Maybe John McCain was clever in picking Sarah Palin as his running mate. Now that their campaign is increasingly desperate, she can be his “attack dog” as they say in politics. She can say whatever she wants, things that McCain can’t say. And if anyone points out that she’s exaggerating or ignoring some facts, they’re accused of sexism or of picking on Palin.
She was quoted the other day in the New York Times as saying, “I was reading my copy of today’s New York Times and I was interested to read about Barack’s friends from Chicago.” Right there, we’ve got a credibility problem. First of all, she was quoted as saying “reading,” not “readin’.” Next you’ll notice that she was quoted as saying, “my New York Times.” Do you really think that Palin gets the New York Times?
If she did, don’t you think that would’ve been one of the newspapers she could’ve come up with when Katie Couric asked her what she reads? You betcha [sic] it waouldda [sic] been. Some people might say that it wasn’t fair to ask her what she reads, because the other candidates weren’t asked questions like that. That’s true, but we already know a lot about the other candidates, we don’t know much about her, and it seems like we have a right to find out about her interests and her intellectual curiosity.
I know it’s been a while since the Biden-Palin debate, but the networks have been rerunning it over and over again, much like “Law & Order” or “Wings.” For me, it’s like seeing an accident on the I-405 Freeway. I know I shouldn’t look, but I can’t help looking for a moment.
And now that I’ve seen her rerun, I’m suspicious about something. Her performance seems even more extreme, more exaggerated than it did on debate night. Her poor grammar, her poor diction, and her poor sentence structure are just too over the top. Here’s the suspicious aspect of this: She had a great deal of time to prepare for her debate, she had some very smart people helping her, and she clearly practiced her lines. Don’t you think, if they wanted to, those people could have told her the proper way to pronounce “nuclear?” Don’t you think they could have told her how to say words that end in “ing?” You’re goll-darn right they could have.
So here’s my theory. They want her to sound like that — not just like you and me, but dumber than you and me! They think this will endear her to voters. George W. Bush played down his Yale and Harvard education, talked in a Texas twang, and it seemed to work for him for six or seven years.
It’s always been interesting to me that American politicians aren’t supposed to be too smart. The public doesn’t seem to trust or want intellectuals, “egg-heads,” or professorial types. The theory is that they want someone who is “just like them.” If they speak properly, if they’re highly educated, if they’re interested in complex issues, Americans are wary of them. Smart people are considered “elitists” who think they are “better than we are.”
This is crazy. I want the leaders of my country to be smart. It’s fine with me if they’re smarter than I am. Now more than ever, we need educated, intelligent people to help lead us out of the sad situation we’re in. That’s a lot more important to me than making sure that a leader likes to have a few beers when he or she goes bowling.
Obviously, I don’t know if Palin is purposely exaggerating her lack of intellectual curiosity and her being just a “regular person.” It doesn’t even matter to me if she is or not. The point is, why should intelligence be derided and being average celebrated in politics?
At the Oct. 7 presidential debate, McCain called for a “commission of the smartest people in America” to help solve the economic crisis. I was shocked when I heard him make this suggestion. For one thing, how was he going to identify who these smart people are? Then was he just going to send them invitations? But, of course, what surprised me the most is that he dared to mention using smart people to solve a big problem. Maybe his campaign is really getting desperate.
Lloyd Garver has written for many television shows, ranging from “Sesame Street” to “Family Ties” to “Home Improvement” to “Frasier.” He has also read many books, some of them in hardcover. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out his Web site at lloydgarver.com and his podcasts on iTunes.