ST. PAUL, Minn. — As the Republican National Convention opens here, one thing has become clear: John McCain is both a master politician and genuine.
In choosing Sarah Palin as his running mate, McCain wooed women voters to his side, lent sparkle to his own persona, and created excitement and media buzz about his candidacy. In selecting a vice presidential candidate with impeccable conservative credentials, he energized conservatives who were lukewarm about his run and now say they will work for him.
As Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, tells me, the choice of Palin was a “brilliant move.” He adds, “Surprising decisions are rarely wise decisions. This was both. A solid Reagan Republican. Good on taxes, spending, reform, guns, traditional values. A tax cutting mayor, governor. The Republican party is doing the right thing to get its brand back.”
Most important, in demonstrating that he is true to his conservative voting record, McCain showed that he is the real thing.
In contrast, when Barack Obama gave his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, there was a disconnect between many of the sentiments he expressed and his own record and previous positions during the primaries.
Suddenly, we heard that Obama would eliminate capital gains taxes for small businesses and would cut taxes on 95 percent of working families. While calling for an end to partisan bickering, he engaged in partisan attacks throughout much of his speech. Suddenly, Obama was for oil drilling as a “stop-gap measure.” Suddenly, he was full of praise for America, its soldiers, and its values.
That is not the Obama who sat for 20 years in the pews of the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr.’s church, where the pastor said America created the AIDS virus to kill off blacks.
“Racism is how this country was founded and how this country is still run,” Wright said. “America is still the No. 1 killer in the world.”
Nor were Obama’s comments consistent with Michelle Obama’s statement that, for the first time in her adult life, she is proud of her country.
In the end, that disconnect could be Obama’s undoing. The real Barack Obama is not the moderate we heard in Denver. The real Obama is illuminated by his own record.
In picking a diaper-changing, gun-toting former beauty queen, McCain, on the other hand, made a decision consistent with his own track record. While Palin lacks experience, she has a string of real accomplishments to show for herself.
As a mayor, she cut property taxes 40 percent and reduced her own salary. She came across as forceful, a trait that attracted the leaders of Alaska’s Republican Party. They arranged for her to be appointed to the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission in 2003.
Just after joining the commission, Palin led an ethics probe of the commission's chairman, Randy Ruedrich, who was also the state GOP chairman. Facing conflict-of interest-allegations, Ruedrich admitted ethics violations and resigned.
As governor, she opposed a federal earmark for the $400 million so-called bridge to nowhere. She used her veto power to cut nearly $2 billion from the state budget. She was successful in enacting ethics reform legislation. While pushing to develop more energy resources, she increased taxes on oil production, saying the companies had bribed legislators to keep taxes low. That will enable her to deliver a rebate of $1,200 to each state resident.
In contrast, Obama has virtually no accomplishments beyond getting himself elected. While he often talks about his work as a community organizer, he never achieved his one goal—eliminating asbestos from a single housing project in Chicago.
In both the Illinois Senate and the U.S. Senate, Obama developed a reputation for voting “present,” thus avoiding controversial decisions that could be used against him later. In the U.S. Senate, he has missed more than one in five votes. Only one of the measures Obama has sponsored as a U.S. senator was enacted: a bill to “promote relief, security, and democracy in the Democratic Republic of Congo.”
Contrary to Obama’s portrayal of himself as a unifier, on every bipartisan effort in the Senate to forge compromises on tough issues, Obama has been missing in action.
When it comes to change, Palin has done it; Obama has mainly changed his mind.
In the end, people make their decisions on whom to vote for based in large part on character. They want to know if the candidate is the genuine article. In choosing Palin, McCain demonstrated that he is.
Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via
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