There’s No Place Like Nome

Published: October 3, 2008

By Jim Lichtman
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palin shoes

I have serious doubts about Sarah Palin’s ability to serve as vice-president.

Here’s Palin’s response to CBS News anchor Katie Couric’s question regarding Palin’s foreign-policy experience.

Palin: “It’s very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia. As Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where do they go? It’s Alaska. It’s just right over the border. It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there, they are right next to our state.”

On the proposed $700 billion bailout plan for the financial sector:

Couric:  “Why isn’t it better, Governor Palin, to spend $700 billion helping middle-class families who are struggling with health care, housing, gas and groceries; allow them to spend more and put more money into the economy instead of helping these big financial institutions that played a role in creating this mess?”

Palin:  “That’s why I say I, like every American I’m speaking with, were ill about this position that we have been put in where it is the taxpayers looking to bail out.

“But ultimately, what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the healthcare reform that is needed to help shore up our economy, helping the – it’s got to be all about job creation, too, shoring up our economy and putting it back on the right track.  So health-care reform and reducing taxes and reining in spending has got to accompany tax reductions and tax relief for Americans.  And trade, we’ve got to see trade as opportunity, not as a competitive, scary thing.”

The scary thing is giving this woman the keys to the second highest office in the land.

Governor Palin is so poor at coming up with an answer beyond rehearsed lines that she falls into a kind of filibuster of nonsense.  Saturday Night Live doesn’t have to write many lines for Palin look-alike Tiny Fey in their weekly political sketch, they just use Palin’s own lines. And the cable shows now run the two interviews side-by-side.

This isn’t funny, it’s painful.

In a joint interview with Senator McCain:

Couric: “Over the weekend, Gov. Palin, you said the U.S. should absolutely launch cross-border attacks from Afghanistan into Pakistan to, quote, ‘stop the terrorists from coming any further in.’ Now, that’s almost the exact position that Barack Obama has taken and that you, Sen. McCain, have criticized as something you do not say out loud. So, Gov. Palin, are you two on the same page on this?”

Palin: “We had a great discussion with President Zardari as we talked about what it is that America can and should be doing together to make sure that the terrorists do not cross borders and do not ultimately put themselves in a position of attacking America again or her allies. And we will do what we have to do to secure the United States of America and her allies.”

Couric: “Is that something you shouldn’t say out loud, Sen. McCain?”

John McCain: “Of course not. But, look, I understand this day and age of ‘gotcha’ journalism. Is that a pizza place? In a conversation with someone who you didn’t hear … the question very well, you don’t know the context of the conversation, grab a phrase. Gov. Palin and I agree that you don’t announce that you’re going to attack another country…”

Couric: “Are you sorry you said it?”

McCain: “Wait a minute. Before you say, ‘is she sorry she said it,’ this was a ‘gotcha’ sound bite that, look …”

Couric: “It wasn’t a ‘gotcha.’ She was talking to a voter.”

McCain: “No, she was in a conversation with a group of people and talking back and forth. And … I’ll let Gov. Palin speak for herself.”

Palin’s response to a voter’s question has even got McCain flustered and angry and this brings up another point.

Whenever McCain is asked about Palin’s ability to step into the presidency, he always gives a resounding, “Yes.”  He turns defensive and angry at any suggestion to the contrary.  Unfortunately, his agitation and anger only serve to support what many in Washington have said for years – that Senator McCain does not have the temperament to be president.

In last night’s debate, Governor Palin sounded prepared and folksy. And most polls say that she did better than expected. But all the debate camps, tutors, and extra-credit homework in the few remaining weeks before the election are not going to prepare her for the next four years of critical issues she says she would face at the side of a President McCain.  At such a critical time, can we afford a candidate who admits, “I’ve only been at this for five weeks”?

Look, Sarah Palin is a likeable and charming woman who clearly has done some good work in her home state of Alaska.

But, let’s not confuse charm with competency.

The reality is Governor Palin is politically ignorant when it comes to putting forth and explaining a plan to deal with the very grave issues this country is facing.

“Change is coming… The country comes first… putting government back on the side of Americans.” 

Those are catch-phrases, Governor, not a plan.

It’s time for the public to recognize that serious issues need serious leadership.

It’s time to tell Dorothy, “Thanks, but no thanks.”


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