two thoughts on sarah palin
I personally don’t care about Sarah Palin’s views on social issues, or that she hunted wolves from a helicopter (whether or not I would do the same or share an opinion on said social-issues). I don’t care that she attempted to represent a ruggedized American working class, despite perhaps belonging to the upper middle class herself. She is rather rugged, after all. She did work to get to where she is. There’s really no denying that.
I don’t mind that she is a politician and thus engages in all those politician-like behaviors, such as a bit of exaggeration, perhaps an “odd” lie or two, some self-aggrandizement, and so forth. I don’t buy for a second that she faked a pregnancy, or believe that women with children shouldn’t be in politics. That’s their own damn prerogative. I didn’t much like her tone or the nature of some of her rallies during the election. I thought they were over the top – but then again, much of the vitriol directed her way was also over the top.
No, what bothers me about Sarah Palin are two things:
First, that she doesn’t seem to actually know what it is she stands for; that she may have entered the last campaign with something of a blank slate and then sort of soaked up a lot of the conservative orthodoxy that was required of her. Maybe that’s not true, but something about her inability to really express or to fully grasp what it is that these conservative policies mean leads me to this conclusion, and to the next point:
She cannot speak coherently, cannot seem to properly formulate either her thoughts or her expressions, all of which makes me suspect her capacity to lead. Leadership requires communication skills, but even more importantly, the capacity to communicate is indicative of the strength of the leader themselves.
I liked George W. Bush as a person quite a lot. I think he was a nice guy, and genuinely well-meaning, but he, too, was short on communication skills, unable to cogently express his beliefs or thoughts, and I think that was an indication of his political shallowness more than merely a public speaking tic. As such I feel that he was easily manipulated, and too reliant upon his advisers. Contrast that with Ronald Reagan, the Great Communicator himself. And Palin is more in the mold of George W. than Reagan.
These two things – her shallow ideological framework and quick acceptance of the requisite talking points without much of an understanding of the policies themselves; and her inability to properly express her thoughts, beliefs, policy plans, and so forth – led me to the conclusion that she was not, in fact, ready to be a leader at the national level, whether or not she possessed some real political skills or a potential to lead in the future.
Then, too, there is the possibility that much of her personality was an act (indeed, if you watch older videos of her in meetings and round-tables back in the pre-spotlight days, she seems much less the winking, you-betcha type). So is she the empty vessel or the not-s0-talented actor or the shrewd politician simply not quite ready yet for the big time? I can’t say. I don’t think this resignation will be good for her career no matter how we toss the dice, but I could be wrong about that, too.
And that’s about as far as I’m willing to take my critique of Sarah Palin. She may surprise us yet.
(Last point, though, is that I think a lot of Americans share these critiques with me and that this is not always about class warfare or elitists vs. the masses. That is true to some degree, but in another sense, I think a lot of people just felt like their President ought to be able to convincingly express their thoughts and policies and that Palin simply wasn’t up to snuff.)