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King: McCain chose a woman for the wrong reason

POSTED: September 23, 2008 5:01 a.m.

The United States may get its first female president after all.

There is no getting around John McCain's age. If elected he will be the oldest man ever to assume this office.

Life expectancy is going up, and a healthy man with access to top-notch medical care can expect to live well into his 80s. But an individual of 72 still faces a decline in mental and physical ability. At 76, I believe I can say this without being accused of age discrimination.

I've had a few 3 a.m. crisis calls myself, but I was younger then. I hate to think what one would do to my blood pressure today.

God bless John McCain, but he is only human, and that's why his vice president must be someone fully capable of taking command should anything happen to him.

But Sarah Palin wasn't chosen with this in mind, and it is a disservice to all of us: to woman, to the Republican Party and to the country.

From all I read, Palin is a capable woman. Any woman who can raise five kids and manage a career in politics at the same time has my respect, and I gotta hand it to a lady who gets up in the middle of the night in Alaska to go moose hunting.

But she wasn't picked for these reasons either. Palin was chosen to fill the second most important office in the country because she is anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage and anti-evolution.

This makes some Christian conservatives happy, but even if you support these values, you have to ask how they will be implemented. In other words, how do you force these positions on the rest of the country?

How do you prevent a determined woman from ending an unwanted pregnancy? Abortion was a crime in the days before Roe v Wade. It happened anyway. It's still prohibited in some parts of the world, but where abortion is illegal, women die and families suffer.

How do you prevent two loving same-sex individuals from committing their lives to each other? You can't. All you can do is deprive them of dignity and the rights other loving couples have.

How do you reverse over a hundred years of scientific research, research that forms the foundation of modern biology?

Creationism is not a scientific explanation for life. It's a spiritual explanation. Teaching creationism in the public schools undermines the separation of church and state and becomes another source of conflict between other religious people, good people with different beliefs who might otherwise be working together for the benefit of the whole.

The point is, putting a strict conservative in the White House is unlikely to change the progressive movement in this country, but it most certainly will create distrust and division in the body politic. Why did McCain do it?

It's another example of political pandering, a cynical attempt to appeal to women, to gun owners and social conservatives, and it is done at the expense of a country already in crisis. We have too many serious problems to play this sort of sorry political game.

This is why I, along with millions of others, am turning to Barack Obama. But what do we really know about the man? His speeches have the power to stir hope in the hearts of the public, but is that enough? Can he govern? More important, how will he govern?

There is no question that the Bush-Cheney administration could govern. For eight years they controlled the country, the courts, the economy, trade agreements, etc. And what did we get? War, recession and a mounting national debt.

How would Obama run the country? There is no sure way to tell now, but we can look at how he has run his campaign. The Obama campaign has been well-organized, positive and inclusive. For a man who seems to have come from nowhere, he already has changed history.

Change is inevitable. In less than six months, the United States will either have its first African-American president or its first female vice president, an individual who stands a heartbeat from the highest position in the land.

As much as I would like to see a woman in the White House, I want her to be a qualified women, not someone chosen to appeal to one particular part of the American religious spectrum.

Joan King lives in Sautee. Her column appears biweekly and on gainesville times.com.



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