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Sunday, August 31, 2008

A few thoughts on McCain's VP choice

[I am about to depart from a long-standing practice of not discussing my political choices within earshot of wife.  It isn't that we have such different politics, but rather that we have been very careful not to unduly influence each-other's choices.

So honey… if you want to maintain the mystery in this particular facet of our marriage, this would be a good time to click away.]

This past week John McCain, the boring old white guy who will be heading up the Republican ticket this fall, made himself – and this race – a whole lot more interesting.

Don't get me wrong, I like John McCain.  I like his political record of integrity and leadership.  I respect his personal record of service and honor.  And I have no doubt that he would make an excellent chief executive if elected.

However, one of my big problems with the Republican Party has always been that they tend to leave their best fruit on the vine until it is well past its prime… in much the same way that the Democrats seem to take particular pride in serving up political candidates who are roughly analogous of Beaujolais Nouveau.

Again, to be clear, I have nothing personal against Beaujolais Nouveau.  It's just that I agree with many wine critics when they call this trendy young wine 'simple' and 'immature' (Wine critic Karen MacNeil once compared drinking Beaujolais Nouveau to eating raw cookie dough).

The Democratic Party has just finished finalizing the nomination of Barak Obama, a bright, articulate Senator whose entire platform seems constructed of the word 'change'.  And given the inability or unwillingness of the Bush Administration to explain their vision, and to unify the country behind them, a promise of 'change' is actually a damned fine campaign strategy for the Dems.

But for all his unquestionable qualifications (I have been very active in slamming those who perpetuate/forward unfounded scare emails alleging BHO is some sleeper agent of international Jihad), Obama is an untested lightweight when it comes to the international arena.  He's also untested when it comes to leadership (being a Senator is a team sport).  More than that, too many of his stated positions on international relations seem constructed to allow for future back-peddling.  And lastly, suggesting the notion that 'no harm can come from talking' become a national policy is being proven wrong even as I write this as Iran continues to talk its way into the nuclear arms club.

So, I was not a bit surprised when I read that Sen. Obama had selected a well- seasoned old white guy (Sen. Joseph Biden) as his running mate to bring some depth to the ticket.

While Biden wasn't a foregone conclusion, the idea of a 'fill in the blank' old white guy was.  In much the same way that Dubya needed to put Dick Cheney on the ticket in order to gain some foreign policy cred… Obama knew that the world beyond America's borders is far too turbulent right now for undecided voters to simply trust a young charismatic Commander-In Chief to get up to speed with 'on-the-job training'. 

Quite simply, for all the comparisons between Obama and JFK… Kennedy got off extremely lucky with the Cuban Missile Crisis, and history has shown that the Cuban/American relations might never have been pushed to the brink of sparking WWIII if not for Kennedy's disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion the previous year.

A friend of mine who is a well-connected political consultant in the US, emailed me a few weeks ago with his prediction of who McCain would choose as his running mate.  He tossed the name Carly Fiorina out with the observation that she "might even put California in play".

In my one sentence response I wrote, "I know it will never happen, but I would love to see him pick Sarah Palin (http://gov.state.ak.us/ )".

Now before you go thinking I am some kind of political genius, let me make a confession (yes, this is also for the benefit of my political consultant friend who is probably still stunned that I nailed it).  I had only heard the name Sarah Palin a few weeks before I named her as my preferred Republican VP choice.   I'd read about her on a friend's blog (who, at the time was doing a private rain dance for Palin's nomination), and I decided to do a bit more reading to find out who she was.

What I read resonated nicely along many (but not all) of the issues that are important to me:

1.  Gender:  First and foremost, she is a woman.  I'm not normally one for arbitrary gender, ethnic or religion-based political moves, but the idea of a woman on the Republican ticket really resonated with me.  For all his good qualifications, McCain often comes off as distant, and even cold.  A qualified young woman as his VP suddenly paints the team in warm, saturated colors.  I also knew that Obama pissed off a lot of his base by not putting Hillary on the ticket.  Many of those votes are now in play.

2.  Age:  Did I say she was young.  Gov. Palin is 44!  Every election year the major parties alienate younger voters by not giving them a reason to see the process as relevant to them.  Obama took a giant step away from this untapped younger demographic when he selected Biden (an old white guy) as his VP choice.  McCain (another old white guy) took a giant step towards these young voters with his selection of an athletic young woman who runs, fishes, admits to having smoked pot (when it was briefly legal in Alaska) and who delights in 'sticking it to the man'.

3.  Shaking things up:  In this case, 'the man' Sarah Palin has been sticking it to is the Republican Party… and she has made her way to the top of Alaskan politics by cutting away all the old-boy trappings of the way Republicans had been doing business there for years.  She was elected on a platform of change, and within hours of being elected she went to work ruthlessly cutting pork, eliminating waste, undoing last-minute political appointments made by her Republican predecessor and even putting the Governor's private Jet up for sale on eBay!  I guess being new, nobody told her she couldn't do all that.

4.  Abortion:  We saw in the last election that the republicans were able to line up the 'red states' along a seam-line composed of issues collectively known as 'family values'.  One of these things which decided the election was that, like it or not, a large part of the voting public is anti-abortion.  For the record, I am very much in favor of protecting a woman's legal right to seek a safe abortion.  However, this is only because my religion very clearly places a higher value on the life of the mother, and requires the termination of the unborn fetus in cases where it endangers the life of the mother.  I don't view abortion as an acceptable form of birth control.  So, you can well imagine that reading that Sarah Palin was very firmly in the anti-abortion camp bothered me deeply.  However, I can respect McCain's decision to bring a woman on-board to give voice to this issue since IMHO, his lack of a uterus completely disqualifies him to offer a public opinion on the matter.  I say let the public debate be about the issue, not whether a bunch of old white guys are qualified to talk about, or decide, the issue.

5.  Drilling:  Although I regret the unfortunate imagery in having this one follow the last, just as it makes perfect sense to have a woman give voice to the party's stance on laws related to a woman's reproductive organs, it makes perfect sense to have Alaska's Governor speaking about the issue of drilling for oil in America's largest, and most pristine state.  In this case it is interesting to note that McCain has been consistently against drilling, while Palin is all for it.  Just as with abortion, I shut up and listen when someone with a personal stake in the outcome of the discussion starts talking. Ultimately, I would like to see America weaned off foreign oil altogether and develop alternative energy sources... but in the short term it makes sense to kick the Saudi habit as soon as possible and develop a dependable domestic supply.

6.  Gay rights:  Just as I was bothered by Palin's stance on abortion, I was initially put-off by her stance on Gay rights.  Ironically, this issue is an issue where my religious views do not line up with my political ones… nor do they have to.  Unlike abortion, where Jews have a vested interest in making sure the legal option is available in cases where it is religiously mandated, Judaism's views on homosexuality have no bearing whatsoever on whether or not same sex marriage should be regulated by the government.  Quite simply, we have no dog in the fight (i.e. it will not affect Jews one bit if the state empowers a gay couple to legally call themselves husband and, um, husband), so it is hypocritical of us to try to influence the outcome for or against gay marriage.  To put it in terms that are, perhaps, closer to home… for Jews to come out against Gay rights would be as repugnant as non-Jews trying to bring legal obstacles to the construction of Eruv's in American communities.  At first blush, Sarah Palin is quite clearly against gay marriage.  She has spoken out against it and voted against it.   But not so fast!  As Governor, her first veto was used to shoot down legislation that would have denied same sex domestic partners the same public employee benefits, such as health insurance, enjoyed by their heterosexual counterparts and married couples.  It would appear that Gov. Palin is capable of taking a nuanced approach on complex issues!  In fact, her willingness to express opposition to same sex marriage yet use her veto to defend gay rights gives me hope that she might also hold nuanced views on abortion.

7.  Israel:  I've had a good chuckle over the past few days as I've seen Jewish democrats rushing to send out emails claiming that Sarah Palin is anti-Israel.  The sum total of the support for these claims comes from the fact that she hasn't yet visited Israel, and that almost ten years ago (early in her political career) she helped Pat Buchanan campaign when he visited the Alaskan town of which she was mayor.  People, deep breath please.  Sarah Palin has been Governor of Alaska for two years, and she was elected on a platform of eliminating junkets and public waste.  Not jetting off to the middle east is not a sign that she is anti-Israel.  It means she is serious about keeping her promise to her constituency to stay at home and work for them.  And as far as the whole Pat Buchanan thing goes, aside from the two sharing many (though not all!) conservative values, he was in a position to do far more for her fledgling political career than she for him.  During (and since) Pat's brief swing through a small Alaskan town where Sarah Palin happened to be the Republican Mayor, she hasn't embraced a single one of his more controversial and divisive platforms, and certainly hasn't echoed any of his well-known sentiments about Jews or Israel.  If anything, it is Buchanan who is now trying to jump on Palin's coat-tails, not the other way around.

So there you have it.  I'm not going to be campaigning for her (at least not here on treppenwitz), but I figured that a post about something that was on my mind would be in order.  Feel free to share your [respectful/polite] thoughts.

Zahava… if you are still reading this, I don't expect you to reciprocate and tip your hand.

Posted by David Bogner on August 31, 2008 | Permalink

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People who know me and a few people I've been in touch with online have heard me touting Palin for a few weeks now (though I basically stole the idea from a friend who wrote a strong case for her). I think there's even more that's great about her than what you have down, and this is reasonably thorough for a blog post - I told one liberal friend that I think the GOP just locked up the White House with this pick. There was certainly no better pick than Palin, whether or not it was enough we'll have to wait and see...!

Posted by: Ezzie | Aug 31, 2008 2:10:37 PM

I have been very active in slamming those who perpetuate/forward unfounded scare emails alleging BHO is some sleeper agent of international Jihad
Clever man! This is something I don't get. How can a reasonably intelligent person believe that Obama has managed to trick the whole of the Democratic party into folowing him while his agenda is to bring about an Islamic state is beyond my understanding.

I agree with most of your post and am grateful that you've articulated my thoughts so well, especially on abortion and gay rights! I am not so keen on Palin's love of hunting.
There is a distinction between personal opinions and pragmatism, and being able to distinguish between the two is a clear indication of political qualities.

Posted by: Ilana-Davita | Aug 31, 2008 3:00:03 PM

hey, time to run to the local lottery booth, 'cos you are definitely psychic! i was just writing to some people in israel to see what the average man/woman on the street response was the the vp choice and the completed tickets in general. thanks for your well rounded summary.

not to be too vague, but if you have as much info on palin as you appear to, you can probably figure out why this generally democratic leaning mom of six suddenly needs to give serious consideration to the republicans. as i read elsewhere; palin seems to be a politician who "walks her talk".

Posted by: Debbie | Aug 31, 2008 3:17:31 PM

just wondering; do you and Zahava maintain such a well informed interest in American politics for the sake of absentee voting? or just for the sake of being good citizens of the world? or is it just a nasty habit from your American living days?

Posted by: Debbie | Aug 31, 2008 3:30:44 PM

I was very disappointed when visiting friends recently and they kept talking about how even though Obama says he is Christian, with a name like his, how can he really be; how can he escape his (father's) history, etc. Man, like anyone name Cohen is automatically Jewish? (thinking of former SecDef...)

As for Palin, my boss told me to check CNN Monday late morning. My first thought was "wow, he must really want the women's vote." But then I looked her up on Wikipedia and was very impressed with her history. I still haven't decided which way I'm going on Nov 4th, they both have things that are good and things that aren't so good, but this is going to be a great election season regardless.

Posted by: JDMDad | Aug 31, 2008 4:00:54 PM

i love how people can call obama a muslim because of his middle name, and then in the same discussion call him an antisemite for quietly attending rev wright's sermons!

Posted by: fred | Aug 31, 2008 4:34:02 PM

david... fantastic post. thank you for your insight! all i have been hearing is negative buzz around sarah but was not really all that interested in researching her past. i gotta say she is exactly the type of woman i'd vote for in elections.

Posted by: ahuvah | Aug 31, 2008 5:55:27 PM

FWIW, I thought I'd been saying for a couple weeks that Carly Fiorina would be a great pick. She has real executive experience, has been a major player in the economy, dynamic, moderate and might appeal to Hillary voters.

But since no one else was touting her, I figure that there must have been something crazy about going for a non-politician.
I'm glad to see that someone in the business also thought she would be a good pick.

Posted by: Jonathan | Aug 31, 2008 6:03:25 PM

Palin proves in deeds her love and courage: being a proud mother of five children, and a son with Down syndrome, is a good sign. I do not agree with creationism (I agree that there is a Creator God, a different thing). In any case, I think that I could trust in this woman. Even with a not long political experience.
Good luck, America!
Santiago, Granada (Spain)
http://opinionciudadano.blogspot.com/

Posted by: Santiago | Aug 31, 2008 6:04:15 PM

It was a good pick...I like her.

We'll see...it is what it is.

Every smart man has a smart woman on his team.

Posted by: Yabu | Aug 31, 2008 6:35:18 PM

Wonderful piece as usual, Sir. FWIW, Palin is not a hardline creationist. From the Anchorage Daily News-----(October 2006)

http://dwb.adn.com/news/politics/elections/story/8347904p-8243554c.html

"In an interview Thursday, Palin said she meant only to say that discussion of alternative views should be allowed to arise in Alaska classrooms:

"I don't think there should be a prohibition against debate if it comes up in class. It doesn't have to be part of the curriculum."

She added that, if elected, she would not push the state Board of Education to add such creation-based alternatives to the state's required curriculum.

Members of the state school board, which sets minimum requirements, are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Legislature.

"I won't have religion as a litmus test, or anybody's personal opinion on evolution or creationism," Palin said."

Posted by: Ziggy | Aug 31, 2008 6:51:25 PM

Thanks for your nuanced view on this. I'm an Obama/Biden supporter. I'm also a native Delawarean whose rabbi (z"l) was "Biden's rabbi". Joe Biden is a bit Israeli in his tendency to tell you exactly what he's thinking, but I digress.

There are some issues that you haven't addressed that, for me, tip the scales in favor of Obama/Biden. Here they are in no particular order:

1. Education/Life experience/Seeing the other person's point of view- Biden and Obama are both attorneys. Obama is a constitutional law scholar who was on the Harvard law review and taught at U of Chicago for 10 years. This is refreshing change from an administration that routinely ignores the constitution. Meanwhile, Mccain was near the bottom of his class (There is a youtube clip of him saying this, as if he is proud of it.) and Palin has a minor in poly sci. Obama, who has lived in such diverse places as Indonesia, Hawaii, Chicago, and Boston, and Biden who is a foreign policy expert, both have "world views". Palin grew up in a tiny town and has spent her entire life surrounded by conservative white people who think alike. Unlike you, I doubt Palin has a nuanced view of certain issues. In fact, as she has confessed, she has no view of certain federal issues because she has no experience with them! In all, I believe she will toe the ultraconservative line.

2. Health care- Quite a huge difference which I'm not going to get in to.
3. Economy- The Bush administration has devalued the dollar, thrown us into near recession, and turned a surplus into a debt. Mccain shows that he knows nothing about the economy and will follow the Bush administration on everything.
4. Iraq/Afghanistan- Again, continuing the Bush administration's awful leadership
5. Supreme court judges- There have been some tragic 5-4 decisions lately because of the conservative supreme court justices such as the recent Ledbetter ruling. McCain promises "more of the same".
6. The way the campaigns have been run- Obama has run an amazing campaign, first against Hillary et al and now against John McCain. For example, in general, they take the high ground, minimizing negative ads. The McCain camp has been childish, making fun of Obama's popularity and relying on a lot of innuendo, for example.

The issue of Israel is very important to me, but I believe Obama and McCain are both great on Israel so this is not an issue that tips the balance in any way. We are fortunate to be in this situation

There will be an interview with Obama/Biden on 60 Minutes tonight which may be good to catch. http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=4400962n They ask him about Sarah Palin and, sticking to the issues, he does not even bring up her experience other than calling her "up and coming". I'd also suggest reading Obama's book(s).

Posted by: A | Aug 31, 2008 6:51:56 PM

Ever since I read his memoirs I've been a big fan of Senator Obama ... it will be refreshing to have a smart and nuanced guy in the White House.

As for Governor Palin, she seems like a smart choice (although her selection blunts McCain's ability to talk about Obama's inexperience ... the woman he's chosen to be one heartbeat away from the White House has even less).

But for me the entire American election this year is a one-issue election ... the Supreme Court. There's a strong chance that the next President will select replacements for three Justices: Stevens, Ginsburg, and Souter (who while younger than the other two is strongly rumored to be looking for the opportunity to retire).

Quite simply, I'd prefer to have a Democrat making those choices rather than a Republican.

Posted by: Andy Levy-Stevenson | Aug 31, 2008 6:58:28 PM

Thanks for sharing this information.

Posted by: a.eye | Aug 31, 2008 7:35:22 PM

Well written Trep! On the US national policy bit concerning Israel, I beg differ, from past experience a platform for short-term or long-term peace has been and will be negotiations – It would be disastrous to instigate a war before solid evidence explicitly indicates that Iran intends to use its nuclear technology on Israel (as a bargaining chip or otherwise), and a decision to destroy any facility in Iran made – the ripple effect would be seen for years to come. The kind of antagonism the Republican camp portrays on the issue is worrying.

Caveat – I am in a continent that wants to see Obama in power on ‘face value’ more than ‘change’, yet has no say whatsoever, on the outcome. :-)

Posted by: Rami | Aug 31, 2008 8:02:58 PM

Palin did more than wear a Buchanan button at one event. She was a fundraiser and supporter in the 1996 election.

And for all the attack on Obama's experience (which is a concern, I admit) Palin has far less experience. Being on the city council and a mayor that's just twice the size of my HIGH SCHOOL doesn't cut it for me.

Most importantly, we need a president who understands the importance of both hard power (military force) AND soft power (diplomacy). The Obama/Biden team is balanced whereas the McCain/Palin group need to learn that sometimes it's best to talk softly but carry a big stick. They got the last part, but missed the first part.

Posted by: amechad | Aug 31, 2008 8:23:10 PM

Someone just whispered "Foreign policy not National policy!" :-)

Posted by: Rami | Aug 31, 2008 8:39:08 PM

You've mentioned before how you never share with Zahava how you vote. I find that interesting. Have you never been actively involved with any campaign? I imagine if you were, that Zahava would probably figure out that you're voting for the candidate you're stumping for...

Posted by: Dave (Balashon) | Aug 31, 2008 8:42:42 PM

A few comments on the above post and comments, in no particular order:

What is wrong with Palin being a hunter? It's a time-honored American tradition. I don't hunt because I'm an Orthodox Jew, but I defend the right of Americans to own guns for protection and for hunting. I'm happy she is a defender of same, as gun control leaves guns in the hands of criminals, not the hunters and good citizens.

One can write off Obama's sitting in an anti-Semitic church for 20 years as opportunism, or just a peripheral part of the "message of Rev. Wright's..but Obama claimed Wright, with his anti-White anti-Israel anti-etc. screeds, was his MENTOR, not just some guy he fell asleep during his drashas during (not that I would ever do that in shule!). How does everyone so easily dismiss this, and the lies Obama told about it when he (finally) disavowed Wright late in the game?

Where are Obama's "Israel creds"? It seems quite easy to dismiss his statement that "no one is suffering more than the Palestinian people" and then his friendship with Rashid Khalili, a harsh enemy of Israel, dinner with Edward Said, picking a slew of anti-Israel foreign policy "experts" (and yes, he also picked some that were not anti-Israel).

Obama changes his mind to suit whatever is going on at the time, as in his flip about a united Jerusalem. Why should we trust this man?

I can't get into all the policy difference, because the effectiveness of Obama or McCain is dependent on so many other things than Israel, even in just the foreign policy arena. But one glaring thing in the assessment of Ziggy's above, or a few things:

Where is the evidence of what the Constitutional Law prof Obama really believes in, besides late-term abortion? He didn't publish, as pres. of Harvard Law review...so we don't know too much about it.

The dollar is down for many reasons, but one huge one, and yes, not tackled at all by the RINO presidency of Bush, is the soaring debt. War is one problem, but the bigger one, by far, is the unfunded liabilities of entitlement spending, which included Social Security, Medicaid/Medicare and the trillions spent on debt service.

What is Obama going to do? Raise taxes on the "rich", which will do nothing but make a tiny dent in the deficit, and eventually, will force more of the rich to leave if it gets onerous enough. Capital always flees to where it can get the best return, and that won't stop. In the meantime, Obama wants to ADD uncountable amounts for a bunch of new programs that will cost...who knows how much? But as he adds more programs, how often can he come back to 'tap' the rich for more funds?

McCain wants to stop earmarks and careless spending, which is quickly bankrupting the US. Palin sold the executive Jet her first day in office (or put it up for sale) in a symbolic gesture, but then has followed through with cost-cutting budgets that have saved a LOT of money for the people of Alaska. Obama wants to tax and spend. McCain wants to lessen spending and work on corruption. Obama claims he will give tax CUTS, but what he will do is give $1000 rebate checks to NONTAXPAYERS. And where is THAT money supposed to come from?

Where else has this kind of socialist nonsense worked?

Corruption, btw, which seems endemic to Obama's rise to power. I don't have to worry about the idiot ideas of him being a Muslim plant; I see plenty enough without those rumors to feel completely uncomfortable with Mr. "Nuance" (if that means someone who didn't bother to leave a paper trail of his beliefs, or at least tried to cover them up as much as possible; "present" on so many votes, no papers, etc. and then his bunch trying to keep the damaging information about the Annenberg foundation out from the public eye.

Finally, why was there a housing crisis? A few reasons; A too accomodative Fed, and too many activists promoting the idea that everyone should be given loans; thousands of mortgages made that should NEVER have been made under older, smarter lending guidelines.

Is that all Bush's fault? Some of it. Much of it from the liberals who pushed that agenda, and then, yes, those evil bankers got greedy when the candy jar was opened, and created the bubble and popped it. To say this is McCain's fault is even more disingenuous.

I'm fine with disagreement, but let it be based on facts, and not words like "nuanced", because what the HELL does that mean? I could say Chamberlain was nuanced with Hitler, that went far. Churchill spoke to the truth, and he was proven right from the beginning.

Posted by: Maurice | Aug 31, 2008 9:21:36 PM

Ezzie... I think it might be a little premature to open the champagne, but it now seems like it might actually be a good run for the finish line.

Ilana-Davita... It's easy. Just look at some of the commenters who have no problem presenting facts not in evidence and building straw men just to knock them down. [shakes head]

Debbie... I am certainly not the average 'man on the street' here. Ask around and get as much info as you can. Info beats rumors any day of the week.

JDMDad ... I won't be able to catch it... let me know if anything interesting is said.

fred... I do have a big problem with how long it took him to distance himself from Wright. And he never did condemn him. Considering how long he sat in the church of someone he called his mentor, I have trouble believing he didn't buy into at least some of it.

ahuvah ... Well, certainly don't take my word for it. Find out everything you can about all the players and vote your conscience on election day.

Jonathan... Business and government have very different rules. Just my 2 cents.

Santiago... Thanks.

Yabu... I think the expression goes, "Behind every great man is a surprised mother=in-law" :-)

Ziggy... Sounds reasonable to me.

A... I didn't write this to change anyone's mind, but since you listed some points allow me to respond: 1. Biden may be an attorney, but he was near the bottom of his class (75th out of 86 if memory serves). And he lied and said he had been in the top half of his class in an interview. Then there is the whole plagiarism thing... so maybe education isn't the way to go with this discussion. 2. Agreed. 3. On what are you basing your statement that "knows nothing about the economy and will follow the Bush administration on everything."? That is a strong accusation to make without some sort of source. 4. Again, on what are you basing this statement. Bush had little or no leadership experience. Cain has lots. 5. Did he really say that? When and where? 6. Obama has let his opponent very little to argue against. If he had more solid platforms I am confident that the criticism would be more concrete. Change is an idea... not a platform. I am all for discussing issues, but I am a stickler for facts.

Andy Levy-Stevenson... I agree that Palin is relatively inexperienced. But you can't compare the level of responsibility carried by a Governor and that of a Senator. She's been running the show and doing quite well. He's been part of a larger body with far less personal stake in his decisions. That said, I don't buy into the whole Republican =bad and Democrat = good, especially when it comes to choosing justices. After all, the likes of Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., Benjamin Cordozo and William Rehnquist (to name but a few) were appointed by republicans.

a.eye... That's what information is for. :-)

Rami... With all due respect, having a similar skin tone is not a good enough reason to want a man to lead the free world.

Dave (Balashon) ... I have never worked on a national campaign unless you count helping my parents stuff envelopes for Eugene McCarthy back in 1968) :-)

Maurice... Oh you were so close... but then you invoked Hitler. Seriously, you make some good points, but you started to sound too much like me towards the end. Watch that. :-)

Posted by: treppenwitz | Aug 31, 2008 10:11:14 PM

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have each had to grapple with the overriding left-Democratic problem: how to fool the masses long enough about one's true goals so as to reach high office.

It's not that Obama has no past, it's that his true past suggests a radical socialist using his race and religion and public statements as camouflage. Palin's past suggests a truly mainstream American orientation, so she will not want or need an elaborate concealment/intimidation campaign such as Obama's against his critics.

Posted by: Bob Miller | Aug 31, 2008 10:29:08 PM

A remarkable shot in the dark! After that, however, Trep is not so much on the mark.

If Obama is beaujolais neauveau, then Palin is b.n. 3 weeks in the cask. But the analogy is flawed, since the records of relatively untested political newcomers, such as Lincoln and JFK (especially the former), might have been said to be freshly squeezed grape juice.

Palin has evinced no ideas in her rise to Governorship beyond her ethics crusading (good as that is, it's hardly a program.). And the thinness of environment in which she got her "experience" is and will be the stuff of late night comedy.

Gov. Palin is an unvarnished TOKEN in every respect, except her being the governor of a state. She is an offering to evangelicals, conservatives, pro-lifers, gun-rights folk, and all those rugged individualists. As a woman (crowing touch!), she might potentially appeal to a lot of women, including disaffected Hillaryites. This last will prove to be a disingenuous fantasy, since only those Clinton supporters who are truly ready to blow their brains out would consider a candidate with Palin's arch-conservative credentials! The thought of her a heartbeat away (behind a 72-year-old president) is really frightening, no matter what her stand on Israel might be!

If you're a die-hard Republican, go for it. Anyone else might hesitate a long time before even considering a vote for that team.

And, by the way, that "team" where McCain learned to play has been the senate, too. Unfortunately, the captain of his real team deserves impeachment, not an extension!

Posted by: Delmar Bogner | Sep 1, 2008 4:05:05 AM

Oops, I'm sorry, I meant Friday, my boss told me on Friday to check CNN to see the story about who McCain picked. That's what I get for rushing a post.

Posted by: JDMDad | Sep 1, 2008 5:26:36 AM

> After all, the likes of Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.,
> Benjamin Cordozo and William Rehnquist (to name but
> a few) were appointed by republicans.

If this election were happening almost forty years ago or more, I'd agree with you completely. But the Republican party has changed so much since then, and the pressure on Republican presidents to appoint hardliners -- throughout the court system, not just the Supremes -- has grown enormously.

My views on abortion are much like yours as you outlined them in this post ... and the next generation or two of Americans are going to have abortion laws shaped by the next Supreme Court. I think we're at a watershed on that issue, and IMO the appointees of a Republican administration will make changes with which I disagree.

Posted by: Andy Levy-Stevenson | Sep 1, 2008 7:52:46 AM

Earl Warren- Appointed by Ike and a big surprise to all.

Posted by: Jack | Sep 1, 2008 8:44:06 AM

Your father's a smart man!

Posted by: amechad | Sep 1, 2008 9:53:35 AM

David wrote:
Quite simply, we have no dog in the fight (i.e. it will not affect Jews one bit if the state empowers a gay couple to legally call themselves husband and, um, husband), so it is hypocritical of us to try to influence the outcome for or against gay marriage.
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Well, no.

1) Practically, the pro-gay forces have already shown that they are not satisfied with social parity or "tolerance" - and seek to actively crush opposition to their opinion.

As in the recent Arizona lawsuit against a Christian photographer who refused to photograph a lesbian "wedding".

Jews - especially observant Jews - have much to fear from a policy in which gay "rights" trump long-entrenched notions of personal conscience. Legalizing gay marriage opens Jews up to all kinds of prosecution - and the courts have shown their unwillingness to accept personal religious conviction as an "excuse" for not toeing the pro-gay line.

2) What happened to all the "light unto the nations stuff" that gets bandied about during the navel-gazing/handwringing sessions on this and other blogs?

Since we both belong to the subgroup of Torah Judaism that believes in engaging the world around us - doesn't engaging the larger world include using the freedom America gives us to make clear what the Torah teaches about homosexuality?

Posted by: Ben-David | Sep 1, 2008 11:49:45 AM

Bob Miller... That might be a bit strong. I think it would be more correct that they are trying to be many things to many people where others have the luxury of playing to their core constituency. The Dems have always had a more diverse audience to please.

Delmar Bogner... Out of respect for you I won't fisk your comment the way I did 'A's. You already know where our paths diverge. However, I disagree with most of what you've said. At least you've come around when it comes to Israeli politics, so I should be big enough to allow you your old habits in the US. :-)

Andy Levy-Stevenson ... In this day and age it is very short-sighted to vote on single issues. This is an election for the leader of the free world, not a referendum on Abortion. I have enough faith in the system that the supremes will remain committed to judicial restraint and leave rampant judicial activism to the over-active imagination of the scare-mongers.

Jack ... Oh, you wanted the whole list? :-)

amechad... No question. Even when he's wrong. :-)

Ben-David... [sigh] Ok listen up... there is no unified thing called 'pro-gay forces' which have a sinister agenda to turn your kids gay and subvert your right to be straight. Get over it. Also, "long-entrenched notions of personal conscience" is a concept that has been used for thousands of years to persecute (and prosecute) Jews. I won't invoke it to turn someone else into a persecuted minority. It is repugnant to deny someone something because it doesn't fit in with your picture of normal. We as Jews thrived in communities where there was active antagonism and suspicion of us. Given the existing protections guaranteed under the Constitution, I think Americans will be just fine with the two guys down the block living together in the well-kept split-level and not demanding a thing of us. Explaining to your children why those two men live together is just as prickly a subject as explaining why many male/female couples live together and even have children without being married. You aren't clamoring to have that legally banned, are you? As to us being a light unto the nations, you are confusing 'leading by personal example' with 'forcing others to adopt your religious and ethical mores'. One is fine (although difficult) and the other is illegal in a free, democratic society. Again, you sound like the shrill bigots who lobby to block eruvim when they have nothing whatsoever to fear.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Sep 1, 2008 12:24:14 PM

David:
there is no unified thing called 'pro-gay forces' which have a sinister agenda
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Of course there is a gay lobby, and they are at least as well organized and funded as AIPAC. They throw their support (and dollars) behind favored candidates in strategically important races, lobby Congress, file "friend of the court" briefs and sponsor gay claimants in cases that they think will advance their cause.

They have done a very good job of silencing almost all dissent in academia and the media, and they even go after gays who dare to espouse politically conservative views.

Further:
Also, "long-entrenched notions of personal conscience" is a concept that has been used for thousands of years to persecute (and prosecute) Jews. I won't invoke it to turn someone else into a persecuted minority.
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Huh?
By "long entrenched notions of personal conscience" I meant First Amendment rights to freedom of religion.

Those rights are now being dismantled by "progressives" trying to impose a pro-gay agenda on Judeo-Christians. As in the Arizona court case, the Boy Scouts case, and others.

-and could you please parse that Arizona case for me: A devout Christian running a private photography business gets sued for declining to shoot a lesbian wedding.

So:
Who's the "persecuted minority"?
And who's forcing their opinions on others?
And whose actions - if they become legal precedent - will endanger the ability of Torah Jews to live according to their conscience?

Further:
It is repugnant to deny someone something because it doesn't fit in with your picture of normal.
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Oh, look - here come the polygamists, the anorexics, the drug legalization cartel, that brother-sister couple, and the Man-Boy Love Association! Welcome to the Treppenwitz blog, folks.

The law defines normal - that's its role in any society. Some are "denied" and think themselves victims - while larger society thinks them ill, or criminal.

We are Jews living in a society that draws on our tradition for many of those norms - according to some of our sages, this was the purpose of our long exile, to spread these ideas and norms.

Now those norms are under attack - not because gays ever marry in large numbers (they haven't in Holland, Canada, or Scandinavia), but because the law defines normal.

Could you please explain why Jews should not be using our freedoms to defend those cultural norms that spring from our own tradition?

And according to the Torah, these sexual laws are universal: they apply to non-Jews as well as Jews, and are part of the 7 Noahide Laws. So isn't your role as a Jew to help the gentiles in your society live according to G-d's plan FOR THEM?

I'd love to hear you explain how an Orthodox Jew writes:

I think Americans will be just fine with the two guys down the block living together
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and:

Explaining to your children why those two men live together is just as prickly a subject as explaining why many male/female couples live together and even have children without being married. You aren't clamoring to have that legally banned, are you?
- - - - - - - - - - - -
Why not?
Do you not believe - as a devoted father - that the breakup of the family unit has been unhealthy for American society?

Do you not think that gentiles should be encouraged to raise children in stable families?

No?
So tell me: what other message should they receive from the Orthodox Jews in their society?

Posted by: Ben-David | Sep 1, 2008 3:20:19 PM

I'm confused as to how someone who's assumedly Jewish in this comment thread could use the nonsense word "Judeo-Christian".

Anyway, i know someone who thinks that the choice of Palin will eventually turn against McCain once conservative voters realize that "she can't really be a conservative if she's a woman who's an active politician" since she 'really' should be in the kitchen making her husband and kids dinner or something.
Somehow he doesn't realize that it's only Orthodox Jews who think that gender roles are the essence of the conservative worldview and that everyone else is more interested in policies on the economy, security or whatnot.
Of course, this is the same person i know who admitted to thinking that Obama would be a "dangerous" president for the sole reason that he's Black.

Posted by: Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) | Sep 1, 2008 3:33:14 PM

And if McCain kicked the bucket how is she prepared to be leading a World Power? By demonstrating how she can hunt carribou or by showing off her NRA card?

But then again, if she can make earrings and swizzle sticks out of moose poop, then the US won't have anything to worry about. She can just passed them out as gifts as a diplomatic gesture, cross her beauty queen manicure fingers and say her prayers.

Posted by: jaime | Sep 1, 2008 5:45:25 PM

I'm with you with McCain/Palin - I'm defintely voting republican. But your stance on the gay issue doesn't jive with Torah - which writes very specifically about G-d's stance on gay marriage. DOes your Rabbi agree with your stance on the gay issue?

Posted by: nr | Sep 1, 2008 7:17:15 PM

Excellent post.

It is unclear if she ever supported Pat Buchanan. She greeted him in her professional capacity and took a picture with him, while wearing his campaign button, as she did for several other politicians (during the same campaign, I think)

(if someone posted this already, I apologize. I did not have time to read all the comments tonight)

Posted by: Rivka with a capital A | Sep 2, 2008 12:27:03 AM

Well, folks, I see it's certainly going to be an interesting few months around here. I, too, was staunchly in the McCain camp until Friday.The thought that a 44 year old self professed soccer mom could be in charge of the free world if anything happened to The Boss (no, not Springsteen) has given me 2nd and 3rd thoughts. Reminds me of Robert Klein's "Child of the 60's" routine where he imitates a potential Russian bomber.."Ve bomb at noon,Igor, they think it's lunch"..she becomes President by default, and the world crazies (and we know who they are) come out of the woodwork to take advantage of the situation.And now we hear about Palin's pregnant daughter. Your comments, Trepp? Meanwhile, we await the debates...and I'd PAY to see Trepp debate Delmar Bogner..;-)

Posted by: Marsha in Englewood! | Sep 2, 2008 2:04:22 AM

Just one more thing...IMHO, anyone who votes for President of the US based on their policy towards Israel is living in the wrong country. Israel needs to take out the garbage in the Knesset.

Posted by: Marsha in Englewood! | Sep 2, 2008 2:07:56 AM

Do you not think that gentiles should be encouraged to raise children in stable families?

I can point out a ton of heterosexual families in which children are exposed to awful and terrible things. And I can show you gay families that are loving and among the best places a child could ever be raised.

Sexuality is not an accurate predictor of what happens in the home. Your straw man argument is not just weak, but it reeks of injustice.

Fear mongering and scare tactics are a poor way to make a point.

Posted by: Jack | Sep 2, 2008 10:08:28 AM

Amazing how all the Obama supporters who have been telling us for months that it's unfair to tag their guy with "guilt by association" can't wait to throw Pat Buchanan's name at Governor Palin.

Posted by: psachya | Sep 2, 2008 10:35:37 AM

Jack:
Your straw man argument is not just weak, but it reeks of injustice.
- - - - - - - - - -
...except that you have answered an argument you imagined - or one that is easier to answer than the one I put forward.

My argument - or at least the part of if you quoted - went like this:

An Orthodox Jew living in Western society *should* encourage the gentiles around them to uphold the values that have already entered the society from Judaism. S/he should *not* encourage those trying to remove/replace Jewish-influenced moral norms.

And living/raising kids out of wedlock = step away from Judeo-Christian norms.

Get it?

... I'm curious though - what conversation did YOU think we were having?

Standard Left-liberal Operating Procedure:

1) There's no need to parse/engage what was actually said to you, because we KNOW we are right - and righteous! Just repeat the same old self-confirming script of canned platitudes.

2) After repeating that script - don't forget to slap scary labels all over the place ("persecuted minority!" "injustice!") - to show that knuckle-dragger who dared to not think *correctly* how much more "tolerant" you are...

"Straw man argument" indeed.

Posted by: Ben-David | Sep 2, 2008 3:26:49 PM

I was thrilled to see an Israeli flag in Gov. Palin's Alaskan office.

Posted by: Joyce | Sep 2, 2008 3:52:29 PM

Re: Palin/Israel .... The Shliach in Alaska has essentially vouched for her. If he is good with her, then that's enough for me.

Re: Palin/experience .... I think McCain said it best today:

“She’s been in elected office longer than Sen. Obama. She’s been the chief executive of the state that provides 20 percent of America’s energy; she has balanced budgets; she has had executive experience as governor, as mayor, as a city council member and PTA.

“So she was in elected office when Sen. Obama was still a local community organizer. He’s never had one day of executive experience.”

For me, that's nail on the head. Half the time Senators don't even show up to vote. Heck, Obama has missed half his (FIRST!) term just campaigning for this election.

Governors don't take 6 week vacations every 3 months like Congress does.

Posted by: chaim | Sep 2, 2008 7:07:15 PM

For many of us in the US, Palin as a semi-lightweight taking over for the more experienced McCain IF he keels over is far preferable to having a semi-lightweight in the office UNTIL he is incapacitated and the somewhat odious (in the view of many) Biden takes over.

"Hockey Mom" is more than a little tongue in cheek. She has stated that in Alaska, the difference between a Hockey Mom and a pit-bull is lipstick.

Posted by: Ziggy | Sep 2, 2008 8:42:49 PM

Ben David,

I am an Independent whose views cover the spectrum. I look at things issue by issue. If I misunderstood your argument it is probably because of the manner you structured things.

If you could have put your words in bold or Italics it would be clear what you are saying as opposed to what you are quoting.

So let's go back now to what you said your were saying:

My argument - or at least the part of if you quoted - went like this:

An Orthodox Jew living in Western society *should* encourage the gentiles around them to uphold the values that have already entered the society from Judaism. S/he should *not* encourage those trying to remove/replace Jewish-influenced moral norms.

And living/raising kids out of wedlock = step away from Judeo-Christian norms.

If every home resembled Leave it to Beaver then what you are saying might make sense. However since the sad reality is that not every home does we need to look more carefully at the individual situation.

I'd rather see children grow up in a home in which they are loved and cared for than one in which they are neglected, abused or just tolerated.

If that means choosing a gay couple over a straight couple than the answer of where they should live is simple.

The world is not now and has never been Black and White. There are very few examples in which that takes place.

Posted by: Jack | Sep 2, 2008 8:58:21 PM

IMHO......

Re: Palin's pregnant daughter, I can't say "been there, done that" but only by the grace of G-d. I am happy to see that she and the family are handling the situation with grace and a most apparent deep love for her daughter who will bear the child. I would be proud if I could handle the situation as well as they are. I am also impressed by McCain as he is said to have known of the situation before he finally chose her and that he went ahead because he thought it was "small potatoes" compared to her suitability for the job.

Lots of prominent left-wing and lib sites (and the individual posters there) were engaging in an orgasm of delight over their deranged speculation that the 4 month old was actually borne by the daughter rather than Palin herself. Other than to ask even if that had been the case, what would it represent other than trying to shield the daughter and also a that she is a loving mother/grandmother??? Not much more I can say about those wack-kobs because I respect Trep too much.

As far as questions about whether a "Hockey Mom" can effectively govern with young children (and a competent, loving father) at home goes.... If that is a legitimate question, seems to me that Obama should be out of contention from the get-go since both he and his wife have been employed and that would make them BOTH un-suited to either their occupations or to parenthood.

Not to lure people to another site Trep, but I think this one contrasts Obama and Palin pretty well. Please feel free to remove it if you wish....

http://www.redstate.com/diaries/redstate/2008/aug/30/tale-of-the-tape-sarah-palin-vs-barack-obam/

Posted by: Ziggy | Sep 2, 2008 9:15:53 PM

Not to be the gatekeeper, but I don't think it was Trep's intention to start a whole political war over the candidates in general, only to point out how intertesting he felt McCain's choice of Sarah Palin was. As for me, until I see the 1984 swimsuit competition pictures, I am uninterested in the whole issue!

Posted by: jordan Hirsch | Sep 3, 2008 3:00:36 AM

Regarding question of Sarah Palin's support for Israel: How's this?

Posted by: Bob | Sep 3, 2008 5:37:07 AM

BTW -- At this moment Joe Lieberman just stepped to the podium at the RNC.

Posted by: Bob | Sep 3, 2008 5:40:28 AM

Jack:
I'd rather see children grow up in a home in which they are loved and cared for than one in which they are neglected, abused or just tolerated.

If that means choosing a gay couple over a straight couple than the answer of where they should live is simple.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
But that is not usually the choice.

Homosexuals make up just 2 percent of the population. The vast majority of them never get it together enough to maintain a long-term, committed relationship - let alone marry.

You have set up a completely false dichotomy.

The data from Holland, Scandinavia, and Canada indicates that giving gays the right to marry does not change this pattern - even when that right comes with tax benefits over being single.

So the number of children raised in gay homes is so small that there is no way to conclude anything - and pro-gay researchers have taken advantage of that to assert how "normal" gay families are.

But we DO know that:

- there is more domestic violence, substance abuse, and infidelity in gay households. Any children in the house are exposed to these behaviors.

- gay couples break up at much higher rates than straight couples. And early data indicates that a marriage certificate does not change that pattern.

So: to further a pro-gay opinion, you (and others) have created a "straw man". You have set up a rhetorical choice that (a) is statistically insignificant, and (b) contradicts everything we know about homosexual couples.

Posted by: Ben-David | Sep 3, 2008 9:51:38 AM

Sorry to add to this (for Trep) interminable thread, but an interesting point I saw elsewhere in the blogosphere: Sarah Palin governs the only state in the US that borders on two foreign nations. For the geographically-challenged, that would be Canada, and - yep - Russia. So FWIW, the lady definitely has some hands-on international experience.

And for those who are concerned about having a "hockey mom" as President - I think most hockey moms have more common sense than all the Washington hacks put together. I was very impressed by her acceptance speech. She came across as bright, articulate, and passionate. Her youth works for her the way Barack's doesn't for him: She's young enough to remember what it was like being a normal citizen, and she hasn't forgotten that elected officials are (ideally) working for their constituents, not the party hacks. And she hasn't been afraid to tackle corruption in her state, even within her own party. And she's not full of herself, unlike the self-important windbag heading up the other ticket. Frankly, I'd vote for her over Obama, even if she was the one running for President.

Posted by: psachya | Sep 3, 2008 5:44:25 PM

And Jordan, WADR, I would pay Ms. Palin a little more attention - like her or not. John McCain is not a young man, and he suffered much physical abuse in his life. Although I'm sure no one of good will wishes any harm to Mr. McCain, a Palin presidency in the next few years is a possibility. Also, we may very well be looking at the Republican presidential nominee of 2012 - swimsuit competition notwithstanding. Remember - who ever heard of Barack Obama five or six years ago?

Posted by: psachya | Sep 3, 2008 5:55:42 PM

Homosexuals make up just 2 percent of the population. The vast majority of them never get it together enough to maintain a long-term, committed relationship - let alone marry.

What is your source?

The data from Holland, Scandinavia, and Canada indicates that giving gays the right to marry does not change this pattern - even when that right comes with tax benefits over being single.

So the number of children raised in gay homes is so small that there is no way to conclude anything - and pro-gay researchers have taken advantage of that to assert how "normal" gay families are.

What is your source?

But we DO know that:

- there is more domestic violence, substance abuse, and infidelity in gay households. Any children in the house are exposed to these behaviors.

- gay couples break up at much higher rates than straight couples. And early data indicates that a marriage certificate does not change that pattern.

Again, what is your source. You can make as many allegations as you want but without data all we can do is conclude that you are spouting your opinion. It is a common tactic to be very aggressive in a debate and assume that the other side will crumble and accept your opinion as being fact.

But the reality is that you haven't provided anything but opinion. If it makes you feel good to claim victory, be my guest.

Posted by: Jack | Sep 3, 2008 7:08:48 PM

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