I want to start by saying that I agree 100% with Barack Obama about families being off-limits. I simply will not repeat or countenance the various stories, confirmed or otherwise, about Governor Sarah Palin's family.
All that aside, I am almost eager to hear the justifications which are likely to be spouted by people who spent endless political cycles questioning Barack Obama's patriotism, but will now find the fact that Governor Sarah Palin used to belong to an overtly secessionist political party (see one account
). And yet, I am still not necessarily going to hold that against her, as people have a right to both free speech and to change their minds. It does seem that we could hold candidates to a higher standard, but perhaps we won't.
The person who I would hold accountable is Senator John McCain. He claims to have fully vetted his vice-presidential running mate, and that is getting increasingly hard to believe. There seem to be two equally damning possibilities. The first is that he did not carefully vet Governor Sarah Palin, which would then speak to his rashness and lack of judgment. The second is that he did carefully vet Governor Sarah Palin, which would certainly include examining her publicly acknowledged part affiliations, and that he decided that a former member of an explicitly secessionist party was suitable, and that her membership was not worthy of public notice. That would speak to his judgment as well, but would also raise serious questions about his honesty, both due to hiding a political bombshell from his own party and to his honesty in lambasting both Barack and Michelle Obama about their patriotism when it is clearly less of a big deal than he really believed.
I would have to bet on a completely inadequate job vetting Governor Palin. It is easier to believe that in the rush to grab attention away from Senator Barack Obama's speech, watched by at least 40 million Americans, Senator McCain made a rash and impulsive "Hail Mary" move with a candidate who had not been seriously enough considered, than that he made a completely idiotic decision with the knowledge now out there. He is certainly not known to be a stupid man, but he is known to be rash and impulsive, and this seems to be fairly clear evidence.
Update: It has been pointed out that the original person claiming that Sarah Palin was a member of AIP has now backed down from the claim. Todd Palin, Governor Palin's husband, was a long time member, and she has had several contacts including giving speeches to the conventions, but I should clarify that there is no evidence she was actually a member. This does not really change my conclusion about the vetting process, but at least it is less of a bombshell than it might have been, fortunately.
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