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Picking Palin: McCain’s Folly, or “crazy like a fox”?

posted by David Gibson

John McCain has certainly revived his maverick label by picking–or plucking from obscurity–freshman Alaska governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. (WaPo coverage here, and NYT coverage here.) Like every candidate, there are pluses and minuses with her.

On the plus side, Christian conservatives (as God-o-Meter knows and shows), are going to be delighted. She is a self-described “hockey mom” who is pro-life and a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association. She is a moose-hunting mother of five, her latest–born just last April–has Down syndrome, and she never considered the option of abortion. She has bucked  the scandal-plagued GOP establishment in Alaska, and has shown a mild green streak without really undermining her state’s interests in mining and Big Oil. She is against taxes (except, apparently, when it came to building stuff in her own town), and against gay marriage. Check, check, check.

She is a sweetheart, a 44-year-old fresh face who is as far outside the Beltway as you can possibly get without being Russian. And she is so attractive the Obama camp will have to be careful not to look like they’re bullying her, or patronizing her.

And those things are also major downsides in the general election. Will someone like Palin really pull in those supposedly disaffected Hillary supporters? Not likely, not after Bill’s show-stopping speech.

Moreover, how can the McCain camp work the “inexperienced” wedge against Obama when Sarah Palin will be a heartbeat away from an Oval Office that would be occupied by John McCain, who would be the oldest man ever elected president? She has less than two years as governor, and before that the sum total of her governing experience was as mayor of Wasilla, a town of less than 7,000.

If Obama has been painted as little more than a good-looking Esquire cover guy, how about Palin, a former beauty queen who was runner-up in 1984 as Miss Alaska? Some will think McCain picked his daughter, others his third wife. (What is it with Republicans and beauty pageants, anyway?) Palin is sharper than Dan Quayle, but still…

Imagine the Biden-Palin VP debate. Voters want change, but they also want ballast. And they want someone who can step in. Sure, Palin is a wonderful mom. But she is the mother of FIVE, and the last a special needs infant born just FOUR MONTHS ago. She’ll have to have Mary Poppins and a couple Super Nannys with 911 on speed-dial if she hopes to fill the 24/7 job as Vice-President.

Her environmental cred may not stretch too far, either. Check out the dissection by the HuffPost’s Chris Kelly of her Polar Bear record and her January NYTimes op-ed in which she said all was well with the big critters. Now that the polar bears are actually swimming across hundreds of miles of open water looking for receding ice floes, you can imagine the video in the camapign ads to come.  

And while she has a reputation as a whistle-blower on ethics, she is also under investigation for a firing and other machinations related to penalties against her estranged ex-brother-in-law, a state trooper. Add to that the fact that the dominant Republican Party in Alaska is a cesspool of scandals and indictments, and Palin’s odor of sanctity may not endure.

So what does the choice of Palin say to all those “new” evangelicals? Will her fresh face attract them? Or will she come across as the old religious right in a new guise?  

Palin could prove to be McCain’s salvation, and a necessary gamble given his own weaknesses. (Funny, McCain’s people were saying the other day that the choice of Biden pointed up Obama’s weaknesses, and did not compensate for them…) But the audacity (nice word) of his choice could also smack of desperation.

My sense is that the positives balance out the negatives, and McCain can’t afford a “wash” in terms of gains and losses. Palin will reassure the Religious Right, and surely draw in those voters, especially Christian “soccer moms,” who see her as “one of us,” only with a hockey stick. But with all voters growing in their suspicion of the use of religion in politics, as shown by the latest Pew poll, Palin’s best weapon may be firing blanks.

PS: I wasn’t sure, but it’s pronounced PAY-lin. We’ll all know that soon enough.



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Doc Holiday

posted August 29, 2008 at 1:02 pm


McCain is just crazy. He just killed his campaign by picking a no name corrupt airhead.



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Faye

posted August 29, 2008 at 1:16 pm


Wow. We thought McCain and his advisors were out of touch with women. Now we know it. In an attempt to win women’s votes, he’s picked a former beauty queen with practically no experience, who wants to overturn Roe v. Wade.
This proves how little his campaign understands about the women of this country, now. Give us a Rhodes Scholar with a real track record of accomplishments instead of insulting our intelligence yet again.



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James

posted August 29, 2008 at 1:18 pm


Soccer moms who vote for McCain because they see themselves in his running mate deserve 4 more years of Republican ship-of-state-running aground doom and despair. Whatever happened to the wise, highly-educated, experienced, level-headed statesperson being in charge? Oh yeah, the Democrats have that in Obama/Biden.
The Republicans are going to run this freakshow out there: a 72 year old doddering warmonger who is apparently blind, since he doesn’t seem to think anything is wrong in America these days, and a 44 year old prolife beauty queen who has 5 kids and whose only legitimate political experience looks a lot like something out of Northern Exposure.
No, I can’t imagine Joe Biden debating Mrs. Palin. But it ought to be highly entertaining.
If America elects McCain, it’s official – I’m moving to Canada.



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David Gibson

posted August 29, 2008 at 1:18 pm


Are you both sure? Lot of women could identify with her…



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I_Like_Dragyn

posted August 29, 2008 at 1:20 pm


and against gay marriage.
So is Obama. So is Biden. So is McCain.



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Emelie

posted August 29, 2008 at 1:53 pm


The blatant sexism in your post, David Gibson, is something one could cut with a plastic knife.
Obama has two younger children — does that mean he’ll be too busy as a Dad to take up his duties as President? So what if she has 5 kids — apparently her husband and her eldest daughters are willing to pitch and help with their youngest child, the one with Down’s syndrome.
She’s been busier as Governor of a state — and had to face more responsibilities and make more executive decisions on a daily basis — than any Vice President actually faces. Judging by her record and her speech today, she’s apparently a quick study and I’m sure will use her time wisely as VP to come up to speed on foreign policy issues.
Otherwise, your post was pretty balanced and measured. As for experience, she’s got more EXECUTIVE experience than Obama and, for that matter, Joe Biden. A lot of these Senators just sit there and bloviate all day long (when they’re not using it, as in the case of both Obama and Biden, as a launching pad to run for President).
Yes, one could argue that Joe Biden can point to his years as Senate Judiciary Committee chair as evidence of executive experience … but one wonder’s what Anita Hill would have to say about that!



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marcus

posted August 29, 2008 at 2:29 pm


McCain’s pick was a bold move. I hope it pays off for him. Palin has been running a state goverment, and from what I can find out she has been doing a good job.
James, you probably need to come up with a long list of destination countries, since eventually it won’t go the way you want it to in Canada either.



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James

posted August 29, 2008 at 2:39 pm


“Palin has been running a state goverment, and from what I can find out she has been doing a good job.”
LOL. Yeah, the state of Alaska.
I’m actually impressed that he would pick a woman (although it’s pretty clear now that he didn’t want to pick her, but his party kind of forced the issue with Lieberman), but why this woman? Too bad that Bush ruined Condy, because she would have been a great VP.
It’s just so wacky. But the more I think about it the more I believe that this move will really backfire on McCain, and will be the straw that broke the camel’s chances at being president.



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marcus

posted August 29, 2008 at 2:51 pm


You could be right, choosing Palin could backfire for McCain. It seems to early to really tell. But I agree, Rice would have made a great VP.



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wendyo

posted August 29, 2008 at 5:14 pm


To say I was flaggergasted and outraged at Mr. McCain’s or should I say the Repulican Party’s pick for VP, is an understatement. I still have not decided if this choice of a Sarah Palin was a smart ploy by the party’s leaders, or a total gaff. I am leaning toward the last, as I see it as the Rebublicans shooting themselves in the foot by their choice of Sarah Palin. No experience, just like they berated the Dems, regarding Mr. Obama, an avid non-environmentalist, owing allegiance to the NRA, Big Oil, and anyone elase with money.
My even bigger fear is that this woman could actually end up running the United States of America! That would be like going so far backward, that we couldn’t even fathom the terrible state our America would be in. What in Heavens name were they thinking picking Sarah Palin for this very high post in your, my and everyone’s America!? Did the Rebulicans really think picking a pretty young soccer mom, with no reall experience of any kind, would make us women of America rally to McCain. With all the negative political baggage she brings with her, I think the Republicans, have outdone themselves in their outdated thoughts regarding America’s future.
With Palin and McCain, we will not only see more of the last eight years, but a regression even further back. I trully hope that the true Ameican Republicans will do their homework, and see this terrible twosome for what is really is, a last ditch effort by the party bosses to give their nominee a much needed boost. Sorry guys, but we women are a lot smarter than you apparently give us credit for, and see through your patent ploy. Please try a less apparent method to get us older women, because we seen too much, to fall for this joke.



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Karen Brown

posted August 29, 2008 at 5:22 pm


Let’s put it this way, and this wasn’t me saying it. It was a Hillary supporter the minute I said ‘her’, not even the name when I said that McCain picked a veep.
‘Oh God, he picked a token.’
No, no matter what her cred (and the reaction got worse when I gave the details), if he’s trying to get Hillary supporters, most seem to be upset at the idea that ANY woman would do. And it would seem that all Palin shares in common with their pick is being married, having at least one kid, a politician, and the right body parts.
And thinking that’s what attracted them? THAT will insult them just about as much as Bush the Elder’s pick of Quayle.



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Reaganite in NYC

posted August 29, 2008 at 6:44 pm


Some of the shocked, stunned and dazed lefties on this blog are puzzled by this choice. Why would McCain pick Palin?
Three reasons:
(1) it will motivate and enthuse conservative women and cause a lot of moderate women to seriously consider voting for this ticket. Geraldine Ferraro was saying a lot of very nice things about today’s announcement.
(2) it solidifies the support from the social conservative base of his party.
(3) but by far the most important reason is that Palin’s anti-corruption and reformist track record conforms with McCain’s own focus. Don’t overlook that in Alaska she has taken on the corrupt GOP establishment symbolized by the indicted Senator Ted Stevens … who is a longtime nemesis of McCain’s. With this choice, McCain is sending a clear message to the pork-barrel Republicans that the party is over.
We all can appreciate that some on the left will react in knee-jerk horror at this choice. Too bad for them. Nevertheless this is good news for women and it is good news for efforts to clean up the cronyism and corruption in Washington.



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James

posted August 29, 2008 at 7:10 pm


I don’t think the Dems are reacting in horror – I think they are very pleased. This only works if it brings in the religious right, or the gender vote. She’s not pro-choice, though, so I have a hard time believing this myth of the silent majority of prolife women. I expect that more women than not want choice, just as the Gallup polls suggest. People only have to look around them at the economy, at the health insurance mess, at the wasted lives and money on these neverending wars and all the giddiness of seeing a hottie as a real VP candidate will quickly change to a realization that McCain had his chance and blew it.
GWB was a fresh, outside the beltway candidate, and look where that got us. If Joe Biden were running against Sarah Palin in November, I have to guess that Biden would easily win.



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Connie

posted August 29, 2008 at 8:42 pm


Lots of soccer moms I know are questioning how this mother of five could even consider having the job of V.P. Who is going to raise those children? Who is going to be there to comfort, nurture and advocate for that poor little baby???? She will have NO TIME….ABSOLUTELY NO TIME… for her family if she takes this job. I for one think this in not the kind of person whose values reflect mine. Politics is a 24/7 job at that level. She will never see her children once she takes office if elected.



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Emelie

posted August 29, 2008 at 9:47 pm


Connie: “Lots of soccer moms I know are questioning how this mother of five could even consider having the job of V.P.”
C’mon, Connie, who are you kidding? You posted at 8:42, barely 6 or 7 hours after this announcement. What happened? Did you convene an emergency meeting this afternoon of the “Soccer Moms I Know” to poll their attitudes on the Palin candidacy? Where did you find the time what with all the car-pooling and and other chores in your busy day as a “soccer mom?”
In any event, Palin doesn’t claim to be a “soccer mom” but a “hockey mom.” Maybe the latter is a tougher breed than the former and knows how to handle these pressures better.



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wendyo

posted August 30, 2008 at 2:49 am


For what it’s worth Reganite, I was a Regan fan, and still think he was one of our better Presidents in recent history, but I do hope you’re not comparing the McCain/Palin ticket with anything Regan did. Regan was a President for America, McCain/Palin are for special interest groups such as Big Oil (who don’t need more oil leases, as they have an inordinate amount of public lands already to drill on), and the NRA.
Just like Bush, the McCain/Palin team will gut the environment until there’s nothing left for our children and grandchildren. Isn’t it bad enough that Bush has decimated the protection that our land and animals were afforded? Do we really want someone who voted more often than not for Bush and his cronies, with an occasional discenting vote to show his independence. Do we really want a VP who is willing to give up the day to day care of her children just to get back in the limelight? Her views on the environment and animals are so well known that even my granddaughter was horrified to hear Sarah Palin might be on the ticket! When you have views that can stir up young high school teenagers to react so forcefully against them, doesn’t that make you begin to look beyond the pretty facade and ask, what is going on?!
Even more horrifying to me was the photo of Sarah Palin holding up what can only be described as an assault rifle. What was she thinking, and what in Heavens name was the Republican party bosses thinking with a photo op like that?! I certainly hope the Democrats latch onto things like the assault rifle photo, and show the United States what an administration with McCain/Palin could end up being.
As for Sarah Palin being a unifying force for women, are you serious? This woman is so out of touch with the average woman of this country it boggles the mind. When was the last time you saw a woman, young or old brandish an assault rifle with such apparent glee?! No wonder the NRA loves her, she over-rules her own constituants when they tell her they don’t want to allow aerial hunting from low flying small planes. The hunters like the challenge of chasing down animals to the point of exhaustion, even mothers of wolf cubs, then killing the cubs in the den after they kill the mother.
Sarah Palin will not motivate and enthuse women, she will instead turn off the thinking moderates of either party. If the Republican party wanted to sabotage Mr. McCain’s chances, they couldn’t have done a better job than choosing a running-mate like Sarah Palin. I suppose I should be glad to see them make such an obvoius blunder, but in a way feel sorry for Mr. McCain to be saddled with such a disasterous running-mate.



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MCB

posted August 30, 2008 at 7:59 am


Good Morning…
I have been reading the comments and thought I would chime in, It appears everything McCain is opposed to as it relates to Obama has been comtradiction.
The issues he has with Obama has been openly expressed & now he has picked someone with little experience that hails from a very small town in the middle of nowhere with less then 8000 residents with the hopes that American voters will identify with her namely women voters some will but I suspect most won’t … Most will view it to be a desperate move and one thats insults America’s logical thinkers… Why Her will be the cry?
Rice would have been a excellent choice but Bush tarnished her name
plus it would have marked 2 firsts for this election year… first African American Male & Female but race shoudn’t play a part but unfounately it does… The race should be about America, doing whats best for the American people as a whole.
Thanks



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James

posted August 30, 2008 at 11:14 am


I dug around yesterday, and while I personally hadn’t heard of Palin before yesterday, it is a fact that she has been on all those cable news programs in recent months, since she gained a bit of national fame when she sued the federal government over the protection of polar bears as endangered species. Why would she do that? Because if the protection can be lifted, that’s one more barrier removed for Big Oil to begin its drilling in Alaska. Oh yes, you will hear a lot about this issue in the coming days, I’m certain.
So it isn’t really a stretch to say that a teenager who’s up on the news would know who Palin is.
But anyway, the best thing about Palin is that in certain photos she looks a lot like Tina Fey, and I love Tina Fey. However, that probably won’t be enough to get me to vote McCain. :)



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PhoenixOrion

posted August 30, 2008 at 2:58 pm


I don’t think that McCain should have picked Sarah Palin. This is not for political reasons (I am a Democrat and Obama/Biden supporter), but the fact that she gave birth to a special needs child only FOUR MONTHS AGO strongly indicates to me that Palin should devote her energy towards taking care of that child (and her other children), rather than trying to fill the demanding job of VP. Sure, Obama has children as well, but he only has 2 children who are 10 and 7 years old, and neither of them have Down’s Syndrome or other similar “special needs” conditions. I honestly think that family should come first for ANY politician, regardless of what party they belong to. Similarly, I think that John Edwards should have been spending time trying to mend his relationship with his wife and children after his infidelity rather than running for the Democratic nomination, and Rudy Giuliani should have been trying to make amends with his estranged daughter Caroline (who supported Barack Obama instead of him in the primaries) rather than running for the Republican nomination.



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Emelie

posted August 30, 2008 at 4:24 pm


PhoenixOrion: “I don’t think that McCain should have picked Sarah Palin. This is not for political reasons (I am a Democrat and Obama/Biden supporter), but the fact that she gave birth to a special needs child only FOUR MONTHS AGO strongly indicates to me that Palin should devote her energy towards taking care of that child (and her other children), rather than trying to fill the demanding job of VP.”
Your post proves how hypocritical so many on the left are. When Chelsea was just an infant that didn’t stop Hillary from working full-time at the Rose Law Firm on top of her second full-time job, which was to keep Bill at the top of his game as Governor of Arkansas.
I am appalled at so many of the sexist comments that are coming out re: Palin and her daughter, most notably yesterday by John Roberts over at CNN. Why isn’t the National Organization for Women speaking out on behalf of this woman — and, by extension, all women?



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Bill

posted August 30, 2008 at 4:49 pm


As a prolifer and evangelical, I’m sick of hearing how the Palin pick is making me happy. Frankly, I’m sickened by it. Once again, the big money interests in the Republican Party are trying to snooker the Christian conservatives. Fortunately, a significant number of fellow evangelicals are wise to this trick by now. When my wife and I heard that McCain had picked Palin, we became Obama supporters.
Neither ticket is perfect. But overall, Obama/Biden is more pro-life than McCain/Palin when you factor in environmental concerns, the war, capital punishment, care for the poor, health care, etc.



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PhoenixOrion

posted August 30, 2008 at 8:11 pm


Emilie,
Apparently you didn’t read my entire post. I said that I was not saying that Palin should concentrate on her new baby (and other kids) for POLITICAL reasons, I just think that people should put their families ahead of their political ambitions. An infant with Down’s Syndrome requires a LOT of attention and care, and I honestly think Sarah Palin and her husband should devote their energy toward their family at this critical juncture in their lives, rather than nursing lofty political ambitions. And I also said that John Edwards (a Democrat, like myself) shouldn’t have been running for President, as he had recently cheated on his wife and should have spent the time mending his relationship with his wife and children rather than going out and trying to convince the American people that they were the “picture perfect family” that should be in the White House. And I said that my personal political views have nothing to do with my stance that Palin should not be running as VP (I am also skeptical of her because of her relative inexperience, but that’s off topic) due to her busy family life, but that family should always come before politics. And I didn’t know that Hillary was working overtime when Chelsea was an infant, I was only about 10 years old when Bill took office as President.



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Anthony

posted August 30, 2008 at 8:43 pm


Greetings,
After reading all of your posts, I am not sure that I could add anything to the discussion. I, too, and somewhat skeptical about McCain’s reasons for choosing a relatively unknown and inexperienced individual for his VP choice. I agree with one poster who suggested that McCain was either extremely avvy or out of his mind.
I too would rather see Condi; regardless of the “tainting” by the current administration, I believe her to be one of the more capable and articulate individuals – that’s “individuals,” not just “women” – in the country. I would offer this one thought, however: several decades ago a little known “housewife” from Colorado entered the House of Representative to become one of the most powerful and respected women in the Congress. Her name was Pat Schroeder. I guess time will tell with Palin.
Some thoughts from a moderately-conservative libertarian (how’s that for an ambiguous designation?)…



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PhoenixOrion

posted August 30, 2008 at 9:40 pm


Speaking of ambiguous political designations, I consider myself a “progressive libertarian Democrat”. Meaning that I am a Democrat with many liberal views (I am far to the left on social issues), but embrace some conservative/libertarian ideals, such as supporting the right to bear arms and ending corporate welfare. I also like the idea of limiting welfare on a personal level to a minimum (or at least reforming it so people don’t abuse it), and replacing race-based affirmative action with income-based affirmative action (or else doing away with it altogether).



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PhoenixOrion

posted August 30, 2008 at 9:41 pm


What I mean is that although I consider myself on “The Left”, I am certainly not a down-the-line liberal, so I would appreciate if people wouldn’t paint me as such.



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Emelie

posted August 31, 2008 at 12:36 am


PhoenixOrion,
No, I read your entire post. First of all, it’s “Emelie” not “Emilie” Secondly, you’re being 10 when Billary were first elected means you’re about 26 years old, so I wish you the best of luck in a long life ahead of you :-)
Third, it’s pretty lame of you (sorry to be harsh) to compare Sarah Palin with John Edwards; or to compare her decision to work a full-time job (in politics) while caring for a child (as most working working have to do today) … with a smooth-talking lawyer and jerk (Edwards) cheating on his ill wife.
Are women with kids (even ones requiring special care) supposed to just stay home all day long? That may be ideal for some, and I don’t want to knock those who can afford to do this … but this is not realistic for most.
Honestly, the more I hear people dumping on Palin for her life choices (especially the hypocrites among the media/Washington elites), the more I’m beginning to like this person. Not only because she’s a woman. But also because she’s “real” in a way so many of the professional talking heads on TV aren’t.



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acs

posted August 31, 2008 at 10:18 am


I can appreciate the concerns that some have expressed about Sarah Palin’s infant child. The time and pressure involved in running on a presidential ticket can certainly influence family life and real debate on how working families impact on a child’s life is a worthy one. But in Sarah Palin’s case, the noise is more on her having a “special needs” baby. As a physician who has worked with Down Syndrome (that’s what is should be called Down, not Down’s- “Down) children and adults, I am confident in telling you that a Down Syndrome baby has essentially the same needs as ANY baby: sleep, food, and waste management. Barring congenital heart or other organ defects (which if severe would not allow the child to survive life outside the womb anyway), Down Syndrome infants have a normal upbringing. As they grow older these children will face more difficulties with language, etc., but there is no one size fits all stamp of Down Syndrome. We still have archaic ideas about what children and adults with Down Syndrome as well other disabilities, can accomplish. This is sad but not surprising. We hardly see them anymore since 90% of fetuses who receive an in-utero diagnosis of Down Syndrome are aborted.



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Reaganite in NYC

posted August 31, 2008 at 3:50 pm


acs: “We still have archaic ideas about what children and adults with Down Syndrome as well as other disabilities, can accomplish … ”
Thanks for your detailed and thoughtful post at 10:18 AM today. I learned a lot from you and thank you for your sharing, as an MD, your knowledge in this area. My uncle is developmentally disabled and I can’t help but agree with your general conclusions which I partially excerpted above. Thanks again!!



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acs

posted August 31, 2008 at 6:12 pm


Reaganite: Thanks for your kind comments. I’m glad my perspective was of some use.
I realized that I neglected to finish my thought on Down’s vs. Down Syndrome. Clearly, proofreading is not a forte. I was going to say that it is not appropriate to use the term Down’s (or Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s) because none of the researchers who first described these syndromes ever had (and thus “owned”) the disease in question. Moreover, in many cases more than one researcher contributed to what we know about these syndromes, and hopefully many more researchers will continue to do so. For example, Pierre Lejeune– a remarkable French physician and geneticist– pointed to Trisomy 21 as the molecular underpinning of Down Syndrome, nearly a century after the disease gained the eponym it has today!



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mary | como recuperar a tu pareja

posted November 21, 2010 at 11:52 pm


Palin will reassure the Religious Right, and surely draw in those voters
the more I hear people dumping on Palin for her life choices the more I’m beginning to like this person
Como recuperar a tu pareja



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