by Helen Thomas
WASHINGTON -- Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has awesome self-confidence. Chosen by fellow Republicans to be Sen. John McCain's running mate, she told an interviewer: "I'm ready." That confidence reflects her naivete about her role that puts her one heartbeat away from the presidency.
In accepting the nomination as veep, she invoked the greatness of President Truman, based on their small-town origins. But anyone who was around during Truman's era knows there is a world of difference between Palin and Truman. Take, for example, humility.
Truman was vice president for only a short time when on April 12, 1945, he was summoned to the White House and told the stunning news that President Franklin Roosevelt was dead. Truman and FDR were not close and Truman was not deeply familiar with the U.S. military plans for World War II. He also did not know about the atomic bomb.
As the nation's new leader, Truman wanted a few days to move into the White House. He understood the magnitude of his new job. The morning after being sworn in, Truman emerged from his Washington apartment to go to work on his first day as president. He took one look at the three wire service reporters who standing in front of his building.
"Boys," he said to the familiar faces, "the moon and the stars fell on me. If you ever prayed before, pray for me."
So when Palin says she is "ready," one thinks of the two U.S. wars under way in Iraq and Afghanistan -- and the devastating market crash on Wall Street.
There is no question that Palin has given a big lift to McCain and helped boost his ratings so that he's now virtually tied with Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee. As a team, McCain and Palin are on the same page. Both are pro-guns and anti-abortion. She is literally a rifle-toting mama, against sex education and has attempted to ban books she considers immoral from her hometown library.
But Palin's evangelical rigidity on social issues puts her out of step with the modern woman. She is said to be more reactionary than McCain -- if that's possible. Is it any wonder that activist feminist organizations have come out in support of Obama?
The new Republican ticket seems like the current White House tenant. Neither McCain nor Palin appear to have any significant doubts about President Bush's disastrous policies. Palin's gubernatorial tenure in Alaska is personified by massive firings when she took office. She does not tolerate dissent and shuns the media.
It seems clear to me that we would have another imperial presidency if McCain and Palin win the hearts and minds of the American people in the November balloting. Bob Woodward of The Washington Post has been privy to the workings of the Bush White House and has written four books to prove it. In his latest Book, "The War Within," Woodward depicts Bush as a "man of few doubts" who is "still following his gut, convinced that the path he has chosen is right."
Bush, who has switched from using the word "win" in speaking of Iraq to "succeed," has the gung ho McCain-Palin team behind him. The question is, why? Woodward also wrote that Bush was intolerant of confrontations and in-depth debate. He said Bush maintained an "odd detachment" in the management of the war in Iraq "and too often failed to lead."
Bush has never explained why he invaded Iraq -- a country that had no doomsday weapons and did us no harm. It's doubtful that McCain or Palin could explain Bush's mindless mission in the Middle East if they gained the White House.
© Copyright 2008 Hearst Newspapers
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