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Saturday, September 27

Vote for the Eskimo

"Will John McCain stroll onto the stage tonight and tell the American people that he is leader of a party that will fight Wall Street's schemes to rob the taxpayer? Will he say that his election depends upon principles?

Will he say that letting the fox dash into the chicken coop is not going to happen on his watch? Will he say that the Republican Party would rather lose an election than lose the trust of the American people?"
-- John Batchelor, September 26, 2008

From the CNN transcript of the September 26, 2008 presidential debate:
LEHRER: All right, let's go back to my question. How do you all stand on the recovery plan? [...] Do you -- are you in favor of this plan?

OBAMA: We haven't seen the language yet. And I do think that there's constructive work being done out there. So, for the viewers who are watching, I am optimistic about the capacity of us to come together with a plan. [...]

Two years ago, I warned that, because of the subprime lending mess, because of the lax regulation, that we were potentially going to have a problem and tried to stop some of the abuses in mortgages that were taking place at the time. [...]

LEHRER: Are you going to vote for the plan, Senator McCain?

MCCAIN: I -- I hope so. And I...

LEHRER: As a United States senator...

MCCAIN: Sure.

LEHRER: ... you're going to vote for the plan?

MCCAIN: Sure. But -- but let me -- let me point out, I also warned about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and warned about corporate greed and excess, and CEO pay, and all that. A lot of us saw this train wreck coming.
PUNDITA: So tell me where's the difference between these two, discounting that Obama is better at blowing smoke?

MICHAEL WRIGHT: They're scared, they're walking on eggshells. They're caught between the demands of their party leaders and the anger of the American public.

PUNDITA: Did you hear what they said about Russia? There's no daylight between them, discounting that Obama is better at blowing smoke.

MICHAEL WRIGHT: So what do you want to do? A vote for Nader is a vote for McCain; a vote for Barr is a vote for Obama.

PUNDITA: I'm voting for the Eskimo.*

WRIGHT: The what?

PUNDITA: Todd Palin.

WRIGHT: He's only part Eskimo. So you're going to write in Todd Palin for President?

PUNDITA: That would be a meaningless gesture. I'm gonna vote for McCain and pray.

WRIGHT: [laughing] Pray that he moves onto the next life sooner than later? That still wouldn't put Todd in the Oval Office.

PUNDITA: McCain is a good listener. If he listens to Sarah, who listens to Todd, then this country has a fighting chance.

WRIGHT: How did you come to have such a high opinion of Todd Palin?

PUNDITA: Reading everything published about him and reading between the lines, and studying him in interviews.

WRIGHT: You know who else has a high opinion of him? Bill Clinton. He only talked about Todd's snowmobile racing but the fact that he pointed out his courage and tenacity -- it suggests he wanted to underscore Todd's character qualities.

PUNDITA: I will give Clinton this much; he is a shrewd judge of character -- comes from a lifetime of getting into people's head.

WRIGHT: I've heard that Todd is deeply involved in his wife's administration in an unofficial capacity and that's raised eyebrows in Alaska.

PUNDITA: Bonus points, as far as I'm concerned; I'm glad he's gotten some experience in state government, which adds to his experience with Alaska's native tribal governments. Although he's only part Eskimo his mother was involved in tribal politics through her work for a tribal organization.

His father was a general manager for an Alaskan electricity cooperative; that, combined with his 18 years of work for BP, gives him a great deal of knowledge about energy issues, including energy politics.

He worked as a supervisor at BP until he had to give up that position. That was because of a possible conflict of interest when his wife's administration began negotiating with BP. Then he went back to work at BP as a roughneck when the family needed more money.

He's also a union man, so he knows union politics.

Common sense is his middle name. He's also the Navigator type. He's one of those people who are more interested in the process of problem solving than taking a leadership role. His wife is the leader type. That makes them a great team.

WRIGHT: You've said before that historically governments don't so much solve problems as manage them and that we've come into an era where voters are demanding solutions.

PUNDITA: There can't be solutions, only patches that don't hold together well. You want to know why, consider the two men who stood on a stage last night and debated. One's a lawyer, the other's a professional politician. They are two sides of a coin called Washington. The viewpoints represented by their vocations are ineffective for genuine problem-solving.

WRIGHT: It was supposed to be a rule of law, but it worked out to a rule by lawyers.

PUNDITA: Yes. The majority of people in Congress are attorneys. That makes sense from the viewpoint of legislation; it's disastrous from the viewpoint of problem solving. That includes solving problems deriving from outdated legislation.

You need engineering minds for solving the kind of problems this country is faced with. At the least you need enough engineering minds as a counterweight to the legislative minds.

WRIGHT: I think the situation was masked for a long time because of America's great success as a trading nation.

PUNDITA: A superpower nation is able to kick the can far down the road, as the British know, but eventually the road runs out. It's not any one thing challenging this country, it's many things that have been building for decades, and now there's a convergence of serious problems.

WRIGHT: Do you think Todd is strongly influenced by the Native American viewpoint? It would be symmetrical if someone who thinks like a Native American ended up steering America through this era.

PUNDITA: Wouldn't that be a kick in the head? Imagine: someone with deep roots in North America, in an influential position in the U.S. government. What a novel idea.

I'd have to talk with him for a few minutes to be certain but from what I know about him I think he is influenced in that way, although how much I can't say.

It's more likely that he's able to switch between two modes of thinking -- 'Western' and Native North American. More bonus points. But we could certainly use some of the native American viewpoint right now.

WRIGHT: Drawbacks?

PUNDITA: None that I can see at this point; he's got a phlegmatic temperament and reportedly he inspires trust in people through his actions.

WRIGHT: What do you think he'd see when he looked into Putin's eyes?

PUNDITA: Given that Russia should be one of America's most important allies, I would hope that he'd be more interested in what Putin saw while looking into his eyes. And that he'd communicate the point to McCain.

* For Canadian readers, the term "Eskimo" is not pejorative in Alaska; see the Wikipedia article on Eskimos.
*********************************
11:45 PM ET UPDATE

From a report on Todd Palin:
Like other first spouses around the country, Palin has been asked to champion an array of causes or institutions since his wife took office in December. His favorite is steering young Alaskans toward stable jobs in the oil and gas industry. [...] "For those of us who learn by touching and tearing stuff apart and for those who don't have the financial background to go to college, just being a product of that on-the-job training is really important," Palin said [...]
I seem to recall discussing on this blog a few years back the issue that Todd mentions.

I believe there are "two tyrannies" in America -- one, the stranglehold that lawyers have on U.S. government; the other, the virtual monopoly that colleges now have on the route to career success.

Many years ago there was an examination of the monopoly, which if I recall was aired on 60 Minutes. American companies that wanted to hire high school graduates and give them on-the-job training and pay for specialized courses in the company's area of work met with stiff resistance from academia, which charged that the companies were trying to institute a guild system to replace the university one.

There should be enough room in America for both systems, but the academics didn't see it that way. Some companies ignored the criticism and went ahead with in-house training programs for high school graduates, but the criticism had a dampening effect on the idea.

So here we are today, with hundreds of thousands if not millions of young people who can't afford college and/or who learn best through hands-on experience, but who don't have the master-apprentice route of higher education open to them, except in manual labor jobs. All that's open is the route of getting college degrees.

That's another reason I'd like to see Todd Palin with close proximity to the White House. I think the issue near to his heart is also the ticket for many young Americans in this era, and for many American companies.
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