Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Palin the Incompetent

Awful. Just jaw-droppingly awful. I was utterly and thoroughly embarrassed for Palin. Watch, and cringe:

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To all my friends and readers who are good conservatives, I expect you all live up to your reputations and values and to hold people accountable for their own failings, instead of trying to point fingers at anyone else.

Face the fact: The only person responsible for this disaster of a performance is Sarah Palin.

Even IF Palin has a decent showing tomorrow, how can anyone deny the serious problem here? Hiding this gross incompetence and hoping for a few random passable performances is not the kind of deception of the American people that we should ever tolerate. Head in the sand is the only way. Watch the entire Couric interview from start to finish and tell me if anyone should think a passable performance tomorrow in a scripted debate format SHOULD be reason to give her a pass to being a heartbeat away from the Presidency. Maybe most Americans who only see her Convention address and a passable debate performance might get a favorable impression of her; but one can't deny the fact that the ONLY times she's been unscripted and subject even to basic softball questions of knowledge, she is utterly incompetent. Frankly, I'd MUCH rather have my conservative brother as VP than Palin. She couldn't even think about the Kelo Decision or the Hamden Decision or the Lawrence decision, three SCOTUS cases that I've just come up with off the top of my head as I write this which she probably would disagree with. Imagine: I, a LIBERAL who has absolutely no backgroud in constitutional law, am able to come up with three SCOTUS decisions that a CONSERVATIVE would likely disagree with.

I don't care what anyone says about experience and smarts, there is just no comparison between Obama and Palin in terms of thoughtfulness, knowledge, and competency. In fact, I would argue that a major part of "experience and smarts" requires at least a basic ability and competency in handling one's self much, much better than this in uncomfortable situations. Heck, even some of my Freshman students who come to class woefully unprepared know how to handle such situations better.

To all conservative employers out there: If Palin showed up in front of your desk for an interview and answered ANY question you asked in this kind of way, would you hire her, regardless of her "experience"? Think of it another way: If you showed up to a shareholder meeting and asked the company VP or CEO a question so fundamental to the job that elicited this kind of ignorant response, what would you think about the future of that company?

Seriously, folks, we're talking about the future of our country here, not some likability contest.

I have NEVER seen a competent professional in ANY career perform so awfully in this way.

The RISK of having Palin a heartbeat away from the Presidency, and the RISK of having as President Sen. McCain, who would pick such a person as Palin as his Number 2, is much, much, much more dangerous to the future of this country than an Obama/Biden administration.

I just don't see how any truly honest person who really cares about the well-being of this country wouldn't arrive at this conclusion, no matter how much one might like the McCain/Palin team as individual people on a gut personal level or agree with some of their positions.


Eric said...


I'll be the first to admit that she doesn't seem to have the knowledge a VP should have, but even given that likelihood, I'd still prefer her over Obama or Biden. For all her gaffes in delivery, her answer to the Roe V Wade question is exactly the route I support: do away with Roe V Wade and turn the decision back to the states (and I'm pro-choice, I'd vote to keep abortion legal in my state).

I am not crazy about Palin or McCain, I've said that before.
I find it embarrassing that she couldn't name more Supreme Court decisions, even when pressed, but here's the thing: I trust that, given the details on a random SC ruling, Palin would be much more likey than Biden or Obama (or McCain, for that matter) to come down on the side I agree with. Palin's answer to the SC question made me feel embarrassed for her. Biden's answer, however, actually made me angry. (really? your argument was that since they might be removed from the workforce, it is an interstate event? By that rationale, is there any crime that shouldn't be a federal crime? If I am hit by a drunk driver and miss a week of work where I might have done intersate business, should I be able to take them to federal court? I have as much sympathy for victims of abuse as anyone, but this is the kind of rhetorical bullshit that makes people hate lawyers).

That is often a dilemna I face when chosing political sides. There are a ton of liberal politicians who I think are more articulate, better educated, more flexible in their thinking, and more generally likable than their conservative counterparts... they just happen to come down on the wrong side of nearly every issue important to me.

That said, if Palin doesn't do very well in the debate tomorrow, the McCain campaign is in big trouble. Two weeks ago I thought they had this thing sewn up. Right now I'll be surprised if they win. Unfortunately for Obama, if the economy keeps this up, he's not going to have all that many wealthy people to sponge off of once he gets in the White House. What then? He might actually have to ask poor people to pay taxes too... After all, it's patriotic!

Eric said...

"If Palin showed up in front of your desk for an interview and answered ANY question you asked in this kind of way, would you hire her, regardless of her "experience"? "

Funny story about that. I got a phone call from my old boss the other night, and he was talking about how Sarah Palin's Couric interview reminded him of this girl we once hired for a sales position. She was quite possibly the best job interview we ever had, but once we hired her and started coaching her on how to respond to specific client situations, she was just horrible. Like night and day. And unfortunately, it never got any better and we had to let her go. She only had two modes: completely off-the-cuff authentic, vs. robot-woman reading a script.
If she had sounded like robot-woman initially, she never would have made it past the first interview. If she had sounded like off-the-cuff authentic woman after being hired, she would have been our best rep. I will always consider it a personal failure that we could not figure out how to get her to switch gears.

I've heard people say that Sarah Palin looked in that interview like she had been overcoached, and I agree to some extent. The problem is, in my experience, ANY amount of coaching with that type of personality is over-coaching.

Huck said...

Eric - I don't really know how you can support Palin just on the basis of some kind of intuition about her falling out on the right side of an issue that you share. We just don't know that much about where she would fall out on critical issues and how much she would be willing to compromise. You are assuming a lot about Palin without any evidence to back up that assumption (or perhaps just minimal evidence). But I would point out that there is ample evidence that Palin's walk doesn't match her talk. Even you had reservations about her windfall tax and wealth redistribution plan regarding Alaska's oil revenues.

What's troubling to me about Palin is that there is evidence of cronyism, vindictiveness, and abuse of office for personal reasons. This is not to mention her penchant for bald-faced and unrepentent lying about certain things. I would trust Palin to fall out on your side of an issue about as much as I would trust Edwin Edwards (a corrupt multi-term Louisiana Democratic governer now in prison) to fall out on my side of an issue. That is to say that I wouldn't trust them at all. In the end, Edwin Edwards relied on Democratic ideology, but he was still a crook that damaged Louisiana. And all indications about Sarah Palin's character to date, at least to me, seem to indicate that she may be a Republican, but the damage she will do to this country would be great and massive.

This country had the hapless George W. Bush for 8 years. And look how he turned out for all of us. Is that what you are willing to risk just because Sarah Palin talks about being a federalist when it comes to abortion?

You might have gotten angry at Joe Biden, but let's not forget that he lost his case. You might think him on the wrong side of the issue, but he at least is not on the wrong side of the system. I see in McCain/Palin a threat to integrity and honesty in government. I see McCain/Palin as a continuation of the secrecy and unaccountability of the Bush regime, with the likelihood of abuse of power and authority that we've seen over the past 8 years in the authorization of torture, the politicization of the Justice Department as exemplified in the firing of the US attorneys, the lack of respect for civil liberties and protections of fundamental rights of privacy, the tendency of the fusion of church and state in spite of rhetorical claims of federalism, etc., etc.

And for all their policy differences that you have a hard time accepting, Obama and Biden come across, at least to me, as people open to other points of view and to compromise. We'll get "unblinking" orthodoxy with McCain/Palin, while we might, actually, see Obama shift his tax policy as the exigencies of the moment demand it. Let me ask you: who do you believe will be more amenable to compromise and transparency and accountability once in office? Obama/Biden or McCain/Palin?

Huck said...

Eric - I just don't buy the "overcoached" excuse for Sarah Palin, especially when coming from conservatives who tend to place so much emphasis on accepting and assuming responsibility for one's own actions. And even if she is overcoached, what does it say about her leadership and confidence that she let herself get in this predicament. I can't imagine Joe Biden taking any coaching lessons from Obama (in fact, he probably could use one or two!). It would be an insult to him and would reflect poorly on Obama if he were to think of his VP selection in this way.

The patronizing treatment of Palin by the McCain campaign, and, worse, her own seeming embrace of this treatment, is somewhat disturbing, if you ask me. And she's the one that supposedly has all the executive "experience." And I get angry that McCain and Palin are trying to play me for the fool. Doesn't that anger you? When my students come to class unprepared and can't articulate even a basic answer to a simple question, I get angry because they seem to be taking for granted what I think is important. And the insult is compounded when they try to BS their way through it instead of simply just admitting their failings.

The argument that Sarah Palin is being "overcoached" as a means to defend her and the farce of her selection is pathetic, if you ask me.

In relation to your hiring example, I suspect that the coaching you needed to do for her was less about style and more about the substance of the thing she would be selling. I imagine that the off-the-cuff communicator makes for great coffee shop conversation, but that being the best sales rep requires a fundamental knowledge about the product, too. The deal with Palin is not that she doesn't have the ability to be off-the-cuff charming -- we all know she can do that; but simply that she apparently doesn't know subjects well-enough (or even at a very minimal level) to be charming about.

I don't think her problem is being overcoached. If anything, it is being overwhelmed. And there's nothing any amount of coaching, whether it's little or lots, can do about that.

Huck said...

Let me also add one additional sentence to the end of my second paragraph in my most recent comment above. In that paragraph, I ended with an example from my own profession as a teacher to explain how a poor performance is insulting and angering. I forgot to add the kicker at the end. What is most infuriating is when a student not only is unprepared, tries to BS his way through it, but then has the gall to smile at me at the end and ask me to support his performance as if it's the best thing since sliced bread, and certainly better than the other student who ran circles around him in preparation, knowledge, and presentation. In the case of Sarah Palin, that's exactly what she's doing to the voter. And the brazenness of this insult to the voter is unforgivable.

Eric said...


6 weeks ago, nobody even knew who Palin was. I hardly think there have been enough facts established about her in that time to typecast her in the manner you do above. She's given one mediocre interview, one horrible interview, and one fairly decent cupcake interview with Sean Hannity. If she was such a horrible and abusive leader I doubt she'd enjoy the popularity she does in Alaska. Obama, Biden and McCain all belong to a club whose popularity is below 10% and dropping like a stone. Today I am much, much, more concerned about the three of them. I find it frustrating the McCain picked somebody who does not appear to be politiclly astute. I find it appalling that by doing so, Obama is now the high bar for what constitutes politically astute.

Please don't for a second imagine that I think McCain/Palin will be good for our country. It's just that I think Obama/Biden will be marginally worse. I won't even be too upset if McCain loses, or overjoyed if he wins. I expect my taxes to go up in the next administration. I'll consider myself lucky if my business can survive the coming economic turmoil. I think it is increasingly likely our government will go bankrupt during the next administration, and nobody is talking about this even though it should be THE topic of this campaign.

Let me be honest, the bailout bill currently moving through Congress has demoralized me more than any single political event in my lifetime. It's a game changer for me. 9/11 didn't shake my confidence in our country, but this has.

Quite frankly, nobody currently running for President appears to me to be the least bit capable of forestalling the disaster I see ahead. Bush is going to spend a trillion dollars to punt the whole thing to the next administration, and the fools are lining up to support his efforts. If Bush can play them both like this, I hate to think of what Putin might do to either one of them. McCain and Obama are both completely out of their depth. Bush looks like a political savant compared to these two. That's how bad I think they are.

So I'll probably vote for McCain because I think that he might just be tougher than Obama, so we won't have to see a President break down in tears half way through his first State Of The Union Address.
Hell, at this point, I don't even know what the point of voting is, Huck. None of these guys represent me at all, and when the going gets tough, I actually fear what they are going to do to me and my family.

Eric said...

"The argument that Sarah Palin is being "overcoached" as a means to defend her and the farce of her selection is pathetic, if you ask me."

OK then. If you'll notice, I have done very little defending of Sarah Palin or the fact that she was selected. All I've said is that, as bad as she is, I'm pretty sure she agrees with me more than Obama/Biden do. I'm not even positive about that. Maybe someday Obama or Biden will utter the word 'federalist' in some self-referential statement and prove me wrong. Until then, I pretty much have to believe that they aren't all that big on the idea of federalism, whereas Palin at least gives it lip service.

And let's not pretend like Palin is the only one out there making an ass out of herself. Biden thinks FDR was president in 1929 and appeared on television that same year. And there are a lot of voters who won't soon forget his rediculous statement about how paying more taxes is a patriotic act. I'll take somebody who doesnt' know what the Bush Doctrine is any day over somebody who thinks my patriotism has anything to do with the amount of money I am forced at gunpoint to give to the federal government.

Schroeder said...

I can't believe there's really even a discussion taking place here.

Pick a date or event in history. Cuban Missile Crisis? Kennedy had the courage, formed of self-confidence, to be patient despite those who called for a rapid escalation.

Would someone like Palin, who hasn't the wisdom of any real policy fights behind her, and certainly doesn't have a sound policy or historical background, act so courageously, or just go with her gut and a prayer?

Does Palin even know what the Cuban Missile Crisis was?

It's unconscionable to vote for the McCain - Palin ticket.

Anonymous said...

Well, I'd like to see a conservative defend this one...

Palin, of course, wants to see Roe v Wade overturned and said so, yet she implicitly agreed that there is a "...apocryphal 'right to privacy'...first invented by five justices on the Supreme Court in the 1965 case Griswold vs. Connecticut" which was the basis of the decision, and nearly all the other cases that chap the conservative's hides.

This either shows that; one she is a sham conservative; or two, she has absolutely no idea what she is talking about on one of the seminal issue on the right side of the ledger. Any conservative hearing that would be justified in a good spit take.

Eric said...

"It's unconscionable to vote for the McCain - Palin ticket."

I find it hard to argue with that.

But I also find it unsonscionable to vote for a ticket of two guys who think it is morally teneble to demand that the wealthy in this country, who already pay 80% of our taxes, pay even more.

And you are kidding yourself if you think Obama would have acted like Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis. I'm at least willing to admit that Palin isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer. You guys are making Obama out to be something he absolutely is not.

Huck said...

Eric - How do you know Obama would not act as circumspectly and as powerfully as Kennedy did during the Cuban Missile Crisis? I'm just curious, because it seems you are judging Obama in a way that goes against examples of his judgment regarding crisis situations. Obama, not McCain, has argued for proactive measures to track down Al Qaeda in Pakistan. I don't agree with Obama on this point, but he certainly doesn't seem to be someone who will shy away from dealing confidently with threats to our security. And if you take Obama's measured and confidence-building calm during our current financial crisis and compare it to McCain's hyperventilating and flip-flopping, there's just no comparison about leadership of "courage, formed of self-confidence, to be patient despite those who called for a rapid escalation," as schroeder writes.

And, Eric, I understand how you can consider Obama's tax plan to be unconscionable; but what would you suggest we do to deal with what I would call and even more unconscionable "tax cut" coupled with "profligate spending" that has expanded our national debt to grossly unconscionable levels. Somebody's got to pay this bill. And if you've got a better plan that's politically and economically feasible, I'm all ears.

Eric said...

"How do you know Obama would not act as circumspectly and as powerfully as Kennedy did during the Cuban Missile Crisis?"

So tell me, do you think Obama would use force, or even the threat of it, to prevent Iran from building a nuclear weopon? How about Venezuela?
I don't. Obama wouldn't even vote against sanctioning companies who do business wih the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, who are directly responsible for American deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan. He considers those types of economic sanctions to be "saber rattling" (even when most Dems supported the measure).

"but what would you suggest we do to deal with what I would call and even more unconscionable "tax cut" coupled with "profligate spending" that has expanded our national debt to grossly unconscionable levels."

First, they are two seperate issues. The year after Bush implemented his tax cuts, government revenues increased, as they have every single time tax cuts have been implemented in modern history (including when Kennedy did it).

The problem is spending, and to that effect neither candidate has one bit of credibility with me. I would have given McCain the edge prior to this recent economic rescue plan, because he has a long track record of pushing for fiscal restraint even when it is unpopular to do so, but they both support this plan, and therefore neither one can claim to be financially sane.