Why Sarah Palin Scares Me

Originally uploaded by Jon Person

Everyone who knows me has pretty much figured out I am not a big Sarah Palin fan.

Now that that’s out of the way, what I really want to talk about here is about how this election is becoming about labels and avoiding labels. It is a brand/marketing war between two very different brand of politicians- one that wants you to buy the pretty item based on the picture on the box, but ignore that the box is empty, and the other that gives you a great product, but you gotta read the directions to fully appreciate it’s potential.

Everyone was supposed to love Sarah Palin, even if you disagreed with everything she stood for. Why? Because it’s hip to have a woman in politics? Because she looks good on TV? Because she was a mom? Because she was a working mom?

The Republicans have spent the past eight years trying to convince us that flash over substance was all we cared about. But they failed to notice that you can only pull that trick so many times before people start to wise up.

The US bought itself a C-student from a privileged family, under the premise that he was an MBA and would run the Country like a business, despite the fact that any business he had run on his own failed to be profitable, including the State of Texas. Maybe we hoped his boyish charm would get him by, or his Dad’s friends would help him out if he got in trouble. We were wrong.

Bush was dismissive of everyone smarter than himself. Anyone who didn’t agree with his point of view. People who didn’t see things his way were naive or weren’t patriots- like somehow thinking for yourself was the same as being a traitor to the Country. And for a while, after 9/11, we were stupid and scared in the collective, and bought into this story line.

But now, when John McCain calls Barak Obama naive, we all say, “Hey, I heard that line before.” When John McCain accuses Carak Obama of being a Washington insider, despite his 26 years in the Senate, we say- “That doesn’t sound right.” When he calls himself a maverick no less than 20 times a day, we start to wonder whether he is trying to believe his own press releases, and has left reality far behind. That broken record no longer plays, and the Straight Talk Express left the tracks months ago.

But I worry that the Republicans, who like to keep things simple, will draw the wrong conclusions about Palin’s place on the ticket. If McCain loses the election, they will say “The Country wasn’t ready for a woman as VP.” They will say “The Country did not appreciate the hidden qualities Sarah Palin brought to the party.” They may thing that “the mommy thing got in the way.” Or maybe they will try to rehab her and make her the future of the republican party.

If they do try to rehab her, I think the first thing that has to happen is sending her back to College. She needs a well-rounded liberal arts education from Harvard or Yale, if they’d take her. She needs to learn about supporting ideas and nuance. She needs to learn the world is more complicated than media buys and sound bites.

The problem with Palin is she is not smart. She is not well informed. And she is no good at covering up these facts.

The Republican party did something very nasty here, by drafting Sarah Palin long before she was ready to face the national stage. And Sarah Palin made the mistake of accepting, rather than thinking the offer through and whether or not she thought she was ready.

Life is filled with choices, like a long series of doors down a hallway. Some you might only have the chance to open once. Some you might get to come back to and open again, but sometimes, if you pass up an opportunity, it may never come your way again.

That’s what makes so many people vulnerable to gambling, lottery tickets, and a host of other bad choices- the possibility that if you don’t take this chance, this risk, you might never get another chance at it again.

But the wisest of people stop a second and consider whether or not this door presents an opportunity- a challenge- that takes them to a wonderful new place, or whether it’s just not the right time yet to exercise that option. Sure, you might never get the chance again, but is it worth doing something you are clearly not ready for? Is that sort of public stumble something that you can recover from? Are you the right person to open up that particular door? And are you able to admit when you’ve made a mistake? Can you change your mind? Are you able to put your ego aside and let someone else open up that door, because it’s better for them, rather than eagerly and greedily grabbing the prize for yourself, even if it might harm you?

I think Sarah Palin was done a disservice by being offered the vice presidency. An offer she couldn’t refuse. And now she is being skewered left and right, and you can argue I am doing the same thing right here, right now, because of it.

Sarah seems like a nice lady. She doesn’t strike me as a Rhodes Scholar. She doesn’t strike me as someone overcome by a curiosity and a thirst for knowledge, when she can’t even name one newspaper or magazine she’s read when asked.

I hope we deserve better of our leaders- that we want the person in charge to be smart and thoughtful and somehow better than us. I don’t blame Sarah Plain for being one of “us”- I blame her for not thinking about all of us before doing what she thought was best for her. That’s not a quality I want in my leaders.