Many Democratic operatives are advising Obama and Biden to essentially ignore Palin. I don't think they can. President-elect McCain (I use the term to focus your mind on the stakes here) has made her one of the most important issues in this campaign.
In choosing -- or being forced to choose -- a person with no national or international experience, whose government background is a few years as mayor of a tiny exurb and 18 months as governor of a state with 670,000 people (less than half the population of Phoenix), McCain should be giving the nation pause. Pause to wonder about his judgment, for if he chose her it was the kind of impulsive, irresponsible action for which he's known. Pause to wonder who is really pulling his strings, considering she is the candidates of the hard-core evangelicals McCain once denounced, and the oil industry he claims to be willing to fight. Pause that he would make a shameless political move to energize his base even if it meant putting the country at risk. President Palin. Think about that.
One of the many outrageous things about the Palin affair is her refusal to hold news conferences or meet with reporters. Proper "deference" was demanded by the McCain campaign. Deference? Here, ma'am, the people rule -- unless you are willing to proclaim us an authoritarian empire where the press is treated as it is in, say, China. It should be a deal-breaker in itself that she has been shut off like a celebrity.
What is McCain hiding? What is he afraid of?
The Gibson interview, soft as it is, has produced several frightening moments, including her willingness to go to war with nuclear-armed Russia and her ignorance -- even under gentle prompting -- of the Bush Doctrine. As James Fallows writes, "What Sarah Palin revealed is that she has not been interested enough in world affairs to become minimally conversant with the issues."
She casts herself with the parochialism and lack of curiosity displayed by candidate George W. Bush. Similarly, she is the creature of the religious right and end-timers. Similarly, she seems easily drawn to abuse of power and claims of executive privilege, as with Troopergate. Similarly, she is an easy liar, as with the bridge to nowhere, the unbuilt pipeline and her fiscal stewardship of her tiny town. She glibly trucks in the fear and hate tactics of Karl Rove. A real agent of change.
She claimed that her knowledge of energy gives her decisive foreign policy experience. An Alaskan's knowledge of energy is similar to a heroin addict's knowledge of advanced pharmaceutical research. "Drill, drill, drill, baby!" Has this vast knowledge advanced her understanding of, say, peak oil? Or of the extremely limited amount of oil available in ANWR or on the outer continental shelf, given American consumption and that all oil is sold on an international market?
Much more to come on this huge issue: Palin. Polls show her giving McCain a big edge with working class whites and women. Do you even believe this? I am skeptical. But if it's true, this may come down to an election between stupid people and those who can still think for themselves. Palin casts her lack of experience, curiosity and insularity as plusses -- against the educated elite. In itself, this is a new elitism of ignorance. If it triumphs, we're done.