After the vice presidential debate last Thursday, a decree was heard echoing across the land: Sarah Palin passed the test. She managed to get through the whole debate without falling on her face.
Where was I when we decided that not failing miserably is equivalent to succeeding? When did mediocrity become a qualification perhaps even an asset for running a country?
Palin rose overnight from virtual obscurity to the forefront of American politics with a common touch and down home values.
But enough is enough. Palin is as calculating a politician as there ever was. Take, for instance, her opening remarks at the debate.
I think a good barometer here, as we try to figure out has this been a good time or a bad time in America's economy, is (pause) go to a kids soccer game on Saturday, and turn to any parent there on the sideline and ask them, How are you feeling about the economy? And I betcha, youre going to hear some fear in that parents voice.
No one needs a barometer. It is abundantly clear that the economy is in shambles making this allegory a vehicle for showing off how down-to-earth she thinks she is. The way she paused before jumping into her cutesy story was nothing more than a poor attempt to make a rehearsed, calculated move seem off-the-cuff and authentic.
And I betcha that fear were hearing doubles with the prospect of Palin at the helm.
In a time when deregulation of the American financial industry is threatening a global recession, Palin is running on a free-market platform. Government, you know, youre not always a solution. In fact, too often youre the problem.
Ill give her credit for sticking to her guns during a crisis, but what else would you expect from a lifetime member of the NRA?
Despite what she claims, Palin isnt a straight shooter even by political standards. When Biden pointed out that McCain was out of touch with the economic crisis in claiming that the fundamentals of the economy were strong just days before the meltdown, Palin responded with the highly untrue but bulletproof retort that [McCain] was talking about the American workforce. And the American workforce is the greatest in this world, and sealed it with a wink only Bill Clinton could pull off.
She then went on to momentarily forget which team she was on. Were tired of the old politics as usual. And thats why, with all due respect, I do respect your years in the U.S. Senate, but I think Americans are craving something new and different and that new energy and that new commitment thats going to come with reform. Obama, no?
Palin had a lot more to say to Joe Six-Pack than she did to Joe Biden. I may not answer the questions that either the moderator or you want to hear, but Im going to talk straight to the American people. Perhaps this might have been a noble sentiment if it wasnt a copout.
Biden, on the other hand, showed up to the debate and did exactly what a vice presidential candidate should do he demonstrated that he is qualified and ready to be president himself and that he believes in the man hes sharing the ticket with. He spoke eloquently and decisively, and may even have performed better in his debate than Obama did against McCain in Mississippi.
Biden did, however, stumble in a few key areas.
For instance, he called for gay couples to be awarded the same constitutional rights and privileges as straight couples but insisted he is definitively anti-gay marriage, in the civil sense.
Youd think that a man as well versed in American politics as Biden would know about the ramifications of separate but equal ideology.
Biden also prefaced far too many o his criticisms with I love John McCain, but It made him seem a little too preoccupied with making sure he was still welcome at McCains poker nights, which might be fine if this campaign werent deciding the fate of the nation.
While all politicians have to go through the motions of humanizing themselves with stories about Katies Restaurant or Wasillas Main Street, Biden had the most genuine moment of the night in describing the loss of his wife and child and his struggle as a single parent. It was a refreshing though sad glimpse into the life that made the politician.
Palin, on the other hand, wears her life on her sleeve with such pride that even if you accept that her down home values were a breath of fresh air for American politics to begin with by the end of the debate her story was just as stale as McCains.
America loves a fairy tale, but this Cinderella is more likely to hunt and skin the mice than befriend them. And her prince races snowmobiles.
One can only hope that after Election Day, sanity will be restored, and the Abominable Snowperson will disappear back into the tundra as quickly as she came.