My turn: Apply political standards to both sides equally

Posted: Tuesday, September 09, 2008

I recently read the My Turn column by Diane McCarty, "Palin not qualified to be VP" (Thursday's Juneau Empire).

I grew up in Tenakee Springs and consider Diane to be a good friend. But a true friend is someone you can disagree with and still remain friends. But why do I disagree with her?

When I was attending college, pursuing my broadcast degree, my professors constantly talked about objectivity. How if we are to be fair when broadcasting a news story, we need to ask the same questions and apply the same logic to both or all sides of an issue. McCarty claims Gov. Sarah Palin is not vice presidential material. She seems to have two main arguments against Palin. These two arguments are: that Palin lacks experience and that, as a mother, Palin doesn't have the time to devote to being vice president. So let's examine these ideas. Objectively.

First, let's talk about lack of experience. McCarty claims that Palin is in "no way qualified to take over the presidency," and that "being mayor of a small town does not qualify one for vice presidency and living near Russia or Canada does not give one foreign policy experience."

If we are talking about experience, why not apply the same standard to the presidential candidate on the other side? Obama has no executive experience. None whatsoever. He does have legislative experience, serving in the U.S. Congress, but Palin has served as governor of a state for two years, and judging by her approval rating (highest in the entire U.S.A., last I saw) she has done a good job.

Given the fact that both sides lack experience, I think we should look at another point of interest. Something like has a candidate shown an ability to learn new things and adapt to new situations? Have they shown in the past that they can take on new, difficult obstacles? Like say, moving up from being a "small town" mayor to being governor of the state? Taking on Big Oil and pushing through new oil taxes? Getting the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act passed? How about energy relief for all Alaskans? I'd think those may apply as some sort of executive accomplishments, maybe even "experience."

Obama surely has accomplishments as well. But let's not ignore what Palin has done and call her "unqualified" unless we are going to use the same demanding microscope on the other side. It's only fair. And objective.

I'm not all that convinced that "experience" is a such a big deal as both sides are making it out to be anyways. That's why the new president will have advisers and staffers. Besides, I seem to recall another president who people said didn't have enough foreign policy experience to handle the job. Remember him? He was in the Navy. Some people thought he talked kind of funny. Yes, that would be JFK.

Second, let's look at this notion that as a mother of five children Palin somehow does not have the time needed to be both a mother and a leader.

In McCarty's column she said the following:

"How can Palin give any of these children the love and attention that they need and deserve from a mother and also give our country what it needs and deserves from a leader?"

Her sentiments seem to be echoed by many others I have heard in columns and blogs as well as news reports on TV. What I have not once heard is the same question applied to Obama. "How can Obama give any of his children the love and attention they need and deserve from a father and also give our country what it needs and deserves from a leader?"

To not apply this question to both sides seems to me to border on sexism. It should apply to both sides in an equal manner. It's only fair. And objective.

One thing I do agree with McCarty on is that Palin's story is not that unusual. My wife manages around 40 employees at five different locations, schedules their shifts, hires new employees when people leave, deals with employee's last-minute "I can't work" calls, handles discipline issues, and everything else that comes with managing personnel for a busy and thriving Juneau business, and still is able to be what our three kids claim is "The bestest Mommy in the whole wide world!" Women all over our country are doing this kind of thing each and every day. Having a candidate that can identify with working women all over our country? That doesn't sound that horrible to me.

Objectivity. I learned about it in my freshman broadcasting classes. It is something I feel is important for all citizens to practice in an election year, because sadly our national media often seems to forget what they should have been taught in journalism 101 classes. I'm not here to try to tell you who to vote for. Listen to the debates, and see who you agree with. Then get out and vote! But please, let's not apply standards to one side that we don't hold the other side too as well. That's just biased. And wrong!

• Gabe Strong is a Juneau resident.

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