Back to Palin

It has been too long since I've had fun at Sarah Palin's expense.  This week, Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria unleashes on her, and by extension, McCain:

Will someone please put Sarah Palin
out of her agony? Is it too much to ask that she come to realize that
she wants, in that wonderful phrase in American politics, “to spend
more time with her family”? Having stayed in purdah for weeks, she
finally agreed to a third interview. CBS's Katie Couric questioned her in her trademark sympathetic style. It didn't help. When asked how living in the state closest to Russia gave her foreign-policy experience, Palin responded thus:

“It's
very important when you consider even national-security issues with
Russia as Putin rears his head and comes into the airspace of the
United States of America. Where?where do they go? It's Alaska.
It's just right over the border. It is from Alaska that we send those
out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful
nation, Russia, because they are right there. They are right next to?to
our state.”

…This is
not an isolated example. Palin has been given a set of talking points
by campaign advisers, simple ideological mantras that she repeats and
repeats as long as she can. (“We mustn't blink.”) But if forced off
those rehearsed lines, what she has to say is often, quite frankly,
gibberish…

In these times, for John McCain
to have chosen this person to be his running mate is fundamentally
irresponsible. McCain says that he always puts country first. In this
important case, it is simply not true.

In case you missed it, Tina Fey was back as Sarah Palin this week on SNL in a skit on the Katie Couric interview.  What is most funny, is they were actually able to use Sarah Palin's own words for laughs.  

Matt Yglesias highlights this quote from a portion not yet aired, which shows a breathtaking ignorance of Middle East politics.  To be running for Vice President and clearly not have a clue about Hamas…

KATIE COURIC: ?What happens if the goal of democracy
doesn?t produce the desired outcome? In Gaza, the U.S. pushed hard for
elections and Hamas won.?

SARAH PALIN: ?Yeah, well especially in that region, though, we have
to protect those who do seek democracy and support those who seek
protections for the people who live there. What we?re seeing in the
last couple of days here in New York is a President of Iran,
Ahmadinejad, who would come on our soil and express such disdain for
one of our closest allies and friends, Israel ? and we?re hearing the
evil that he speaks and if hearing him doesn?t allow Americans to
commit more solidly to protecting the friends and allies that we need,
especially there in the Mideast, then nothing will.?

As Goldberg says, the issue here isn?t that she gave a bad answer, rather ?the issue here is that she didn?t know the question.?

Finally, I love the “Correction” Glenn Greenwald issued last week:

I defended Palin as follows:

..Sarah Palin isn't Dan Quayle. She is extremely smart — much smarter
than the average media star who will eventually be interviewing her —
and she is very politically skilled as well. She didn't go from obscure
small-town city council member to Governor to Vice Presidential nominee
by accident. She'll be more than adequately prepared for the shallow,
30-second, rote exchanges that pass for political interviews in our
Serious mainstream discourse. Anyone expecting her to fall on her face
or be exposed as some drooling simpleton is going to be extremely
disappointed. That might (or might not) happen with real questioning,
but she's not going to face that.

I
was so wrong about that — the parts about Palin, that is, not the
press (though, in fairness, Gibson was far more adversarial than I
expected and Katie Couric was even better). Just watch these clips from
her interview last night with Katie Couric. I'll be honest: watching
this, I actually felt sorry for Sarah Palin:..

But Sarah Palin's performance in the tiny vignettes of unscripted
dialogue in which we've been allowed to see her has been nothing short
of frightening — really, as I said, pity-inducing. And I say that as
someone who has thought from the start that the criticisms of her
abilities — as opposed to her ideology — were much too extreme. One
of two things is absolutely clear at this point: she is either (a)
completely ignorant about the most basic political issues — a vacant,
ill-informed, incurious know-nothing, or (b) aggressively concealing
her actual beliefs about these matters because she's petrified of
deviating from the simple-minded campaign talking points she's been fed
and/or because her actual beliefs are so politically unpalatable, even
when taking into account the right-wing extremism that is permitted,
even rewarded, in our mainstream. I'm not really sure which is worse,
but it doesn't really matter, because with 40 days left before the
election, both options are heinous.

When Obama wins this election in five weeks, Sarah Palin will go down as an interesting historical footnote, but that's about it.  At first, it seemed that she might have a real future in the Republican party, but there's no way she can survive her own breathtaking ignorance on national issues (even within the anti-intellectual Republican party).  I feel pretty confident, though, that perhaps even decades from now, I will enjoy sharing the story of Sarah Palin with my future elections classes. 

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About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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