Friday, September 12, 2008

Don't Stop Believin'

I've attributed Bush's election and re-election to the fact that no voter feels stupid next to him - a variation on the idea that people voted for the guy they'd most like to have a beer with. I understand comfort and how it's a more driving force than anybody would like to admit, but seriously - are you qualified to run the country? Are any of the people you drink with at the bar? At the coffee shop?

Today's transcripts of Charlie Gibson's interview with Sarah Palin show the shortcomings your buddy, the candidate. The news today is that she doesn't know the Bush Doctrine of pre-emptive defense, and how she inadvertently put America's foreign policy in the Middle East in the hands of Israel, and by admitting Georgia and the Ukraine to NATO drawn America into war with Russia. But let's go beyond such trivialities as details. Joan Walsh at made this connection:

Talking to Charles Gibson tonight, Palin sometimes reminded me of poor Miss South Carolina, who, asked why many Americans can't find the U.S. on a map, famously said: "I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because, uh, some people out there in our nation don't have maps. And I believe that our education, like, such as in South Africa and the Iraq, everywhere, like such as, and I believe that they should, our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S., or should help South Africa and should help the Iraq and the Asian countries so we will be able to build up our future for our children."

This statement from Palin about Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is better, but not hugely: "I believe that under the leadership of Ahmadinejad, nucular weapons in the hands of his government are extremely dangerous to everyone on this globe, yes. We have got to make sure these weapons of mass destruction, that nucular weapons are not given to those hands of Ahmadinejad, not that he would use them, but that he would allow terrorists to be able to use them. So we have got to put the pressure on Iran."

I thought more of another, more generic sad sack when I read this transcript:

GIBSON: Governor, let me start by asking you a question that I asked John McCain about you, and it is really the central question. Can you look the country in the eye and say "I have the experience and I have the ability to be not just vice president, but perhaps president of the United States of America?"

PALIN: I do, Charlie, and on January 20, when John McCain and I are sworn in, if we are so privileged to be elected to serve this country, will be ready. I'm ready.

GIBSON: And you didn't say to yourself, "Am I experienced enough? Am I ready? Do I know enough about international affairs? Do I -- will I feel comfortable enough on the national stage to do this?"

PALIN: I didn't hesitate, no.

GIBSON: (INAUDIBLE -- Didn't that take some hubris?)

PALIN: I -- I answered him yes because I have the confidence in that readiness and knowing that you can't blink, you have to be wired in a way of being so committed to the mission, the mission that we're on, reform of this country and victory in the war, you can't blink.

The gobbledygook logic of that last statement - her rationale for believing she's ready to be vice-president and if necessary president - boils down to, "I believe in me because I believe, and I have to believe." Usually we hear some variation on that logic from a teenager talking to Ryan Seacrest just before he or she walks into the American Idol tryout room to be crushed and sent to therapy by Simon, Randy and Paula. Or on the tryout show for America's Next Top Model, where the poor underfed dears explain that they're going to be America's next top model because they really want to be America's next top model. Not surprisingly, the women who actually win have more reliable attributes like good bone structure, a consciousness of their bodies and a sense of how they present themselves for photos.

We've just spent eight years with a president who reduced every issue to a matter of belief; another candidate who believes because she believes really isn't change.

Here's the interview.

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