Opinion: In today’s pages: Palin, McCain and Gustav


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It’s pick-a-fight-with-Republicans day at the Times’ Opinion Manufacturing Division, so get ready to hit the comment boards, people! Tell us how wrong we are, not once, not twice, but three times! Well, only one of those pieces comes from the Times’ editorial board, and it actually praises John McCain and GOP leaders for their reaction to Hurricane Gustav. But this being the Times, the board leavens its praise for McCain with a helping of criticism of President Bush:

McCain once presented himself as the president’s opposite, but in recent months has begun to sound more like him, embracing the religious right, amping up his hawkish rhetoric and promoting the sort of tax cuts he once attacked as irresponsible. Gustav gave him the chance to again show himself as his own man.


Columnist Tim Rutten agrees that Palin’s pregnant teen-age daughter Bristol, as well as Bristol’s boyfriend, their friends and teachers, should be off-limits to media scrutiny. But he adds:

That said, the fact of Bristol Palin’s situation and the way in which she and her family have chosen to deal with it are legitimate issues, because they involve public policy issues on which Sarah Palin, candidate for vice president, has taken political positions. Palin, for example, opposes sex education in schools, including all access to contraceptive information for adolescents. Similarly, she believes that abortion should be illegal.

Palin and her family have made decisions in the face of personal challenges such Bristol’s pregnancy that have been consistent with their personal beliefs, Rutten writes. But Palin’s ‘particular brand of social conservatism,’ he opines, ‘would deny other American families and other American women the freedom to make these same intimate decisions according to the dictates of their own consciences, religious convictions and traditions.’

Ouch. Finally, best-selling secularist author Sam Harris, founder of The Reason Project, offers some ghoulish actuarial data about McCain’s chances of dying in office to support his argument that Sarah Palin simply isn’t good enough to be the veep. ‘McCain has so little respect for the presidency of the United States that he is willing to put the girl next door (soon, too, to be a grandma) into office beside him,’ Harris writes. Hmmm. this ‘girl next door’ just happened to be skillful enough as a politician and leader to become a governor, doesn’t that count for something?

That’s probably enough controversy for one day, but wait, there’s more! On the editorial page, the board decries a proposal from the City Ethics Commission to require lobbyists to wear a special badge when they enter City Hall, and it urges Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to sign a bill barring merchants from electronically storing sensitive (read: hacker-enticing) credit-card data. On the op-ed page, author Karen Stabiner offers a modest proposal for easily family get-togethers at Christmas: celebrate a airline hub cities! (She’s kidding.) And journalist-turned-author Stephen Kinzer notes how even leftists are growing tired of the increasingly authoritarian actions of Nicarauguan revolutionary-turned-president Daniel Ortega.