Rise of a leader untroubled by her ineptitudeOctober 2nd, 2008 - 12:02 pm ICT by IANS
Chicago, Oct 2 (IANS) To the extent that the president of America takes the self-proclaimed role as the “leader of the free world” seriously, the rest of the world needs to be watch out for the rise of a politician sanguinely oblivious to her own ineptitude.Sarah Palin is the sort of politician who is not only untroubled by her manifest lack of substance but is able to project it as a strength. The 44-year-old governor of Alaska, who was picked by the Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Senator John McCain, as her running mate barely a month ago, has already challenged all notions of qualifications required to be the vice president of the United States. Constitutionally, she is just a “heartbeat” away from the presidency in the event the inevitable were to happen to the 72-year-old McCain.
Quite expectedly, the US media and political opinion is divided between those who applaud Palin’s quotidian attributes and those who are offended by them. In the highly polarized debate what is often forgotten is that the question is not whether Palin is fit to lead America in the exigent situation caused by McCain’s departure. The more immediate question is whether she is qualified to be even the second-in-command under McCain’s watchful gaze.
After being assiduously stage-managed and choreographed by the McCain campaign managers, Palin was allowed to make appearances on television networks in the past couple of weeks. They turned out to be so bizarre it was hard to decide whether to be amused by or shocked at what the Republican Party has set as its standards for national and international discourse.
Three Palin gaffes should offer a measure of how ill-prepared the young politician is. One of the most frequently heard criticisms of the Alaska governor has been that she has no understanding of foreign policy. Her handlers countered that saying since she is in charge of Alaska, a next door neighbor of Russia, “a foreign country,” she understands the intricacies of foreign policy.
Katie Couric of the CBS Evening News pressed Palin to explain that claim. The answer is still spinning heads. “When you consider even national security issues with Russia, as (Prime Minister Vladimir) Putin rears his head and comes into the airspace of the United States of America, where - where do they go? It’s Alaska,” Palin said.
In the same interview Palin’s response to which publications she reads to stay abreast with world affairs was equally mystifying. “I’ve read most of them, again with a great appreciation for the press, for the media,” Palin replied. Asked for examples, she said, “Um, all of them, any of them that have been in front of me all these years.”
When Couric asked for specific names, Palin said: “I have a vast variety of sources where we get our news, too. Alaska isn’t a foreign country, where it’s kind of suggested, ‘Wow, how could you keep in touch with what the rest of Washington, D.C., may be thinking when you live up there in Alaska?’ Believe me, Alaska is like a microcosm of America.”
In her first network interview with Charles Gibson of ABC, Palin had a stunning deer-in-the-headlight moment when she was asked if she knew what the Bush doctrine was. “In what way, Charlie?” Palin asked unsure of what Gibson meant. Considering the doctrine of carrying out pre-emptive strikes on countries the US may determine to be threatening has been the centerpiece of the Bush foreign policy, it was quite surprising that she did not know about it.
As Palin prepares to debate the far more seasoned Democratic Party’s vice presidential nominee, Senator Joe Biden, on Thursday America is waiting to see how she conducts herself. The bar has been set so low for her that as long as she shows up and says a few coherent sentences, she will emerge unscathed. The US media has reported that apparently worried over the debate the McCain campaign managers have been giving her intense training and policy tutorials for the past couple of days.
The debate is expected to be the most watched vice-presidential television showdown ever. Biden has a tough task of not coming across as condescending, arrogant and all-knowing, while Palin has an equally demanding job of sounding credible and substantive. In a sense both will have to perform well outside their comfort zone.