Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Maryland Right-Wing Hypocrisy Never Ends

It was bad enough that Maryland conservatives reacted with rank hypocrisy to the recent state police spying scandal. But they have topped that performance with their praise of Republican Vice-Presidential nominee Sarah Palin.

The chief line of attack by national Republicans against Senator Obama is that he is inexperienced and not ready to be President. Maryland Republican Party Chairman Jim Pelura adopted this argument in a press release during the Democratic convention. Pelura commented, “...The Democrats’ cure for what they say ails our country is to elect a man that has served less than one term in the U.S. Senate…” and followed with, “Throughout this campaign, Barack Obama has shown the kind of weak judgment Americans cannot afford in our next commander-in-chief.” But in assessing Sarah Palin, Pelura gushes, “As the head of Alaska 's National Guard and as the mother of a soldier herself, Governor Palin understands what it takes to lead our nation and she understands the sacrifice of our troops and their families.” So according to Maryland Republicans, Senator Obama, with nearly four years experience on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is not ready for the White House. But Governor Palin, with two years experience supervising Alaska’s National Guard, is ready. Such are the arguments we would expect from paid political hacks.

And so I turned to the Free State’s conservative blogosphere and its leader, Brian Griffiths. Agree with him or not, Griffiths has a history of going after fellow Republicans, whether skewering Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold or hounding former Maryland GOP Executive Director John Flynn out of his job. But even Griffiths fails the consistency test when it comes to Governor Palin.

After Senator Obama picked Senator Joe Biden as his running mate, Griffiths wrote:

Obama selected Biden from a position of weakness, not a position of strength. Biden was picked to overcome Obama's noticeable shortcomings in experience and knowledge. And Biden was selected in an effort to stop the bleeding. Somebody in Obama's campaign thinks that the selection of Biden is going to shore up concerns with Obama's inexperience, and that the selection is going to reinforce the ticket's foreign policy credentials. Problem is, the selection only accentuates the weaknesses the American people already knows Barack Obama has.
And after Senator McCain picked Governor Palin as his running mate, Griffiths wrote:

Sarah Palin has more experience in government than Barack Obama does. She has no less foreign policy experience than he does. And, unlike Obama, she is the # 2 on the ticket. Obama's glaring lack of experience to be President still shines through. Friends, this is what we have been waiting for. This is what we have wanted to see all along.
The contention that Senator Obama and Governor Palin have similar levels of foreign policy experience is factually wrong. Senator Obama has worked with respected Republican Senator Dick Lugar to reduce conventional weapons stockpiles, sponsored a measure to encourage public pension funds to divest from companies connected to Iran and co-sponsored the 2006 Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act along with Senator McCain. This does not match Senator Biden’s record, but it is hardly equivalent to the “experience” of Governor Palin.

The point of this post is not to criticize the selection of Governor Palin as a Vice-Presidential nominee. Jackie Lichter handled that very well. Rather, the Orwellian reasoning of Maryland conservatives is the real issue here. According to them, Senator McCain is superior to Senator Obama because of his vast experience. But that is suddenly irrelevant in evaluating Senator McCain’s choice for Vice-President, a novice whose primary role in public service has been as mayor of a town less than half the size of Takoma Park. I am always amazed by people who believe totally opposite things at the same time with equal fervor. Such is now the case for many Maryland conservatives.

Barry Rascovar has an excellent piece in the Gazette detailing the irrelevance of the Maryland Republican Party. If Free State conservatives would like to turn around their misfortune, here’s a bit of advice: stop the hypocrisy. Maybe then your opinions will be respected by the independents and moderate Democrats you need to win elections.

Update: Brian Griffiths responds here. Among other things, he says:
The argument that Obama is more prepared than Governor Palin to be President is absurd. And the idea that the right, particularly me, is being hypocritical on the Biden/Palin issue is equally absurd. Senator McCain, in selecting Governor Palin, selected somebody who will be a partner in change and in reform. Somebody who can lead on day one, without the training wheels.
Alaska state legislator Mike Doogan, who has had much more contact with Governor Palin than has Brian Griffiths, begs to differ with that last statement.

Professor Richard Vatz of Towson University stands out as the only honest conservative on Red Maryland, deploring inexperience on both sides. Whether you agree with Professor Vatz or not, he is at least consistent.