin :-)”

    This cracks me up. You want pandering? You got it. I can only hope McCain starts trotting out all the black Republicans (okay, both of them) to blunt the black vote.

  76. I like this one from told second-hand by a London reporter:

    “What’s the difference between Sarah Palin and Barack Obama?”

    “One is a well turned-out, good-looking, and let’s be honest, pretty sexy piece of eye-candy.

    “The other kills her own food.”

  77. Dennis,

    I agree. I think some of your points to me are,

    (1) Obama and Biden have said very little about Palin’s experience. True. This is mostly the media/talking heads, and I don’t hold the candidate accountable for this. And, I think you’re right that this is mostly because she is new and all, and it will probably slow down.

    (2) The statement about community organizers having no responsibilities will indeed give the GOP trouble later. This was a dumb cheap shot. In fact, that night of the RNC was severely disappointing to me, as almost every speaker took shot after shot at Obama and the Dems without justifying the GOP positions. I was disappointed. I understand the need to “rally the base” or whatever, but I though McCain’s speech (whether you like it or not) was much more tasteful since he (mostly) avoided attacks.

    (3) Finally, I agree completely that Palin’s failure to give Obama credit for anything is distasteful. Obama is careful to always show respect for McCain and his accomplishments. Shouldn’t the GOP reciprocate? Obama was raised in a single-parent house. He worked very hard and got into some very good schools, and he was successful there. He was the first Black editor of the Harvard Law Review (I think – fact check?). He has been a law professor and a lawyer. He has been a very successful politician and person, and it would be helpful if Palin and McCain would acknowledge that – especially when around half of America has so much respect for Obama.

  78. 1. You haven’t noticed the repeated references to Governor Palin as a mayor from Obama and his campaign?

    2. I doubt it. There are a whole lot more people in small towns then there are “community organizers” and Obama drew first blood in this dispute. Besides, I don’t think Obama wants to attract much attention to what he did or did not accomplish as an organizer or who he was associating with at the time. I suspect this was a trap on the part of the GOP.

    3. McCain ran a congratulatory ad on the night of Obama’s speech, Huckabee had some very positive things to say about what Obama’s candidacy meant to the country and McCain himself said the following in his acceptance speech last night:

    “Finally, a word to Sen. Obama and his supporters. We’ll go at it over the next two months. That’s the nature of these contests, and there are big differences between us. But you have my respect and admiration. Despite our differences, much more unites us than divides us. We are fellow Americans, an association that means more to me than any other. We’re dedicated to the proposition that all people are created equal and endowed by our Creator with inalienable rights. No country ever had a greater cause than that. And I wouldn’t be an American worthy of the name if I didn’t honor Sen. Obama and his supporters for their achievement.”

  79. The Obama campaign, maybe not Obama himself, but his campaign opened themselves up to the “community organizer” comment. If that initial press release hadn’t been phrased the way it was, Palin’s comment would not have been made.

    Obama didn’t really complain about either other than saying that they failed to mention his work as a lawyer, senator, ect. Which again was hypocritical seeing how they have referred to Palin as simply a “former Mayor.”

  80. There is also this:

    OBAMA: “Well, my understanding is that Governor Palin’s town of Wasilla has I think 50 employees. We’ve got 2,500 in this campaign. I think their budget is maybe $12 million a year. You know, we have a budget of about three times that just for the month. So I think that our ability to manage large systems and to execute I think has been made clear over the last couple of years.”

    At least he gave her the correct title, but then he goes on to compare her job as major to his Presidential campaign. But she’s currently a Governor…


  81. Very true, Aluwid. Obama’s tendency to refer to her as the “former mayor” and not recognize her time as governor is disingenuous. Further, I don’t think running a campaign counts as experience, since all candidates are doing that (and, on campaigns, most executive decisions are made by staff).

  82. Ryan,

    Why is Senator Obama still counted as a senator for three years, not four, but Governor Palin is counted as a governor for two years, not one? I don’t think your math is even yet apolitical.

    No one doubts that Senator Biden is presidential timber, and he might well have been a successful candidate had not Senator Clinton been the Democratic establishment candidate. Biden was on short lists of presidential candidates for years. No one doubts that McCain is presidential timber. It is hard to argue, however, that Obama is not but that Palin somehow is. Perhaps the argument is that the vice presidency doesn’t matter. In which case, why are we talking about her at all? But we all know that the vice president could suddenly become president, and we all know that the selection of the vice president is one of the more important and revealing presidential tasks. Everyone is comfortable that Senator Biden was a reasonably safe, one might even say conservative choice, not in the left-right sense, but in the sense of being non-radical. Governor Palin, however, hasn’t really been vetted yet. She represents a big gamble. What does that say about Senator McCain?

    No one doubts Senator Obama’s ability to build his own nationwide grassroots organization. Governor Palin was plucked from relative obscurity by Senator McCain. No one doubts that Senator Obama writes his own speeches. No one is sure how many people helped Governor Palin write her speech. No one doubts Senator Obama’s willingness to meet the national press in a free-wheeling manner. Governor Palin’s turn on the Meet the Press is yet to come. When will it come?

    Biden is doing “Meet the Press” this Sunday. McCain is doing “Face the Nation.” Obama is doing ABC’s “This Week.” And Palin is doing … something that doesn’t involve journalists and live television cameras.

    See http://www.blog.newsweek.com/blogs/stumper/archive/2008/09/04/when-will-palin-meet-the-press.aspx

    Many doubt that Palin was McCain’s first choice. What Palin is, and why she is so popular with the GOP base, is that she is choice of the right-wing GOP leaders, as represented by Rush Limbaugh and James Dobson. What does that say about Senator McCain?

    Senator McCain is a good man with a stirring personal story. His selection of a vice presidential candidate, however, gives me pause about what a McCain presidency might actually be like.

    Nixon had a lot of experience prior to becoming president. So did Buchanan. Lincoln had little experience. Wilson had little experience. Where does history rank them now? The issue ought to be whether Obama or McCain has better judgment.

  83. I don’t mean to say that Governor Palin doesn’t have interesting ideas. Please correct me if I am wrong on the following. Governor Palin seems to have increased her popularity in Alaska by giving $1200 each to the citizens of Alaska from their oil fund. Does not the money come from oil revenues? Am I missing something here? Sounds like what Republicans say they are against. Sounds like Hugo Chavez. Sounds like an interesting idea. I wonder what people would say if Senator Obama proposed a windfall oil profits tax, the proceeds of which would be given directly to the citizenry.

  84. Another interesting idea from Alaska.

    “Under its license agreement with the state, TransCanada will get a $500 million subsidy in return for seeking federal regulatory approval for the project and finding customers for the pipeline. The license doesn’t guarantee construction of the project.”

    See http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601082&sid=acNe2vW46POk&refer=canada

    Why is Palin subsidizing a Canadian company? Isn’t this what Republicans are against? Do you think Senator Obama would be criticized if he did this?

  85. Obama has proposed such a windfall tax. It was a bad idea when Palin had it, and it is a bad idea now.

    What Obama’s supporters forget is that we can only tax US oil companies. The Saudis and Venezuelans are ecstatic about this idea. It simply puts US companies at a disadvantage. Pretty disingenuous considering Obama’s promise to get us off of foreign oil.

  86. And history ranks W Wilson as an incredibly naive president who thought we could eliminate war by talking more. Sound familiar?

    When it comes to foreign policy, Nixon doesn’t have such a bad record (I certainly won’t make similar claims about integrity or domestic stuff). Detente with Russia (as opposed to crisis after crisis, and personal embarrassment, under Kennedy); withdrawal from Vietnam (as opposed to entrance by Kennedy and escalation from 17000 advisers to over 500,000 troops under Johnson); meeting with China (not in a hokey, I’ll talk with anyone sort of way, but instead, as a result of careful, sophisticated diplomacy).

    In fact, when it comes to foreign policy, the Kennedy/Nixon comparison is quite telling. Kennedy spent his first almost two years being naive – after having made false claims about the missile gap and Cuba during his campaign (similar to Obama’s false claims about the surge, for example, though he has now admitted it has worked – though claiming that nobody expected it to work!!!). His meeting with Khrushchev was an absolute embarrassment by his own account. Kennedy learned the hard way that experience does matter when it comes to foreign policy, a lesson both Obama and Palin will have to learn at some point. The difference is that for Obama it will be on-the-job training; for Palin, it will be after observing for some time (at least four years, I would predict). Yes, the Palin choice does make the GOP look a little dumb, but not as dumb as the Obama campaign, whose presidential candidate is now down to being compared to the GOP VP candidate, since he looks so foolish in comparison to McCain.

    These feeble attempts to make Obama look more experienced than Palin are a joke. I will no longer make the case that Palin is any better than Obama. I think we might as well call it a tie, since he has a year or so extra in the Senate (meaning lots of extra absent votes), and she has executive experience (at least she had to show up!). They are both hopelessly inexperienced; the difference is that Palin doesn’t have to be in the hot seat on day one. Obama does.

  87. Ryan,

    The fact that Senator Obama can run a successful campaign against the most powerful machine in the Democratic party while still serving as a senator doesn’t seem to impress you about the man’s abilities.

    Speaking of jokes, historians would laugh at your rating of the experienced Nixon ahead of the inexperienced Wilson as a president. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_rankings_of_United_States_Presidents

    How about the hopelessly inexperienced Lincoln in comparison with the very experienced Buchanan?

    The issue is not experience, which seems to have little correlation with presidential success, but judgment. The issue with Palin is that her selection reflects on McCain. She may turn out to be popular with the GOP base, but her politics look more like George Bush’s. McCain Palin = Bush III. Four more years. Or will it be four more wars? Iran, Georgia, etc.

  88. I have to hand it to the GOP. Sarah Palin stands for the things Republicans say they hate, but they love her as one of their own. She massively increased spending. See

    Alaska is run as a welfare state – they pay no state income or sales taxes and receive 80% of their state budget funds from oil revenues. They also receive $1.84 in federal funds for every $1 their residents pay in federal income tax.

    See http://www.federalnewsradio.com/?nid=185&sid=1454830

    That last point, receiving massively more federal funds than paying for in federal taxes will be hard to duplicate on the national level, but then again President Bush did manage massive increases in the deficit. McCain Palin = Bush III.

  89. – This whole idea of counting the campaign as experience is a little strange. Remember, the McCain came back to win the GOP despite major hostility from the other candidates and being considerably outspent by Romney; but you won’t hear him falling back on that to justify his campaign. Further, was Biden’s massive campaign failure a reflection of lack of abilities? If all a person has for experience is the campaign itself, then that is a pretty sad assessment.

    – The fact remains that JFK, for example, made some severe blunders due to his lack of experience. We have already seen this with Obama; hence the need for him to hedge severely on things like his promise to personally meet with Ahmadinejad without preconditions. Further, as long as we’re talking about judgment, should we consider his statement last year that the Surge would never work to be poor judgment? This in light of his recent interview in which he claimed that the Surge has worked beyond what anyone expected (news flash: MCCAIN EXPECTED IT TO BE SUCCESSFUL!).

    The truth is, Obama opposed the Surge because he and all democrats knew that they would be damaged if the GOP had a success in Iraq. The most dangerous thing about this whole war is that the Dems have an incentive to make it worse! Casualties=votes for Democrats. Obama and the rest knew this a year ago when they opposed the Surge.

    Further, why did the oh-so-prescient Obama speak out against the invasion when so many Dems in Congress favored it? Because the Dems in Congress had the same faulty intelligence that Bush had, which had come from the Clinton administration NIE. Obama’s “judgment” would likely have been different had he been in Congress, considering his historical tendency to vote the Democrat party line. Since this is the only instance his supporters point to to demonstrate “judgment,” and his actual campaign is his record of ?experience,” I’m a little confused as to what real advantage he has in this race. He knows this as well, since he is spending his time comparing himself to the GOP VP candidate instead of the #1 as he should. Give me a break.

  90. Essentially, when it comes to this experience debate, both campaigns sound ridiculous.

    The Dems have spent all this time saying experience doesn’t matter, but now they’re attacking Palin’s lack thereof. I thought you said it didn’t matter!

    The GOP has said it’s crucial, but they’ve chosen a VP with essentially the same amount of experience as Obama. I thought experience was important!

    But, in the end, at least the inexperienced GOP candidate is the VP, not the President!

  91. WHY CAN”T WE HEAR WHAT THE CONDIDATES WILL BE DOING FOR THE COUNTRY rather than bashing each other??????

  92. So much for Palin appealing to women.

    Latest CNN poll, conducted completely after RNC:

    Men: 62% have favorable opinion of Palin, 23% unfavorable.
    Women: 53% have favorable opinion, 30% unfavorable.

    Men: 57% say Palin is qualified to serve as President if needed
    Women: 43% say Palin is qualified

    Of course, some of this may simply be that men are more likely to be Republicans.

  93. Assemblies of Gad are not protestants. Protestants are religions that protested and broke away from the catholic church, or a religion that broke a way from a protestant church. Assemblies of God, United Pentecostal, non denominational, evangelical, Jehovah’s witness, are all called spring up churches, because they came form nothing. They just started up. Seventh day Adventist, Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ, Community of Christ (RLDS), and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (MORMON, LDS) are all called Restoration Churches, Because they all Believe that there church was recreated through revelations given by God after Centuries of the Apostasy of the original church of Jesus.

  94. Doctrinally, however, AoG is probably more similar to protestants than to any other group.

  95. Ryan,

    “What Obama’s supporters forget is that we can only tax US oil companies.”

    Why can’t we and why shouldn’t we tax foreign oil imports?

  96. We are just getting to know Sarah Palin, and there is stuff to like and stuff not to like.

    When asked to reveal something about Palin that no one knows, one woman offered, “She doesn’t care for cats very much,” and another chimed in, “Oh, yes, she’s afraid of my cat.” A third added, “She lives off of caffeine and chocolate.”


    Well, she loses my vote on cats, but gains it back on chocolate, then loses it again on caffeine.

    Then there is this on her use of per diem expenses while she stays home.


    A maverick on spending? In a way. Not necessarily a good way.

    How would the GOP react if Hillary had done that?

  97. Ryan,

    You wrote that “whole idea of counting the campaign as experience is a little strange.” Actually, I think knowing how a person manages his campaign is very important in gauging what he or she will be like as president, and maybe is the most important experience a politician can have, because it teaches him about who the American people are what they want from their government.

    I give credit to John McCain for bringing his primary campaign back from the dead. I liked the old John McCain in 2000 and wondered how we could win in 2008 without embracing the Karl Rove style of politics. Know I know he has decided to embrace it, which lessens him in my view.

    And I find Biden safe, but somewhat boring compared to the other candidates. After the last eight turbulent years, I am ready for a little boring. The conservative columnist David Brooks, liked the choice of Biden for the sake of the country. See http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/22/opinion/22brooks.html?_r=1&em&oref=slogin
    Was the Palin choice the best for the country (Country First) or for the sake of the party (Party First)?

    The fact is that the most experienced hands in the Bush administration (Rumsfeld, Cheney, et al) led the country into mistakes worse than JFK’s. Nixon’s foreign policy had its upsides (China) and downsides (Cambodia, Vietnam). His high point (China) came when he broke with Republican orthodoxy.

    Your assertion that “Obama opposed the Surge because he and all democrats knew that they would be damaged if the GOP had a success in Iraq” I find to be a highly offensive partisan slander produced without any evidence whatsoever. See above about Karl Rove-style politics.

    A little known fact, revealed in Woodward’s new book, is that the Pentagon opposed the surge. Do you think the Pentagon opposed the surge because they wanted to damage the GOP? One downside of the surge is that it diverted our resources and attention away from the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, a downside the experienced hands at the Pentagon were well aware of. Moreover, the goal of the surge was to allow time for the parties in Iraq to unite politically. They have done so on at least one point. They want the U.S. to agree to a timetable to exit Iraq, something the experienced Senator McCain opposes. Iraqi’s are signing blood oaths against the occupation of their country. (http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5gM8XiW7sV5geqmUzh-bIVdGyOVuA). McCain has no problem staying in Iraq a hundred years. The Iraqi’s have a big problem with that.

    The comparison we ought to be making is not Palin to Obama (Obama wins that one in my view), but Palin to Bush, where the comparison is striking, and Obama still wins in my view because McCain +Palin = Bush III. Four more years of the Bush policies means more war and more economic decline.

  98. Leo,

    1. “Why can’t we and why shouldn’t we tax foreign oil imports?” Absolutely! But that is not Obama’s plan, is it? He plans a windfall profits tax, which he will be legally unable to impose on foreign companies. The best solution to this oil mess is a Pigovian tax – which would indeed tax all oil companies proportionally. This is the favored solution of a majority of economists, Thomas Friedman, and many others. Obama would really impress me if he would make good on his “new kind of politician” promises and support this, despite its enormous political risks. Neither he nor McCain have the guts. For now, McCain’s plan promises to increase our addiction, and Obama’s plan promises to put US companies at a disadvantage, thus increasing our dependence on foreign oil! How is this “change”? Change from Bush to be sure, but this “solution” only makes things worse – and makes Obama’s promise to get us off foreign oil much more disingenuous! And making promises that you can’t keep makes you the same as every other politician (that’s straight out of Obama’s illustrious, leg-tingling book).

    I have argued for the Pigovian tax, which would answer your question, here and many other places.

    2. My insinuations about Dem motives for opposing the Surge are based on simple common sense. Is it true, or not, that Dems have benefited politically from casualties in Iraq? If they were really interested in fixing the problem, why did the Dems never ask for a change in strategy? The polls said “pull out”, so the Dems said “pull out,” refusing to talk about consequences. It’s that simple. Considering the power vacuum and absolute disaster that would have ensued had we pulled out a year ago (thus making Bush’s decision look even worse), it seems like the honest thing to do would be to argue for a new strategy instead of a reckless pullout. When I saw Obama on Meet the Press last year, asked what would happen if we pulled out quickly, he said something like “the Sunnis and Shiites and Kurds will see that they have to work together.” The assumption that they would get together and be friends after the Americans left is, frankly, laughable. Obama needed a history lesson (but luckily, as Biden remarked several months ago, “he’s learning”).

    I don’t have the faith in Washington that you have. This isn’t a partisan thing as you assert – I criticize Republicans just as much as Dems, as anyone who knows me can verify. I simply believe that if politicians see an opportunity for political gain, they will almost always seize it – Democrat or Republican (I don’t share your belief that one party is inherently worse than the other). Dems knew that more troops would stabilize, thus helping Bush and the GOP. This isn’t slander. My study of political science has made me just jaded enough to believe that politicians can’t be trusted. I don’t know that you’ll be able to convince me otherwise.

    And on that topic about politicians, I don’t share your ability to swallow Obama’s rhetoric hook, line, and sinker. Simply saying you are bipartisan doesn’t mean you are (97% voting with Dems means he’s not). Simply saying you’ll bring change doesn’t mean you will (Obama’s platform is little different from any recent Democrat platforms. Change from Bush, yes. Change for Washington, no). Simply saying you are free from special interests is no different, if you have the unions and corn ethanol money in your pocket. I just don’t buy this stuff, from Obama or McCain. Hence my emphasis on experience, since I believe it to be the only way we can judge a politician’s rhetoric.

    3. Your point about experience in the Bush admin is valid. Yes, Cheney and Rumsfeld were old hands in the GOP. Another set of people with experience were Rice and Powell. Powell was dead set against the invasion until the mass of botched intelligence (twisted by Cheney/Rumsfeld) forced his hand. Further, keep in mind that previous to Nov 2002, the Senate had a majority of Democrats! What made a majority of those Dems vote in favor of the war? I can think of two reasons: (1) they had access to the hurriedly prepared NIE, based on the one from the Clinton admin, indicating the presence of WMDs (even Bill was on board, remember?). or (2) the polls showed that America wanted to go to war. Now, I don’t want to make a partisan slander and indicate that polls were the motives for those innocent, purely motivated Democratic politicians. But the fact remains that the Bush admin was not the only group crying for Saddam’s head. And, we will never know, but I think it’s foolish to assume that Obama, who votes Dem party line 97% of the time, would have acted any different if he had the same pressures and information as those other Dems. I think it’s safe to say that there’s a 97% chance he would have conformed, which is good enough for most statisticians (certainly most social scientists).

    Further, the “little known fact” that the Pentagon opposed the surge has been common knowledge in the BYU poli sci building for some time. Rumsfeld held considerable sway over the amount of troops in Iraq from the beginning. Against his advisers and military experts (and John McCain), Rumsfeld wanted a strategy of light forces and minimal footprint. He and his supporters in the DoD saw the Surge as a refutation of his strategy, and therefore opposed it. This was both well known and predictable.

    The rhetoric of the Dems during the Surge debate was just not as intelligent as Dems would give them credit for. It presented a false dichotomy: pull out or stay forever. It ignored the possibility of a positive change in strategy. Whatever their motives were, that’s bad governing. Their continued denial of the Surge’s progress as months went by, despite the obvious reductions in violence, simply confirms my hypothesis (in my mind).

    Finally, do you suppose the Iraqi government would be asking for a timetable if the Surge had not occurred? I doubt it. It’s fabulous that they are able to do this. It’s lucky for the Dems that the facts on the ground have come full circle, now agreeing with Dem rhetoric just as the facts agreed with GOP rhetoric 6 months ago. This is politics as usual, and Obama plays the game as well as anyone.

    3. I’m surprised that you cite Vietnam as one of Nixon’s blunders. Shady things happened there to be sure, but lets not forget that when he took over from Johnson (Democrat?) there were over 500,000 troops there. When he resigned, the war was basically over. The blame can go all around. The bottom line is that Nixon was a brilliant FP strategist, using his political capital to build relationships with China and Russia that created an unprecedented detente (please don’t interpret this to mean that I think Nixon was a good president). I just don’t see Obama having the same instincts. But I hope I’m wrong.

    4. While your reference to McCain and 100 years of troops fits Dem talking points well, we both know it’s disingenuous and has been abused out of context.

  99. Ryan,

    re oil:

    U.S. companies are inherently at a disadvantage because companies like Aramco and others are pumping their own oil from their own land hand in glove with their government. No tax policy can change that. It is not a free market. We are facing government run cartels. Against, say, Total, we are doing just fine and will continue to do just fine even with some additional taxes.

    I own stock in several major oil companies. One of my sons works for a major oil company as a geophysicist. Two other sons have been working in the energy-economics field, and one of them previously worked for a major oil company as an engineer. Big oil is not my enemy. John McCain’s plan of building lots nuclear power plants (by fiat?) would also potentially threaten oil companies. I am not necessarily against nuclear power, but if John McCain wants a lot more nuclear power, it will require government intervention in the economy (energy czar?), which will affect the other moving parts of our energy sector.

    Big oil makes big profits at $80/bbl. They make huge, windfall profits at $120/bbl. There is considerable evidence that the recent spike in oil prices and its sequent decline was the result of speculation and the collapse of a bubble. See http://www.cbc.ca/money/story/2008/09/10/oil-speculation.html

    The answer to speculation is better regulation of the oil futures market, requiring higher margins, etc. Big oil didn’t cause the speculation, but it reaped a huge windfall from it. Taxing some of that windfall would still leave the oil companies very well off. And those dollars could be invested in making our infrastructure more energy efficient (e.g. more public transportation) or given it back to the people (the Palin plan in Alaska).

    My own view is that we need a grand compromise on energy that addresses both the supply side and the demand side, one that address both the concerns of the Democrats and the concerns of the Republicans. Since the Democrats will likely control a majority of the Senate, but not a filibuster-proof majority, compromise will be necessary. My concern with the GOP is that they don’t seem to recognize global warming and peak oil as factors in the equation. Your advocacy of tax on oil and gasoline is commendable. I just don’t see Senator McCain, who advocated cutting gasoline taxes as implementing this change.

  100. Ryan,

    First of all, the war is Bush’s war. It was the war his administration wanted, and the Bush administration sold it to the country, and the Bush administration fed the country untruths to get us there.


    Whether they lied or just got it wrong, I will leave for another discussion. Whether President Bush has benefited from his war or not, I leave to another discussion. That Democrats have benefited from the casualties, I challenge, since in opposing the war, their patriotism is automatically questioned. Once blood is spilled, we are all asked to rally ‘round the flag. To point out the errors and negative consequences of the war is held to be not supporting the troops while they are taking casualties. A Peace Party is at a natural disadvantage.

    The Democrats have been divided on the war. I fear you have come to see “the Democrats” as “the other,” monolithic and suspect. One reason I like the Democrats is that they are not the party in power, and power corrupts. Another reason is that the Democrats are a larger, but more loosely organized party. But mainly I changed parties because when the rationale for the war turned out to be false, I knew I could no longer trust the party I once belonged to, the Republican Party, which had become the War Party. I am the one who doesn’t have faith in Washington here. You seem to still believe the Bush administration and its rhetoric, which is definitely in power and in Washington. If your study of political science has made you jaded enough to believe that politicians can’t be trusted, you nevertheless appear to still be trusting the War Party.

    About half of the Democratic caucus opposed the Iraq War. About half supported it. The Democrats offered multiple and varied solutions to the Iraq War’s problems, including changes in strategy. To say otherwise is a falsehood. Some wanted an immediate pullout. Many did not. Some wanted to partition Iraq. Some were critical of the surge, some voted for it. The bipartisan Iraq study group offered solutions other than the surge, which the Democrats generally supported. Perhaps Democrats wanted those changes because they honestly felt the war was a costly mistake and counter-productive to our country’s interests. But suppose they wanted a withdrawal because the people wanted a withdrawal. Isn’t that the essence of democracy, the thing we are supposedly fighting for? The Democrats are vitally concerned about the consequences of the war both on Iraq and America. To say otherwise is a slander. It is the Republicans that have played down the consequences.

    The administration attacked the Johns Hopkins University study on the number of excess deaths in Iraq. http://www.jhu.edu/jhumag/0207web/number.html

    By now the number of excess deaths from violence in Iraq is well over a million. http://www.opinion.co.uk/Newsroom_details.aspx?NewsId=88

    “Some 310,000 … were probably killed by US troops or by the US Air Force, with the bulk dying in bombing raids by US fighter jets and helicopter gunships on densely populated city and town quarters. In absolute numbers, that would be like bombing to death everyone in Pittsburgh, Pa. Or Cincinnati, Oh. Only, the US is 11 times more populous than Iraq, so 310,000 Iraqi corpses would equal 3.4 million dead Americans. So proportionally it would be like firebombing to death everyone in Chicago.”

    Then there are the 3 million Iraqi wounded in the past five years, the equivalent to 33 million Americans wounded, that is, the entire state of California crippled or in bandages.

    Then there are the 5 million displayed persons and the millions of widows.


    And if Democrats oppose this, their motives are called into question.

    People have long memories, and the people in Iraq are signing blood oaths to end the occupation of their country.

    You may call what we have done stabilization, and in a way it is, but the Iraqis see it as having created a charnel house out of their own land. No wonder one thing the they agree on is that we must set a timetable to leave. You make think our staying indefinitely will lead to a stable Iraq. In the long run, it won’t. You cannot make a desert and call it peace.

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