You Can Put Lipstick on a Pit Bull

but she’s still an intellectual lightweight. Sarah Palin apparently has never heard the phrase “Bush Doctrine.” Sure, the phrase has several potential meanings, but she doesn’t seem to be familiar with any of them. Talk about the look of a deer caught in the headlights. She appears not to understand that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are not (or at least until this week were not) funded by the federal government. Before the mortgage market imploded, plenty of policy sophisticates might not have known this, but there sure has been a lot of press about those two companies this summer. She says she’s against creating embryos for stem cell research, apparently not realizing that the bills supported by both Obama and McCain would allow federal funding only of research on embryos that are left over from fertilization clinics, not embryos created for research. She claims government spending can be substantially reduced merely by finding “efficiencies” in entitlements. She doesn’t appear to notice any inconsistency between her claim that she said “thanks, but no thanks” regarding the bridge to nowhere and the fact that she kept the money. And, of course, the list could go on and on.

The problem with Palin on a national ticket is not her lack of experience, per se. Few governors have much, if any, direct foreign policy experience, and we elect them President quite often. Specific experience can be quite overrated, and if you blindly use it to reinforce rather than challenge your prior beliefs and prejudices it can be downright harmful. The problem is that it isn’t clear that she even pays much attention to the newspapers or has had, prior to this week’s airplane flight to Alaska with McCain staffers, any in-depth conversations or even in-depth thoughts about the critical issues that have faced the country over the last several years. The Palin interviews with Charlie Gibson over the past two days have provided definitive proof that she lacks the intellectual heft that she will sorely need if she ever were to find herself having to weigh and choose between competing arguments made by advisors about complicated policy questions.

She’s in way over her head. Worse, if you believe what she told Gibson about her lack of hesitation when McCain offered her the position, she doesn’t even know it. No matter how much you might like or admire John McCain, given McCain’s age and prior health issues, you should be very frightened about casting your vote for him.

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