two months and counting...

please note: from time to time on this tiny little space i write about politics. i preach sermon series on political issues (next one starts sept. 14-- mark your calendar!). the posts are generally not meant to support one candidate or ideology over another, and when i do get into that territory i try to name it specifically. and of course i speak only for myself; no one else.

i do not know sarah palin. i've never been to alaska. but as she prepares for her big speech at the republican convention tonight i can't help but think about how she must be going nuts right now. a week ago few people outside of "the 'a' state" (my texas geography professor in college would not mention its name, because when it was granted statehood it replaced texas as the largest state in the union) knew her, and now it seems like everyone is talking about her-- and not the way john mccain imagined. frankly, politics aside, i don't like it. i would post a picture of her here but i can't get myself to do it. she's on billions of websites already.

her daughter is pregnant and unmarried but plans to marry. there is an investigation ongoing about possibly abusing power in the firing of a state official. there is confusion about her stances changing regarding big projects when she was a local leader vs. a statewide leader. i think the experience question is valid-- for her, for obama, for bush jr., for reagan (do we really want "experienced" leaders? and what does it mean, anyway?)-- but once the questions began, they quickly got out of control.

is sexism the driving force of the criticism? hillary clinton certainly dealt with it. michelle obama had her turn. are we so threatened by the possibility of a woman in a place of power that we try to uncover every tiny little episode, including asking about her as a mother? are we only to elect women without children to office? is there an age requirement for the kids before mom can serve the public? it's been pointed out that no one is blasting obama for running for president with two girls at home-- is it different for a man? is it fair to complain about sexism in the media when you're the victim, but dismiss it as a fantasy when the other side is the victim?

this also brings up the issue of "likeability." voters are more interested in how they feel about a candidate-- is this someone i could hang out with-- than discussing the issues. for me, i'm not that interested in voting for someone who collects pez and walks to meatloaf and prince music! if palin comes off tonight in the focus groups as "likeable" will all this mess go away? if she doesn't smile enough or meet whatever expectations we have will things go from bad to worse? in an "image is everything" culture, does it even matter what a candidate says?

both campaigns are right to say this is a family matter and does not belong in the public. i can't imagine what goes through palin's daughter's mind as she hears the news. maybe after the speech tonight we'll move away from the personal stuff and talk about real issues. let's discuss palin's views on abortion, guns, and oil. let's examine obama's views on the death penalty, the war, and the economy. let's look into biden's views on gay marriage, immigration, and the environment. let's check out mccain's thoughts on poverty, taxes, and america's role in the world.

election day is november 4, only nine weeks away. have you decided who you'll vote for? polls suggest a candidate's running mate is rarely a factor-- is that still true after the last week? will we applaud sarah palin for surviving the meatgrinder, calling her courageous and tough, assuming she survives? will our appetite for scandal be satisfied, or is there more juicy stuff out there? is there someone else we can feast on for a while? and what will we do after the election? i still have hopes that we can make an informed decision based on the issues that matter to us. really, are we willing to punch a ballot based on someone's daughter or someone's race or someone's preacher or someone's tv persona?