The Eclectic Quill

September 30, 2008

Palin Dimming or Just Plain Dim?

Filed under: Politics — Kelly @ 3:52 pm

Just a month ago the future of Sarah Palin was as bright as she could have hoped for. Picked out of nowhere by John McCain to be second on the ticket for the Republican Party, the little known Governor of Alaska seemed to rocket her way into fame. In her acceptance speech, and then again at the Republican convention she electrified the Republican Party and brought an enthusiasm to the conservative base. Now just four weeks later even conservatives are questioning whether she’s fit for the job she’s running for. Some are wondering how her star could dim so much so fast. To see how that happened we first have to see how her star artificially rose.

The moment she was named most people had the same thought, be they conservative or liberal, "Who the heck is Sarah Palin? " The conservative spinners hit the airwaves hard explaining away a host of questions that many had concerning her lack of experience and a host of other questions that many had. Gradually they sold an image of Palin to the American public which was somewhat different from the real Palin. At one point Googling "compelling story" under news searches brought up over 1000 hits for Sarah Palin. It seemed every new anchor couldn’t describe her without using those two words and mentioning "Barracuda." Meanwhile the liberals were laughing to hard to say much about her at all. They couldn’t believe that people would buy the former beauty queen, presently gun toting, moose hunting, first term governor could be taken seriously enough by anyone to actually need anyone to point out her shortcomings. While the liberals laughed the conservatives talked, and slowly a mythical version of Palin begin to emerge. She was a female version of John McCain, young, pretty and fresh and full of energy. The early battle to paint the first impression of Palin was won by the Republicans and the public liked her.

For a couple of weeks she even seemed like she might be able to save the ticket. McCain, who had been lagging behind Obama in the polls suddenly started to pull even and then even slightly ahead. But there was trouble brewing. Some of what she said turned out not to be true. She had not only been for the "Bridge to Nowhere" before she was against it, even when it turned out she was against it, she only turned against because she wasn’t getting all the money for it. When she said, "Thanks but no thanks" she kept the money, but not the project. She even still built the road to where the bridge would be had the bridge been built. In fact little miss, "no earmarks" turned out to be the worst Governor in the country for earmarks.

More problems emerged.  She brought to mind, as intended, comparisons to Clinton, by talking about the 18 million cracks. Yet, while Hillary embodied the working woman, and throughout her political history had fought for her and been her and had been scarred by Washington and politics and hate media like no other woman in history, Palin, without merit, tried to wrench the Hillary’s whitened fist. While Hillary was all about the working woman, Palin was against everything the working woman was for. She became an insult, demeaning the very notion of gender based politics by assuming that all women would vote for because of her gender. In doing so she demonstrated just how much contrast there was between the two women. The result was that Hillary voters begin to run to Obama.

Then there was the steady stream of little lies. She lied about the teleprompter being out. She lied about how much "energy" she was in control, supposedly making her an expert on the subject. She lied about selling the jet on E-Bay. She lied about the pipeline. And then she kept telling the lie about Obama and his tax plan, even after she was corrected. The lies were accompanied by weirdness. It turned out she’d risked her and her unborn son’s life by flying back from Texas to Alaska with a layover in Washington after her water had broken, only to deliver her baby almost immediately upon arriving at home. The reason for taking the risk? She didn’t want a "fish picker from Texas." When rumors circulated that she had actually been covering up for her daughter and the child was really hers, to protect her daughter, she threw her under the bus declaring that the baby couldn’t be her daughter’s because her daughter was pregnant now. While all of this somehow went to bolster the religious right, it left some nagging questions in the minds of many a voter.

Next there was the "Troopergate" scandal. Initially it seemed this wasn’t the sort of thing that voters would be much concerned about because she was going after her brother-in-law, the one who’d tasered his own son. The so called "tasering" was completely harmless and had nothing to do with the divorce. He had been suspended already and served his suspension, but Palin was vindictive and wanted him fired. There was even a tape that was certainly incriminating. That was all bad enough but then it started to get worse. Alaska started to have an eerie similarity to DC as subpoenas were refused and ignored. The despising of the rule of law started to strike an unpleasant familiar chord in the mind of the American voter.

Finally came the interviews. First with Charlie Gibson she explained how living in Russia had given her the knowledge and experience of seeing Russia, and this counted as foreign policy experience. Yes, her "experience" was that she knew first hand that Russia was not an invisible country. There was also the odd exchange the two had over the "Bush Doctrine." When it became apparent that Palin didn’t know what it was it was hard to tell who was more uncomfortable, Gibson or Palin. Gibson had tried to make the interview as soft and easy as he could. He was chosen to give the interview for that very reason. It just never occurred to poor Charlie that a person on the ticket for a major party might not know the reasoning behind we are presently at war. This wasn’t what McCain would call a game of "media gotcha" it was a "holy crap!" kind of moment. It sent a ripple through the American public. It was a moment that scared people into thinking, "Is this really the person I want in charge of the military?" The mythical façade was beginning to crack and the reality was starting to emerge. Then it got worse. There were the Katie Couric interviews, where Palin, in a bizarre demonstration of "logic" explained about how Russia and "maritime borders" and "Putin rearing his head" gave her foreign policy experience. It honestly seemed that she was suggesting that she had signed treaties and commanded the military in defense of the nation, responsibilities exclusively reserved to the President, not any governor. She not only seemed to be confused about what her future job responsibilities might entail, she didn’t even seem to know what her PRESENT job responsibilities entailed.

Palin was revealing herself to be profoundly ignorant, and remarkably uncurious as to the world around her. Even that though wasn’t the full extent of what scared voters, and even conservative pundits, away from Palin. Ignorance can be solved with learning. There’s only so much you can do with stupid though. It wasn’t just what the communications grad was (or wasn’t) communicating, it was how she was communicating it, and I use the word "communicating" loosely. Basic sentence construction beyond subject, verb and direct object seemed beyond her grasp. Syntax was utterly absent from most of what she said. She was like one of those random emails that you used to get that was random phrases thrown together to get past the filters. It was becoming apparent that while there may be women out there that break the stereo type of the empty headed beauty pageant contestant Sarah Palin wasn’t one of them. What even amplified this more were her suggestions that Obama was "naïve." Drawing that particular comparison only served to demonstrate the enormous difference between the two of them. No matter what sort of sophistry had gone into mitigating the fact that Obama clearly had more experience on the national stage and was vastly more qualified it still couldn’t hide the difference between the two in terms of basic knowledge, eloquence, lucidity and comprehension. Simply put Plain calling Obama "naïve" is like Verne Troyer calling Shaq short.

The McCain campaign started to realize this some time ago, and that’s probably why they were trying to keep her away from the media as much as possible. It’s why they prevented the "freewheeling exchanges" in the VP debate. It’s possibly even why McCain wanted to bump last Friday’s debate to Thursday, and then reschedule the Thursday debate. Now the McCain campaign is in a panic and they’ve shipped Palin off to debate camp, where they can hopefully teach her to speak in coherent sentences and a few basic facts, like what the Bush Doctrine is, but I’m not putting a lot of stock in it. The magnitude of Palin’s dearth of knowledge, curiosity and apprehension is about to be put on full display to a television audience of 50 million people.

Expectations for Palin have been brought so low that if she’s able to speak in coherent sentences an get some facts right then the Republicans will be howling victory. Let’s not lower the bar hough. Remember that what we want here is not the evidence that our Vice President could take home the money on "Who’s Smarter than a 5th Grader," what we need is the assurance that the Vice President can step in at a time of crisis and safely lead the nation through the turmoil. Lower expectations should not mean a lower bar. There’s no "curve" in a time of a national crisis. And while we’re looking at the performance of Palin and Biden we ask ourselves two essential questions. 1) Which VP candidate is better prepared to lead the nation in a time of crisis? and 2) Which Presidential candidate showed better judgment in their selection? These answers are inseparable. For purely political and partisan reasons John McCain chose a running mate who, should she ever have to step into the job of the President, would be a disaster. The only business this woman has going near the White House is as a tourist. The same should be said for anyone who believes that she should be a 72 year old 4 time cancer surviving heartbeat away from the highest office in the land.



  1. she’s Bush with a bush

    Comment by 3rdStoneFromTheSun — September 30, 2008 @ 4:19 pm | Reply

  2. She’s the Sheriff from “Fargo” without the street smarts…

    Comment by nikolai — September 30, 2008 @ 8:17 pm | Reply

  3. Great stuff! Palin is a total twit. Tina Fey nails her perfectly on SNL. Keep up the great work.

    Comment by Karmic Boomerang — September 30, 2008 @ 10:10 pm | Reply

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