While I was unsurprised by McCain’s choice of a female running mate–he needs some figurehead in this campaign, and he wants those Hillary supporters*–I was amused by his choice. While she has been a financial savior for Alaska, Gov. Palin’s methods make her precisely unsuited to this campaign. She is charismatic, which is something McCain desperately needs, but also consider this:

Gov. Palin built revenue for her state by instating higher taxes for gas companies; while this is an appealing and practical notion, it is the opposite of what McCain has called for. I fear that, if McCain is elected, Alaska will lose an effective governor and the country will have a politically oppressed (read: leashed and ineffective and cranky because of it) president of the senate. She deserves a better career, and we deserve a vp who is free to do her job.

While we’re on the topic of her tax policy, we should also note that, while Palin has proposed a several billion dollar pipeline project, and while she endorses extended drilling in her state, she has entirely overlooked the possibility of harnessing Alaska’s awesome wind and waves as a sustainable, long-term energy source. This seems suspicious in such a reputedly progressive figure.

Unless its geography has changed significantly since I left high school, Alaska has some pretty terrific winds and has one of the longest coastlines in the country. With less environmental disruption than drilling (and using the same sacrificial anode technique to prevent corrosion that we use on pipelines), Palin’s state could harvest huge amounts of power via wind farms. The state is sparsely populated, so one could avoid placing the plant too near homesteads (the grandest problem with windfarms is the noise of the propellers).

On the non-icebound coastal areas, Alaska could invest in water power. The strings of what we always called ducks–the long, tear-contoured buoys that absorb wave energy–are pretty efficient, relatively safe (all you have to do is net them off so fish don’t get into them), and provide a somewhat calmer tide to the coastline. If the ocean continues to heat up, there will be even more wave energy to go around, and it would be a shame to waste that.

However, this seems not to be on Gov. Palin’s map. For the sake of her reputation, let us assume that that has nothing to do with her husband’s employment. Still, it shows a certain reticence in her policy making, or perhaps a lack of judgement. At this political juncture, we cannot afford for the president’s advisors to be superficial, uninformed, or less than innovative.

Apart from her energy stance, my doubts about Gov. Palin’s suitability arise from one of her editorials for The New York Times, Bearing Up. I agree with most of the reasoning–many activist groups really approach issues from an irresponsible and legally uninformed angle. Palin’s letter points this out and suggests, quite reasonably, that the process should be taken elsewhere. However, she acts irresponsibly, as well.

If she wishes to critique the lack of evidence for habitat destruction, I would like to see some figures. Without those, the article is charming, but unconvincing. Especially in this case, habitat loss is unrelated to state wildlife management, and the fact that her employees do their jobs well should not prevent a species from gaining federal protection. Since she only cites one of the species she is so intent on protecting (one who was off the list before she gained office), the article seems more like a sham defense of her position than an actually thoughtful case. 

What I would like to see here is the same sort of approach that she took towards the ban on health benefits to same-sex partners: refusing the proffered legislation while offering a different approach. In that case, she proposed amending legislation to segregate a group and deny it civil rights, which I vehemently oppose. If she were to bend that kind of comprehensive thinking towards all policies, though, she might get somewhere. However, she fails to bring an actual solution to the table (no, that last paragraph of hers actually doesn’t make any substantive contribution to the situation) in a case that is not directly related to her religion. Without proposing anything, Palin’s article falls short of what a vp candidate needs to offer. In the past this could slide, but not now.

As a last comment before I go off to statistics homework, I would like to commend Gov. Palin on the courage it took to bring Trig into a world that frowns on disability. It seems he will have a loving and supportive family, which is the best thing for any child. Both pro-choice and anti-abortion groups should note that aborting a fetus because it is typed for a fairly mild disorder has never been the purpose of Roe v. Wade. It is Ms. Palin’s right to choose that is protected by that decision, and I believe she chose well. However, she does not have the right to prevent others from making a different choice.


*Given Gov. Palin’s political stance, no thinking Hillary supporter is likely to swing McCain’s way. I’ve got to say that voting for someone based on X chromosome count seems a remarkably unstable method.