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    Well, we clearly didn’t privatize it enough

    One more thing about Sarah Palin: Eric says, “I think this will hurt Sarah Palin more than it hurts Sullivan, or Ken Layne, or the allegedly mother-hating homos,” and there’s a way he’s right that doesn’t fall within the scope of his post but is important to note.

    I like Palin. She seems energetic and practical-minded, and she doesn’t give you the creepy impression (common among pols, in my crabby libertarian view) that she’s lusted after the power of high public office since she was a toddler. She’s learned on the job as Alaska governor. She’s a genuine DC outsider. All these are good things.

    But substantive concerns remain about her as a potential president or VP, and they’re in danger of being impossible to address if her most vocal supporters insist on taking up only the nastiest, snobbiest counter-arguments…or on taking all counter-arguments as prima facie evidence of nastiness and snobbery that obviate the need to respond to their content. I don’t care that Palin didn’t go to Wellesley, that she doesn’t have a grad degree, or that her accent and diction are folksy. I care that she doesn’t express herself like someone whose political convictions are based on long immersion in great works of history and political science. I don’t doubt Palin’s shrewdness or common sense, but I think the point Heather Mac Donald made last October is still an important one:

    I know, it’s elitist to expect a candidate for president or vice president to speak like an adult. Sure, there are parents out there battling the “like” epidemic who might not appreciate having someone in the White House validating their 15-year-olds’ speech habits. But, hey: “Total role reversal here.” (Palin, of course, can sound adolescent even when she uses the right verbs, as when she disingenuously denied her snarky put-down of Joe Biden’s age while lauding herself as “you know, . . . the new energy, the new face, the new ideas.”) It’s even more elitist to expect a vice president to put together sentences that cohere into a minimally logical progression of thought. There was a time, however, when conservatives upheld adult standards—such as clarity of speech and thought—without apology, even in the face of the relentless downward pull of adolescent culture. But now, when a vice-presidential candidate talks like a teenager, mugs like an American Idol contestant, and traffics in syntactical dead-ends and non sequiturs, we are supposed to find her charming and authentic.

    Palin’s verbal hodgepodge may say nothing about her qualifications for the vice presidency. Judgment and political acumen could well rest on different mental capacities than the ability to order thoughts into smooth sentences. But the inability to answer a straightforward question about economic policy without becoming tangled in words suggests either ignorance about the subject matter or a difficulty connecting between ideas. Neither explanation is reassuring.

    These are things Palin needs to be thinking about. And maybe she is. Maybe she’s chosen good handlers who’ve locked her in a room with Margaret Thatcher’s Statecraft and refused to let her out until she’s perused it twice. Maybe she has a speech coach.

    But maybe, if the only feedback she’s getting comes from her media supporters, the only message she’s getting is that Real Americans love her to pieces just the way she is and that the only detractors she has are motivated by pro-abortion, anti-gun, anti-family, misogynist animus. I think that’s cause for worry.

    The title is from this Spitting Image clip, BTW:

    2 Responses to “Well, we clearly didn’t privatize it enough”

    1. Janis Gore says:

      Is that Billy Joel humming in the background?

    2. Sean says:

      LOL. I suppose it’s possible, Janis, but I’m a confirmed non-fan of Joel’s, so I think I would have noticed. :)

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