Diatribes of Jay

This is a blog of essays on public policy. It shuns ideology and applies facts, logic and math to economic, social and political problems. It has a subject-matter index, a list of recent posts, and permalinks at the ends of posts. Comments are moderated and may take time to appear. Note: Profile updated 4/7/12

03 October 2008

Seven Questions for Sarah Palin Fans

Contrary to expectations and the hopes of many Democrats, Sarah Palin did not self-destruct last night. She ran through her well-scripted routine of Republican cant with relentless folksiness and breathless earnestness. It was all there: lower taxes, smaller government, a muscular foreign policy, “winning” the war in Iraq, a monomaniacal emphasis on fossil fuels, and blaming the party out of power for numerous mistakes in judgment. If you closed your eyes and ignored her high-pitched voice, you would swear you were listening to a clone of George W. Bush.

There were some new notes as well. She railed against greed and corruption on Wall Street. She promised higher pay for teachers. She tirelessly repeated the word “maverick,” referring to herself and her boss. And she acknowledged various unnamed “blunders” without mentioning who caused them. She did not even try to explain how following the exact same ideology and the exact same policies that we've endured for the last eight years would produce results notably different from the devastation all around us.

Palin maintained her attractive personality despite obvious cramming for her “final exam.” She kept her winning smile while promising to face down Iran, Al Qaeda, and the greedy barons of Wall Street. Throughout the debate, she resembled nothing so much as a breathless and eager schoolchild who had learned her lessons well and was proud of it. The ingénue gave a creditable performance.

We’ll leave aside her many sentences that ended without completion. We won’t mention her whopping assaults on logic, such as promising to fight global warming without knowing (or admitting) what causes it, or promising (like her boss) to “win” in both Iraq and Afghanistan simultaneously when the regional commander says we don’t have enough troops for both. We’ll leave aside her showing no more knowledge of facts about world affairs and the economy than one would expect from a well-educated and well-informed high school student. Despite all that, Sarah Palin proved a feisty debater and an attractive “soccer mom.”

But I have a few questions for her many fans. I ask them especially of those who believe that a feisty “soccer mom” who is “one of us” and has less than two years of experience in statewide elected office is qualified to serve as vice president. Here they are:

1. If you needed a heart or kidney transplant, would you let Sarah Palin do your surgery?

2. If your computer broke down so badly that you didn’t know whether the problem was in the software or hardware, would you ask her to fix it?

3. If the pilot and co-pilot didn’t show up for your transcontinental flight, would you let Sarah Palin fly the plane?

4. If the answers to these questions are “no,” then do you think the vice presidency—let alone the presidency—requires less education, experience, expertise and judgment than being a surgeon, computer nerd, or airplane pilot? Do you really think that any “one of us” could do that job?

5. Do you think that someone who doesn’t acknowledge the cause of global warming and relies in her “day job” (as governor of Alaska) on generous subsidies from the fossil fuel industries is really going to clean up carbon emissions or air pollution? to get serious about alternative energy?

6. Will a list of ideologies, proposals and policies taken straight out of the Republican playbook for the past forty years really cure the multiple economic crises that those policies have caused? Will ranting about greed and corruption on Wall Street?

7. Would a woman who believes that sheer grit and will power entitle her to high office, and who expresses admiration for Dick Cheney’s theories of the imperial Executive (with the vice president in her own fourth branch!), bring us closer to the perfect democracy or to the perfect empire? Would you like to live in an empire?

P.S. Sometimes serious ideas best come across with humor. Here are two cartoons that say it all:
[NOTE: Temporary links that changed to the wrong cartoons were updated to correct permanent links on 10-20-08.]


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