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A True Reformer

Palin is the perfect vice presidential pick for McCain

Democrats claim John McCain’s pick of Sarah Palin as his running mate is cynical. Palin has sparked a culture war, they say, which will trick people into voting for the candidate they like over the one whose policies will benefit them.

But these critics are waging a phony war: Palin’s record of reform underlines McCain’s message, and the Republican ticket is appealing to voters on more than just “God, guns, ’n’ babies.”

Like McCain, Palin is running on her history of combating special interests, even within her own party. In fact, Wall Street Journal reporter Laura Meckler notes that while Palin is socially conservative, she does not mention abortion or gay marriage in her speeches.

She’s taken down a few head honchos, too. As a member of Alaska’s oil and gas commission, she investigated the state Republican Party chairman for doing party work on government time , and launched an ethics probe against the Republican state attorney general . Both men resigned. After defeating incumbent Gov. Frank Murkowski for the GOP nomination and winning the general election, Palin sold the gubernatorial jet and ditched the complimentary chef , boosting her approval rating to a high of 93 percent.

Palin’s career in Juneau mirrors McCain’s tenure in Washington. McCain pilloried former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld’s military strategy in Iraq , scrutinized lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s dealings with Indian tribes , and railed against the pork barrel projects approved by a Republican Congress . While Palin scraped the pork barrel for federal dollars herself, she also line-item-vetoed $268 million worth of hometown projects from the state budget, or about 10 percent of state spending. These political victories have enabled the McCain campaign to sell her as a bull moose, not as a culture warrior.

Most importantly, Palin can speak with credibility on energy, a top concern among voters . Last month, she signed plans to build a $26 billion natural gas pipeline, which she spent months negotiating. On the stump, she advocates drilling for oil in the Alaska Northern Wildlife Refuge, which most Americans favor. The McCain-Palin platform is calling for lower energy prices, and talking about people’s pocketbooks, not their Bibles.

The proof is in the polling. According to a recent CBS News poll, 46 percent of independents view Palin favorably, while Joe Biden musters only 31 percent. What’s more, 53 percent of registered voters approve of McCain’s choice for VP, while 48 percent are happy with Barack Obama’s. Who’s polarizing whom?

More likely, Democrats are upset that McCain has picked a smart, energetic running mate, who gives him a fighting chance to win in November. And Republicans can’t help but relish in asking them: “What? Can’t handle a strong woman?”

Brian J. Bolduc ’10, a Crimson editorial editor, is an economics concentrator in Winthrop House.

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