Because I'm a ground-breaking and of-the-moment kinda guy, I'll talk about something that everyone else has been talking about since last week, the nomination of Sarah Palin in particular and presidential politics in general.
This evening, my housemate, Scott, wandered in, and was really excited that McCain had chosen a woman as a running mate, he recognized this, correctly, as a historic moment. He is not a McCain supporter, and won't vote for him, but he still thought this was kind of cool. Scott was very clear-eyed about this, though, and recognized it as a political move that was designed to attract more women to the Republican ticket in general, and some of Clinton's supporters in particular.
Surprisingly, he and I were both in agreement that there was nothing particularly shocking or unbalanced about this. Yes, Palin was a political choice, an attempt to make the Republican ticket more unconventional and to pull voters who might otherwise be apathetic or even turned off. But, you know what, Obama's selection of Joe Biden was also a political move aimed at balancing the Democratic ticket and gaining or retaining people who might otherwise have cast their votes elsewhere. McCain is trying to show that he's the maverick that he never really was by putting someone unusual on the ticket, and Obama is trying to retain people concerned about his lack of experience by retaining a long-serving member of congress. In both cases, the candidates are playing the political game, and playing it relatively well. If you are going to damn or praise one party, the same accusations can be pushed in the other direction as well.
I will say this for the selection of Palin - it shows that McCain's got more guts than I had thought. I am impressed.
Unfortunately, I can not be impressed by the particular candidate. I don't care about how she is as a mother, and I wish people would stop talking about that. I am voted for a president and vice-president, not a mom and dad. I don't care about her family woes any more than I cared about Bill Clinton's infidelity - it's not relevant to the job that they are trying to get.
What leaves me concerned about Palin is not her family, not her gender, and not her age - the things that everyone keeps hammering on. What concerns me are her professed positions on issues that should concern us all, but that nobody is talking about.
She is an anti-science politician, being open to the teaching of creationism in public schools (if you are open to teaching religion in a science class as if it had the same factual basis as science, then you're anti-science), and taking politically safe but at-odds-with-scientific-consensus positions as regards human impacts to the environment.
She is opposed to comprehensive sex education. Although it is tempting to point to her own family here, her daughter's situation may well be nothing more than an ironic and unfortunate coincidence, and I wish that people would drop it. Her stance on the issue is what matters, and her stance is ideologically motivated and opposed to good practice.
In line with the last point, she has openly favored positions that owe little to a desire to make good policy and everything to do with either being a member of or at least appealing to a particular brand of religion.
So, I don't like her. I may think McCain is a bit more of a fighter than I had previously thought, I just wish he would make better choices.
Still, that being said, why do I have to go hunting for information on Palin's take on actual positions, while everyone is talking about what amounts to gossip? Why can't we look at how suited she is to the job that she is running for and not look at her family?
Oh, and one last thing. I keep hearing about how nobody would ask a man how he could run for office when he has family strife. This indicates that people clearly don't remember people asking exactly that about John Edwards. The fact of the matter is that people will use anything they can to go at a candidate that they don't like, sexism isn't prompting these questions, politics is.
Oh, and ot be fair, I don't like Biden either, but the reasons are less precise and would take longer to describe.