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Archive for the ‘governors’ Category

Sarah Palin (1964- ) is the governor of the state of Alaska and John McCain’s pick for Republican vice president for 2008. She is part of the Christian right and once supported Pat Buchanan on the far right.

McCain’s choice was so surprising that some wonder about his judgement. It seems like a cheap, desperate move. It is either that or a bold and brave master stroke. Only time will tell.

The choice is not quite as desperate as it might seem at first sight. Of all the Republican governors she is the most beloved by her citizens: she cuts taxes and cleans up government. She stands up to the bad apples even in her own party and gets them kicked out.

She has courage and faith in God. Instead of working all the angles and playing the game, like a Hillary Clinton, she looks at it this way:

I believe everything happens for a purpose. In my own personal life, if I dedicated back to my Creator what I’m trying to create for the good . . . everything will turn out fine.

Like most Republican voters she is a regular church-going Christian who believs in old-time Christian morals. She is a Pentecostal Christian (Assemblies of God) who is against same-sex marriage and abortion. She has said  creationism should be taught in schools.

If the 2008 election comes down to voter turn-out, as it looks like it will, then McCain needs a vice president that the Christian right can go wild for.

Palin’s main drawback is her lack of experience. She has even less of it than Obama. Which seems to destroy McCain’s main argument against him.

She grew up in Alaska hunting moose with her father and used to work with her husband in his fishing boat. As a hunter she is a strong supporter of gun rights.

Her husband has worked for BP, one of the three big oil companies in Alaska. She is for pumping all the oil out of ANWR, the Artic National Wildlife Refuge, a vast untouched piece of wilderness in Alaska.

She has five children:

  • 1989: Track, joined the army on September 11th 2007. He will soon be in Iraq.
  • 1990: Bristol, pregnant but intends to marry the father.
  • 1995: Willow, a girl
  • 2001: Piper Indy, a girl
  • 2008: Trig, a boy. When Palin was four-months pregnant she knew he would be born with Down syndrome.

The daughter of schoolteachers, she is from Wasilla, a town north of Anchorage:

  • In high school she led its basketball team to state-wide victory, getting the name Sarah Barracuda.
  • In 1984 she was crowned the town’s beauty queen, and almost became Miss Alaska (she came in second).
  • In 1996 she became its mayor.

After her two terms as mayor, ending in 2002, she went on to become the state’s regulator of the oil and gas industry and then, in December 2006, the governor, defeating men with bigger names and bigger money.

Of past presidents she seems most like Harry Truman.

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Willard Mitt Romney (1947- ) was governor of the American state of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007. He ran for president in the 2008 election, but dropped out on February 7th right after Super Tuesday. He is a Republican.

As a governor, and earlier as head of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and a Boston businessman, he has proved he is a leader who can get things done, who is at his best when things go bad.

But he does not seem to stand for anything. He knows what Americans think and mouths all the right words, but none of it seems to come from his heart.

For example, when he was governor he passed a gun control law. But in 2006, just before he ran from president, he joined the National Rifle Association (NRA), which has blocked serious gun laws for years.

His positions on abortion and homosexuals have likewise “evolved” to match opinion in the Republican party.

The two main wings of the Republican party are business and the Christian right. He is good with business: he was a rich businessman himself as well as a model Republican governor who balanced the state’s books without raising taxes. He wants to keep the Bush tax cut and has proved he can cut out government fat.

With the Christian right things are not so simple. He is Mormon. Some say Mormons are not true Christians: they believe some strange things. Because of some of the wilder Mormon offshoots, many fear that they still secretly have many wives. Most would sooner vote for a Jew for president than for a Mormon.

Some fear that Romney would take orders from the church leadership in Salt Lake City. But this fear is probably overblown, just as was the fear that John Kennedy would take orders from the pope in Rome.

But Romney has a particular bit of bad luck when it comes to religion: he is running against a one-time Baptist minister, Mike Huckabee, who has been winning over his support from the Christian right.

If the Romney name seems familiar somehow you are probably thinking of his father. He was governor of Michigan as well as the head of American Motors and President Nixon’s housing secretary. He even ran for president himself in 1968.

As many young Mormon men do, Mitt Romney fished for souls in his youth. He did this in France in the late 1960s. He only caught a few, but it kept him out of serving in the Vietnam war.

He went on to get degrees in both business and law from Harvard. In 1984 he founded Bain Capital, which came to own Staples, Domino’s Pizza, FTD Florists and hundreds of other companies. It made him rich.

As governor he made sure everyone had health insurance and did it without a tax increase or bigger government.

Last updated: Thu Feb 7 23:56:52 UTC 2008

Epilogue: In 2012 Romney became the Republican challenger to President Obama. He ran hard right to get the nomination but then, suddenly, a month before the election, during the first debate against Obama, disowned those positions as if he had never held them and ran centre-right. More.

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Mike Huckabee (1955- ) was governor of the American state of Arkansas from 1996 to 2007. Time magazine said he was one of the country’s five best governors. He is now running for president in the 2008 election.

In December 2007 he was second only to Rudy Giuliani among Republicans in nationwide opinion polls.

In January 2008 he fell to a weak third place. Although Giuliani dropped out, both Romney and McCain passed him by. By the end of the month he was falling badly behind.

Although he comes from a small state and has little money, he is favoured by the Christian right, one of the two main wings of the Republican party. He was once a Christian minister and speaks in the moral absolutes that the Christian right loves. Unlike anyone else running he is not afraid to say he believes in God and the Bible.

That is hardly an extreme position: most Americans believe in God and the Bible. Yet you do not hear the other candidates saying it because they live too much in the world of the white liberal north-east where it is bad manners to openly express your Christian beliefs.

And that is Huckabee’s secret weapon: he lives near the middle of the country and thinks more like most Americans. Only Obama comes close to him on that.

Because the press lives in that same liberal north-east world, Huckabee is bound to surprise them.

From a Republican point of view, although Huckabee is good on moral issues, he is bad on taxes.

Huckabee is not so much a Republican as what used to be called a Southern Democrat: they wanted to use government to help people but had old-fashioned ideas about morals. It was the Democratic party’s hard stand on abortion in the 1980s and 1990s that pushed them and much of the South into the Republican party.

When Huckabee was governor of Arkansas he cut taxes but he raised them too. He poured new taxes into education and health.

Huckabee wants to get rid of the income tax and put a nationwide sales tax in its place.

Huckabee is squarely against abortion and same-sex marriage, always has been. He thinks creationism should be taught in schools in addition to Darwin’s evolution.

Religion is so much a part of how he sees the world that he cannot separate it from his policy decisions. He was a Southern Baptist minister in Arkansas in the 1980s and early 1990s.

He is for making it hard for foreigners to come to America, but he is for helping those who are already here.

He is for the war in Iraq. But he has no foreign policy experience and his views on these things are a big unknown. The same was true of Bush in 2000, but that was before 9/11 when the world seemed quiet. His lack of experience proved costly.

Last updated: Wed Jan 30 13:18:48 UTC 2008

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