Tag Archives | Sarah Palin

John Mark Reynolds on Sarah Palin

John Mark Reynolds of the conservative First Things blog has written a detailed chapter by chapter review of Sarah Palin’s Going Rogue. His conclusions, which he summarizes here are similar to mine, an interesting result given that both of us were initially sympathetic to Palin, albeit for partially different reasons:

Sarah Palin has not grown in the year since the election. Those of us who hoped that Palin had been “hidden” by the campaign know the truth now. She still is what she was.

She is smart, but not book-smart. She has common sense, but not practical wisdom. These are not fatal flaws, but she shows no signs of changing or recognizing them….

Palin uses four hundred pages to give her side of things, but I am still at a loss to describe her political or governing philosophy in any detail …

While an excellent chief executive in Alaska, there is reason to believe that Palin lacks the intellectual skills needed to be an effective President. Most important, she does not seem to recognize this and shows no sign of getting them.

I have not given up on Palin and find much in her to admire, but she would not get my primary vote based on this book and what I know about her to date. I hope I am wrong and am open to changing my mind.

Ultimately, the problem with Palin is not that she is folksy, that she is religious, that she didn’t attend a prestigious university, or that she dislikes “East Coast elites.” These are all side issues. Like Reynolds, I also don’t believe that she is stupid. The problem is that she is ignorant about major national political issues, and has made no apparent effort to remedy that ignorance. That might [...]

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Palin, Ignorance, and Stupidity Revisited

Longtime readers may recall that I was initially positive about Sarah Palin because her record was much more libertarian than that of most other major national politicians. Later, I had to reassess my view of Palin, as her ignorance of many important policy issues became apparent. But I also emphasized that ignorance is not the same thing as stupidity, and that in my view Palin suffers from the former, not the latter – a conclusion also reached by liberal Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson. I do a lot of research on political ignorance, and the distinction between ignorance and stupidity is one that I have often urged people to keep in mind. For reasons that I discuss here and here, even professional politicians often find it rational to devote their time to activities other than learning about major national issues.

Still, an ignorant but intelligent person is capable of remedying her ignorance to a greater extent than one who is both ignorant and stupid. In reading Palin’s recent memoir, Going Rogue, I wanted to see if there was any evidence that she has taken steps to address what many people see as her biggest weakness – myself included. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to say either way. As a sympathetic WSJ reviewer points out, the book devotes little attention to national policy issues. Palin does come across as knowledgeable about Alaska state issues, but her facility in that area was never seriously in question.

The book argues at length that the various gaffes that revealed Palin’s ignorance during the 2008 campaign were mostly the fault of McCain’s consultants and a biased media. I remain unpersuaded. Yes, many people in the media were biased against Palin, and perhaps the consultants made mistakes (it’s hard for me [...]

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Newsweek promotes Palin for President

The cover of next week’s Newsweek features a picture of Sarah Palin, along with the headline “How do you solve a problem like Sarah?” The cover is one more example of the periodical’s positioning itself as the ideas journal for people who think that the New York Times’ in-house editorials are middle-of-road, but have too many big words. And of the magazine’s cultural disconnect from much of the United States.

To wit: “How do you solve a problem like Maria?” is an early song in The Sound of Music, which won the 1965 Academy Award for Best Picture. In the song, several nuns at an abbey in the Austrian mountains summarize the problems with the novice Maria (Julie Andrews): Maria is too physically active, athletic and outdoorsy. She is too expressive emotionally, particularly about her happiness. She is flighty, and late for everything except meals. She has a good heart, but does not listen well to advice from her elders, and she is highly self-directed: “How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?” The harsh nun, Berthe, calls Maria “a headache” and “a demon.” Newsweek‘s subhead take’s Berthe’s role, calling Palin “bad news for the GOP–and everyone else too.”

The Mother Superior knows better: Maria is no bad-news demon. Rather, Maria is someone who lives the Good News, and whose talents, energy, and will-power are going to waste in the abbey. So she ships Maria off to a job outside the abbey–a job for which Maria is totally unprepared, and a job at which Maria’s predecessors have failed. After a rough start, Maria becomes a great success, due to her common sense, kind heart, wisdom, and readiness to defy convention. In the process, Maria also stands up to foreign totalitarian aggressors (winning the support [...]

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