Thursday, October 16, 2008

Sarah Palin, Evaluated

Evaluating Sarah Palin is tricky. She’s been in national politics only a few months, which means that hastily formed first impressions remain. She’s a woman, which makes using common frames of reference difficult. She’s attractive, which distracts from what she actually says. And she’s a supporting figure in a campaign which isn’t hers, and which she joined late, meaning that her talking points must coincide with John McCain’s strengths, not her own.

So it’s hard to form an accurate judgment of Sarah Palin. Is she the inspiring, brilliant figure who inspired millions with her campaign speech? Or is she the inept bimbo she seemed to be during her interviews with Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric? Or is she a bit of both?

Her ideology is also a bit of mystery. Nobody knows what her position on immigration is; nobody knows exactly how she feels about foreign policy, other than her belief that McCain’s ideas there are pretty much right on the money. Conservatives love Palin’s views, but aren’t quite sure just what they are.

Above all else, Palin is a populist. She campaign shtick is that America needs to send two mavericks to take on the old boy network in Washington. Politicians love to talk about “the American People”; I think that Palin has a higher “American People” count than any other candidate. She claims to be able to speak for “hockey moms,” because she’s one herself, who understands the concerns of ordinary people.

I dislike populism—it represents the worst kind of pandering, and I much prefer exceptional people to Joe Sixpack. But if you like that sort of thing, I suppose that Palin is good at it.

Aside from populism, it’s a bit difficult to decipher exactly what Palin’s beliefs are—though that’s not altogether her fault. Her late entrance forced her to quickly start repeating the McCain campaign’s talking points, and it’s hard to see a way around that. But from what she has said in the past, she’s a conservative; more a part of the social conservative wing of the party than the fiscal conservative wing.

She opposes abortion, gay marriage, and gun control. She seems to take a dim view of high taxes, though she wasn’t above accepting a great deal of congressional pork. (Alaska gets a lot of pork—it’s a state that doesn’t really do anything, but Congress wants to remind voters it’s around). She spent a lot of money as mayor of Wasilla, and while it may have gone to worthy causes, it did leave the city (or town, given its size) in debt. And Palin doesn’t really have any strong foreign policy views, although her instincts seem good.

With a few exceptions, Palin seems a like strong conservative—not perfect, but pretty good. But there are a lot of conservative politicians—for a vice president, competence is as important as ideology.

Palin wasn’t governor of Alaska very long (about twenty months), but is highly regarded by her constituents. And her performance as mayor of Wasilla, if not perfect, was at least good enough to get her the governorship.

Some have brought up Palin’s awful interview performances as evidence of her incompetence, and they make a strong case. She seemed clueless—it is possible that Charlie Gibson flubbed his now infamous question regarding the Bush Doctrine, but it is doubtful Palin could have answered it even had he asked it perfectly. Her answers during the Couric debate were painful. So painful, in fact, that Tina Fey used her actual, unedited answers during her SNL Palin impression. That is the definition of a bad answer.

How significant are Palin’s interview performances? They reveal that she is almost certainly unprepared for the vice presidency. Couric’s questions weren’t exactly difficult posers—they were standard softball fluff, and Palin still couldn’t answer them. Were something to happen to McCain, it is pretty clear that Palin would not be prepared for the presidency.

Palin has her flaws, certainly, but her sex may exaggerate them. When Joe Biden gives an error-filled, incoherent answer, he’s is an erring elder statesman. When Palin does the same thing, it’s because she’s an incompetent bimbo. The only other prominent female in the race was Hillary Clinton, and she had been around so long that most voters were used to her sex. Most people aren’t willfully sexist—they are merely unused to seeing a female vice presidential candidate.

The final verdict on Palin will have to wait—there’s not enough evidence to pass judgment now. But a few things are obvious. Palin is a smart, conservative, but inexperienced woman. She would make a great president—but not this year.


At October 17, 2008 at 4:55 AM , Blogger Conservative said...

You said..."So it’s hard to form an accurate judgment of Sarah Palin. Is she the inspiring, brilliant figure who inspired millions with her campaign speech? Or is she the inept bimbo she seemed to be during her interviews with Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric? Or is she a bit of both?"

I think that YOU have been bathing in some of that Liberial Kool Aide.
I am less afraid of Palin than I am of Obama.

If we disqualify Palin, we should have disqualified Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, for how much foreign policy experience did they have as governors to assume the Presidency?

Obama has neither executive nor foreign policy experience.

I trust her real life American experience than I do anything that the Obama ticket brings to the table.
But I'm not afraid of her, Nope - not at all, but the dems are, which is why they persecute her so much! They're afraid of her - big time!! They know that she'll weed out the corruption and underhanded, behind-the-scenes crap that goes on in Washington! That's what the dems are afraid of, but I'm NOT 'cause I'm voting for her and McCain! The woman's got guts and spunk and takes no bs from anyone and that's what this government needs: someone who is on the up and up and will get things done in Washington!!
And as for experiance, it's pretty sad when you can compare the 1st person on the ticket vs the 2nd person on the other ticket and the 2nd person wins! Great work kool-aid drinkers...
And I don't see in her an ego-driven maniac walking around like you can walk on water like Obama does, only a desire to serve if elected. It's not as if she's going to declare herself Dictator for Life if she's ever in the position of being President. And I think she'll work well with McCain.
Lets call it like it is, if Obama was a Caucasian he wouldn’t even be in this race today!
Yes, I'm a lot more afraid of Comrade Barry and the communist ideals he represents.
Katie Couric is the Bird Brain, not Sarah Palin. Katy Couric reminds me of a ditsy, bird brain cheerleader ! She’s nothing but a boring, airhead, leftwing slanted power puff.

At October 17, 2008 at 11:20 AM , Blogger Myself said...

What Conservative said is right on the money.
I for one will vote for John Mccain, win or lose, he's the best choice we have. Any Republican or Conservative that sees it anyother way is out of their mind.
This commie Obami must not be elected.

At November 2, 2008 at 8:23 AM , Blogger knowitall said...

Sarah Palin has a lot of good ideas and plans, but the media are so bias in favor of the liberal illuminati, that they don't give her a chance.

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