Wednesday, October 1, 2008

(What) Does Palin Read?

What a bizarre exchange between Katie Couric of CBS News and veep wannabe Sarah Palin! I can only imagine the material that SNL will have to leave on the cutting-room floor this week. And this stuff writes itself.

Palin's answer to Couric's question about what publications she has read to stay informed about the news consists of her repeatedly saying "most of them ... all of them ... any of them that have been in front of me all these years." She doesn't specify a single publication, ending with: "I have a vast variety of sources where we get our news." Here's the full transcript, and here's the video.

Was Palin simply afraid to admit that Dog & Sled Magazine Russian Life Magazine USA Today is her only source of news? Or was she legitimately unable to recall the name of a single newspaper or news magazine that she may have read in the last 40 years? Yikes! I'm struggling to come up with a reasonable explanation that doesn't imply that Palin just isn't all that bright, curious or knowledgeable, let alone qualified to be vice president.

But, wait, there's more. Jonathan Martin of Politico reports that, in the same interview, she couldn't come up with a single Supreme Court case other than Roe v Wade.

On one hand, it's fun to find humor in all of this. But when I take a step back, this all makes me sad, frightened and even angry that someone so unqualified could potentially take the reins of our nation. I hold John McCain responsible for the fact that this even is a possibility. What does this say about his judgment? (Here's what the New York Times said on this issue.)

Last night on CNN, Bay Buchanan said that policy knowledge and intellect is not required of a presidential or vice-presidential candidate. All a candidate needs is a good story, she said. While technically true, what does this say about the average American voter if this really is the case? One could argue that George W. Bush gave rise to an era of anti-intellectualism -- and sociologist Todd Gitlin argued exactly that eight years ago in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Certainly, the McCain-Palin spin machine and its minions will continue to tap into this strain of anti-intellectualism to convince voters that Palin is "one of us" and distract from her lack of preparedness. The fact she's the veep candidate and not at the top of the ticket -- and the fact that the last eight years have resulted in the dismantling of the American economy and America's isolation in the world community -- hopefully should help voters avoid such distractions.

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