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September 29, 2008

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Palin: Everything's different, yet the same. Things are more moderner than before, bigger, and yet smaller. It's computers.

(pause)

San Dimas High School Football Rules!

(Crowd yells and claps!)

"In fact, her ignorance is so pervasive that she doesn't even do well answering questions to which she has a rehearsed answer." Maybe that qualifies her to lead the House of Representatives in retreat from reality as the reincarnation of Herbert Hoover, eh?

If all makes sense in the original glossolalia.

"Things are more like they are now than they’ve ever been before."
- Dwight D. Eisenhower

Well, normally the quality for being a complete fracking idiot does not disqualify a Republican from getting elected.

I'm still traumatized over the electin of Reagan, based on a few racist slogans and a smile.

The problem is that the fifteen percent or so of swing voters inthis country don't vote based on any knowledge of the issues. Try to evaluate Crazy Sarah's response from the standpoint of someone who doesn't know the difference between any of the players menetioned except Isreal is good and those Muslim sounding people aere bad.

See? From that point of view her answer is fine: we are going to support democracy and our friends!

It doesn't matter that she didn't answer the question--your fifteen percenters probably didn't focus on the question or forgot it by the time she got the answer out.

So...

The debates, which are a battle for the hearts of the few remaining voters who hafen't decided yet, is a competition for most popular demeanor. For the most part the content of the ansers won't matter. The candidates will be judged on their body lanuage, tone, facial expressions, etc. The trick is to appear to be an alpha, but a gracious, judicious, kindly one. Or at tleast that's the winning demeanor for a male.

I'm hoping that Crazy Sarah will decide to do her pitbull act at the debate: I'm cool with her protraying herself as a female dog.

Here's the scary part (as far as her acuity goes)- she *must* have known she'd get asked about her foreign affairs experience on the Couric show. No rational person would've walked on that set without a pretty good idea of what their answer was going to be. She could have easily faked an answer about trade delegations, offshore fishing near maritime boundaries, Russian air patrols, etc. Nothing really relevant, but something that sounded coherent.
Instead, we got Putin's rearing head.

I think that the average college student, given a couple of days of prep, could write and memorize a more compelling argument in favor of Palin's foreign affairs experience.

So it's not that she can't stray outside of her canned answers without looking like an ill-informed idiot- which is a moderately difficult thing. She can't even give canned answers to questions everyone knew were coming without looking like an idiot. "What do you think about the proposed bailout?" "uh, Healthcare!" "Well, what about being near Russia gives you experience?" "uh, Putin's rearing!"

I just keep thinking that it's entirely plausible that she'll end up as President in a couple of years. At that point, immigrating to another planet starts looking pretty good; Caligula may have made his horse a consul, but there was no danger of it rising to emperor.

I was discussing the Palin Effect over lunch with a friend, and we came up with a theory: Palin is attractive to those who flatter themselves that they would be good Presidents. That their common-man insight and wisdom would be worth more than those snobbing intellectual elites with their 'knowledge' and 'experience' and 'sophistication'. You don't need to know where Tehran is on a map to bomb it.

I mean, obviously I would agree with President Wu on philosophy of government, etc. But I've absolutely no illusions about my abilities to 1)give speeches or participate in debates 2)not make gaffes constantly 3)participate masterfully in the horse-trading backrooms of politics 4)make good appointments 5)manage those subordinates effectively 6)work 16 hours a day 7)work effectively in crisis with world-changing results riding on my decisions, etc, etc.

Knowing that Id be a bad president, it's easy to see that Palin would also be a bad president even if she has some of those skills (eg speechifying) that I lack. She clearly lacks others, and is unproven in still others (eg she's not had much of a track record in appointing and effectively managing subordinates).

But if one fancies that one would make a good president, that it just takes the salt of the earth and some common sense, then Palin is one's alter ego. If you think the president just has to say "Get Ajazamabad on the phone. Ajazamabad? No, I dont care what your name really is- stop building the bomb or we're coming to take you out" to get good results.

[I mention this in light of my earlier post- Im pretty sure that if Couric interviewed me for Veep Id say some foolish things under pressure. But Im also pretty sure that I've have an obvious bases covered with quasi-memorized prepared statements. Not being able to handle that is downright defective- poor memory or wilting under pressure or huge chutzpah].

For me, the thing that suggests that McCain picked her on the spur of the moment (probably during the democratic convention, after he'd already promised to shock - just shock! - everybody the day after Obama's speech, then his party put there foot down on Lieberman and so he ranted and raved for them to find someone 'mavericky') is not her evident weaknesses on national issues, but the fact that they didn't have any strategy to compensate for that.

Think about it, she had enormous goodwill when first announced. If they had really been planning on picking her for a while, they would have had a strategy for her, and they would have known they couldn't suddenly pretend she was an undiscovered Joe Biden (only, you know, for chicks!). Why not instead use all that goodwill she had to just get her ignorance on certain issues out there and take the hit, rather than bleeding continuously from a thousand cuts. Her shtick could just have been "I'm Ms. Maverick, I'm real, I'm heartland. I've a lot to learn about keeping America safe, but John McCain will teach me, and in return I'll be the outside-the-beltway voice he can rely on to keep him touch with the real America when he's stuck in the White House".

I mean, I know they've done that a little, but they have never ever grabbed the bull by the horns and owned the issue. She's certainly got charisma, and I'm sure she's not a stupid person, but if they really were ready for her to be part of their campaign, would they have pre-planned lines like "I can see Russia from my house"? They're still trying to drill rote responses into her enough in the hope that she can just plain fake it until Nov 4th, but that seems unlikely given that now her goodwill has evaporated, and everybody is on the edge of their seat for the next gaffe.

In the immortal words of Wolfgang Pauli:

"That's not right. It's not even wrong."

and is unproven in still others (eg she's not had much of a track record in appointing and effectively managing subordinates)

I don't know about that. The little that has made it into the media about her dealing with subordinates isn't very pretty. The general picture that I get is of somebody who has driven away competent subordinates and replaced them with compliant cronies. No wonder the GWB fan club likes her so much.

Her shtick could just have been "I'm Ms. Maverick, I'm real, I'm heartland. I've a lot to learn about keeping America safe, but John McCain will teach me, and in return I'll be the outside-the-beltway voice he can rely on to keep him touch with the real America when he's stuck in the White House".

Been there, done that with James Stockdale ("Who am I? Why am I here?"), and it didn't work then.

But there is always a first time.

I think it's a fair chance that a rapid introduction to foreign affairs talking points, especially one given by the neocon-dominated foreign policy shop of the McCain campaign, might overlook the downsides of blindly believing more democracy will result in regimes we like, especially in the Middle East.

But, anyone who's been reading the newspaper or listening to the responsible news sources (NPR, BBC) for the last few years would know better. Even if I extend to Palin all the goodwill and generosity in the world with regard to her potential, it's pretty clear that she has no history of being remotely interested in all the issues she's now running to decide upon. That's just not cool.

McCain wrapped up the nomination in, what, February, officially, and on Super Tuesday unofficially? Maybe she could have been prepped, at least to the point of avoiding embarrassment, if they'd started before the beginning of September. From what was apparently a blank slate, four weeks was always going to be a push.

Similarly, I guess I don't know whether I should ask, because at this point it's like kicking someone when they're down, but I'm curious about her educational background. Five schools in six years is pretty extreme, especially given that several of them were quite distant from her home and family, and from each other. I don't want to make assumptions - maybe there were financial or other personal issues, although so many, and in such distant and different places? Also, while it's not normal for candidate's college transcripts to be released, shouldn't she have to explain her education to some degree, just as part of letting us know who she is? That sort of information is sufficiently official and important, and not prurient, right?

P.S. While college transcripts are not usually released, it is normal to get tax returns, and we've still no signs of those, with legitimate questions about $10,000 in Per Diems and $25,000 in gifts, and whether she reported them as income.

I gather from the headline that Sarah Palin is Roberto Duran, but is it Katie Couric or Joe Biden or Gwen Ifill who is Sugar Ray Leonard?

"In fact, her ignorance is so pervasive that she doesn't even do well answering questions to which she has a rehearsed answer." Maybe that qualifies her to lead the House of Representatives in retreat from reality as the reincarnation of Herbert Hoover, eh?
Um, what? Herbert Hoover was one of the most experienced and knowledgeable Presidents we've ever had. That's why he was elected. A comparison of him and Palin shows approximately zero in common.

Incidentally, if I might point out another big story today to which attention should be paid?

but is it Katie Couric or Joe Biden or Gwen Ifill who is Sugar Ray Leonard?

The measuring of Palin's qualifications for public office should be seen as Sugar Ray. In Hollywood, 60 year old fighters can take on the champ and stay standing after 10 rounds, but that don't happen in the real world.

Maybe that qualifies her to lead the House of Representatives in retreat from reality as the reincarnation of Herbert Hoover, eh?

Hoover? HOOVER? Stanford grad Hoover? The Herbert Hoover who lived abroad in Australia? Who was on the ground during the Boxer Rebellion in China? The guy who perhaps single-handedly saved thousands of Belgians after Germany's invasion? Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover? The educated, erudite, thoughtful, well-travelled humanitarian Herbert Hoover?

Look, I get that the dude was a complete failure as Prez, but he does not need his rep sullied by this kind of comparison.

And . . . er . . . what Gary said.

What's ironic is that Herbert Hoover is almost certainly the President with the most experience of international travel and international diplomacy prior to election to national office (phrased so as to enable me to put him ahead of Richard Nixon ;-)) of all our past Presidents, with the possible arguable exceptions of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Monroe, and John Quincy Adams.

Hoover's experience was far more widespread and diverse, though, including working in China and living through the Boxer Rebellion, helping 120,000 Americans get home when WWI broke out, feeding Belgium, later heading the American Relief Association to feed Europe, including the Soviet Union, and so on.

He and Palin are pretty much polar opposites as regards international experience and knowledge.

It's a tragedy that a man who did so many fantastically impressive jobs up until the Great Depression is now remembered largely only for his failure to cope with the Great Depression. (True, rather a blot on the record, to be sure.)

In the immortal words of Wolfgang Puck:

    Young people want to be famous before they know how to cook, before they know how to treat people, before they know what hospitality means. I stayed in France for seven years and Austria for three, so before I was a chef anywhere I was already cooking for 10 years.

Palin:

VeePee? Mee? oh yeah! let's do this! i'm totally psyched!

I wnat to second what Carleton said above.

As I listen to the questions that Palin has been asked I can honestly say that, although not necessarily at the expert level, I could answer them with a large degree of coherence based upon the realities of the world.

I know she has had an extremely busy last few years, being in a high pressure job (snark intended) with very little free time. But I can say the same about myself, yet somehow I am able to keep myself informed to some degree.

She has had the time and ability to find out about the world, but apparently has never really had any interest in the world, or even our country, beyond Alaska's borders.

I have mentioned in the past that during the early days of her candidacy, the McCain staff that was working with her to educate her said she was a quick learner, absorbing knowledge like a sponge. But also that she didn't ask questions. She wasn't interested in anything beyond a couple canned phrases.

Why should we believe that she will ever be interested in these matters in the future?

I can't say I know much about Hoover, and by essentially all reports his presidency was a disaster, but you would hope that anyone who, say, read press reports about Carter's Nobel prize, or Gore's, might recall that a fair number of the more in-depth stories pointed out that, however poor Hoover's term of office was (or Carter's), Hoover is remembered as being one of the greatest ex-Presidents ever.

A week or two ago, before Palin started cratering (and one hopes she doesn't stop), my 27-year-old daughter posted this on her live journal. She says it so much better than I would have (sorry about the links from the original post not carrying over. Don't know how to do that. Use your imaginations):

"I cannot say in words how much I hate this concept that higher education is not to be a goal, or that we should denounce intellectualism. We most certainly should denounce needless snobbery .... But small thinking just isn't getting us anywhere. Strong, positive education really is the key to fixing almost every other problem we have, slowly and over time.

I'm sort of getting off track with where I meant to go, but mostly the gist is: I'm sad. This column and this blog post both articulate the point that's so horrible: we seem, culturally, to have lost the narrative of good schooling and hard work and replaced it with something more like this.

And when you get right down to it? I do not want my doctors, my air traffic controllers, or my United States presidents (or for that matter, my senators) to be "average Americans." I want them to be fucking brilliant. I want them to be so far ahead of me intellectually that they can just pull shit out of the air, like Stephen Hawking, and I'll know they did it right. I do not want them to be like me! I make mistakes every day. I forget a project, bunge a deadline, switch an e-mail, break a heel -- whatever. We all do. Some days are great, some are terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad days, and most fall in between for those of us who live and work in the world of Average.

And I'm pretty damn smart, if I do say so myself, and have sheets of paper with fancy seals proving how educated I am.

I don't want the leader of my country to be someone who's going to keep hitting snooze until finally the cat sits on his face. I don't want the leader of my country to be someone who thinks "Vermont" is a dirty word. I don't want the leader of my country to be someone who can't think beyond the boundaries of his own house, his own church, or his own state of origin. I definitely don't want him to be someone who attended his 8:00 a.m. graduate school classes but fell asleep in the back (guilty as charged) or who would write a Master's thesis in 56 hours, right before the deadline, instead of doing it properly (er, me again).

There are so many good reasons why 300 million of us aren't running for President. So why do so many of us want one of "us" to win? "

Here's the link for my next comment. Now, Typepad, let me make my frigging comment.

I'm starting to strongly consider a campaign to try to convince the ObWi blog-owners to move to any blog-posting system that isn't broken. Blogger is free and works fine, for instance.

Okay, fine, it still wants parts. !!!!

"I can't say I know much about Hoover, and by essentially all reports his presidency was a disaster,"

He'd have been a fine President if not for the depression; a good Republican, in the spirit of Teddy Roosevelt, not the two Republicans (Harding and Coolidge) he served as Cabinet Secretaries for. Wikipedia gets the details right:

[...] A dedicated Progressive and Reformer, Hoover saw the presidency as a vehicle for improving the conditions of all Americans by regulation and by encouraging volunteerism. Long before he entered politics he denounced laissez-faire thinking.[11] As Commerce Secretary he had taken an active pro-regulation stance. As President he helped push tariff and farm support bills through Congress.

Hoover expanded civil service coverage of Federal positions, canceled private oil leases on government lands, and by instructing the Justice Department and the Internal Revenue Service to go after gangsters for tax evasion, he enabled the prosecution of gangster Al Capone. He appointed a commission which set aside 3 million acres (12,000 km²) of national parks and 2.3 million acres (9,000 km²) of national forests; advocated tax reduction for low-income Americans (not enacted); closed certain tax loopholes for the wealthy; doubled the number of veteran's hospital facilities; negotiated a treaty on St. Lawrence Seaway (which failed in the U.S. Senate); wrote a Children's Charter that advocated protection of every child regardless of race or gender; built the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge; created an antitrust division in the Justice Department; required air mail carriers to adopt stricter safety measures and improve service; proposed federal loans for urban slum clearances (not enacted); organized the Federal Bureau of Prisons; reorganized the Bureau of Indian Affairs; instituted prison reform; proposed a federal Department of Education (not enacted); advocated fifty-dollar-per-month pensions for Americans over 65 (not enacted); chaired White House conferences on child health, protection, homebuilding and homeownership; began construction of the Boulder Dam (later renamed Hoover Dam); and signed the Norris-La Guardia Act that limited judicial intervention in labor disputes.
[...]

In the foreign arena, Hoover began formulating what would later become Roosevelt's Good Neighbor policy following the 1930 release of the Clark Memorandum, by withdrawing American troops from Nicaragua and Haiti; he also proposed an arms embargo on Latin America and a one-third reduction of the world's naval power, which was called the Hoover Plan. The Roosevelt Corollary ceased being part of U.S. foreign policy. In response to the Japanese invasion of Manchuria, he and Secretary of State Henry Stimson outlined the Hoover-Stimson Doctrine that said the United States would not recognize territories gained by force. Between his election and his inauguration as President, Hoover broke precedent by undertaking a goodwill tour of many Latin American countries.

During his presidency, he mediated between Chile and Peru to solve a conflict on the sovereignty of Arica and Tacna that in 1883 by the Treaty of Ancón had been awarded to Chile for ten years, to be followed by a plebiscite that had never happened. By the Tacna-Arica compromise at the Treaty of Lima in 1929, Chile kept Arica, and Peru regained Tacna.

This is all great stuff.

But his approach to the Great Depression was inadequate, and that's blotted out everything else, because, really, how could it be otherwise?

Sad, though. He was no George W. Bush or John McCain or Warren Harding; the opposite: he was engaged, incredibly knowledgeable, forward-thinking, progressive, inquisitive, and more.

But his economics weren't up to coping with an unprecedented Great Depression.

Which makes FDR all the more impressive.

Warren: "I think it's a fair chance that a rapid introduction to foreign affairs talking points ... might overlook the downsides of blindly believing more democracy will result in regimes we like, especially in the Middle East. But, anyone who's been reading the newspaper ... would know better."

Yeah but... it's worse than that. It really is like the guy said, never mind the answer, she doesn't know the question -- not even the part that was spelled out for her. Remember how they train you in high school to take standardized tests on subjects you don't know beans about? Finding the key phrases and guessing what they're looking for? This was one of those.

Couric: "What happens if the goal of democracy doesn't produce the desired outcome? In Gaza, the U.S. pushed hard for elections and Hamas won."

Average high-school kid, or recently arrived Martian: "Uh-oh. Who's Hamas? Where's Gaza? Well OK, the question was about something that 'didn't produce the desired outcome'. But 'democracy' is a 'goal', so I guess democracy is a good thing. And if there wasn't some kind of contradiction, then there wouldn't even be a question. So I guess when Hamas won this election or whatever, it was not a good thing. What do we do about that... well f*** if I know, but I how about something like 'We have to support democracy no matter what, but we're concerned about Hamas'. And maybe, uh, it's a hard goal and there are always setbacks and we're gonna keep trying."

But the only way you can get from Couric's question to what Palin said is to not even recognize that Couric's two sentences were supposed to be related to each other.

I know it's a waste of time to analyze this train wreck any further, but... damn.

>In the immortal words of Wolfgang Pauli: "That's not right. It's not even wrong."

No, but it *is* Numberwang!

It was Keynes who observed that "practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.” Hoover was one of those practical men.

Palin, on the other hand, is merely an untutored charlatan, a toxic brew of ravanchism, exceptionalism, racism, and proud anti-intellectualism....she is not practical in any commonly understood sense.

Thus it would seem reasonable to conclude she is the slave of the should-be-defunct Larry Kudlow.

Good point Hob. Palin doesn't seem to have the skill of not answering questions but seeming to. Most politicians, at least the Republican ones are used to evading the question asked and instead answering the question they wish had been asked with the usual campaign boilerplate.

I apologize if somebody already linked to this and I missed it, but Zakaria's even more devasting on CNN. "The most scary answer in the Katie Couric interview was not in foreign policy; the foreign policy stuff was funny. The scary answer was on the economy." Ouch.

(Zakaria starts at about 3:30)

"However, one would expect that a governor making a bid for national office on one side of a presidential ticket would at least have a certain level of curiosity and knowledge of major world events."

Or in other words, "Choose your electives carefully, with an eye towards future career choices".

"The measuring of Palin's qualifications for public office should be seen as Sugar Ray."

The measure of Palin's qualifications for public office should be seen as Screech. (Hey, he beat Horshack in the ring.)

"Heckuva choice McCain."

Sometimes I wonder if, at some level, McCain is doing this on purpose to avenge his humiliation by the GOP in 2000 and the elevation of Bush.

I might disagree with you on whether governors have any international experience. A lot of governors work at attracting international trade to their states, for instance, getting Toyota or Audi to open up a plant. Palin doesn't have to because Alaska has oil. As Zakaria said, she's the state equivalent to Saudi Arabia.

I might disagree with you on whether governors have any international experience.

I don't think we're in disagreement. I didn't say that governors don't have "any" international experience, just that they "don't get a lot of hands-on foreign policy experience." Some here and there, depending on your state, but not a lot.

And lou, good point about Alaska/Saudi Arabia.

I continue to blame her religion. or the culture of her religion. I grew up there. Insular thinking that needs nothing, no alternative views, no grasp of the big picture, just right and wrong, black and white, is encouraged, nay, mandated. To go out into the world is to risk becoming like the world and being corrupted. John McCain found himself and intellectual virgin. I'm not voting for McCain, and if every other objection is wiped away, having One of Those in the White House would be enough to stop me.

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