Thursday, November 06, 2008
The hottest post-election gossip blazing its way across the country is, as Scout Finch noted earlier, the "revelation" that Sarah Palin was in fact even more embarrassingly clueless than her empty-headed performance over the past two months had already led America and the world to believe.
Didn't know Africa was a continent. Couldn't name the member nations of NAFTA, even though they're the immediate neighbors of the United States. And, by the way, she was never shy about parroting the crap she had been programmed with about trade, and what a genius she was on the subject because she was from a state near Russia. Or something. Also.
But think about what this means, and what almost happened to this country.
Frankly, the people who knew this about her and were still directly responsible for "vetting" her, putting her on the ticket, attempting to foist this idiot on the American people, and protecting her while there was still a chance (however theoretical) that she could become Vice President and possibly President of the United States ought to be arrested and tried for treason.
The American public, and indeed the American constitutional system, was completely unprepared for a potential disaster of this magnitude. I've said before that we were all "low information voters" now, at least with respect to being able to actually evaluate the candidates for their fitness for jobs which we were no longer permitted -- as a matter of national security -- to know the parameters of. But putting this dolt on the ticket takes us ten thousand miles into the fucking Twilight Zone.
We used to think that having debates was an adequate way of gauging performance for our candidates, even though the realities of television have turned them into staged dog and pony shows these days. But even just as a measure of whether a candidate could mouth correct-ish, truthy-sounding answers, they still retained some value -- even as Palin failed even that ridiculously dumbed-down test. We were willing to live with the faked-for-television debate framework because it was always premised on the assumption that the candidates shared with most Americans a common base of cultural and political knowledge that any competent person could automatically be credited with, simply by virtue of having successfully grown to adulthood as an American, and presumably having gone through some sort of educational process, formal or otherwise.
Now it turns out that we would have been better off evaluating at least our Vice Presidential candidates by putting them on Jeopardy! Or in this case, even The Tonight Show's "Jaywalking" segment would have been sufficient.
Here we were trying to evaluate Palin's ability to explain the Republican ticket's economic plans, when she may never even have known how many pennies were in a dollar, or who the faces on the bills were. We jumped right past basic grammar school evaluations, because the gravity of the office McCain was contending for is one that has always caused Americans to automatically assume that the candidates would have enough respect to actually prepare to take on that mantle before challenging for the seat, and because we've always assumed that as much as we disagreed with the other party, it could at least be trusted to act in its own best interest by nominating a ticket that wouldn't be disqualified on its face, or be laughed out of the country for lack of even the most basic knowledge about who we are and what we're about as a country. Including such trivia as, say, the names of the countries we border.
But just as Alan Greenspan could sit before the Congress as an economist and profess utter shock at the possibility that corporate officers -- whose compensation became decoupled from actual performance over 20 years ago -- would put their own personal financial interests before that of the companies that hired them, I guess we now have to hope someone will believe us when we say we're utterly shocked by the possibility that Republican presidential candidates would similarly put their own ambition before the good of the country.
I guess looking back it's now clear why everything they touch turns to shit.
John McCain should never live this down.