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Oglesby: A look at GOP decisions, here and nationwide

POSTED: September 16, 2008 5:01 a.m.

We need to end the controversy over the Hall County GOP executive committee’s action against candidate Bob Vass. Nonetheless, a member of that committee asked that I let people know that while the vote was correctly reported as unanimous, the full committee membership was not unanimous.

Several members were absent and he and probably some other absent members would have voted no. Had they been present to discuss their misgivings, some of the voting members may have realized the negative ramifications of what they were about to do. It appears no apologies are coming.

Shame on the Democratic National Committee for not following its well-stated rules regarding early primary dates. As written before, I believe political parties need the right to establish their rules without state interference. Once set, they ought to be followed, with violators suffering the promised penalties. Otherwise, future violations are inevitable and public trust in the process is damaged.

We ought to be able to say some good things of presidential tickets, even on the other side. I don’t question Barack Obama’s patriotism and love of country. He’s a gifted, inspiring orator whose rhetoric is lofty and idealistic. That rhetoric is surpassed only by its lack of doable substance.

His running mate, Joe Biden, complements his candidacy well. Biden is a proven family man and fills a big Obama gap, foreign policy. His voting record ensures the big-government, big-tax, income-transfer philosophy would continue should he have to assume the presidency.

The National Journal rated Obama the most liberal Democratic senator with Biden No. 3. To put that in perspective, Hillary Clinton was No. 15.

Biden’s selection effectively took Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee out of GOP nominee John McCain’s finalist list. McCain wouldn’t need him to shore up the Southern state evangelicals. Biden won’t play in Dixieland.

It also probably eliminated my favorite, maverick Sen. Joe Lieberman, because he wouldn’t enthuse the necessary Dixie base.

I figured former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney’s ties to several big electoral vote states and economic background might outweigh likely religious concerns of Southern Baptist evangelicals would put him in the top three finalists. Popular Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (big electoral vote battleground state) and Minn. Gov. Tim Pawlenty, (a battleground state Obama has targeted) also might attract interest in neighboring battleground states. All of these brought executive branch experience to McCain.

I thought a woman on the ticket could attract a number of disappointed Clinton supporters and knew Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was on the short list, but frankly had rated her chances no better than fourth. Alaska only has three electoral votes and usually is a reliable GOP state. So, yes, I was caught off guard by her selection.

I agree it was vintage McCain. Like him, Palin is a party maverick who understands that effective governing requires working across party lines to get things done that need to be done. Her family is working class blue-collar who really understands common concerns. She should please the evangelical base and erase a belief that the GOP has a political glass ceiling. She’s 30 years younger than McCain and has executive branch experience.

State population apparently doesn’t matter in either party. Bill Clinton, who likewise had no foreign policy experience, administered a smaller budget. Her selection leaves Democrats groping for something to attack. They could criticize her short political resume much as Republicans did Harry Truman’s in 1944.

Obama stresses change. She has been practicing what he preaches, taking on her own party’s leadership establishment and producing change. The difference between Palin’s accomplishments and Obama’s rhetoric is the philosophical basis: She is for limited government, he is for big government; she is for tax decreases, he is for tax increases and income transfer; she is for conservative judicial appointments, he is for liberal appointees.

Palin was the closest fit among the finalists to Lieberman if McCain was seeking a record of working across party lines to accomplish things that need to be accomplished instead of delayed. That is the type of change I think this country wants.

Finally, don’t forget the Sept. 20 Kiwanis pancake breakfast and to sign up at BULLI for the terrorism course I’m teaching. You won’t regret either, and you’ll be glad you did both.

Ted Oglesby is retired opinion page editor, He can be reached at P.O. Box 663, Gainesville, GA 30506. His column appears biweekly and on gainesvilletimes.com.



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