Wednesday, September 03, 2008

There's a Palin bounce in the polls -- for Obama

Please browse on over to DailyKos to see the lovely blue and red lines of the polls diverging since the weekend news that Sarah Palin was the best John McCain could find.

My first reaction to the news last Friday was that McCain was giving up. Then I wondered whether this would be a move to capture a few dead-enders in the Hillary camp. Then I went back to thinking that McCain had given up.

We still must handle this right. Every sentence or blog post could be a minefield. Barack Obama himself said the family and children were outa bounds. I'm inclined to agree, though I just heard on an NPR program that the Republicans announced that the young father of Bristol Palin's pregnancy will attend the convention. Well, I guess that eases some of the restrictions, and so I'm opening the gate here to a submission by guest blogger David Cooper, whom I know through membership in Veterans for Peace.

Let 'er rip, David

Abstinence-Only Hits Home


With John McCain’s surprise selection of Sarah Palin, governor of Alaska, to be his running mate, many blogs went into overdrive in an attempt to understand the decision. Rumors began circulating that the child was not Sarah Palin’s, but rather her 17-year-old daughter's. Palin’s statement that she began leaking amniotic fluid shortly before a speech in Dallas, and chose to continue boarding a plane for a 12-hour flight back to her home state to give birth, may be a more damning indictment of her judgment than the unsubstantiated rumors that she is not the mother of the child. When a pregnant woman’s “water breaks,” a clock begins running that has health consequences for both mother and child. Not to mention the potential impact on fellow passengers who may have been traveling to life changing job interviews, or visiting elderly relatives for the last time, or going to funerals, or weddings, many of who would be affected by an emergency landing in another city, delaying their plans.


Putting aside the judgment of the above decision, a larger question looms. The McCain camp has confirmed that Sarah Palin’s 17-year-old un-married daughter is pregnant and has chosen to keep her child, which is consistent with their pro-life beliefs. Presumably, the pro-life and socially and religious conservative Sarah Palin subscribes to the abstinence-only policies of the conservative party she belongs to. A short look at the results of the abstinence-only policies says all one needs to know about her judgment as a political figure on the national stage.


Abstinence-only education does not work. Without comprehensive, age-appropriate sex education programs, ended by the Bush administration, teens are dangerously ill equipped to deal with their sexuality. A report prepared for Rep. Henry Waxman found that of the 13 most commonly used curricula for abstinence-only education, 11 used by 69 organizations in 25 states contain unproved claims, subjective conclusions or outright falsehoods. The federal government does not review or approve the accuracy of the information presented in abstinence-only programs. There is no oversight of your tax dollars for these programs. One inaccuracy is the claim that condoms fail to prevent HIV 31% of the time when in actuality a New England Journal of Medicine study failed to find one single case of HIV transmission between HIV-positive individuals and their HIV-negative partners who used condoms consistently, despite a total of 15,000 acts of intercourse.[i]


Moreover, a straight line can be drawn between economic concerns and an increase in abortion rates. Studies show that two-thirds of women who abort say they cannot afford a child. In the seven and a half years of the current administration, unemployment rates have increased, real wages are down, and minimum wage has not kept pace with inflation.  Half of all women who abort say they do not have a reliable mate. Men who are jobless usually do not marry. As male unemployment increases, marriages fall, unwanted pregnancy and abortion rise. Women also worry about health care for themselves and their children. Since millions more people have no health insurance now than before this administration—with women of childbearing age overrepresented in those millions—abortion increases. Researcher and professor of Christian ethics, Dr. Glen Stassen said, “Economic policy and abortion are not separate issues; they form one moral imperative.”[ii]


And, how does abstinence-only education address already sexually active teens? It doesn’t, which adds more numbers to unwanted pregnancy and abortion cases.


The Obama camp has stated that any of their people that attack Sarah Palin or her family on private issues will be fired. That is commendable, but questioning the judgment of a vice presidential candidate—a person literally one heartbeat away from the presidency—is a valid and necessary process. In addition, haven’t we had enough of an administration that does not allow facts to penetrate the politics, and is it not time for more sound fact-based policy and less politics?


Standing by a failed policy that has proven unsuccessful in one's own life is a clear sign of a person who does not exercise sound judgment.


Whether or not Sarah Palin is a good pick for McCain depends on what side of the political aisle one stands. For Obama supporters, it may turn out to be a great pick. From a qualification perspective, picking her raises questions about McCain’s judgment as well.


David Cooper

Oops, somehow David's footnotes didn't make the transition on first attempt. Here they are:

[i] From the The Content of Federally Funded Abstinence-Only Education Programs report prepared for Rep. Henry A. Waxman.

[ii] Pro-Life? Look at the Fruits by Dr. Glen Harold Stassen. also see, Why abortion rate is up in Bush years by Glen Stassen and Gary Krane

Final Note: click here for the NY Times Caucus blog and its photos and story of McCain and his family getting together with the Palin family today at the Minneapolis airport.

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