Monday, September 29, 2008

Palin as President?

There remains a tremendous amount of support for Palin among the Republican base. She draws huge crowds and continues to raise large amounts of money for the McCain campaign. Yet, a growing number of Republicans, who were supporters of Sarah, are now expressing concern about her poor performance with the media and what it could mean.

• Conservative columnist Kathleen Parker, a former Palin supporter, says the vice presidential nominee should step aside for the good of her country. Parker, who is a conservative journalist, states "Only Palin can save McCain, her party, and the country she loves."
• Kathryn Jean Lopez, writing for the conservative National Review, agrees: "that’s not a crazy suggestion."
• Tony Fabrizio, a GOP strategist, says "You can’t continue to have interviews like that and not take on water."
• Chris Lacivita, a GOP strategist. "…she ain’t Dick Cheney, nor Joe Biden, and definitely not Hillary Clinton."
• Rich Lowry, a writer for The National Review, says, "I thought Palin was dreadful. She obviously didn't have the reaction to the Charlie Gibson interview that I had hoped. She had better be better prepared for next week or she risks damaging her political brand forevermore."

So far, Palin has only given three interviews since being announced as McCain's VP. In these interviews, she has demonstrated a clear lack of knowledge regarding basic political fundamentals. This would explain why the McCain Team has not let her out much without being scripted.

Here are some of Palin’s difficult moments during interviews:

Speaking with Katie Couric, Palin seemed caught off guard by a question about the status of McCain adviser Rick Davis’ relationship with mortgage lender Freddie Mac. Davis was accused of profiting from the companies just as recent as one month ago, despite his denials. She seemed genuinely stumped with Couric’s follow up question, repeating the same answer twice and resorting to memorized talking points about the "undue influence of lobbyists." When asked to discuss her knowledge of foreign relations – in particular, her assertion that Alaska’s proximity to Russia gave her international experience – Palin spoke in incoherent circles.

"It's very important when you consider even national-security issues with Russia as Putin rears his head and comes into the airspace of the United States of America. Where—where do they go? It's Alaska. It's just right over the border. It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there. They are right next to—to our state."

Asked about the $700 billion bailout package, Palin gave a nonsensical answer that strung together every economic talking point she could think of:

"That's why I say I, like every American I'm speaking with, were ill about this position that we have been put in where it is the taxpayers looking to bail out. But ultimately, what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the health-care reform that is needed to help shore up our economy, helping the—it's got to be all about job creation, too, shoring up our economy and putting it back on the right track. So health-care reform and reducing taxes and reining in spending has got to accompany tax reductions and tax relief for Americans. And trade, we've got to see trade as opportunity, not as a competitive, scary thing. But one in five jobs being created in the trade sector today, we've got to look at that as more opportunity. All those things under the umbrella of job creation. This bailout is a part of that."

In an interview with Charlie Gibson, Palin gave an answer to a question about the Bush Doctrine that displayed an obvious ignorance as to what it is. When asked to describe her foreign policy credentials more fully, Palin said that her experience with Alaska’s energy policy was sufficient preparation for dealing with national security issues. When asked about the difficulties between Russia and Georgia (a democracy in western Asia that borders Russia), she declared it might be necessary to wage war on Russia, a suggestion that most average Americans know to be something we would not want to do.

In an interview with a much more friendly Sean Hannity, of Fox News, Palin responded with vague, wandering generalities to a question about a possible Wall Street bailout, and then definitively came out against it, while at the same time, McCain was indicating that he would help to negotiate the details and therefore support it.

Every time reporters have questioned Palin on foreign policy, she’s been confused. Some Republicans are now worried Palin could blow Thursday’s debate, based on her weak and unsteady interviews, and hurt the Republican ticket if she does. But she is probably in the process of internalizing the talking points so well that she will manage to get through it and perhaps even do well. According to George Stephanopoulos, a reporter with ABC News, Palin cannot continue those deer in the headlight moments where it seems like she doesn't know what to say. He continued with the statement that "a major mistake, particularly on foreign policy, would be absolutely fatal to her candidacy." Does this mean that if she makes a major gaffe, she will very quickly "resign" from the team "to spend more time with her family?" Probably not, because it would shine a light on McCain's judgment, putting him on the defensive for the final five weeks.

But would Palin’s "winning" the debate really make her a good candidate for vice president or possibly for president?

Think about this: If you vote for McCain/Palin, according to the life insurance actuarial tables, you will be voting for a 33% chance for an unqualified Sarah Palin to become President. She is a charismatic politician who seems to have done some good things for Alaska, but it is so obvious that she has never spent a day thinking, much less studying or reading, about any important national or international issue. She is in over her head. Sarah Palin is not equipped to be vice-president, much less president. She doesn't know enough; she lacks the necessary understanding of our complex world.

A very conservative newspaper, The Stockton Record, which has not endorsed a Democrat for president in 72 years, questioned McCain for his surprise choice of Palin, "We worry he won't have four years," the editorial said. "If elected, at 72, he would be the oldest incoming president in U.S. history. He's in good health now, we're told, although he has withheld most of his medical records. That means Gov. Sarah Palin could very well become president. And that brings us to McCain's most troubling trait: his judgment."

Are you sure you want Palin as President?