Judging from the scarcity of information about Sarah Palin's political positions, it's not surprising that most voters don't have a clear picture of the recently announced GOP vice-presidential nominee.
Based on the information at On the Issues, culled from a range of credible sources and consolidated into a profile, we know that Gov. Palin is:
-Free market capitalist.
-Defines marriage solely as a union between a man and a woman.
-Supports the death penalty.
-Advocates teaching intelligent design in public schools.
-Supports drilling offshore and in ANWR.
-Opposes government-administered health care.
-Member of the National Rifle Association and Feminists for Life.
But there's still much that we don't know about her views, particularly on issues important to voters, such as immigration, free trade, social security and other entitlements, the war in Iraq, and foreign policy in general.
Without substantive topics like these to discuss, much of the coverage of Gov. Palin thus far has been focused on her personally and her family. Criticism has been raised regarding her pursuit of a political career with young children at home. There has been wild speculation surrounding her newborn son, and more rumors began circulating after the announcement of her eldest daughter's pregnancy. Finally, she is facing inquiries concerning her role in the firing of a public official for personal reasons.
While it's expected that Gov. Palin certainly does hold positions on issues such as immigration and foreign policy, they've played little or no part in her executive experience. Without a voting record or a history of statements to back up her stances, voters must take Gov. Palin at her word -- a tall request from a virtually unknown potential vice-president.
It's going to be especially interesting to observe her performance in upcoming debates with Sen. Biden. Not only does Sen. Biden have strong foreign policy credentials and lengthy experience in that area, he has intimate knowledge of the details of operations in the Middle East. Regardless of whether his votes and views have been on target or not, Gov. Palin will be hard-pressed to debate the finer points of US military strategy in that region, even with a crash-course on the topic.
Other issues such as health care, immigration and trade will also certainly come up in the context of the debates, and while these aren't Sen. Biden's area of concentration -- as foreign policy and homeland security are -- he still has an extensive voting record and a national view of these points. Gov. Palin will undoubtedly hold strong opinions on these, but her perspective thus far has necessarily been restricted to her home state.
Gov. Palin's primary focus during her tenure as governor of Alaska has been on energy policy -- specifically, promoting drilling in ANWR, pushing for a natural gas pipeline, and limiting taxes on oil and gas companies. These priorities align with those of the Republican base, but they are only a narrow subset of all the issues around which the base is rallying.
While many Republicans are energized by McCain's choice of Gov. Palin, questions remain on both sides of the aisle. Whether these questions will be answered to the satisfaction of wavering Republicans and undecided Independents depends largely on Gov. Palin's ability to articulate and defend her positions going forward.
Julie is a former Air Force officer and professional project manager turned web writer. She spent four years at the Pentagon and five years in New York City, and her suburban life in Colorado seems pastoral by comparison. She's no political pundit, but she is an objective thinker in a sea of partisan propagandists. She writes for The Mom Slant, Cool Mom Picks, and is co-founder of The Parent Bloggers Network.
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