I CAN honestly speak from the experience of a woman who is a wife and a mother who also has been a working mother for most of her married life.
"Down home," "Joe Six pack," "hockey mom," "gotcha," "betcha," "maverick" - what naive terms used by someone seeking second seat to the most powerful person in America. I cannot begin to describe how offensive I find Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
Well, yes, I can. And I shall.
First, she wants to present herself as being the consummate working mother to appeal to all women.
This offends me in so many ways. When I decided to have children I opened my arms to my babies, regardless of health, as have all the women I know. That she did not abort or give away her son with Down syndrome tells me that she is not totally self-serving, but this does not make her special; it makes her a mother.
But as a mother, I felt then and now that the first and most critical responsibility as a parent is to be there to raise that child, to make my family my priority. She understands all about special-needs children, and to some degree, so do I. The first rule of parenting is to be there. Mrs. Palin promotes herself as everyone's ideal of a mother, yet she obviously cares more about her career than her family or she would not have dragged her children into the limelight, especially her pregnant daughter. She would have done what most mothers' instincts would dictate: protect her family first and foremost.
As governor of Alaska, she can do that. She can be home and be there for her children. As a political candidate for vice president, she and her husband are continually on the road. Who is there for that baby, and who is there helping her daughter through a deeply personal situation? The teenager is there, living in the public eye.
Mrs. Palin keeps saying that her daughter is going to get married. Why? To protect whose image? The father is 18. They are just children. While I respect Barack Obama for saying that the family is off limits in the campaign, as a voter, it is not off limits to me.
I was not a hockey mom. But I've been a baseball mom and a swimming mom and a theater mom and a band mom and working mom, as well as a wife. I also was a teacher and, afterward, ran two successful businesses, one a large child-care center, and the other a travel agency. None of the above would qualify me for political office.
I will certainly give her credit. She was, let's see, in parent-teacher organizations, so was I. She was a mayor of a small town. I come from a small town, and although I have never been in politics, I am well aware of how much power that position generates, especially when it is a part-time job. She was a business owner. I'm curious about what business she owned.
Now my husband and I are one of millions of families of retirees who are worried about myriad things. We are deeply concerned about the cost of medical care. My husband and I have already lost a portion of what was his automotive pension package. Our investments are bottoming out. I live in fear that our teenage grandsons may end up going to war. I worry about my children being able to support their families and themselves.
Under previous administrations, we have had the good fortune of traveling to many parts of the world and we have friends in Europe. With the experience of extensive travel and ongoing conversation with people from other countries, I guess in the context of international communication, this means I have more experience than Mrs. Palin.
My degree is in education, hers in journalism. I suspect we are almost equals in our government preparation.
As for her being governor of Alaska, I will give her the benefit of the doubt. She may be the best governor Alaska has ever had. So that's where she should stay.
People who are responding to her social conservativism must wake up and realize this self-described maverick's hypocrisy. She can talk down to people and make them feel that she is just like their neighbor, not putting on airs, but her money is not where her "good-old girl" mouth is. She insults our intelligence with her "down home" rhetoric, but perhaps this is just her inability to communicate on a higher intellectual level.
How can anyone begin to imagine Mrs. Palin dealing with Vladimir Putin and the Russian increase in aggression? Maybe she could float a note across the Bering Strait from Alaska, saying, "Now Mr. Putin, that's not nice."
Why, considering the long history of nuclear situations, can she not be taught to pronounce "nuclear"? And all the "betchas" and "Joe Six-pack" idioms will certainly go a long way toward destroying any possibility of global acceptance of her intelligent leadership. We need a leader. We need a communicator.
We must understand that although we are voting for president, there have been too many times when the vice president has needed to take over the job. And those people who fall back on the idea that we are voting only for a president are frighteningly naive. It is a serious package deal and both candidates are equally important.
I like that she is gutsy, pretty, and presents herself well. She means well too - I think. But, electing her to a position that could result in her running a country at war, suffering the worst economic crisis since the Depression and the loss of respect from allies, and dealing with leaders of other countries is tantamount to going into an operating room and finding out that your surgeon just finished a two-month course in basic pre-med.
She has been coached, but she cannot hide her naivete and lack of knowledge. When she doesn't have an answer, she simply refuses to do so. She did this a number of times in the vice presidential debate.
During the debate, Mrs. Palin scolded Joe Biden for looking to the past. Did she miss his important comment that "past is prologue?" When we disregard the past, we are doomed to repeat it.
People must understand that if they vote for John McCain, they are voting for a ticket that could catapult an inexperienced, naive, "hockey mother" of five into the position of becoming this nation's leader.
Remember, too many people deemed the "good old boy" George Bush qualified to run this country, and look where that "down-home" guy got us.
I just don't get it.
Rosanne Hemond, of Clinton Township, Michigan, is a former teacher and a concerned constituent.