Sarah Palin – the mandatory post

Everyone is talking about her. Everything that’s needed to be said has been said. So, I will just point you to the the best article I’ve read on the woman.

It is by one of my favorite reviewers, Roger Ebert. I didn’t know Ebert wrote on politics. One could ask – why is he qualified to do so? Why are any of us qualified? Have you seen all the bloggers pontificating on the topic?! 😉

It is brilliant. So brilliant that I am reproducing it in its entirety below – the bold emphasis is mine.

The American Idol candidate1

By Roger Ebert

I think I might be able to explain some of Sara Palin’s appeal. She’s the “American Idol” candidate. Consider. What defines an “American Idol” finalist? They’re good-looking, work well on television, have a sunny personality, are fierce competitors, and so talented, why, they’re darned near the real thing. There’s a reason “American Idol” gets such high ratings. People identify with the contestants. They think, Hey, that could almost be me up there on that show!

My feeling is, I don’t want to be up there. I want a vice president who is better than me, wiser, well-traveled, has met world leaders, who three months ago had an opinion on Iraq. Someone who doesn’t repeat bald-faced lies about earmarks and the Bridge to Nowhere. Someone who doesn’t appoint Alaskan politicians to “study” global warming, because, hello! It has been studied. The returns are convincing enough that John McCain and Barack Obama are darned near in agreement.

I would also want someone who didn’t make a teeny little sneer when referring to “people who go to the Ivy League.” When I was a teen I dreamed of going to Harvard, but my dad, an electrician, told me, “Boy, we don’t have the money. Thank your lucky stars you were born in Urbana and can go to the University of Illinois right here in town.”

So I did, very happily. Although Palin gets laughs when she mentions the “elite” Ivy League, she sure did attend the heck out of college. Five schools in six years. What was that about?

And how can you be her age and never have gone to Europe? My dad had died, my mom was working as a book-keeper and I had a job at the local newspaper when, at 19, I scraped together $240 for a charter flight to Europe. I had Arthur Frommer’s $5 a Day under my arm, started in London, even rented a Vespa and drove in the traffic of Rome. A few years later, I was able to send my mom, along with the $15 a Day book.

You don’t need to be a pointy-headed elitist to travel abroad. You need curiosity and a hunger to see the world. What kind of a person (who has the money) arrives at the age of 44 and has only been out of the country once, on an official tour to Iraq? Sarah Palin’s travel record is that of a hopeless provincial.

But some people like that. She’s never traveled to Europe, Asia, Africa, South America or Down Under? That makes her like them. She didn’t go to Harvard? Good for her! There a lot of hockey moms who haven’t seen London, but most of them would probably love to, if they had the dough. And they’d be proud if their kids won a scholarship to Harvard.

Palin is a shallow, chirpy person with those vaguely alarming eyeglasses. Now her fans all want a pair. Remember back when women wore glasses that departed their ears in plastic swoops and swirls? My theory is, anyone who wears glasses that look weird is telling me something I don’t want to know.

I trust the American people will see through Palin’s facade, and save the Republic in November. The most damning indictment against her is that she considered herself a good choice to be a heartbeat away. That shows bad judgment.

Please, please don’t talk about how other candidates who have run have had less experience. There is, in fact, no person who has run for office who has had less experience. Even Quayle had more!


  1. All copyright owned by Roger Ebert and the Chicago Sun Times 

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  • As I said in my blog, regarding Ebert’s post…

    Ebert may not be an expert in politics, but he’s an expert in the world of spectacles.

    And Sarah Palin is -to a great extent- a spectacular phenomenon.

    I couldn’t think of many who are better qualified than Ebert to comment on her magical appearance.

  • Eileen

    This is so right on – not snarky, just the facts. I do think she has re-energized the Democrats as well, as I feel very fired up about getting Obama elected. We all need to do our part in turning the tide in American politics.

  • Krishna

    Right @the entire Democrat contingent sure to chime in….
    And how many Presidential candidates have you had with as little experience as Obama? None! perfect counterpoints.

    I wonder why Democrats seem to think a total lack of experience is OK for a President but not for a Vice-president (who’s job is mostly ceremonial!). Pathetic.

  • Shripriya

    @vruz – agreed.

    @Eileen – I think the Dems handled a lot of this wrong. Focused too much on Palin… primarily due to shock! Time to focus on McC who is only being talked about now b/c of Palin. Let’s put the focus back on him and therefore de-energize them! 🙂

    @Krishna – True, Barry is probably running a bit earlier than he should. However, let’s be clear – at least he has the wisdom of choosing a running mate who is equipped to be President. Do you seriously believe Sarah “I can see Russia from Alaska” Palin is even remotely qualified? What does it say about McC that he chose her.

    And… this is blog that is clearly Democrat (often Independent, but in this case, Dem!), so of course like-minded people will chime in here. If you want to find a blog where the Reps are chiming in, there are millions on the web. You can find them very easily I am sure!

  • It’s also possible that in her religious fervour she was trying to tell Vladimir Putin, by way of paraphrasing Jesus Christ (talking to Peter, from the cross) “I can see your house from here” 🙂

  • Krishna

    @Shripriya
    The world between Democrat and Republican is too divided as is- we all gain from interplay and debate (rather than the stratified silos of people agreeing with others just like them)- oh, and I’m not a Republican. I think Palin is a Moron (see her views on creationism, her massive spending, questionable ethics, etc…)and a bad choice.

    I just happen to believe Obama is also a bad choice (whatever you say, the Presidency isn’t the place to battle test a neophyte). Would you like someone just out of a MBA (or a local 7-11 manager) running IBM?

  • Shripriya

    @Krishna – Good point – I do think debate is a good thing as long as it is civilized.

    As I conceded earlier, I think Obama is running 4 years early. However, I still think he’s better than McCain. For example, in the first major decision as a nominated candidate, he picked Biden – someone you respect, while McCain picked the moron. What does that tell you about their decision-making abilities?

    And I can think of cases where someone just out of HBS (say 2-3 years out) may be better qualified to run a company. Can’t you? 😉

  • Good judgement, wisdom and common sense are rare traits *at any age*.

    Just make a little calculation: average age of the first rank officials for $FRE $FNM $LHB $AIG. (not to mention those in the White House, FED, SEC, DOJ)

    Barack Obama may be a little green, but he seems to have that rare ingredient -if not sufficiently developed- one thing’s for sure: no matter how much long we wait for McCain to grow older, those traits won’t surface in him, and there’s even less hope that could possibly happen in Gov. Palin. (now that’s green, emerald green)

    The very fact that McCain selected Ms Palin, to become President of the most powerful nation on earth, with a non-zero chance he may not be able to finish his term, that alone is enough proof for me that good judgement and wisdom take the back seat in the straight talk express.

    By my book, that alone makes Obama the *much lesser* of two evils.

  • Shripriya

    Also, McC was upheld for his “high principles”. What does it say when *every* major newspaper has called him on his lies? Not just the NY Times, but the WSJ and the Washington Post – “Now he has broken that promise so completely that the John McCain of old is unrecognizable. He has become the sort of politician he once despised. ” (http://snurl.com/3rfqk)

    And not just news organizations – even the most despised and despicable of all liars – Karl Rove thinks McCain has gone too far. Sad.

  • Ram

    I agree with the reader ‘Krishna’

    “And how can you be her age and never have gone to Europe? ”

    Why does it matter whether she’s been to Europe or not?

    Do you really feel that having traveled overseas makes one more qualified for office? Do not forget that she is the mother of five kids. Curiosity of the world = Travel to Europe? If Obama’s mother didn’t travel abroad when he was a kid, who knows, he perhaps wouldn’t have been overseas either.

    And if this has to do with foreign policy experience, doesn’t that disqualify Obama as well, who is running for the POTUS, as opposed to Palin’s V-POTUS?

    Re-Ivy League, Ebert himself went to Urbana, and he turned out to be the most recognized individual in his profession. Doesn’t that prove that an Ivy league education isn’t necessary to be good at what you do?

    We run a small business, and Obama does and will consider me and folks like me as rich (> $250,000) and after discussing with my CPAs, we understand that his election is more likely to raise the cost of doing business for us and other small business owners like myself.

    Thanks for allowing differing opinions on your blog.

  • Shripriya

    @Ram – Thanks for visiting.

    First, Krishna, who you say you agree with, thinks Palin is a moron. Do you share that conclusion?

    Curiosity of the world is travel. Period. Ebert uses Europe because in the US, it is considered the easiest place to visit. Unlike South Asia etc.

    And so what if she has five kids?? She’s the one who says that she shouldn’t be given negative points for that, so let’s not. She should have done it anyway. You can’t have it both ways – use the kids when useful and then say the kids won’t hold you back when useful. If the kids won’t hold you back from doing a great job, they shouldn’t have held her back from doing anything else either.

    Did you actually listen to her interview on ABC with Charlie Gibson? It gave me the shivers. She said several frightening things – she thinks she’s ready to be president. No qualms. Wow! I wonder if *anyone*, even the president should be that overconfident. Oh, and foreign policy experience – she can see Russia from Alaska. Wow!

    Ivy League in itself is irrelevant. It is merely a proxy for achievement at a high level. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne is an excellent, excellent school. It is very highly regarded and produces brilliant graduates. An Ivy League education per se is not relevant to be good at what you do. However, 6 schools in 5 years to graduate? A bit on the other extreme perhaps?

    You seem to be a single issue voter (just guessing from your last point). I am not. I am a social liberal and a fiscal conservative. The Democrats will give me socially liberal policies. The Republicans will give me nothing – as the last 8 years have proved, they are *not* fiscally conservative. What they will do is give tax breaks for the >250K. I will likely benefit. But I don’t want to. I would much rather pay more taxes and live in a land where the woman has a right to choose, where gay marriage or civil unions can be celebrated and where children learn about Darwin instead of creationism.

    I care about who gets put on the Supreme Court and whether my tax dollars will go to Irag or to restore the third-world level airports and transit systems.

    I care that the US has a relationship in the world that is collaborative and inclusive. Where we sit down with people before firing missiles at them. Where the POTUS knows the difference between Spain and Latin America (This was McCain, by the way who said he would not sit down with the President of Spain! http://tinyurl.com/4cme7m)

    Finally, I really think we are living in an “Atlas Shrugged” world where we make excuses for mediocrity and go so far as to celebrate it. When did mediocrity become a great thing??

  • Keshav

    Just bumped into this interesting discussion.

    I think my views are aligned with Krishna; philosophically conservative but not necessarily Republican. I’ll vote for McCain, but not without qualms. His honesty is not in question in my book, with the exception of the immigration issue (craven pandering to xenophobes). What the NYT etc. have taken him to task on are frankly related to matters of interpretation of facts, not the facts themselves. The best example of this is is the sex ed bill – investigative journalists who have spoken to the authors of the bill in the Illinois State Senate themselves concede that the bill was NOT primarily geared at sexual predators and in fact WAS geared at sex ed expansion to younger ages – I can provide the link to anyone who likes. On the other hand, Obama claims that McCain wants to stay in Iraq for 100 years (a gross distortion of his comment), and gets a free pass. That claim, given the high profile of the war, is undoubtedly the most egregious stretch on either campaign’s part. We routinely question the objectivity of those with prejudices – what about the journalists themselves, over 90% of whom are registered Democrats – such luminaries as Moron Dowd etc.? This is why the NYT readership is in the toilet.

    I think at the end of the day, most of us really vote against a candidate, not for one – no one really nails 100% of our views, but plenty of candidates are unpalatable. To that end, plenty of Obama’s views that aren’t getting airplay would be anathema to most American voters. Now I might be characterized as a single issue (life) voter, but it happens to be the right from which all others are derivative -the only issue on which I completely agree with Sarah Palin’s exact position in toto. Barack Obama thinks that it is OK for a woman to undergo a second trimester induction of labor, birthing of the fetus (now a baby), to allow the baby to die ex utero (no suctioning etc. that even the average “viable” baby gets). This in fact occurred at the ironically named Christ Hospital in the Chicago suburbs. He was against the Illinois State equivalent of the “born alive” infant protection act (the federal version passed 98-0 in that right wing legislative body…the US Senate).

    I do not understand, and never will, how those on the political Left, who claim to stand up for the downtrodden, can support a modern-day Holocaust on innocents (93% of whose only misfortune being consensually conceived by the irresponsible), and how any candidate could do the same. If Democrats wanted to win decisively, all they would have to do is run a pro-life candidate. This would expand their base dramatically – I would vote for them; the voters they would lose are bunch of fringe eugenicists/feminists (all 5 of them).

    Similarly, I don’t know how McCain could support state-sanctioned murder, i.e., the death penalty. But that affects 1/1000th of the lives, so in the balance of things, I know where my vote goes.

    As to other views, I just hope someone asks this bozo about reparations…he is previously on the record in support of them. Or his wonderful friends, Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn (a domestic terrorist couple; the latter is the wife of the former, and a previous apologist for the Manson family murderers).

    Moreover, as a former Hyde Park resident and UChicago alumnus, let me state that Obama and his wife didn’t do a ***-damned thing as far as I am aware. His own colleagues at the University’s esteemed Law School did not think much of his scholarly output, although he was a well-regarded teacher. What has this guy done? I’m a surgeon, and I can tell you that no patient would ever want someone operating on them without adequate experience. And this is why picking Palin was a bright idea. It has zip to do with her credentials. She was and is Democrat bait, and those dimwits fell for it; her weaknesses are similar to Obama’s. Any criticism of her boomerangs onto Obama. The Democrats tried to get her on experience and knowledge base, and frankly, Obama’s is as bad if not worse. Remember, this is the dumbinsky who actually thinks that we should unconditionally hold talks with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Kim Jong Il. Sarah Palin is clearly not sharp (wait a sec…Joe Biden, 76/85 law school class rank), but is Obama that great? He has not released his SAT scored, or transcript from Columbia undergrad…Yes he edited the Harvard Law Review, but that is a subjective achievement, not an objective one.

    As a parting comment, why is it that simpering morons are rendered geniuses by the mere adoption of left-wing views? Al Gore had equivalent SAT scores and worse collegiate grades than did George Bush, and failed in Vanderbilt Law school (Bush at least got his HBS degree). John Kerry, Yale grad like Bush, lower grades too, and despite being in Skull and Bones and decorated war vet, went to BC (not bad, but being from an influential Boston family, why didn’t he go to Harvard as also in Boston, or another elite school?) for law school and was totally undistinguished there. Clinton is in fact the only president in modern times with an outstanding academic record, and no one can actually demonstrate causation with respect to the successes that we experienced under him (i.e., how were his policies causally linked to our success, as opposed to being unrelated).

  • Shripriya

    @Keshav – since this post is about Sarah Palin – let me ask you – would you ever want her to be the VP? Ever? If the answer is a resounding no, then you can’t vote for McCain.

    And re: Obama and the Born Alive act – he voted against the Illinois bill but FOR the Federal bill. Why? Because the Federal bill contained language that protected Roe v. Wade that the Illinois bill did not. At least he’s paying attention to the details.

  • Keshav

    Shripriya, couple of things:

    1. Obama could not have voted for the federal bill as far as I can tell. Why? He became a US senator AFTER the bill was passed (signed by Bush in August of 2002), fully 2 years BEFORE he became a US senator. To what vote are you referring…

    He may claim retrospectively to have voted against the Illinois bill because of language that protected Roe v. Wade being absent, but this is misleading at best. Why is that? Because Roe and the related Doe v. Bolton decision in fact legalized abortion at any stage in pregnancy. Therefore, according to some, any restriction on abortion is consequently illegitimate – is this the argument Obama is invoking without saying it, because it would fit with his other votes. Obama may claim to be for some restrictions, but the fact of the matter is that he has in fact NEVER (that’s right, not once) voted in favor of any. He is rated 0% by the National Right to Life Committee. He is even against restricting minors who wish to travel inter-state to get an abortion due to home state restrictions. Why? Is he worried about a teenager impregnated by the father? Most people pass laws because of the vast majority of cases to which they apply, not due to scenarios whose frequency is on par with the passage of Halley’s comet. Life is not mathematics, and laws cannot be passed as grand-unified theories satisfying all scenarios (at least because not all possibilities are foreseeable, if not for any other reason). And most people honestly concoct such scenarios to justify a view of the majority of cases, i.e., they are really being dishonest. The best example of this is the death penalty (what if an innocent man were executed, which has in fact to my knowledge not been demonstrated in the USA to date); I oppose it on different principles, namely that I believe it to be state-sanctioned murder/revenge, and it has nothing to do with a pragmatic but non-existent concern.

    2. As to Palin, my feelings about her do NOT disqualify McCain. As I wrote earlier, usually we vote against a candidate, not for one. I am voting against Obama, because in the balance of things, he is way off compared to me. So yes I don’t think Palin was a good substantive choice, but that does not translate to a vote for Obama.

    K

  • Shripriya

    @Keshav – you are right, Obama could not have voted for the 2002 bill. “Mr. Obama said in 2004 and again on Saturday that he would have supported the federal version.” But, you’re right that would have is not the same as did!

    To answer your point on restricting minors who wish to travel inter-state to get an abortion due to home state restrictions. Forget the father impregnating. The issue is that the girl gets pregnant and is too scared to tell the parents. Cannot get an abortion in state – has to go to another state. Or, the kid tells the parents, the parents insist she not have an abortion – she’s a minor, but she doesn’t want to continue the pregnancy. What are her choices here?

    Anyway, we can debate whether minors should have sex (they do, that’s the reality) and whether they should be made to carry the pregnancy to term, but we will never agree.

    I’ve been pregnant. I worked really hard to get pregnant. I’ve had that incredible feeling of hearing the heartbeat when the embryo is just a spec. It is amazing. But that is *me*.

    I would not presume to tell another woman what she should do. And, by the way, that’s the libertarian philosophy on things – stay out of my finances AND my personal life! You and I will just never agree on this topic, so let’s let it rest, shall we? 🙂

  • Keshav

    Fair enough. I don’t aim to convince you, or anyone on the other side. But this is a fundamental issue of morality, plain and simple, which your side simply does not fairly acknowledge. I would leave you with these two thoughts:

    1. As a narrow issue, we don’t allow minors to vote, or many other things. So…snuffing out a life is OK though? Life is tough, we face the consequences of our decisions. Engage in an adult act, pay the adult consequences. In other words, tough s**t.

    2. As a broader issue, the notion that we should not enforce or views on others is BS. That is what law is in a democracy, the collective expression of a collective morality. Please note that the vast majority of pro-abortion law has been enforced by courts, whereas the vast majority of pro-life law has been passed by legislatures. Which is the better reflection of our views?

    At some level, no one believes in the right to do wrong; the question is how wrong is the wrong, i.e., does it warrant legislation to abolish it? So the position of “I wouldn’t do it, but I cannot limit someone else’s right to do it,” is a morally hollow obfuscation at best. Because what it directly translates to is, “Yeah, it’s wrong, but not that wrong that I would stop it.” That is nothing but a rhetorical trick to appear conflicted (Obama: “…there is a moral component to it.”), when in reality, what should be stated by these people is that they simply do not believe it to be wrong. Of course, no one has the ‘nads to say that, because it would lose votes. What does that tell you about the moral standing of the position? Along these lines, why is it that all pro-abortion (oops, pro-“choice”) politicians skillfully avoid usage of the word “abortion”. You yourself wrote about the “right to choose…” Right to choose what? No one on your side has the b***s to ever complete that sentence. It is simply stated, the right to choose to eliminate life in utero. Why not say it? Because it makes us realize that is a moral issue that requires understanding of medicine/biology, rather than a medical/biological issue that requires an appreciation of ethics.

    Life’s issues may be gray, but the decisions we make about them are ALWAYS black and white, never gray. The right to do wrong should only exist if a greater moral imperative is being served, and anything that one’s conscience screams out against should be impermissible.

  • Shripriya

    @Keshav – you continue to ONLY listen to what you want to.

    [This section of my reply is edited from the original reply – I felt there was too much personal information on a public blog]

    It is the right to choose what to do with the pregnancy, the embryo and your body without which the pregnancy will not continue. Clear?

    And you seem to be a single issue voter. Please see above for all the issues I care about. I hardly want an administration that will say no to gay marriage/civil unions etc. etc. (all detailed in my response to Ram)

  • Keshav

    I’m not listening just to what I want…what do you mean?

    I think your definition of what the choice is is fair, but IMHO, euphemistic. “What to do with the pregnancy” means, bluntly put, life or death. The issue of whether life is being dealt with is simply not a subjective one, it is objective biology. Many who wish to debate that point are…just plain wrong on accepted facts. The question is whether an embryo/fetus has the moral standing as a full-fledged ex utero human; in fact, the distinction between embryo and fetus is that the completion of organogenesis (week 8 only) marks when it is termed a fetus. The fetus does not really develop, it grows. Therefore the usage of the term embryo alone is not complete, since many abortions occur after 8 weeks. As to the moral standing issue, some say yes: “pro-life”, some say no based on the notion of the life being one dependent on the mother: “pro-choice”, and that is the difference. But saying no has logical and moral consequences that most people just don’t want to address. For example: dependency even of a physical nature exists ex utero (but it does not UNIQUELY depend on the mother), how can a neonate self-feed? Or alternatively, if any viable ex utero preemie (the record is 21 weeks 5 days) has been recorded, even one, then any abortion electively performed after this time is morally unsound if it is based on the dependency argument. I could of course go on and on, but these are issues of beliefs, and generally not facts. But all honestly held believers on both sides with whom I have discussed this issue would concede that one side is rigidly consistent, the other not so, because some of arguments invoked necessitate consequences that almost no one I know would support (e.g., the moral equivalence of neonaticide). I like rigid consistency.

    I can’t stand the Republican gay marriage position myself. Why do they care? To gays and lesbians who wish to be functionally “married,” I would say go ahead. It is a life commitment that should be supported by society, not shunned. Beats the hell out the divorces and adultery in hick America and the ghettoes. But McCain (don’t know about Palin, but my guess is she thinks gays will “burn in hell” or something like that) is actually OK with civil unions, just not gay marriages. I think that is reasonable for the following reason, even though it stinks of “separate but equal.”

    Marriages in our country are both civil and religious. Most religious organizations in this country are currently tax-exempt, or enjoy other government benefits (I don’t think they should have these, separation of church and state was supposed to originally protect the church from the state, not vice versa). If an actual marriage were allowed that is truly indistinct from a civil union, could you imagine attorneys filing law suits against churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples demanding that they comply with the law with respect to RELIGIOUS ceremonies? I could. What the gay movement seems to want is acceptance, not tolerance, and they are only entitled to the latter by law, not the former. So I think McCain is being reasonable, but I can also understand how this is unsatisfactory to many gays/lesbians. If the leaders of their movement did not wish to armtwist society into acceptance, flaunting the most extreme actions of many (drag, lewd public sex acts, etc.), they wouldn’t be in this predicament. No one would care.

    That said, most of the country does not think they should have a right to marry, democratic ballot initiatives have failed in every state as far as I know (as opposed to passage by courts, which is anti-democratic). And in a democracy, those are the breaks. K

  • Jas

    Fareed Zakaria talks about Palin at http://www.newsweek.com/id/161204. Each time i hear Palin speak,i am scared about the future of this country.

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  • Interesting post. I have stumbled and twittered this for my friends. Hope others find it as interesting as I did.