Oh, What a Week

Sarah Palin and John McCain

By the end of the Democratic National Convention last week my feet were aching but my spirit was soaring. I loved meeting People For members, and had a chance to connect with a lot of progressive advocates, political leaders, and potential donors. Our standing-room-only panel on the future of the Supreme Court was thoughtful and lively. Several of our staff did magnificent jobs in other panel discussions throughout the week. And the whole event felt like history in the making.

I hadn't even gotten home when the afterglow was interrupted by the announcement on Friday that John McCain had selected Sarah Palin, the governor of Alaska, to be his running mate. Like many others, we’ve been busy since then looking at her record, and when it comes to the issues we care about, it's not pretty.

Let me state clearly that I have spent my whole career working to give women the opportunity to take leadership roles. I am opposed to the media or anyone else judging women candidates on their hair, hemlines, or anything other than their policies, positions, and qualifications. I agree with Sen. Barack Obama that this campaign should not be about Palin's children, and as a mother, I appreciate that at least from the outside it appears that her teenage daughter is getting support at a difficult time.

In other words, let's judge Palin on her political positions and her record — and let's judge John McCain based on this important decision. Here's some of what we know already, with more coming out by the hour:

  • Palin opposes women's access to abortion, even in cases of rape or incest
  • she has a strong anti-equality record, opposing domestic partner benefits for gay couples, marriage equality, and expansion of hate crimes laws
  • as a mayor she reportedly asked about banning books from the library and threatened to fire a librarian who resisted
  • she supports the teaching of creationism in public school science classrooms

No wonder our Right Wing Watch blog reports that even the most extreme Religious Right leaders are falling all over themselves to gush about Palin — James Dobson even called her "God's answer" to prayer. When McCain floated the possibility of a pro-choice running mate, Religious Right leaders threatened to tank the campaign. The campaign caved, and the Religious Right got what they wanted. So much for Mr. Maverick.

Sarah Palin has proven that she knows how to win local and statewide elections, and I encourage progressives not to take her too lightly or dismissively. Given what we're learning about her record and political beliefs, there's plenty of reason to question her selection by McCain, and to remind Americans what their election would mean for the future of the Supreme Court and for our rights and liberties. With your help, that's what we're going to do.

Let me know what you think at Kathryn@pfaw.org.

PFAW