Sunday, August 31, 2008
Cosi Fan Tutte
—Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
It was a wonderful week for women and it more than made up for the fact that Hillary Clinton is neither the Democrats’ presidential nor vice-presidential candidate. Both events took place on the Republican side of the aisle. It is hard to decide which was more significant so I shall relate them chronologically.
In a brilliant move that contrasted sharply with the activities of Michelle Obama during the week of the Democratic convention, Cindy McCain, a major shareholder in a $300 million a year beer wholesale and distributing company started by her father went off to Georgia (the one that used to be in Russia) on her first foreign policy mission. While Michelle Obama was giving her Monday night speech in the safety of Denver’s Pepsi Center, Cindy was flying to Georgia where she planned to meet with Georgian president, Mikheil Saakashvili and visit soldiers wounded in that country’s war with Russia that had ended, sort of, just a few days earlier. Although reports do not indicate what she intended to talk to him about it is safe to say it was a diplomatic mission and that she assured him that Georgia would enjoy the same level of support from a McCain administration that it has received from the Bush administration.
For John to send Cindy off on her first diplomatic mission less than a week before the beginning of the Republican convention was a stroke of genius diverting attention, as it did, from the activities in Denver. Cindy said that the trip was really part of the U.N. World Food Program in which she has been active, but her plans to visit the president and wounded soldiers shows that that was nothing more than a cover-up for real purpose of the trip. It showed that being a major shareholder in and chairwoman of the biggest beer distributorship in Arizona has prepared her to undertake sensitive diplomatic missions as her husband’s envoy should she become first lady. Indeed, Cindy told Time magazine that she had wanted to visit Georgia for some time and told the magazine that that kind of a trip is “an important part of what I’m about, what makes me tick.” As Nicolle Wallace, a McCain adviser told Time: “While she’s on the phone with the World Food Program, he’s on the phone with Saakashvili. It’s like this great picture of what they’ll be like in the White House.” I got quite a few goose bumps when I read that.
The other great news pertained to Senator McCain’s brilliant choice of a vice-presidential running mate-Sarah Palin. Sarah, like Cindy, has quite a bit of foreign policy experience. She comes from Wasilla, Alaska, a town that is not much more than 1500 miles from Russia as the crow flies. Being in such proximity to Russia has given Sarah a unique perspective and sensitivity to the relations between the United States and that country. Sarah is also a fast learner.
Politico reports that as recently as a month ago Sarah told an interviewer that she didn’t know what the job of vice-president entailed and said it didn’t seem like a “productive” job. Presumably she was comparing it to the important kinds of things she did as mayor of Wasilla, a town with a population of less than 8000 people and a budget of approximately $20 million or perhaps her work during her short tenure as governor. (As mayor she oversaw the Police Department and its 25 officers as well as the city’s public works projects.) She was quoted in Politico as saying: “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? I’m used to being very productive and working real hard in an administration.” My guess is in the interim she had a chance to interview Dick Cheney and learn that in his case, at least, he ran the country although George got most of the credit. She no doubt understands that she’d not have quite the same authority being unable to match Dick Cheney’s knowledge of how a vice-president can make government do what he wants it to do rather than what the framers intended.
Her selection is a stroke of genius and provides everyone the opportunity to see the kind of leadership choices John McCain will make if elected. In addition, Sarah will certainly attract many, if not all, the women who were supporting Hillary Clinton. The only real differences between her and Hillary, after all, are their positions on abortion, what kind of person to appoint to the Supreme Court, drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, gun control, the death penalty, same-sex marriage and whether to teach intelligent design in the classroom. (Sarah favors it.) Those differences are insignificant given the fact that what they have in common is that they are both women. If you don’t believe me, ask the Hillary supporters who plan to vote for John and Sarah.