The truce is over, I am back to writing about the elections. In the latest installment of the Palin-Couric exchange, Palin has really outdone herself again. As a politician, Palin is free to have her political views on the issues of the day, and we as voters are free to agree or disagree with those views. So I will respect her views on abortion as a federal question. But in her answers to the follow-up questions — just as she does with every other follow-up question — she is so extremely uniformed about the issue, that her only remedy is to rearrange the syntax of her first answer, “sticking to her guns”, and hope that nobody notices. Unfortunately, these rephrased answers, which apparently have worked in Alaskan debates, highlight her utter lack of understanding of national issues and basic constitutional questions. For example, look at this exchange
Couric: What other Supreme Court decisions do you disagree with?Palin: Well, let’s see. There’s, of course in the great history of America there have been rulings, that’s never going to be absolute consensus by every American. And there are those issues, again, like Roe v. Wade, where I believe are best held on a state level and addressed there. So you know, going through the history of America, there would be others but …
Couric: Can you think of any?
Palin: Well, I could think of … any again, that could be best dealt with on a more local level. Maybe I would take issue with. But, you know, as mayor, and then as governor and even as a vice president, if I’m so privileged to serve, wouldn’t be in a position of changing those things but in supporting the law of the land as it reads today.
Can’t think of any? How many Supreme Court decisions in the past eight years have been 5-4 decisions? Isn’t this one of the most closely contested and politicized Supreme Courts in American History? The average American may not know that, but the average American should know that. How about just mentioning a couple of very bad Supreme Court decisions in the past like Dred Scott or Plessy v. Ferguson, or a good one like Brown v. The Board of Education. I might have studied those in law school, but I learned about them in elementary school. Surely a vice presidential candidate should have at least an elementary school education. Right?
How about her assertion that as a mayor, governor, or vice president, she will not be in a position to address these issues? That is not only absurd, it is contrary to the powers vested in those positions. Whether she was speaking specifically about federalism or generally about affecting constitutional decisions, she is flat out, and shockingly, mistaken. To begin with, the new president may potentially be adding three Supreme Courts Justices to the bench in the next two terms. Although the president, and not the vice president, will make those nominations, the vice president is also the president of the Senate, a.k.a., the tie breaker in a confirmation vote.
Remember mayors, governors, and even vice presidents (in belonging to the president’s administration) are executives. As executives they play their role in the balance between federal and state laws. They set the agenda, prosecute the laws, have the police at their disposal, run the administrative departments. I am sure that Ms. Palin is further aware that the post-Roe v. Wade jurisprudence gives greater deference to the states on regulating abortions during the first trimester (i.e., parental consent for minors, etc). As a state governor, doesn’t she play a role in setting those limits? Even state governors have an important constitutional function. Three fourths of the states must ratify any constitutional amendment in order to modify the Constitution. Does she live in a vacuum in Alaska?
But what is most shocking to me is that the press, in its need to appear impartial and argue both sides of the story, is not being completely impartial here and calling a spade a spade. There are no two sides to the story. This person is undeniably unqualified to be vice president. Full stop! Sure, she may do great in the debate tonight. Her only real recourse is to come out swinging. Attack Obama and avoid answering direct questions. That doesn’t make her qualified. She has had made some 20 public appearances (but only three interviews) in the same span of time that Biden has made 70. Where has she been? She’s been sequestered like an Al Qaeda suspect until she can give the correct answers. Now the Republicans are trying to spin that the debate’s moderator is a secret Obama supporter. Where is the press? Shouldn’t the press stand up for Gwen Ifill and say, “Enough is enough”. Shouldn’t the press, like Fareed Zakaria or Republican commentator Kathleen Parker have done, be more responsible?