Saturday, September 6, 2008

Palin in a Poke

I never expect to be quoting David Frum in order to agree with him, but he has this exactly right:

George W. Bush had very slight executive experience before becoming president. His views were not well known. He won the nomination exactly in the same way that Palin has won the hearts of so many conservatives: by sending cultural cues to convince them that he was one of them, understood them, sympathized with them. So that made everything else irrelevant in 2000 - as it seems again to be doing in 2008. ... I am not denying that Sarah Palin may have great skills. She may well. I am insisting that neither you, nor I, nor John McCain has any valid reason to believe that she does. This is not an argument about the attributes she lacks. It's an argument about the information we lack. I am pleading with my fellow conservatives: Please demand more and better knowledge before you commit yourselves to a political leader. That's all.
The alarming part is expressed in "this makes everything else irrelevant:" Sarah Palin has won enthusiastic support from a substantial part of the electorate because she comes across as "one of us" on the basis of her manner of speaking and personal back-story.*

Assuming, for the sake of argument, that the Sarah Palin we saw is authentic and not a stage-managed illusion, how can people allow this to override so much else? She is vying for the vice presidency, not for babysitter; she's seeking to sit in the highest counsels of power on the world stage, not watch our stuff while we're in the swimming pool.

And the "executive experience" canard is insultingly stupid. Even now, we know little about the quality or breadth of Palin's executive experience -- what's been found ranges from thin to scant -- but it's important to recognize that the "executive experience" meme was trotted out when we knew even less. By the logic of this argument, any fast food shift manager is more qualified for the presidency than Barack Obama, Joe Biden, John McCain, Lyndon Johnson, John F. Kennedy, and Abe Lincoln combined. Bullshit. And that's double bullshit with whipped cream to any fast food shift manager out there who takes offense at that characterization.

(via Andrew Sullivan)

Cf. "Pig in a poke" -- one of the favored expressions of my eighth-grade social studies teacher, Wayne "Four Pockets" McCarty.
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*To the frothing right wingers who might have chanced upon this: yes, if there are people out there planning to vote for Barack Obama because he's African American, I do say they're thereby doing a frivolous and ill-considered thing.

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