When Sarah Palin was selected by John McCain as his running mate, I was intrigued by the choice. On a personal level, I felt that her decision to give birth to a baby with full knowledge that he had Down’s Syndrome, was an act of grace and courage – and I admired her for it. I still do so. But I became quickly disillusioned as to her preparedness to be president if the circumstances ever warranted it.

As I watched the Sarah Palin appearance on Oprah and other shows it felt, as Yogi Berra would say, “like deja vu all over again”! On the one hand, I am able to understand her appeal to a sizable minority in the US. There is something refreshingly candid and genuine about her – unlike the typical politician’s scripted responses. Having said this, there was little about her responses on the various shows to persuade me that she has grown in the months subsequent to the presidential election and has the knowledge and understanding of complex issues to be president.

In fact, what came across was her tendency to resort to platitudes in her responses to complex issues. It is a source of puzzlement to me that according to a recent Washington Post/ABC poll, 46% of Americans would either definitely support her or would consider voting for Palin to be president. Also 43% have a favorable opinion of her. It is stunning to me after the presidency of George W, who even his supporters would acknowledge lacked intellectual curiosity and depth, would be willing to entrust the country to someone who makes Bush look like an intellectual giant.

I was an admirer of John McCain who I felt was a genuine American hero and a patriot and was someone who did not hold on to positions based purely on ideology. I felt that I could vote for him for president but all of that went up in smoke when he selected Sarah Palin as his vice presidential nominee. In the first major decision that he made as a presidential candidate he selected a person who he must have known was utterly unqualified to be president – and the fact that McCain was over 70 years old made the selection all the more inexplicable.

Can one imagine Palin in negotiations with Putin or having to make strategic decisions regarding Afghanistan? It was clear to me that McCain – a man who has always put country first – decided that Palin’s selection was the most expedient course to placate the right wing of the Republican party no matter how ruinous it might be for the country in the event she had to assume the presidency. In that respect, McCain reminded me of Colin Powell who sold his soul to support Bush when it came to the invasion of Iraq under false pretenses when the honorable thing would have been for him to resign as a matter of principle. McCain and Powell, two honorable men whose patriotism and love of country was never in doubt, both allowed themselves to be compromised and in so doing sullied their, until then, unblemished reputations.

Listening to Sarah Palin responding to substantive questions, I was reminded of the movie “Being there” with Peter Sellers who acted the part of a gardener whose entire knowledge and “education” was from watching mundane and vapid television shows. As a result of circumstances and a misunderstanding as to his identity, he becomes an “unofficial advisor” to the president and his advice always consists of platitudes and mundane responses, sometimes straight out of commercials that he saw on TV – yet they come to be viewed as being very profound! Sarah Palin’s responses to some questions reminded me of Peter Seller’s character in the movie. When asked about whether the US should partner with Karzai given that he was viewed as being corrupt, Palin’s response is that the US should do so, since no leader is perfect!

I have always viewed the election of George W Bush as an aberration – a case where the American electorate lost its bearings. If Sarah Palin ever runs for president and wins, I’d find it difficult to rationalize it as yet another aberration.

5 Responses to “Sarah Palin revisited”

  1. Richard says:

    Papa, I know you may be shocked with what you are about to read, but I couldn’t agree with you more.

    Sarah Palin has managed to remain in the light (albeit the bleeding edge) and not drift off into the shadows after the election ended, which leads me to believe that there is more in store for her and/or from her. Albeit she was not overburdened by an abundance of quality education as she bounced between 3 schools in four years, she WILL learn from the mistakes that she made in this last round.

    That being said, I don’t necessarily think that she will become educated on the issues. However, I do think that she will avoid responding with “platitudes” (very well put by you) and stick to whatever she is told to say by some speechwriter or political puppet-master pulling her strings.

    Make no joke about it, she is winning favor across the country everyday. Her book was a best seller before it was even released. With the 24hour news cycle in this country as long as she stays on the edges of the spotlight and sticks to what she is told then people will start forgetting what a moron she is and start to fall for whatever cause they make her the posterchild for.

    Sarah Palin is a dangerous weapon in the republican arsenal. Unfortunately what the Republicans fail to realize is that she is equally as dangerous to their own party as well.

    Of course, this is just my opinion…

    Great article Papa!!

  2. TJ says:

    Richard, I agree with much of what you say.

    Palin is a formidable force in the present environment because she conveys a populist message quite effectively and she is very telegenic. If she had some substance to go with her other attributes she would be unstoppable.

    I don’t underestimate her by any means and given the widespread disillusionment over our current politicians and leaders she could become a real force. But in the end, unless she displays some real knowledge of the issues, I think she would end up getting damaged in any presidential election campaign. She has, for the most part, been limiting her recent interviews to those who will not ask probing questions.

    The risk to the Republican party is that her very fervent supporters – representing the right-wing base – may refuse to support any candidate who is not endorsed by Palin assuming that she does not run. She may also only endorse candidates in congressional elections who meet a “litmus test” which satisfies the right-wing base.

  3. TJ says:

    More about Palin’s viability given the current political environment:


    The interesting thing is that Matthew Dowd has been very critical of Palin in the past:


    Palin’s own approval rating is rising with independents who will decide the next election – and is currently at par with that of Obama with this demographic. So as I say, a confluence of events could make her very viable especially if the economy does not improve and disillusionment with Obama accelerates. Of course, a lot could change in the next three years before the next election.

    It does not change the fact that unless she is grows considerably in the next two years, she would be utterly unqualified to be president.

  4. Mona says:

    Regarding your comment ‘election of George W Bush as an aberration’, I strongly believe that both the elections were stolen for George Bush. In 2000, there is no doubt that the majority of people in USA wanted Al Gore to be the President giving him a majority of half a million popular votes (If the Supreme Court, stacked with Republican nominees, did not intervene, a Florida vote recount would have swung the election in Gore’s favor despite of him losing nearly 3000 votes to Pat Buchanan due to a confusion in using butterfly votes). In 2004, all the exit polls projected a thumping win for John Kerry, but the results came different. Never in the history of exit polls, this has happened. Will it surprise anyone if the Cheyney and Co had rigged this election?

    (Refer http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/1970/)

  5. TJ says:

    Mona, interesting and insightful link regarding the comparison of exit polling vs the actual vote count.

    I would not put it past the Rove/Cheney crowd to rig something – since they really were a pretty lawless group in other areas. However, the reality is that there has not been incontrovertible evidence that there was fraud. I think the state that was most suspect was Ohio which decided the 2004 election where there was no paper trail to confirm the actual voting. But OTOH, I cannot see the left-wing blogs and some of the MSM letting this rest if there was clear evidence that the 2004 results were rigged. Absent such evidence, I feel that the situation is analogous to the right-wing crazies who insist that Obama did not win in 2008 because of voter fraud perpetrated by ACORN.

    Re 2000, while Gore did win the popular vote, the reality is that the constitution requires electoral votes to decide the outcome. Yes, the butterfly ballots which gave Buchanan votes in Palm Beach county, that even he acknowledged could not have been for him may have decided the election – in which case one might say that the 2000 election was decided based on confusion over how to use a ballot. As to the outcome if the Supreme Court did not rule against the recount continuing, I believe that the MSM did do an actual count of the votes in FL subsequent to Bush taking office and it was determined that the outcome would have been in favor of Bush.

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