Barack Obama vs Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin at 2008 Republican ConventionSo much political misinformation is flying around these days that I often find myself explaining things to my mother about what’s true and which bits are a pack of lies. The latest misinformation that’s being peddled by the Right-Wingers is that Sarah Palin is qualified to be Vice-President, and potentially President, of the United States. One of the things she did in her speech last night was call into question Barack Obama’s qualifications. I personally thought that was laughable, given the fact that Sarah Palin is so unqualified for the position she’s running for that it’s surprising she has the nerve to speak before the cameras at all, much less call anyone else’s qualifications into question.

Well, it occurred to me last night that it’s a fairly simple process to compare the accomplishments of Sarah Palin and Barack Obama. All of that information is a matter of public record. So when compared side by side, how do the two stack up?

First I’ll look at Barack Obama. What has he done in his lifetime?

  • 1988 – 1991: Attended Harvard Law School.
  • 1990: Elected first black president of the Harvard Law Review.
  • 1991: Graduated magna cum laude from Harvard.
  • April – October 1992: Director of Illinois Project Vote, a voter registration drive with a staff of 10 and 700 volunteers that achieved its goal of registering 150,000 of 400,000 unregistered African Americans in the state, leading Crain’s Chicago Business to name Obama to its 1993 list of “40 under Forty” powers to be.
  • 1992 – 2004: Taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School, as a Lecturer for four years (1992–1996), and as a Senior Lecturer for eight years (1996–2004).
  • 1992: Founding member of the board of directors of Public Allies, an American non-profit organization dedicated to youth leadership development.
  • 1993: Joined Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland, a 12-attorney law firm specializing in civil rights litigation and neighborhood economic development, where he was an associate for three years from 1993 to 1996, then of counsel from 1996 to 2004.
  • 1993 – 2002: Served on the board of directors of the Woods Fund of Chicago, a philanthropic organization devoted to poverty relief and the promotion of social mobility.
  • 1994 – 2002: Served on the board of directors of The Joyce Foundation, a charitable foundation based in Chicago.
  • 1995 – 2002: Served on the board of directors of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge from, as founding president and chairman of the board of directors from 1995–1999.
  • 1997 – 2004: Illinois state Senator
  • 2005 – present: U.S. Senator

Maybe I’m not the most impartial person where Barack Obama is concerned, but that seems like a fairly impressive resume’ to me. I don’t think anyone can say that Obama has been a slacker, or that he hasn’t been a leader. He’s apparently had leadership positions in various organizations for most of his career.

Okay. Now for Sarah Palin. What has she done with her life?

  • 1984: Won the Miss Wasilla beauty pageant
  • 1984: Runner-up in the Miss Alaska beauty pageant, at which she won a college scholarship and the “Miss Congeniality” award.
  • 1987: Received a Bachelor of Science degree in communications-journalism from the University of Idaho, where she also minored in political science.
  • 1988: Worked as a sports reporter for KTUU-TV in Anchorage, Alaska.
  • 1992 – 1996: Wasilla City Council, Wasilla, Alaska [population 6,000]
  • 1996 – 2002: Mayor of Wasilla, Alaska
  • 2007 – present: Governor of Alaska

I keep comparing these two lists. For the life of me, I can’t figure out how anyone can compare Barack Obama and Sarah Palin and come to the conclusion that Palin is “vastly more qualified”. While Palin was sitting on the city council of a small Alaskan town, Obama was a community organizer in Chicago who was championing Civil Rights causes. While Palin was serving as mayor of that small Alaska town (which had less than 6,000 residents), Obama was serving as an Illinois state senator representing millions of people, and later serving as a U.S. Senator representing the 12 million people of the state of Illinois.

I keep trying to figure out how being the mayor of a town of 6,000 people is more impressive than being a U.S. Senator representing 12 million people. Some people might brush that aside as say “Well, she’s governor of Alaska”. To that I’d have to say “So?” The entire state of Alaska has less than 600,000 residents. How is that so impressive? The mayor of Chicago governs more people than that entire state.

And what did she do as governor of Alaska that was so impressive? How did she distinguish herself? She got involved in an ethics scandal for firing Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan because he wouldn’t fire Palin’s former brother-in-law, Alaska State Trooper Mike Wooten, who was involved in a child custody battle with Palin’s sister, Molly McCann. Sarah Palin is currently under investigation for ethics violations because of that firing.

I think it speaks volumes to Sarah Palin’s arrogance and ambition that she’d believe she could go from being the mayor of a tiny town to being governor in the first place. Most people at least have the common decency to make a stop in the Senate first. And again, so what if she’s governor of Alaska? Common consensus in Alaska seems to be that Palin won that office because Alaskans wanted to be rid of her unpopular predecessor, Frank Murkowski, not because of her vast qualifications.

Honestly, I can’t quite figure out how a former beauty queen with a Bachelor of Science degree in communications-journalism wound up as the governor of the state of Alaska. They really do do things differently in Alaska. Not that I think being a former beauty queen should have disqualified Sarah Palin from being the governor of Alaska. I’m not one of these guys who thinks that all beauty queen contestants are airheads. I just don’t think it’s something you can point to as a qualification for the job of governor. But oddly enough, it’s something that Sarah Palin includes in all of her bios.

I can only hope that eventually the good, decent people of this country will push away that cup of Right-Wing Kool-Aid and start thinking for themselves. The outrageous lies and propaganda have already started, proving that Right-Wing conservatives live in a fantasy world; a self-crafted delusion in which a man who was born in Honolulu, Hawaii to a black father and a white mother and who has been a member of a Christian church for over twenty years can be cast as a Muslim of Arab decent, who must surely be sympathetic to Arab terrorists. These same deluded people have convinced themselves that a former beauty queen with only a year and half of experience as governor of one of the nation’s least populated states is ready to be President of the United States.

These are scary times. At least when the drones managed to get George W. Bush elected, he was in his second term as governor of one of our largest states. Who would have thought the Republicans could possibly lower the bar? Sarah Palin is still wet behind the ears politically, and yet she has the nerve to stand up there on stage and mock her vastly more qualified opponents? And if Barack Obama is so inexperienced and unqualified, how can Sarah Palin claim he’s part of Washington’s political elite? You can’t have it both ways, you know.

Well, unless you’re a Republican. But I guess that explains why Sarah Palin and the Republicans can say that Palin’s 17-year-old unwed pregnant daughter is off-limits, even as they parade her and her boyfriend before the cameras for propaganda purposes. I guess when you’re a Republican, you really can have it both ways. After all, they’ve pretty much intimidated the mainstream media by asserting that if you criticize Sarah Palin at all or question her qualifications, it’s only because she’s a woman and you’re coverage is sexist. So the mainstream media is afraid to be too rough on her. Isn’t that in itself sexist? Isn’t it an insult to women to imply that Sarah Palin shouldn’t be subject to the same level of scrutiny as a man would be?

But I understand the tactic. It’s brilliant, actually. Anyone with half a brain could look at Sarah Palin’s qualifications and realize that if she was a man, she’d never even be on the Republican ticket. Who would vote for a man with the same political resume’ as Sarah Palin? So the only thing the Republicans can do is fire up their propaganda machine and assert that if you look at her resume’ you’re being a sexist ass. In fact, their entire theme thus far seems to be “Vote for McCain/Palin because the sexist asses in the mainstream media don’t want a woman in the White House”. It’s an insulting appeal to those former Hillary Clinton supporters: insulting because the Republicans honestly hope that a majority of women will vote for Sarah Palin’s vagina.

In the end, that really seems to be her only qualification. Sarah Palin has a vagina. According to Republican political theory, that’s the only reason women were voting for Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries, because she had a vagina.

Personally, I’d like to think that the women of American are smarter than that.

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