Editors Note: This one was written before the ill-fated interviews with Katie Couric, which really ought to have scared prospective voters. That performance, memorialized by Tina Fey on Saturday Night Live, was excruciating. Even some conservatives, such as David Brooks, wrote that it was difficult to watch, embarrassing and seemed to indicate that she wasnt up to the job. However, I have a feeling that, no matter how badly she does in future interviews, or how lacking in expertise she shows herself to be in the debate with Joe Biden, most loyal conservatives will continue to say she was a great choice. Ive even heard it said that the fact that she seems like an ordinary housewife is a good reason to vote for her. Well, my mom spent a portion of her life as an ordinary housewife, and if she were running for vice president, I wouldn’t vote for her either. By the way, I have no idea what a bejusus” is, but I'm pretty sure I don’t want it scared out of me by my president.

Why Sarah Palin Scares the Bejesus out of Me


Few elections turn on the vice presidential choice, but John McCain is a 72-year-old multiple-cancer survivor who was brutalized in Vietnam. Although his mother is still alive and looks pretty spry, his father died at 71, so a vice presidential candidate who was mayor of Wasilla, Alaska (pop. 7,000), just a few years ago is a legitimate concern.

If David Letterman were coming up with reasons that the phrase “President Palin” should frighten us, he’d probably list 10:

1.  Pro-Life Fanaticism: In Sarah Palin’s utopia, the government forces 13-year-olds raped by their fathers to give birth and imprisons women who seek abortions and their doctors as murderers. It’s not quite the conservative ideal of “government off our backs.” Palin’s no feminist; in fact, she’s the anti-feminist: Women shouldn’t be trusted with such decisions, but the old boys’ network in Washington should.

Naturally, Palin opposes stem-cell research — it’s better to trash frozen embryos than use them for potentially life-saving research. That’s pro-something, but I’m pretty sure it’s not life.

2.  Foreign Policy Neophyte: McCain pathetically praised Palin’s experience because Alaska borders Russia, and she commands the Alaska National Guard. Apparently, the Guard has been instrumental in keeping Cossacks from crossing the Aleutians.

3.  Fahrenheit 451: Former Wasilla librarian Mary Ellen Emmons reported that she was pressured by Mayor Palin about removing offensive books. When Emmons declined, Palin told her she’d be fired — this sort of thing would be unsurprising in Iran or Saudi Arabia, but it’s just a tad scary here in America.

4.  Abuses of Power/Cronyism: GOP lawyers are trying to delay until after the election an investigation into Palin’s part in the firing of a state trooper who divorced Palin’s sister, or to have the inquiry thrown out entirely. Abuses of power have been emblematic of Republican administrations since the Nixon years and have been perfected by the Bush/Cheney cabal. We can do without four more years of that.


Alaska’s payroll disturbingly overlaps the Wasilla High School yearbook. For example, among other classmates, Palin appointed Franci Havemeister to a $95,000/year job as head of the Division of Agriculture because of her “love of cows.” This evokes the cronyism of W picking Michael “Heck of a Job Brownie” Brown to head FEMA, based on his 11 years with the Arabian Horse Show Assn., and the appointment of Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, who made his bones handling Mr. Bush’s drunk-driving difficulties.

5.  Pork-Barrel Spending: As mayor, Palin hired a pork-raising firm in Anchorage that successfully lobbied for $27 million in federal earmarks for Wasilla. As governor, Palin supported Alaska’s “Bridge to Nowhere” before she opposed it, then spent the funding anyway, although the bridge was never built.

6.  Young-Earth Creationism: Palin views evolution — the sine qua non of modern biology — as heretical. She also believes the universe is 6,000 years old. Hence, not only are biology, anthropology and genetics blasphemous, but post-Bronze Age advances in geology, physics, astronomy, chemistry and paleontology are also misguided. She’s free to believe whatever pseudo-scientific (or anti-scientific) nonsense her church prescribes — including humans and dinosaurs once co-existed, and “The Flintstones” should be shown on the History Channel — but it’s irresponsible to advocate replacing 21st century science with evangelical dogma in our public schools.

Outside Iran, Arabia and some of our Red States, the evolution/creationism debate isn’t even on educators’ radar. In an increasingly technological and global economy, we vie with emerging Asian nations that aren’t hamstrung by school curricula developed by fundamentalist Luddites. Substituting ancient mythology for modern science will put us at a competitive disadvantage.

7.  Opposition to Sex Education: Palin favors abstinence-only sex education … and you can see how well that’s working in her own family. Just imagine how the Religious Right would have reacted if an Obama daughter had become pregnant out of wedlock, and then been used by her mom as a political prop at the national convention.

8.  Religious Extremism: If Obama is responsible for Jeremiah Wright, then Palin must answer for the extremism of her minister. Fundamentalist Ed Kalnins preached that President Bush’s critics will be sent to hell (along with John Kerry supporters) and called the invasion of Iraq “a holy war” in which “Jesus has called us to die.”

Palin herself called on the congregation to pray for a natural gas pipeline, which she referred to as “God’s will.” And she sat in the pew as David Brickner of Jews for Jesus claimed Arab terrorism was God’s judgment on the Jews for rejecting Jesus.

9.  Buchanan Support: Speaking of anti-Semitism, in 1992, Palin’s presidential choice was the scary far-right pundit Pat Buchanan, who once wrote the line (for President Reagan) that Nazi SS troops buried in Bitburg cemetery were victims “just as surely as the victims in the concentration camps.” Enough said.

10. Hockey Mom: Like cricket and soccer (and unlike football and baseball), hockey is an un-American sport. It may be popular in Canada, where it’s January eight months out of the year, but those foreign hockey pucks also think that shooting wolves from helicopters and clubbing baby seals are sports.

Okay, so No. 10 is just a bit silly. But sadly, it’s only slightly more fatuous than much of the nonsense being passed off as serious issues in 2008 (e.g., “lipstick on a pig” or McCain’s tawdry divorce) and no more inane than the faux issues that have helped decide recent elections, from Al Gore inventing the Internet to John Edward’s haircut.

If you’re unable to discern which of the other nine topics above matter enough to influence your vote, then perhaps you should do the electoral process a favor: Stay home on November 4, and watch “Law and Order” reruns. Not everyone who can vote should, as the past two elections should have taught us.

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