The bar was set so low Gov. Sarah Palin didn’t have to do much to pass, but she’s going to need a more than cram session with party operatives to ace the final. (Photo: Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin and ABC News’ Charlie Rose, Reuters)
Every answer was answered quickly and assertively as if every word was parsed, perfected and practiced over and over and over again.
I could hear Gov. Sarah Palin’s Republican coaches echoing in her ear:
“We are friends with Israel and I don’t think that we should second-guess the measures that Israel has to take to defend themselves and for their security.”
Who cares that in the real world Israel would never do anything that big without letting us know first, without us being complicit in either the knowledge of the act in presage or in helping execute a strike. We interfere directly with Israel’s interests all the time, from pushing for elections in the territories leading to the election of Hamas, to arming Hamas’ opposition Fatah even though both organizations hate Israel. (One just didn’t want to recognize them as a state.)
There wasn’t a lot of depth in her answers. The Alaska is close to Russia foreign policy defense, repeated by so many Republican operatives with straight faces, is starting to border on comical. How is that even a serious answer? To quote Barack Obama:
“They must think you’re stupid!”
And throughout the interview I wondered if she thought I was stupid. If she thought I couldn’t hear the coaching and see the gears turning in her head. That I could tell the places where she fumbled because she couldn’t go deeper than paper thin. That she retreated to her garrisons of “energy” and “talking points” whenever things got too complicated. That she was quick to answer but easy to trap and ABC News’ Charlie Gibson tried when asking her about the “Bush Doctrine” (a foreign policy view which morphed over time) or having her clarify if she saw the war on terrorism in the Middle East was a “holy” war, a mission from God, as she alluded to in a testimony she gave at her home church.
It will be interesting how she will handle future interviews. Despite what the operatives squawk, Palin was not vetted and because the press and public knew so little about her there was going to be a gauntlet she would have to run. Avoiding gaffes and traps and verbal slip ups and casualties of personal failings. One false move and all her hard work could be derailed.
She can’t do worse than her superior, John McCain, who often falters under questioning, even more so than the president. George W. Bush is not exactly known as an adept speaker, but he’s usual good at avoiding traps by either being flip or refusing to answer the question.
McCain can only ramble, making mistakes and misspeaking but usually escaping unscathed due to his decades in the public view. Palin doesn’t have that to fall on. She can’t just blurt “war hero” as a cry of “uncle” causing the other side to relent. The Republican Party has suddenly become righteous about sexism charging headfirst into “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” territory with Palin. They cry sexism over every criticism even though they and Palin once described women who point out prejudice and privilege are “whining.”
Maybe the chorus of hockey moms crying “she’s just like us” because she the Brett Favre of vice presidential candidates, can protect her. That they can shelter her with the belief she’s just a “regular dude (or dudette in this case).” She married young, she’s a working mom and her teenage daughter is pregnant.
She’s just like us.
I find this mantra both silly and scary because why would you want someone like you to be president? You want your president to be better than you. Your vice president to be better than you. To be “elites.” The creme of the brulee. For them both to be smarter and more savvy and more cunning than you because they’re going to be leader of the free world.
Not the head of your bowling league team.
Being a regular dudette is not a threshold you have to cross to be a candidate for the number two spot on a presidential ticket. I want to know if you’ve got game. If you can bring it. If you are rock solid. If you can take it — the criticism, the heat, the pressure, the pain, the politics, because it never lets up. Because if you win you enter a whole new world of internal and external pressures that never takes a holiday, even when you do.
I know I couldn’t take it. Could you? Can Sarah Palin?
She hasn’t proved that to me. Not yet. But the test has only begun and next time it won’t be open book.