Governor Sarah Palin’s alleged lack of cerebral alacrity is probably less in doubt after the first vice-presidential debate. Prior to that, a bipartisan consensus had been developing among the ideologically converging political class and their parrot pundits that she was indeed an idiot.
The biggest hitter was conservative columnist Kathleen Parker, who demanded that Governor Palin bow out of the race. “Only Palin can save McCain, the Party, and the country she loves. Do it for your country, please,” pleaded Parker histrionically.
How like a woman to implicate causes not in evidence for the country’s undoing.
Where was Sarah Palin when the Bush/Bernanke bulldozer was running up debts and deficits financed by promiscuous printing and borrowing? Whodunit? Who so debased the country’s coin?
John McCain would like everyone to believe that he has only just stumbled into the fleshpots of Washington. But he was right by Bush’s side as the latter presided over the greatest expansion of government since Lyndon B. Johnson.
Sarah Palin, on the other hand, has an alibi. When these characters were gassing-up the economy with hot air, she was in Alaska getting her house in order. This does nothing to excuse Sarah’s subsequent sell-out, but it doesn’t put her at the original crime scene.
Elementary, my dear Ms. Parker: Palin quitting will not save your Party or the country.
Still, Sarah Palin’s performance at St. Louis was at best uneven, despite “GOP Turkey” Rich Lowry’s effusing. In pumped-up, poor prose, fit for a lad-mag, Lowry gobbled that Governor Palin was “so sparkling it was almost mesmerizing. It sent little starbursts through the screen and ricocheting [sic] around the living rooms of America.” (Where’s the editor at National Review? Oh, Lowry is the editor.)
The governor did not win the debate against Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. And it’s not because she isn’t working with much. On the contrary: Sarah Palin is a woman of singular charm and a sinewy intelligence.
The stock, scripted, repetitive lines (“we need to send the maverick from the Senate and put him in the White House”), run-on sentences, and politically anemic positions—these are what happen when a bedrock conservative adopts a creed counterintuitive to her own. (This might be too charitable, but perhaps Bush babble is less a consequence of congenital stupidity than it is of the confusion caused by incessant, habitual lying.)
A young, ambitious, easily co-opted politician abandons some of her conservative core beliefs and restrains her political persona for a ticket and candidate that have neither: This is likely the reason for the mangled, mixed massages, absent from the governor’s Alaskan record.
Most conspicuously, Palin slammed a cause she had, at one time, saluted: that of the Alaskan Independence Party. It advocates what was once a fundament of the American founding: peaceful secession. As leading economic historian Tom DiLorenzo has documented in rich detail, the Union was a voluntary one. If the States had believed it was a “one-way Venus flytrap,” they would never have ratified the Constitution.
Palin’s incessant praise for McCain the regulator was interspersed with inconsistent calls for less regulation: “[A]s for John McCain’s adherence to rules and regulations and pushing for even harder and tougher regulations, that is another thing that he is known for though. Look at the tobacco industry. Look at campaign finance reform.”
Contrast that with this: “government, you know, you’re not always the solution. In fact, too often you’re the problem so, government, lessen the tax burden and on our families and get out of the way and let the private sector and our families grow and thrive and prosper.” Similarly, predatory lenders were denounced; borrowers who live beyond their means only mildly rebuked.
Someone less cattie than Katie Couric would have, moreover, picked up on how Palin recoiled viscerally in response to the anchor’s question about the $700 billion Bush bailout. Palin began by stating how ill she felt over the thing. Then, remembering the bulletin points with which she’d been bamboozled, she lost the moment (and her mind) and launched into stream-of-consciousness mishmash.
Clearly, the governor’s instincts and positions are too often at odds with McCain’s and are being diluted daily by the Barnum-circus confidence tricksters who’re handling her. This is a woman who, when asked in 2006 about the surge, shot back that “she hoped for an ‘exit plan.'” Her ideas about energy exploration and global warming contrast with McCain’s, who has also opposed drilling in ANWAR, the Alaskan National Wilderness Reserve. McCain talks about balancing a budget; Palin has delivered.
At the very least, the developing consensus as to Palin’s aptitude, I venture, is premature. Conservative women rushing to expose her alleged stupidity may fear that unless they do so, posthaste, their own smarts will be called into question. Call me confident, but I have no need to call Palin clueless—clever and easily co-opted, perhaps, but not clueless.
©2008 By Ilana Mercer