Thursday, October 02, 2008

The Sarah Palin Story

Tonight Sarah Palin and Joe Biden will face off to see which has the juice to get to whatever color house the Vice Presidents get to stay in. Sarah Palin would probably like to do well against Biden, but if she doesn't she has two secret weapons.

1. Expectations have been set so low that just making it to the podium might be enough to count as a win.

2. Any question that she finds difficult to answer is a "gotcha" question, planted by the DNC, and happily asked by moderator Gwen Ifill who has a book on Barack Obama coming out.

Take Rich Galen's article on the Veep candidates (Rich Galen was Dan Quayle's Press Secretary, so I guess he knows a bit about it).
It would be a mistake for Sarah Palin to try and match up with Joe Biden on depth of knowledge. She can't have learned enough to do that. All she needs to do is to present herself as a competent, likeable, generally knowledgeable adult person who doesn't scare the audience by trying too hard and falling short.

Biden has to take whatever medication he needs to take to keep himself from being too clever, too smart, too loquacious, and/or too patronizing (how's that for a 1970's word?) toward Palin.

We KNOW Biden knows a lot. People aren't going to vote for Obama because Biden knows more the names of more deputy prime ministers of Europe than Palin.
I don't think there are enough medications in the world to keep Biden from looking too smart for Republicans.

Here's the thing, Galen is making the argument that what matters isn't knowledge or experience, but personality and instinct. Palin may not know much about foreign policy or economic policy or supreme court decisions, but she has a good heart and good instincts, and that counts for more. Which is in a way flattering to the great majority of Americans who may not know as much about foreign policy or economic policy or supreme court justices as they think they should.

But I don't buy it. If I asked most Americans what Gingivitis is and how it works, they would say something like "I think it like attacks your teeth and gums." And that's fine, because I don't allow most Americans to jam metal hooks into my mouth.

On the other hand if I asked my dentist what Gingivitis was, and he was unable to come up with any better answer than that, well I'd be looking for a new dentist. If Sarah Palin doesn't have the where-with-all to answer questions about the economy or foriegn policy, well, maybe McCain should look around for a new vice presidential candidate.

It seems unlikely that he would do that, though.

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