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Sadly, McCain ignored better choices for V.P.

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Myriam Marquez
October 3, 2008

It should have been Linda Lingle.


Now in her second term as Hawaii’s governor, Lingle is the first Republican elected to that job in 40 years. She delivered a record state budget surplus, has gone to Iraq to size up the war on terror and set Hawaii on a course of foreign-oil independence.


But Lingle, 55, never made John McCain’s veep list. She’s pro-choice. And she’s Jewish, which would have wowed South Florida but doesn’t excite the GOP evangelical base. Twice divorced with no children, she’s not valued by the family values crowd.


And dare I? Lingle looks like a boring librarian, a policy wonk—not a gun-packing, snow-plowing, moose-hunting, 44-year-old beauty queen with five kids, a figure and a hunk of a husband.


Yes, I know, Sarah Palin is the only one of the candidates who has executive experience as governor of Alaska. But have you watched those Palin interviews with Katie Couric on CBS? Here’s a slice:


Couric: “You’ve cited Alaska’s proximity to Russia as part of your foreign-policy experience. What did you mean by that?”


Palin: “That Alaska has a very narrow maritime border between a foreign country, Russia, and, on our other side, the land-boundary that we have with Canada. It’s funny that a comment like that was kinda made to—I don’t know, you know reporters.”


Couric: “Mocked?”


Palin: “Yeah, mocked, I guess that’s the word, yeah.”


Couric: “Well, explain to me why that enhances your foreign-policy credentials.”


Palin: “Well, it certainly does, because our, our next-door neighbors are foreign countries, there in the state that I am the executive of.”


Couric: “Have you ever been involved in any negotiations, for example, with the Russians?”


Palin: “We have trade missions back and forth, we do. It’s very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia. As Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where do they go? It’s Alaska. It’s just right over the border. It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there, they are right next to our state.”


Granted, Palin has been governor for less than two years, but she could have talked about the times she has been briefed as commander in chief of her state’s National Guard about Russian military planes inching near Alaska airspace.


McCain, 72, was so eager to shock and awe voters that he passed over experienced conservatives such as Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchinson of Texas and Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina. (Forget Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine—like Lingle, she’s a moderate Republican.) In our youth-obsessed political playbook, they didn’t fit.


We’ve had all of 30 days and three painful TV interviews to know that Palin is no Margaret Thatcher. If America were not at war and our economy wasn’t facing the biggest crisis since the Great Depression, this wouldn’t be so scary.


Myriam Marquez is a columnist for the Miami Herald, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, FL 33132. Readers may write to her via e-mail at mmarquez@miamiherald.com.

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