Thursday, September 25, 2008

Correction on Sarah Palin

Even an admirer has become skeptical.

I was so wrong about that -- the parts about Palin, that is, not the press (though, in fairness, Gibson was far more adversarial than I expected and Katie Couric was even better). Just watch these clips from her interview last night with Katie Couric. I'll be honest: watching this, I actually felt sorry for Sarah Palin:

But Sarah Palin's performance in the tiny vignettes of unscripted dialogue in which we've been allowed to see her has been nothing short of frightening -- really, as I said, pity-inducing. And I say that as someone who has thought from the start that the criticisms of her abilities -- as opposed to her ideology -- were much too extreme. One of two things is absolutely clear at this point: she is either (a) completely ignorant about the most basic political issues -- a vacant, ill-informed, incurious know-nothing, or (b) aggressively concealing her actual beliefs about these matters because she's petrified of deviating from the simple-minded campaign talking points she's been fed and/or because her actual beliefs are so politically unpalatable, even when taking into account the right-wing extremism that is permitted, even rewarded, in our mainstream. I'm not really sure which is worse, but it doesn't really matter, because with 40 days left before the election, both options are heinous.

That's spot on: she's just not making her views known, as much as spewing talking points.

What seems most likely is that she's perfectly conversant in the exceedingly narrow and parochial range of issues she's concerned herself with as Wasilla Mayor and Alaska Governor – oil drilling on the North Slope, specific local budget items, corruption issues inside the Alaskan State GOP, and evangelical and religious matters. She really doesn't seem to have any thoughts about anything outside of that – or if she does, she is suppressing them – and is thus capable of spouting little more than empty right-wing slogans. That's what makes all the issues raised by the excellent on-scene reporting by Salon's David Talbot more significant than it otherwise might be – she could be a religious fanatic with an extremist agenda, or a power-crazed, vendetta-fueled, secrecy-obsessed Cheney-ite, or something else altogether. She may not even know what she is, and we're clearly not going to find out.

And that is scary, indeed. Shaking hands with the Afghani president isn't much than a photo-op.

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