Back during primary season, I spoke with a professor from another university about the Republican prospects. When the conversation turned toward Mike Huckabee, one of the last to withdraw from the Republican contest, the professor was relieved. She mentioned that it’s probably a good thing that someone who doesn’t believe in evolution won’t have a chance at the White House. After Sarah Palin was announced as John McCain’s running mate, I am sure she was a little deflated.
The McCain camp has done a good job of sequestering Sarah Palin and keeping some of her more outlandish views away from the public. Her dismissal of evolution, and balking at the suggestion that climate change could be caused by human actions, says something about her. Unfortunately, the disdain for science and reason is pervasive in the 2008 GOP ticket. While Senator McCain may not be as lost as Governor Palin, he is by no means a Carl Sagan. The two candidates, along with the McCain campaign, have set aside facts for speculation and logic for emotion.
The first hints that McCain lost his critical thinking ability came during the summer when he floated the largely irrelevant and poorly devised gas-tax holiday. Once this idea was laughed off, he then decided to pursue offshore drilling, even though he himself stipulates that the oil will make no real dent in prices for any one person. Senator McCain clings to the myopic belief that we can drill our way to energy independence.
Senator McCain also claims that he wants to build several dozen new nuclear reactors, tagged at three to five billion a piece to construct. At the same time, he emphasizes his commitment to halting most government spending. Construction of these reactors seems impossible unless there is a buy-in-bulk deal Senator McCain has drafted that only he is privy to. Mr. McCain also glibly mentioned in the first debate that you don’t have to tell Arizona about solar power, yet he avoided voting on a bill eight times that would extend subsidies to renewable technology such as solar.
Then there is the other half of the ticket. Mrs. Palin supports government killing of wolves in Alaska to maintain caribou and moose populations. Despite a number of biologists informing her that the practice is wholly unnecessary and that the mega-herbivore numbers are stable, she clings to the belief that the cull is necessary.
While it is distressing that Mrs. Palin seems to get her views of the cosmos and nature from a 2000-year-old book, simultaneously ignoring contemporary science, her basic lack of reasoning seems to be even more frightening. While some might focus on her utter nonsense about seeing Russia from Alaska, there is a panoply of views Mrs. Palin maintains that should leave us dumbfounded.
When news broke of Bristol Palin’s pregnancy, the media flocked to the story because of the shock factor. Because of the constant news attention, the McCain camp seemed to get flustered. Sarah Palin told us to respect Bristol’s decision and privacy — even Barack Obama stated families are off limits.
Both Palin and Obama’s sentiments are not out of line and generally agreeable. The fallacy is that Sarah Palin wants to overturn Roe vs. Wade and provide government with the prerogative to dictate parental decisions Palin deemed private. How Mrs. Palin has not yet collapsed under the pressure of cognitive dissonance is at the same time incomprehensible and impressive.