Local women differ on VP choice 

click to enlarge Mary Lou Makepeace
  • Mary Lou Makepeace

Today's topic addressed by former Colorado Springs mayor Mary Lou Makepeace, ex-state Rep. Marcy Morrison and three other well-known local women in public service will be Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.

Palin, as you probably know, is a tough Alaskan woman who attended four colleges (one of them twice) in six years, including a semester at Matanuska-Susitna College. It's a fine school in Alaska with a dormitory meal service that feeds students 24 hours a day. Although after 7 p.m., this involves a short walk to the beach, where you can lop a fluke off a disoriented whale.

Anyway, in a series of phone calls I made my voice deeper and said I was Katie Couric Makepeace, Morrison, former City Council member Mary Ellen McNally, County Commissioner Sallie Clark and City Councilor Margaret Radford gave their views on Palin.

(You can recognize my own views because they will be in parentheses such as these. And, of course, because my views are so insensitive and shallow they are often mistaken for a Rudy Giuliani speech.)

The women's views ranged from adoration to near-panic that the ex-mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, could be one John McCain chest-clutch from the presidency.

"Sarah Palin causes me grave concerns," says McNally. "I have great trepidation about her."

Clark and Radford, though, see the female Messiah.

"Sarah Palin rocks," says Radford, a council member since 2001. "She inspires me to follow her."

Clark: "If anyone is going to break into Washington and really invoke some change, it will be Sarah. She has a different perspective. She'll be a breath of fresh air."

Radford was asked about Palin's comment that her foreign-policy experience includes being able to see Russia from an Alaskan island. Saturday Night Live's Tina Fey turned that into "I can see Russia from my house."

"Sarah's comment that she could see Russia from her house was her way of saying Hillary [Clinton] can talk all she wants about diplomacy, but Sarah can walk the walk," Radford says. "Hillary can talk about diplomacy, but Sarah Palin lives it."

(OK, then. Note: I hereby vow not to voice my own thoughts about whether such a thing makes a person qualified for a high-ranking government job.)

click to enlarge Margaret Radford
  • Margaret Radford

Makepeace has issues. Our village's only female mayor (1997 to 2003) is now executive director of the Gay and Lesbian Fund for Colorado. She has also been a teacher in Madagascar and was assistant to the Defense Attach at the American Embassy in Prague.

"I am happy to see a woman on the ticket," she says. "But I wish it was another woman."

Among Makepeace's complaints is the story of Palin, as mayor, asking Wasilla's librarian in 1996 if she would "be all right" with banning some books if Palin asked her to do so. The librarian said she would never ban books. A while later, the librarian was fired by Palin. She was rehired after townsfolk protested.

"The whole book-banning, book-burning idea ... at the least, Palin raised the question," Makepeace says. "And in a democratic society, that sends chills down my spine."

Makepeace, who also teaches at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, compared her rsum to Palin's, saying, "I was mayor of a town a lot bigger than Wasilla. And I traveled the world a lot more than she has. If someone suggested this made me qualified to be vice president, I would certainly think they were speaking in jest."

Finally, this from Makepeace: "I teach a class dealing with things that motivate people to vote. Shortcuts. Things people use because they don't have the time or inclination to absorb all the information and make a deep decision. Sarah Palin being introduced as a hockey mom and a Wal-Mart mom, whatever that is, those are shortcuts.

"McCain's idea is that women who are hockey moms or soccer moms or shop at Wal-Mart will identify with her and vote for the ticket just because of that. And you know what? He may be absolutely right."

Morrison, now the Colorado insurance commissioner and former school board member, county commissioner, state representative and Manitou Springs mayor, lines up with Makepeace and McNally.

"No. 1, I'm pleased a woman is reaching the heights of being a candidate for such a high office," Morrison says. "European and African nations have women presidents. So I'm happy that a woman is reaching out like this. But I also have a big concern whether Palin is ready.

"I wonder if she's the right woman. McCain could have picked a man with the same background, and we'd be asking whether he was the right man. Richard Nixon picked Spiro Agnew. He definitely was not the right man."

McNally also brought up Palin's stance on abortion: a total ban, including cases of rape and incest.

"A father rapes a daughter and the federal government says the girl has to have the baby, that she can't have an abortion," McNally said. "I believe in the area of women's rights, Sarah Palin will set us back 20 years."

So there you have some views from well-known local women with experience in public office.

(Oh, and by the way, this might be one of my final columns. I've applied for a job in the McCain administration as a chief economic adviser, perhaps Federal Reserve chairman. My qualifications? If I stand on the roof of my house, I can see an ATM.)


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