Saturday, August 30, 2008

Initial thoughts on Sarah Palin

I’m still processing this decision by John McCain in picking Sarah Palin as his running mate. Contrary to what some think, I am trying to read about her qualifications from sources on the left, right and hopefully some that have no political leanings. While my initial impression is that this is not a good decision and does nothing for the Republicans hopes of winning, my opinion could change as I learn more. Only time will tell if she has the right stuff.

I have begun to think about it from our shared perspectives as mothers of about the same age (she’s one year older than I am). I must say that I don’t understand her or the decision she has made to accept this nomination. She is a mother of five children who range in age from 19 years to 5 months old. The youngest one has Downs Syndrome. While her kids have their father as a full time caregiver, I can’t imagine that they see much of their mom. I heard that she didn’t even take any maternity leave with the birth of her last child.

I think it’s great to work and be productive and have a successful career but there is a trade-off. From this point forward, her working life is going to totally eclipse her family. She has no foreign policy experience and has said, “As for that VP talk all the time, I'll tell you, I still can't answer that question until somebody answers for me what is it exactly that the VP does every day?” With this kind of background, she’s got a lot of preparing to do between now and the debates. Plus she’s going to be on the road campaigning full time. That’s a lot to have on your plate!

I know, I know, you could make the same argument for Barack Obama. His kids probably don’t see him a lot either. You know what? I think he’s made the same trade off that Sarah Palin has decided to make. Anyone, man or woman, who chooses to devote more to his or her career than to his or her home life makes the trade off. The more hours you put into your career, the less effective you are in assuming your parental responsibilities. You can’t have both and you shouldn’t pretend to think you do.

Is it bad to forgo your parental responsibilities and pass them off to someone else to advance a career? People have to make that decision for themselves. I think there are cases when the answer is yes and other cases when the answer is no. I also think that many times the question is never asked.

If Sarah Palin is doing this because she feels a call to serve her country, then she should do it. The same goes for Obama and I honestly think this is why he’s doing it. If, on the other hand, Mrs. Palin is doing it because of the fame, or the power, or the prestige, or the money, I think she’ll have regrets in the end. Only she know the answer.

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