Tonight’s Debate (Before)

Nows that the bar for success, or even survival, in tonight’s Vice-Presidential debate has been set baby-step high for Sarah Palin, I’d like to offer a few thoughts.

I’m surprised she’s lasted this long on the ticket, and I’m not at all convinced that she’ll make it through ’til November 4. Her out-of-the-blue, long-shot selection, which puzzled liberals and conservatives alike, has devolved into a “What the hell was McCain thinking?” What did he mean — I’m guessing not “Country First” — by putting a woman on the ticket who seriously considers her PTA work, mayoral experience managing a town of 7,000 (which received some pretty hefty earmarks, thanks to the GOP Maverick Mayor), and less-than-two year term as governor of a small state as legitimate experience and background? (Love the “Joe Sixpack American” thing, but it strikes me that the vice presidency might be a place to aim a little higher). And now that she’s been allowed, and I think this is an appropriate term here, to face the press, she’s proved to be . . . well . . . utterly unfamiliar with foreign and domestic policy, not to mention general knowledge of American history and politics. Like, I’m just ill.

She is completely, unapologetically, shockingly, and perhaps irredeemably unfamiliar with the things we have a right to expect her to know. This isn’t “gotcha” pop quiz stuff; this isn’t “picking on Sarah” by the liberal media. This is what the game is like, and she vaulted over the fence and onto the field when invited.

And she’s a 72-year-old guy’s heartbeat away from the Presidency of the United States, which makes the thought of her assuming the office even more frightening than McCain’s. To me, that’s saying a lot.

Her defenders whine about a tough media gauntlet and fault McCain’s staff for not “just letting Sarah be Sarah.” It appears that it was Sarah who couldn’t think of a single Supreme Court case in the Couric interview, who breezily lambasted Biden’s long tenure in office while failing, evidently, to remember that her boss, six years older than Biden, has quite a lengthy and far less stellar Senatorial history, and who babbles incoherently about Putin, airspace, and Russian proximity when asked about her foreign policy experience. Letting Sarah be Sarah is a lovely idea, because it’s shown us that this particular Sarah has no business contending for the Vice Presidency, period, and that Governor was perhaps a stretch.

Politics does, indeed, make for strange bedfellows. Here’s where abstinence really ought to have prevailed, though. The sight of the Religious Right, notoriously antagonistic toward feminism, trying to whip themselves into a frenzy of support for Palin is pathetic and hypocritical beyond words. I assume Todd Palin can easily parent his children and run the household — but, you see, I always have assumed, as a feminist, that men can do these things, and should more often than they do. It’s embarrassing to hear that from men and women who, pre-Palin, foamed at the mouth in their rhetoric against women with young children working outside of the home, but now decide that a Jesus-loving pro-lifer on the ticket requires the pretzel logic of their blind-eye support. I suppose a little consistency here would be too much to ask of those who like their altars covered in the flag and decorated with Reagan buttons.

Joe Biden is a brilliant man. Sarah Palin doesn’t seem to be a terribly intelligent woman. I know I’ll find the debate cringeworthy because of it, and I know I’ll be embarrassed for her. But this is what Sarah, being fully Sarah, signed up for. In an earlier post, I said she was being used and would be until whatever worth she brought to the ticket is exhausted. I believe that’ll be tonight, when an overwhelming desire to spend time with baby Trig, hunky Todd, and pregnant daughter Bristol will cause her to graciously exit the ticket.

Maybe then the country, and the GOP especially, will see this choice as the nakedly condescending, sexist, selfish and reckless choice it was — and then consider the character of the man who made it, all the while pontificating about Country First.

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