Saturday, November 08, 2008

Not Sarah Palin

Did Governor Sarah Palin really not know the three signatories of NAFTA and that Africa is not a country but a continent? If so, I don't think she'd fare too well on Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? much less as president of the leading nation on earth.

I've felt this way about her all along, from the moment I first heard her speak. Yes, I was impressed that she could wow a receptive audience with her idiosyncratic charm and pizazz while mouthing carefully crafted words or force-fed talking points. Yes, I really thought for a time that she would bring McCain the presidency. But I never believed that there was meaty substance behind the arresting style. I never believed that Sarah Palin had the right stuff to be Vice-President and literally a melanomic 72-year-old's heartbeat away from President of the United States of America.

Many others disagreed. Some were very smart and well-educated. They included Hugh Hewitt, Michael Medved, Bill Kristol, and even Camille Paglia. I admit that this made me wonder whether I was blinded by my biases against Palin's staunch political and religious conservatism, hyper-folksiness, and overbearing self-righteousness. Was I just not seeing the presidential potential, the diamond-in-the-rough that others saw (or pretended to see) in Sarah Palin? Or was there nothing to see except by those desperate or otherwise compromised enough to see a mirage in the desert?

If the allegations I've been hearing about her lately on, of all places, Fox News, by, of all people, members of McCain's campaign staff are true, it appears as though my judgment was sound. Of course, some have argued that one doesn't need a stratospheric IQ, an Ivy League graduate degree, or even a rudimentary knowledge of geography, history, or international relations to be smart enough to learn what one needs to know when one needs to know it and to exercise enough good sense to effectively perform the duties of Vice-President or even President under even the most difficult circumstances. Moreover, maybe these disgruntled McCain staffers-- whom Palin has recently denounced as "immature," "cruel," "mean-spirited' "jerks"--now slamming Palin for her alleged ignorance and prima donnish behavior on the campaign trail are just using her as a scapegoat to cover up their own mistakes, failures, and incompetence.

I don't know for sure about any of this. All I know is that I continue to believe that Sarah Palin is not and should not be "the future of the Republican Party" that some are hoping and saying she is. Actually, not long ago, I would have gladly let her become the GOP's future, because I hated the Republican Party and wanted to see it fail as miserably as possible. But I now believe that we need dialogue, struggle, and cooperation between the most capable politicians of both parties to make this country the best it can be and that the best person for president could someday well be a Republican. Just not Sarah Palin.

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