Thursday, September 11, 2008

Dems Breathe Easy As Palin Stumbles

Maybe it was the nervous rash on her neck. Nah. It was the look on Sarah Palin's face, the admixture of existential fear with genuine puzzlement, when she realized she had absolutely no idea what Charlie Gibson was talking about when he asked her if she supported the "Bush doctrine." She did not even fudge her answer very well. It was one of the most embarrassing moments I have seen on television in some time. It brought two words to mind: Dan Quayle. Or, better, Lloyd Bentsen. You could almost hear his ghost saying, "Governor Palin, I knew Hillary Clinton. I worked with Hillary Clinton. Governor, you are no Hillary Clinton." A casual reader of any major newspaper could have answered that question, but not our would-be vice-president.

Being interviewed by a network news anchor is a nerve-wracking experience. During the clergy sex abuse crisis, I was interviewed by Peter Jennings of ABC News and it was the most bizarre experience of my life, even including Mardi Gras in New Orleans. You are in a room with a dozen people, none of whom give a whit about what you are going to say except the interviewer. The lighting guys and the make-up girl and the hyper-active producer and who knows who else are all running around. Jennings tried to put me at ease. "Michael," he intoned, "just pretend we are sitting down and having a cup of coffee and chatting." That did not help. Not sure about anybody else, but my mornings do not normally start with sitting down for some java with Peter Jennings. It did not help that I had a fever that day and would spend the next two days in bed with the flu.

Maybe Governor Palin should cancel all appearances tomorrow and announce that she is suffering from the flu. Sympathy is the best she can hope for here. All the way across D.C. tonight, you could hear the sound of palms slapping foreheads at McCain headquarters. And, if you listened closely, you could almost hear their muffled voices, "We should have gone with Romney."

Michael Sean Winters


Joan Eisenstodt said...

Oh Michael, dear, this is superb. And even hands slapped heads as we Dems in DC read about it bec. we had no nerve to watch w/o feeling like I do when I watch Miss America's talent contest.
Everyone must view this and the McCain interview w/ the marvelous reporter in Portland, ME.

Jim Belna said...

I know how much you must be enjoying this. I felt the same way yesterday, when Joe Biden asked a guy in a wheelchair to stand up.

Rick Garnett said...

How does this strikingly and disappointingly partisan post contribute to this blog's stated mission to help teachers in civics, history of helping teachers "stimulate discussion in the classroom, facilitate research projects by the students, and familiarize the students with Catholic social thought and what that tradition has to say about current events"?

Unknown said...

What was your understanding of the "Bush Doctrine"? To which version did you think Gibson was refering? Palin's answer supports the latest version of the "Bush Doctrine" and Gibson still is back in 2002 with his version.

Kate said...

Sadly, she needn't lay low. Her surrogates have decided to explain away her dazzling display of incuriosity. I admit that I don't care that she couldn't spit out a concise definition of the term "Bush Doctrine." What concerns me is that she appeared to have never heard the term before -- which leads me to believe she hasn't read a newspaper in seven years.

And, Rick, while I agree that the post could have toned down the schadenfreudic glee a bit, I think we can all agree that this election deserves to be analyzed from a gendered perspective. Because I can tell you that as a pro-life, Democrat-voting woman who has followed Sarah Palin since her election as governor and had admired her up until September 1, 2008, the candidacy of Sarah Palin that held so much promise now just makes me sad. It might have led to a national discussion on the ways that we can use policy and economic incentives to make life easier for working parents. Palin could have pointed to the fact that she has always been able to take her children (and, apparently, her husband) to work with her as the major reason she has been able to be both mom and governor and set an example for employers everywhere. Instead, she has participated in her own rebranding as GOP Barbie, seemingly under strict skirts-and-heels-only orders, waving, smiling, and delivering her carefully-rehearsed lines. Her campaign has been so brazen as to flat out insist that we, the electorate, will learn about Palin only what the campaign wants us to know about her. In other words, she is, with her own consent, a controlled prop.

Governor Sarah Palin, the ass-kicking pro-life role model was someone I wanted as a leader even if I disagreed with much of what she promoted politically. Candidate Sarah Palin the programmed spokemodel isn't even someone I want to know.

Anonymous said...

I definitely agree with Michael’s post. In bringing up this mishap of Sarah Palin, one must surely realize that in many other ways her “political status” is not one at the top of the list. Along with being a nervous and perplexed interviewee, she governs a state with a small population, has five children (one of them being a pregnant teenager), and must constantly deal with comments about her physical appearance. Choosing Palin as the Republican running mate was a radical decision, and one that I believe holds a very bold explanation. Although this brings up a different topic, it still relates in that the Democrats should have been breathing ever easy since the beginning of Palin was chosen as John McCain’s running mate. The Democrats were forced to go through a tough nomination process between Obama and Clinton. With Obama winning the nomination and Hillary Clinton not being chosen as his running mate, the Democrats were vulnerable to possibly losing a majority of female voters to the Republicans. Seeing this opportunity and factoring this into their decision, the Republican party chose Sarah Palin to be McCain’s running mate. I would argue that this choice was more of an attempt to belittle the Democratic campaign rather than strengthen the Republican one. The Republicans saw Palin as a chance to steal votes and possibly win the election, yet her standing in politics might disable them from carrying out the latter. Also, women cannot be characterized as so fickle that they would vote only for the party with a potential female Vice President. For this reason, I believe that Democrats should have “breathed easy” after Palin first accepted her nomination.