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Palin and Obama should be partners, not foes

October 12, 2008|By JONATHAN R. BURRS

The firestorm of media criticism, newspaper headlines, online community forum topics, back office and roundtable discussion resulting from Sen. John McCain's choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his vice presidential candidate has caused nearly as much controversy and commotion in the 2008 race for the White House as the historic Democratic Party primaries contest between Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Within minutes of the McCain announcement, political pundits from coast to coast expressed views - both pro and con - about what appears to be a decision resembling the "change" Barack Obama proclaims and maintains as a key campaign message.

In fact, Obama's choice of Sen. Joseph Biden as his vice presidential running mate is more indicative of business-as-usual D.C. politics than supportive of his message for changing America.

While word quickly spread regarding Palin's historic vice presidential candidacy, fears of her candidacy became evident when the Democratic political war machine went quickly into full swing.

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In less than three years, Palin's public service career has metamorphosed from an unknown Alaskan mayor to becoming Alaska's first woman governor and currently the first female vice presidential candidate representing the Republican Party.

Quickly forgetting Obama's short résumé, Palin's city council and less than two years of gubernatorial experience has been used by spin doctors and biased news media reporting to depict Palin as McCain's unqualified puppet as opposed to the strong leader and people's champion that she is.

Susan Reimer of The (Baltimore) Sun alleges in her Sept. 1, 2008 article, "A woman - but why this woman?" that McCain's main objective for choosing Palin was to "woo" women like herself. Reimer's article characterized Hillary Clinton as an utterly qualified woman candidate for president while describing Palin as a "utterly unqualified woman for vice president." It is reckless, erroneous and unimpressive rhetoric such as Reimer's that makes politics such a nasty game.

The unfortunate realities for Democrats are this - Palin has good credentials from her 16-year public service career, five more than Barack Obama! As a two-term City Council member and two term Mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, one of the fastest growing communities in the state, Palin established herself as a results-oriented public servant.

As mayor, she reduced property tax levels, increased services, and attracted new industry to Wasilla after creating a business-friendly environment. Her peers elected her president of the Alaska Conference of Mayors. There she worked with local, state, and federal authorities, promoting the needs of Alaska's communities.

She chaired the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and refused to be associated with Republican members she described as lacking ethics.

Palin's unrelenting pursuit of government and political accountability forced unscrupulous state political figures to resign from office. With gubernatorial experience, Palin is the only candidate on either the Republican or Democratic Party tickets who has served in the executive branch of government.

She is the current chair of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, a multi-state government agency that promotes the conservation and efficient recovery of domestic oil and natural gas resources while protecting health, safety and the environment.

Palin challenged big oil companies Exxon Mobil, BP, Chevron and ConocoPhillips with regards to Point Thomson leases, the North Slope pipeline and successfully raised taxes on oil windfall profits by 2.5 percent. Raising taxes on oil windfall profits has been a common campaign pledge of Sen. Obama.

At the end of the day, Palin's overall political career is evidence of her being a hands-on progressive government administrator and skilled politician, forgotten and unappreciated qualities in today's political arena.

Indeed, Sen. McCain is the weak link on the Republican presidential ticket and as evident in two presidential debates against Sen. Obama, he is unable to pose a viable challenge to Obama on any major issue facing Americans, particular the economic crisis largely resulting from across-the-board poor policies of the Bush administration. For those of you who haven't heard, McCain supported more Bush administration policy than he opposed it.

What is truly regrettable about the 2008 race for the White House is that the two people with the least number of years experience best represent the interest of the common person, while the two most experienced supported one of the worst and most costly mistakes in American history.

Barack Obama and Sarah Palin represent change to the status quo, hope for the hopeless and opportunity for the excluded.

They represent the best America has to offer and prove that the American dream is alive and well and achievable for those who reach for and pursue it.

They represent a changing of the guard from a graying good-ole boy political network, to a vibrant Generation X constituency poised and ready to lead this nation into the next phase of American history. Unfortunately, they are opponents in this election and not partners!

Jonathan R. Burrs is a Hagerstown resident who writes for The Herald-Mail.

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