The Palin Perplex


During the recent brouhaha about Sarah Palin's description of Paul Revere's ride, economist Walter Williams commented:

"There are a lot of things, large and small, that irk me. One of them is our tendency to evaluate a presidential candidate based on his intelligence or academic credentials. When Obama threw his hat in the ring, people thought he was articulate and smart and hailed his intellectual credentials. Just recently, when Newt Gingrich announced his candidacy, people hailed his intellectual credentials and smartness as well.

"By contrast, the intellectual elite and mainstream media people see Sarah Palin as stupid, a loose cannon and not to be trusted with our nuclear arsenal. There was another presidential candidate who was also held to be stupid and not to be trusted with our nuclear arsenal who ultimately became president — Ronald Reagan. I don't put much stock into whether a political leader is smart or not because, as George Orwell explained, 'Some ideas are so stupid that only intellectuals believe them.'"

First, let me say this: Dan Quayle was no John F. Kennedy, and Sarah Palin is no Ronald Reagan. Reagan had a philosophy that guided all his decisions. He did not have to ponder the short-term ramifications of specific small decisions, because he knew and trusted the long-term effects of adhering to laissez-faire principles. He could sleep well at night, knowing he was being true to his philosophy. We need leaders who are willing to suffer short-term pain in exchange for long-term success.

Now, as to Williams' specific point: Sarah Palin may indeed be very intelligent. Yale and Harvard are not the only academic choices of intelligent people, and I would be criticizing myself if I criticized her for starting and stopping and restarting her college career at institutions that aren't considered "the best." Lots of us make unconventional choices. So I won't criticize her choice of Boise State as her alma mater.

I worry, however, about the fact that she considers "What did you learn from your visit?" and "What newspapers do you read?" to be "Gotcha questions," as she calls them. Those are pretty simple "getting to know you" questions, to which she gave surprising answers.

I worry more about the fact that she often spins her stories — such as the ones about the executive plane and the bridge to nowhere, which she had to "adjust" after she became John McCain's running mate.

I also cringe at her delivery — the way she says so many things with a knowing wink, expecting us to "get" her by what she doesn't say, more than by what she does say. Lots of people like her style and consider it folksy. It just puts me off. Simply put: she may be perfectly intelligent, but I, personally, have no confidence in her. Maybe that feeling will change at some point. I'm not burning any bridges. Or building them to nowhere. So maybe I'll make a U-turn at some point and join her big bright bus.

But not while she's still winking at me with that knowing, gotcha smile.

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J Eyon

you might read Commentary Magazine's "Why Jews Hate Palin" - which i would sum up this way - "Sarah's not my type of intellectual" - implying - "my favored type is the only one worthy of the presidency"

Jo Ann - what type are you - you seem to seriously think that the Dan Quayle type is not equal to the JFK type

are you really prey to the JFK myth - i feel that Quayle was being inadvertently flattered

and you seem to think that we should take seriously your judgement that Sarah is no Ronnie - even while the Walter Williams article you link to joins them - and others see a similarity

i do agree with you regarding Sarah's blanket complaint about Gotcha questions - when the problem is actually the Gotcha answers - but the point she is trying to get at is valid - that biased news reporters do look for insignificant slip ups from the candidates on the other side - to build into gigantic flaws

like any right wing candidate - Sarah has to be able to take that in stride - and overcome it - the way Reagan did

Sarah may not be as teflon as Ronnie - but since that's too rare a trait - and only one trait - i won't consider her out of the running - especially since i'm olde enow to remember Ronnie's uphill battle

let's see - your accusations are - as i glean them - Sarah's no Ronnie - she thinks every question is a gotcha - she spins on occasion - she annoys you - and you distrust her - etc

i'm relieved that a couple of those complaints aren't subjective


It's not so much that Palin graduted from the U. of Idaho that bothers me. It's the other 3 schools she attended that she couldn't graduate from that does.
The comparison of Reagan to Palin is a pretty good one. Reagan was full of talk about smaller government, and not negotiating with terrorists. Meanwhile, those really running things while he was napping were busy increasing the size of the federal gov't and negotiating with the Ahatollahs in Iran.
I see Palin as similar.... She has no real concept of a coherent political philosophy. She would leave it to her aides to rip off the tax payer and involve the U.S. in unplanned foreign interventions.

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