Saturday, October 04, 2008

Intelligent Life On the Op-Ed Page?

Kathleen Parker, a right-wing political columnist who managed to stir the ire of the fringe by pointing out the obvious - that Sarah Palin is not only grossly unqualified to hold the office of Vice President, but is an embarrassment particularly to women, because she is so unqualified - and David Broder have somehow managed to come away from Thursday night's Presidential debate with impressions that come from an alternate universe. While it is true that Gov. Palin didn't have a wardrobe accident (although it seems National Review's Rich Lowry* would have lost complete control had she done so), start speaking in tongues on stage, or simply tripped, then pulled Joe Biden to the floor as he tried to help her up, that hardly means she was, as the plug for Broder's column suggests, "fine on her own".

Parker is still aware enough of reality to point out that Palin was "manipulative". I think, however, that most people recognize the kind of "manipulation" of which Parker speaks, the kind attractive young women who know they're attractive use to get what they want. She was blatant - all that winking, her inflections on all the "You betcha"'s and her pronunciation of "ing" as "in", as in "talkin'" instead of "talking" - that I think most people would have thought it quite obviously some kind of deliberate ploy.

While it is important to take such snap polls pretty lightly - they are hardly scientific in a variety of senses - those taken in the immediate aftermath of the debate clearly put Biden in the winner's column. In the intervening time, that has been confirmed by more solidly grounded polling. In other words, most Americans were not impressed with the fact that Gov. Palin, on occasion, managed to utter a sentence recognizable as English. Oddly enough, unlike Kathleen Parker and David Broder, most Americans want a bit more out of the people who hold high office; they want them to know the names of the generals in command of American troops in fields of battle. Most Americans want Vice Presidents who know a bit more about their own candidate's positions on the issues. In this regard - oddly enough, in the same way the American people managed to be far wiser than the pundits during the Clinton impeachment nonsense a decade ago - I think the American people have proven, again, they are smarter not only than the pundits, but also than the pundits give them credit for.

Of course, as serially stupid as most pundits show themselves to be, since they believe the American people are actually dumber than they are, that sets the bar kind of low.

*I urge you to click the link and read Lowry's short little piece. The whole "starbursts through the screen" line is worth the price of admission. I guess it is possible to type one-handed.

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