Friday, October 03, 2008

It's brains, stupid

I've been thinking quite a bit about Sarah Palin, and what the general take is on her qualifications (or lack thereof) to be vice president. Many of her critics seem to focus on her lack of experience.

I don't buy the experience line. Not because I think she is particularly experienced, but because, if you look at history, experience has never been the indicator of who will or will not be a great president. Look at Lincoln, or Kennedy, or George Washington. Before being elected president, Lincoln, who I believe was our greatest president, was a small town lawyer, owned a store, and served in the Illinois legislature and then in the U.S. House of Representatives. (Sound familiar??) George Washington was a planter, a land surveyor, and a military man. He also served in the Virginia House of Burgesses for a bit. Kennedy served in the Navy, in the Massachusetts legislature, and then a term the U.S. Senate.

In other words, these men, who are considered among the greatest of our presidents, had no more experience than Barack Obama has, and none of them had the type of executive experience that Sarah Palin has, i.e., none was ever a governor or a mayor or held similar executive office. But they were great nonetheless.

So, let's cut the bullshit. It's not experience.

It's judgment. It's smarts. It's intellectual curiosity and lifelong scholarship. It's a willingness to surround yourself with people who might challenge your views, and a willingness to actually listen to them. It's temperament. It's having true vision.

Palin exhibits none of these characteristics.

The problem with Sarah Palin isn't that she isn't experienced enough. It's that she isn't smart enough. She lacks the intellect or the knowledge base or the desire to improve her knowledge base that I believe is essential to an effective leader, particularly in these complex times.

Palin didn't do too terribly last night, because the expectations set for her were so low that basically, as long as she didn't walk out on stage and immediately burst into flames, the right-wing punditocracy would fall all over themselves gushing about how great she did. Palin looked nice, and manage to string some coherent sentences together (even if they were nothing more than rehearsed speech bits), but she never really said anything substantive. She never showed any real breadth of knowledge or understanding of the issues she purported to discuss. And as DCup eloquently points out, if the Dems nominated a man who performed as Palin did, they would be laughed out of town, and creamed in the election.

That's why she's unqualified, and why, as Andrew Sullivan has repeatedly stated, McCain's choice of her as VP renders him unqualified as well. It's not that she's inexperienced. It's that she's not very bright in any of the ways that really count.


  1. Anonymous7:36 PM

    She pissed me off so much last night with the way she kept dodging questions. The only thing she wanted to focus on was taxes & her reform "successes." The excessive blinking & winking was irritating, too. And if I have to hear her say hockey or soccer mom one more damn time...

    She's such a waste of X chromosomes.


  2. So well put! That's exactly what's been driving me nuts about the coverage of this campaign. When did it become a bad thing to be intelligent?

    Thanks for the link!

  3. Rich H7:59 AM

    You are right of course. Tina Fey is more qualified. :-)

    Though some will see it as a mean shot, I love the line about marriage (about 2/3 through).