Sarah Palin’s overnight emergence (literally) on the national scene has taught us all some valuable lessons in political maneuvering. A “game-changer” will hold the entire base in awe, but for only about a week – unless he/she can say something intelligent at that point. Also, a fresh-faced political outsider can shout out anything to a crowd of like-minded people and they will rave like mad dogs, even calling for blood (again, literally). However, Palin has affected us all in ways we may not have realized. She has made us all more intelligent.
Palin has blundered her way through some painful presentations that have made audiences cringe. Some of the most noticeable gaffes have been when she proudly said that she could see Russia from Alaska or when she couldn’t recall a single Supreme Court decision besides Roe v. Wade. She also couldn’t name a single printed news source. Then she frantically admitted to reading them all. She didn’t know the Bush Doctrine. She named the wrong U.S. military commander in Afghanistan. She certainly said some things that made all of us irritated that she’s honestly within a very-probable stroke away from the presidency. However it also filled us each with a quiet sense of pride. As we loudly screamed, “I can’t believe she is that stupid!” We quietly considered, “I’m not that stupid. Am I?” Then we secretly reassured ourselves, “No, I am definitely smarter than her.” Then we all covertly sought to ensure that we were indeed smarter than Sarah Palin.
Google was inundated with searches for “Alaska view Russia”. People learned that in fact someone could in fact see Russia from Alaska if they are standing atop an igloo on a specific island at the height of spring for one day only and only for about an hour. If we didn’t get all that, we did at least learn that Sarah Palin can not in fact see Russia from her back porch.
As for Supreme Court decisions, most of us out of high school could have easily tossed forth Brown v. The Board of Education – an easy no-brainer, go-to decision. But most of us might not immediately be able to recall the names of any of our other favorites. Therefore if we were ever on an RV with Katie Couric and she asked us, we too might look stupid. She wouldn’t let us get away with just tossing out Brown v. The Board. She would have smiled her ferociously cute smile and said, “What others?” And then, we would be found out. Can’t have that. So, we checked out some of the other big decisions we agree with but can’t think of their names. What else is there again? Scopes? Come on, there has to be something more recent! So we do a quick search – just to remind ourselves. Oh, yeah, there was that Lawrence v. Texas. I agreed with that one. Individual rights and all, you know. Super, that was just five years ago. Oh, but I can’t be talking about that one with Katie, not first off anyway. I will have to bury that one in my list a bit. What else? There were all those Guantanamo decisions, in the past few years. I liked those. Would Katie let me get away with just calling them “those Guantanamo decisions”? I better write them down. There were four?! Okay after some searching you might end up with a list of four or five that you can proudly carry into work on Monday, or even sit down for a “friendly” with Katie. But you can stand tall knowing that, with Brown v. The Board you knew more than Palin!
“News sources? Well, I prefer to get my news from a number of sources, mostly on the internet. Did you know that internet news sources now far outpace the printed press. Yes, it’s true. Hm? Which ones do I read? Oh, well I am glad you asked. I usually start off with my personal news settings from Google news. Yeah, I like to balance it out, so I am not getting my news filtered through a partisan lens. I don’t shy away from the New York Times, but I like to counterbalance it with some of my favorite columnists from the Washington Post. But mostly, I like an international perspective. I subscribe to The Economist. I really think they have a firm but friendly perspective on America’s roll in the world. The Guardian is good too. Of course, there is the Wall Street Journal. Oh, and Time and Newsweek of course – usually just peruse the headlines on those. So, yeah… really a pretty balanced array of news sources for me. Hm? Which Washington Post columnists? … Shit!”
Now, as for Bush’s Doctrine, I will defend Palin on this one. It is so far, the only defense I will make on her behalf. When Charlie asked her about the Bush Doctrine, I too began to rack my brain. What did he mean? There are so many! Bush’s domestic doctrine? – Which has reigned in our civil liberties systematically over the past 8 years. The judiciary doctrine? – putting 2 judges on the supreme court who refuse to make left hand turns while driving for fear they might start thinking incorrectly; or illegally firing district judges who wouldn’t follow Bush’s party line? How about Guantanamo and extraordinary rendition or enemy combatants? How about his fiscal doctrine, the furious deregulation of banks and their overlord financial institutions? How about blood for oil? That’s a Bush doctrine. So, I thought Palin’s response was acceptable, “In what respect Charlie? You mean Bush’s world view?” Oh! He meant preemptive invasion. So now that is THE Bush doctrine? That is just the first chapter. Still we all knew more about it than she did. She just got lucky on that one.
I knew the guy in Afghanistan was a McSomething, and NOT McCain nor McDonald’s. I like to think that in a debate I wouldn’t have just winged it with “McClellen”. I would have just said “the commander in Afghanistan”. No one but Katie would have called me out on it, certainly not Biden. The folks I talk to day-to-day wouldn’t have known his name either. But we all do now. As soon as I heard her say it, I knew it didn’t sound right. Sure enough, within minutes the blogosphere was bombarded with corrections. McKiernan. We’re all straight on that one now.
So, in her own way Sarah Palin has done our country a great service. In direct defiance of her blatant ignorance on issues vital to anyone seeking the second highest office in the land, we have all become smarter. Now, thanks to Palin dumbing-down the interview process, we can all proudly say, “Hell, if she can do it… I can do it better.” Now, let’s all hope, and pray (and vote) that this is the last service she does for our nation.