I just finished watching the now infamous Sarah Palin interview with Katie Couric, or better the most highlighted part about her foreign policy experiance. What can I say? It simply beggars belief that someone can tout expertise in that area solely based on the proximity of his or her state to two foreign countries. That would be like me saying I have experiance as a lab technician because I live next door to a medical laboratory.
But that was not the only gem. Take a look at this blooper about the Middle East. As the blog author correctly pointed out "it isn't that she didn't know the answer, it's that she didn't know the question". I bet Palin would have had a hard time pointing Israel and the Palestinian Authority on the world map if Couric had asked her to.
So how come she ended up as McCain's running mate and could possibly end up a heartbeat away from the White House, which, given McCain's age, isn't at all far away? One theory is that McCain wanted Lieberman or Tom Ridge as his running mate but was faced with unrelenting opposition in the GOP establishment and eventually caved in and told them "I think that a conservative would be least effective but I'll give you a goddamn conservative if you want one(*)" . So he pulled out Palin's name without giving her any serious vetting and thought he'd just patch any problem up as they go along.
There is, however, a much less innocent possibility, the one saying that McCain knew Palin is a tabula rasa and took her on for precisely that reason because that way he could mould her into whatever he wants her to be. She will be hadled by the advisors, they will give her expertise and shape her views. And that is what many Republican voters will use as an argument to rationalize away problems with Sarah Palin.
But that opens up a variety serious questions: who or what is it exactly that you are voting for? How can a candidate come on to a national stage with so little knowledge of some basic happenings in the world? Who conducts the US policy, the people whose names are on the presidential tickets or those in the shadows who nobody voted for and whose postitions on the issues are anybody's guess? Based on what criteria are these people "experts"? Why are they better then others? I could go on and on with this, but you get the picture.
The ignorance of Sarah Palin on many important issues makes her ascension more dangerous then that of any demagogue or ideologue. With the former you know he will pander to the popular opinion whatever it may be, while with the latter you'll always know where he stands. With her you get a cat in the bag not only in terms of her opinion but also in terms of who will really run the country.