I’ve criticized Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama for the past 21 months for his inexperience, lack of vision and paper-thin record of accomplishment. I’ve also lambasted his heavy reliance on speeches and crowd sizes to make up for all of this.
I meant that criticism. Given the response in my own party to Sarah Palin’s vice-presidential nomination, it seems they were merely jealous of Obama.
By no means do I dislike Palin. Up in Alaska, she’s been a reasonably competent governor - she’s performed strongly on budgeting and spending issues, slashed earmark requests, supported American energy independence and drilling expansion, and - Troopergate questions aside for now - promoted transparency in government. Her approval ratings have been astronomical, proving she is devoted to bipartisanship and maintaining the trust of the people.
But this does not qualify a person for the vice presidency of the United States of America.
After a disastrous series of interviews in which she was unable to offer her thoughts on the Bush Doctrine (“his worldview?”), bizarrely refused to answer a question about what newspapers she read, called a legitimate question about Pakistan from a voter “gotcha journalism,” cited Alaska’s proximity to Russia as a foreign policy qualification, and pathetically fumbled around a question about the bailout bill that the U.S. House of Representatives recently defeated on the Hill, it is blindingly apparent that Palin is not ready for the national stage.
Some of her statements have received less media coverage, but are also cringe-worthy. These include her 2007 proclamations that the Iraq War had “better not be” about oil and worse, that she pays little attention to foreign policy, due to her focus on state matters.
This is really all well and good. There’s honestly little reason for the governor of Alaska to be paying attention to foreign policy - if she has no national ambitions. But once Palin accepted her party’s vice presidential nomination, everything became fair game - and rightfully so.
There indeed has been unfair treatment of Palin. And it has come from all corners. John McCain and the Republican Party have treated her in a sexist manner: she would not be on the ticket if her name was Joseph Palin. The media have also treated her in a sexist manner: they would have laughed her off the national stage by now were she a male candidate. You should review Palin’s interviews with Charles Gibson and Katie Couric, all the while imagining former Gov. Mike Huckabee making the same statements. There is no question about it: people are holding her to a lower standard.
Palin’s problem is not that she has no foreign policy experience: it’s that she has no vision. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney had little foreign policy experience, but few doubted their command of the issues; their intellectual curiosity shone through. This curiosity is shockingly lacking in Palin.
Sadly, Palin is likely to remain. Her placement on the ticket and the base of the Republican Party’s adulation are confirmations that have arrived in the recent past that the national political stage is degenerating into a cult of mediocrity. Palin, in a recent interview claimed to represent “Joe Six-Pack.” Joe Six-Pack should have some representation in D.C., too, she said.
Oh, really? Would one hire a Treasury secretary with no grasp of economics, but represented the average American? Or a personable, yet unprepared airplane pilot? Of course not. And there is no reason for Sarah Palin, who, by her own admission, pays little attention to foreign policy, to be a heartbeat away from the presidency.
It’s time to put country first, Governor Palin. It’s time to withdraw.