With the vice-presidential debate between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin only days away, many Republican pundits have adopted a new theory for the reason Palin has floundered in recent interviews. It isn’t because she is not knowledgeable or ill-equipped to hold executive office, but that the McCain campaign has not let her “be herself” since the Republican National Convention. Some conservative spokespeople have even put forth the idea that Palin is being held in a kind of political captivity, being forced to say and do things that she doesn’t believe in or know anything about. I’m sorry, but wasn’t that obvious? And how is that a problem for John McCain? Shouldn’t he be trying to keep her from saying horrendously inflammatory things? Do conservatives really want Palin to accuse Joe Biden of being a witch during the debate? I thought that it was called “damage control” for a reason.
William Kristol even supported the “Free Sarah Palin!” claim in his recent New York Times Op-Ed piece, “How McCain Wins”. Apparently, Kristol wants to play the Dr. Evil to Kathleen Parker’s Austin Powers. In the article, Kristol argued that, “…McCain needs to liberate his running mate from the former Bush aides brought in to handle her — aides who seem to have succeeded in importing to the Palin campaign the trademark defensive crouch of the Bush White House. McCain picked Sarah Palin in part because she’s a talented politician and communicator. He needs to free her to use her political talents and to communicate in her own voice.” Kristol is in such a painful state of denial that he cannot see how his own words work against the candidate he is still so strongly in support of. Why on Earth would John McCain need to “[bring] in” the same “former Bush aides” to “handle” Sarah Palin in the first place? Why would those former Bush aides adopt their empirically “defensive crouch” with regard to their new candidate? Let’s think…oh, I know. It’s because Sarah Palin has the same, if not a far worse, grasp of the world as George W. Bush. What else can you do but play defense around a politician who thinks that seeing Russian land makes you qualified to deal with Vladimir Putin? The wonderfully amusing website 236.com had an excellent point here: “You can see the moon from Alaska too. Does that make you qualified to be an astronaut? Cause I’d love to be an astronaut.”
[ On a side note, Kristol’s own political buffoonery has gotten so bad that he is openly admitting things like: “The core case against Obama is pretty simple: he’s too liberal. A few months ago I asked one of McCain’s aides what aspect of Obama’s liberalism they thought they could most effectively exploit. He looked at me as if I were a simpleton, and patiently explained that talking about “conservatism” and “liberalism” was so old-fashioned.” When a John McCain adviser and Sarah Palin handler looks at you like a “simpleton”, you know that you’ve really let yourself go.]
The “Free Sarah Palin!” sentiment is beyond comprehension – she is the worst interview I have ever heard, let alone debater. Even Bush, who immediately gained notoriety as a poor public speaker during the 2000 presidential election, could still complete a sentence. When he famously said, “I know how hard it is to put food on your family,” I still empathized with the sentiment that he was expressing. I still knew what he was talking about. Listening to Palin’s interview with Katie Couric last week on CBS News, it became obvious that she could not even finish a thought, let alone express a “Bushism”. How is that an issue of too much “handling”? McCain’s advisors could keep me in a locked cage in Pat Buchanan’s basement and I could still speak coherently when asked questions. For instance, I could say things like, “Help me! The Republicans have locked me in Pat Buchanan’s basement!”
The term “handlers” used to refer to the people who kept incompetent celebrities from harming their public relations. Hmm. Could it be that Palin is nothing more than an incompetent celebrity, brought on to sell a political platform as worthless as an infomercial cutting board set? Why else would John McCain and Steve Schmidt feel the need to “handle” Palin in the first place? Kristol does a great job of transferring the blame to “former Bush aides”, without any consciousness of the fact that McCain is intentionally hiding Palin with good reason. Republican pundits are acting as if Katie Couric was bullying their VP candidate and Palin could not respond because McCain had tied her hands behind her back. Does anyone remember the questions she was asking? “What are the pros and cons of it, do you think?” It was only a slightly more difficult interview than Sean Hannity’s. Okay, well, that’s not fair – Hannity at one point asked her, “So if everyone was a citizen of Alaska, they’d get a check for twenty-three hundred dollars from you every year, right?”
I understand the desire to support a candidate whose fundamental policy positions concur with your own, almost regardless of how they can present themselves to the public and the media. There has to come a point, however, when the candidate you are voting for can lose your support. If that point does not exist, which is clearly does not for Kristol and his ilk, does it really count as political support anymore? Or is it something else – like fanaticism, for instance. I promise you that if Barack Obama got up during the first presidential debate or if Joe Biden said anything in a public speech that was anywhere near as incoherent as what Sarah Palin said to Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric, then I would seriously consider not voting for them. Period. I do not unequivocally support politicians, but there appears to be an increasing amount of conservatives who do. Unquestionably, there are some Obama supporters who would rightfully fall into this category as well – the only problem is that Obama has not done anything nearly as idiotic as Palin, so they haven’t had the opportunity to be fanatical.
The only logical conclusion behind all of this political posturing is that Palin is hiding a scarier, darker conservative side that even Bush-McCain advisers are afraid of. Pundits like Kristol want to unleash that monster on the American people Friday night, because it will allow Palin to complete her sentences. I am inclined to agree – if given free reign to say whatever she thinks, Palin probably could speak much better. The problem is that, when she does, almost no one, Kristol included, is going to like what she has to say.
So bring on the second debate and “Free Sarah Palin!” I could not think of a better way to get Obama elected.