The Problem with Palin

From Sam Harris in Newsweek:

The problem, as far as our political process is concerned, is that half the electorate revels in Palin’s lack of intellectual qualifications. When it comes to politics, there is a mad love of mediocrity in this country. “They think they’re better than you!” is the refrain that (highly competent and cynical) Republican strategists have set loose among the crowd, and the crowd has grown drunk on it once again. “Sarah Palin is an ordinary person!” Yes, all too ordinary.

Well, that’s been the problem for a while, hasn’t it? Half of our electorate loved Bush in 2000 and 2004 partly because they felt that Bush was more “down to earth” (stupid?) than those fancy-pants Gore and Kerry (who do those elitists think they are with their service in Vietnam and good educations?). Bush appealed to many of those voters precisely because he came across as an average (and why do we want our president to be average in any way?) guy, despite the fact that he was the son of a president.

And now many of those same people seem to love Palin because she’s “just like us.”

Harris continues:

What is so unnerving about the candidacy of Sarah Palin is the degree to which she represents—and her supporters celebrate—the joyful marriage of confidence and ignorance. Watching her deny to Gibson that she had ever harbored the slightest doubt about her readiness to take command of the world’s only superpower, one got the feeling that Palin would gladly assume any responsibility on earth:

“Governor Palin, are you ready at this moment to perform surgery on this child’s brain?”

“Of course, Charlie. I have several boys of my own, and I’m an avid hunter.”

I think it was Janeane Garafolo who once spoke about the agressive ignorance of some of our fellow citizens. People who admit that they know nothing about economics, foreign relations, or much of anything, but who are proud of their ignorance, and they resent people who might know a little bit more than they do.

Palin seems to be appealing to those kinds of voters.

A few weeks ago, a young neighbor of mine who had previously supported Obama stopped by and told me that she didn’t know how to vote now that Palin was on McCain’s ticket. “WTF?” I asked.

She replied, “Sarah is a mom, a Christian and seems really down-to-earth.”

I replied with something about Republican leadership and where it has gotten us and Obama’s strengths as a leader. I don’t think I convinced her, but she’s still reachable.

But still. Ugh.

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