Friday, September 26, 2008

Closet Intellectual or Unable to Get Her Anti-Intellectual Talking Points Straight: Or, the Passion of Sarah Palin II

As a good American citizen living in America's heartland, I thought Sarah Palin's response to Katie Couric's question about her foreign policy credentials (never having traveled abroad, never having received a passport until recently) was predictable and even somewhat justified:
I'm not one of those who maybe came from a background of, you know, kids who perhaps graduate college and their parents give them a passport and give them a backpack and say go off and travel the world. No, I've worked all my life.... I was not part of, I guess, that culture.
Fair enough. The Republican Party, from country-bumpkin Mitt Romney to born-in-a-canal-zone John McCain, has attacked the Democrats as foreign-language speaking, rich, snobbish, and bookish elitists.
(To be clear, I have no problem with Sarah Palin. She's right that a background of having traveled abroad might require things like wealth, which she did not have. Fortunately, non-privileged people can one day grow up to become presidents (she being an excellent case in point) and the reason that they can talk about foreign affairs and traveling the world is in large part because ... they have foreign policy experience. They've been in government for long enough that they've gained this experience. They, like most politicians, are eventually sent abroad a dozen times, or five dozen times. Sarah Palin, if she continued on as governor, would presumably acquire this kind of experience in the coming years. I have no problem with Sarah Palin. I have a problem with Sarah Palin as Vice President of the United States of America.)

But because Palin lacks experience and longevity in the White House, her only legitimate talking point is to refer back to the culture wars. Knowing about the ins and outs of foreign countries is what that other culture does. We real Americans trust our gut about such things. We believe in freedom and democracy and if you're a foreign country you either believe these things or you don't. That's all I need to know.

Except, this is not what Palin went onto say at all. In the most shocking move of her campaign she admitted that
the way I have understood the world is through education, through books, through mediums that have provided me a lot of perspective on the world
Wait. What? Here we have a woman who in one sentence conjures up the idea of a liberal, latte drinking, college educated, backpacking culture and in the very next acknowledges she understands the world through ... education and books. Now, either she's emphasizing the old, Will Hunting belief in auto-didacticism over formal education, or she's broken with Republican rhetoric--that which takes pride in not reading economic plans, or books in general. Here, she admits that reading and thinking about world problems (intellectualizing them, if you will) should be a qualification for president. Indeed, the only qualification for president at least vis-a-vis foreign policy views.

University professors, bookworms, and Barack Obama: Rejoice! Sarah Palin knows what it's like to be accused of not knowing about "real world" but only studying it in books. She understands that no matter how much time you've spent abroad, you'll never fully understand that experience without surrounding yourself with that country's literature and history. Indeed, she understands that reading itself is a form of travel, an escape from the narrow confines of the Alaskan frontier or of suburban malaise. Here, finally, is the intellectual's candidate. That, or she just got talking points mixed up.

(Update: Not sure why the formatting came out all weird. Sawry.)


Blogger Scantron said...

"To be clear, I have no problem with Sarah Palin."

Dude, seriously? You don't have to draw the distinction between "person" and "government official" here. In fact, quite the opposite. I like the hippie on the street corner, and I might even agree with him, but I don't want him to president, all things considered. On the other hand, It's possible for the Republicans to find a tolerable vice president, but this is not one of them, because she is such an absolute cretin in her personal views. Isn't that the case?

1:45 PM  
Blogger Robot said...

I have no problem with her as governor even, or, better put, at least no more so than any other Republican governor. She's an incredibly popular, young, politician, who seems to excite many people and get them interested in politics. In that sense, I don't have a problem with her. She's just overmatched to be Vice President. It's not her fault they chose her!

5:32 PM  
Blogger Robot said...

That said, she's doing such a shitty job that I'd be increasingly surprised if she's still on the ticket November 4th. Seeing Biden hammer McCain after the debate last night on every news channel, only to have her MIA I think shows how much this is hurting the GOP.

10:45 AM  

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