The Palin Tragedy

There just isn’t any doubt at this point: Governor Palin is in way over her head. And Senator McCain had to have known this would be the case. His luring a good but unqualified woman – a woman, moreover, with serious responsibilities at home – into a bruising and cynical national campaign is inexcusable. Even more disturbing is the way she has been coached to bluff her way through interviews, pretending to have answers to questions she doesn’t begin to understand. It is impossible to watch this CBS interview without feeling acute embarrassment for her:

Perhaps a slight improvement over Miss South Carolina, but not much. For future interviews, Daniel Larison suggests the following “all purpose Palin interview answer” (courtesy of Rod Dreher):

“You don’t just walk into Washington, unless you’re a maverick like John McCain, who walks the walk and has been reforming Washington all along, which is why it’s so desperately in need of reform. Its Beltway is guarded by more than lobbyists, which is why we must have that reform and that process of reforming also. There is corruption there that doesn’t sleep much, it’s kind of wide awake; the Unblinking Eye is, you know, watching constantly and it’s very watchful. It is an elitist wasteland, just full of earmarks and taxes and inefficiencies, and special interests also.”

Seriously, her dishonesty in this interview is systematic – not incidental to a particular question – and is evidence of personal corruption right out of the gate. She is not only corruptible, but she’s already internalizing the corruption of her handlers.

Now then, it seems that most politicians do this routinely. McCain, Obama, and Biden are experts at pretending to have answers they don’t have. Obama is so smooth he can make a journalist forget what the question was. So why pick on Palin?

I’ll tell you why. Sarah Palin is still an essentially honest person who isn’t good at telling lies. She averts her eyes. You can see the conflict in her face, you can hear the doubt in her voice, and it all betrays her words. You know her conscience bothers her and she’s going to feel terrible about this interview when it’s over.  Dishonesty doesn’t come easy to her … yet.  Perhaps a few more interviews like this one and she’ll get better at it.

But no! I don’t want this for Sarah Palin. I want Sarah Palin to go home, protect and re-build her integrity, and take care of her family and her state.

On a related note, someday I want to see an interview that goes like this:

Interviewer: So, Mr. Candidate, what is your solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

Candidate: To be honest, I just don’t know.

Interviewer: But you want to be president. How can you just shrug and say “I don’t know” to an issue of such global importance?

Candidate: Because it’s the truth. I just don’t know. If I’m elected, I will consult the best experts available on this question.

Interviewer: But your opponent says he has studied the question thoroughly and has drafted a multi-faceted proposal that is sure to bring peace to the region. He’s going to send Jimmy Carter and Jesse Jackson to Tel Aviv in the first week of his presidency.

Candidate: Gosh, my opponent is an expert on everything, isn’t he? That should save the taxpayers millions of dollars in cabinet salaries and consultation fees. I do like the idea of sending Carter and Jackson to Tel Aviv, though. Probably not for the same reasons.

Interviewer: What is your position on global warming?

Candidate: I don’t have a position on global warming.

Interviewer: Don’t you think it’s a problem?

Candidate: It certainly could be, but I don’t know enough about it to say. Do you know something I don’t?

Interviewer: Experts say that if we don’t reduce greenhouse emissions, we’re doomed.

Candidate: If those experts are right, then my position is that we need to reduce greenhouse emissions. But other experts say it’s a bunch of hooey. I’ve got a lot more studying to do and haven’t made up my mind about it.

23 thoughts on “The Palin Tragedy

  1. Oh, I don’t know. Compared to Biden, she’s absolutely marvelous. She’s done nothing as bizarre as Biden’s recent claim that, as President, FDR made a reassuring TV address to the nation after the 1929 stock market crash, much less Obama’s numbering of the states at 57.

    The real difference is that Biden and Obama are liberal Democrats, so the press rarely cover their many gaffes and never draws conclusions about mental competence from them. Palin is not only a Republican, she’s conservative and prolife, so they’re out to get her. You see the same thing in how they’ve been after McCain, whom they once loved when he was a Republican maverick, since he became the Republican candidate. Most of the press isn’t biased, they’re massively bigoted. Learn to live with it.

    Personally, I prefer Palin as President not just to Biden but to Obama. She’s got a solid record of accomplishment in political office. Obama doesn’t. Keep in mind that political deception is much like deception in magic. You can achieve quite a bit if you use redirection, keeping your audience’s eyes focused on the wrong thing.

    Stop a moment, take a deep breath, and ask yourself what Obama has accomplished in roughly two decades in politics. All the resources of the Obama campaign and of the mainstream press are being devoted to keeping you from doing precisely that.

    * Palin took on the corrupt Republicans in Alaska, a state troubled by crooks in league with the oil companies for decades. She sent them scurrying, successfully getting the Republican party head tossed out of office. That’s one reason why she has a popularity rating of 75% among the state’s Democrats.

    Now shift your vision. Is there a single corrupt politician in all of Chicago, no matter how lowly, that Obama has upset in the slightest in some twenty years in the city? I can’t recall one. Instead, he seems to have a remarkable knack for become close personal friends with them. If McCain had similar friendships, the story would lead every network newscast for weeks. Redirection.

    * For twenty years Alaskans have wanted to build a natural gas pipeline to the States, but have been hindered by the greed of the oil companies who, it was thought, would need to build it. As Governor, Palin opened the pipeline up to outside bidding and is getting the pipeline built without them and the tax kickbacks they wanted. Name me one major corporation, eager to get a government handout, that Obama has stood up to? There isn’t one. Again, redirection.

    I’ll give you a contrary example. In the midst of a home mortgage mess that could cost taxpayers $700 billion, recall that in the Senate only Chris Dodd has taken more money from Freddie Mae and Freddy Mac lobbyists than Obama. Reverse roles and imagine McCain taking that money and Obama being the harsh critic of our home mortgage policy that McCain has been for several years. It isn’t hard to imagine a press buzzing with stories about what a wise statesman Obama is. Redirection yet again.

    So relax, Turn off your TV and take a walk with your kids. Palin is a shrewd political operative. She’ll soon find her own voice and learn what every candidate has to learn–that there are times when you ignore the lines being fed you by handlers. Given the most hostile press since Clarence Thomas’ nomination to the Supreme Court, she’s actually doing quite well. And like Thomas, she’s a good, decent and honest person.

    Remember one of Perry’s yet-to-be=published laws. If the press likes someone they’re a scoundrel. If they hate someone and go after them, that person is probably quite decent and capable. It’s a practical example of darkness hating light. I used that principle back in 1992 the moment I heard that reporters liked Bill Clinton, even though I knew nothing else about him, and it proved quite accurate. They liked Clinton because he lies, just like them. They like Obama (and Carter before him) because he’s arrogant and incompetent, just like them. Darkness prefers darkness. Darkness hates light.

    –Michael W. Perry, editor of Chesterton on War and Peace


  2. Mr. Perry, I thought you had been reading long enough to know that I wouldn’t vote for Obama if he were running for dog catcher. You don’t need to convince me of the badness of Obama. What we’re seeing with Palin is not a series of Biden-like gaffes, but the emergence of another corrupt candidate that frankly doesn’t even have an elementary grasp of the issues, doesn’t do anything but revert to platitudes and talking points when asked a policy question, and has seemingly been told to never think for herself, never admit ignorance, and never give a direct answer. You can’t blame this on the media. Please.

    Yes, Obama and Biden and McCain blow smoke and dodge policy questions all the time. They make it look easy because they’re seasoned experts. I had hoped Palin was different. That was her attraction. But if this keeps up – and it probably will – she isn’t different at all, and we’re back to square one.

    The ticket isn’t McCain-Palin, it’s McCain-McCain and ought to be recognized as such.


  3. “You’re calling Governor Palin corrupt?”

    Yes, by all appearances she is being corrupted. Webster’s New World dictionary:

    “changed from a sound condition to an unsound one; spoiled; contaminated; deteriorated from the normal or standard”


  4. If what Orr says is true and that’s what her handlers have done, they’re fools. This is a strategic statement and aside from any issue of principles or morals. What kind of idiots squander their greatest asset? She was the only reason McCain even had a chance at the White House.


  5. Lydia, I agree. And if I hear the word “maverick” one more time I’m going to smash something. That said – in contrast to the dumbing down we’ve endured the past few months – I thought McCain did pretty well in the debate tonight (considering my low expectations). I predict a little bounce in the polls for him.


  6. I very definitely share your concern about how Governor Palin is being handled, and it worries me greatly. I think, though, I would have found another descriptive, as the one you used one does a disservice to her.

    The first definition of corrupt in Mirriam-Webster’s is:

    1 a: morally degenerate and perverted : depraved b: characterized by improper conduct (as bribery or the selling of favors)

    I believe that when someone is thought corrupt, it is this definition that will first spring to mind, not the definition you gave, which happens to be listed third in M-W.


  7. I’m not surprised that it’s coming out now that CBS edited the Sarah Palin interview to paint her in the worst possible light. And I guess it has worked.

    Yesterday I read this:

    CBS New anchor Katie Couric ordered staff to drop all references to “Governor” or “Gov.” from her interview with Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. When a staff member pointed out that in other venues, Couric and CBS News had referred to Governor Palin’s opponent, Joe Biden, using his title of “Senator” or the abbreviation, Couric, according to a CBS News editorial aide, sought approval from CBS News management to drop the “Governor” reference during her broadcast interview with Palin that began on Wednesday night.


    Couric is not the only member of the broadcast news corps who has sought to diminish Palin’s professional position, though she may be the most high profile. Producers and editorial staff at both NBC and ABC report that fellow staffers have openly ridiculed Palin, her professional and personal background and her family during production meetings, in the editing bays during video editing for nightly news stories, and while covering Palin at political events.

    Please – read the entire article at the link I gave.

    Then, this morning I read this:

    Katie Couric Edited Interview to Make Palin Look Bad

    If you read the edits, Palin does not look like an idiot. That’s the whole point. Couric had to make her look bad. And idiots like Kathleen Parker have fallen for Couric’s lies.

    Have you ever heard the old adage, if you tell a lie long enough, people will believe it. Well, that’s happening to Sarah Palin. I don’t mind admitting I’m so angry I’m in tears as I write this. I don’t know when I’ve seen anyone so abused and mistreated by the press. Serial killers get more respect. I swear Hitler gets more positive headlines. Hugo Chavez is treated better. Fidel Castro is more revered. More members of the press defend OJ than defend Sarah Palin. It has reached the point where they are going to destroy a good woman and her family. Now “conservatives” have joined the fight, determined to destroy John McCain by demanding she withdraw as his VP nominee.

    Much more at link.

    I believe Sarah Palin is a good and decent person. And I am angry–but not at all surprised–to see what is being done to her. The press has hunted her like a pack of coyotes, and anyone who has heard coyotes hunt knows how that eerie yapping gets more fierce and shrill and frantic as they corner their prey.

    God bless Sarah Palin! God bless her and give her a strength that is not her own, but His.


  8. In my above post, I messed up the html to italicize the opening paragraph of the second article. Those words are not mine:

    If you read the edits, Palin does not look like an idiot. That’s the whole point. Couric had to make her look bad. And idiots like Kathleen Parker have fallen for Couric’s lies.


  9. Anna, I read the edits, and frankly they don’t improve things. Yes, Couric and the press are her enemies and they want to see Palin fail. But there’s only so much mischief that can be done with editing. Sarah Palin is obviously out of her depth.

    The debate is Thursday night. Joe Biden is an unprincipled snake, and I think he’s going to run circles around Palin. But I hope that I’m wrong. As a friendly observer I want Palin to do well, and would love to see her take down Biden. But I’m not holding my breath.

    As an aside, another factor in this mess is the public and media expectation that candidates need to be experts on everything. It’s an impossible order for anyone. The system is rigged to favor veteran and experienced BSers. How does an honest person with intelligence and good judgment – but little experience in Washington – break through without playing the same game?


  10. Sarah Palin is obviously out of her depth.

    I must respectfully disagree. The campaign has GOT to stop giving over the control of her interviews to the enemy. Why hasn’t she sat down with Brit Hume, for example? Any interviews with the alphabets should be taped by her campaign staff with the understanding that the final edit will be vetted for accuracy against that tape. The compaign should allow free access to the reporters traveling with them, because the warm reception she has received wherever she has gone needs to be consistently presented. That enthusiasm is contagious. I don’t understand the mindset of some of the campaign decisions thus far.

    Governor Palin has great potential. The vice-presidential race is not run with the same set of expectations as is the presidential race. What is Biden, really, but an afterthought?

    What’s important is that she gets in there, and does well, and I think she can do just that. Four years as vice-president could very well usher in a 2012 run for the White House.

    What it comes down to is this: The main tactic is to diminish Sarah Palin in the eyes of the public. To make us doubt, to make us uncertain. And it’s working.

    Right after her selection, they sent an army of dirt-diggers up to Alaska – I don’t know that they were able to come up with anything at all. So they have resorted to the Saul Alinsky (Rules for Radicals) method of dealing with the threat of Sarah Palin, which includes, but is not limited to the following:

    Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.
    Keep the pressure on.
    Maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition.
    Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.


  11. Jeff,

    Respectfully, I hope you will forgive the following psycho-analysis, but based solely on your writing, it seems you prone either to extraordinary heights of excitement or to extraordinary lows of depression with regard to politics (and perhaps religion) in general.

    I guess I just don’t understand; I don’t relate either to your initial enthusiasm for Sarah Palin or to your sense of tragedy now. I watched her enter the race, with interest and mild enthusiasm, and I am watching her fumble a bit with mild disappointment — I suppose because I fully expected to see what I am seeing. Has she been corrupted? Perhaps, but I didn’t necessarily see her as saintly to begin with. She’s a human being, and how is a human being, touch by politics, to remain completely innocent? Remember, she was already involved in politics before this. She wasn’t dragged into anything. She knew the risks and the game, even if she didn’t have quite the extensive background to deal with them. It’s the reality we must contend with, for the present time at least, although I find no other precedents in human civilization. Perhaps that makes me a pessimist, or a realist. Or at least a cautious optimist.

    Again, I have no window into your heart, and I am prone to needless speculation about others when I should be taking a good look at my own faults in view of the Cross.

    It is true that the media has been hyping her fumbles more than her knowledge or intelligence.


  12. “Respectfully, I hope you will forgive the following psycho-analysis, but based solely on your writing, it seems you prone either to extraordinary heights of excitement or to extraordinary lows of depression with regard to politics (and perhaps religion) in general.”

    LOL. That’s probably true, Alan.

    “I guess I just don’t understand; I don’t relate either to your initial enthusiasm for Sarah Palin or to your sense of tragedy now.”

    You sound like a much more balanced fellow. I’ve always been political, and I kind of miss not being able to participate in this election. Sarah Palin was going to be my ticket to get back in the game, so I was excited about that. I wanted to campaign for somebody. It turns out that instead of Palin changing the campaign, the campaign changed her, and I’m disappointed.

    I do give myself a little credit, though. I never came out for Palin with anything but moral support, knowing that we didn’t have enough information, and knowing that the excitement would subside and sobriety would soon be thrust upon us.

    Kudos to you if you stayed sober in the first place.


  13. “The campaign has GOT to stop giving over the control of her interviews to the enemy.”

    That might help some.

    However, why would Governor Palin tell Brent Hume the truth about her non-existent foreign policy experience and lie to Katie Couric?

    Look – it’s impolite to keep talking about this, but Sarah Palin is a public figure now – she lied in that interview. Not just to Couric, but to you and me. She wants us to believe she has foreign policy experience because she has been governor of Alaska. She has none whatsoever. Zero. She’s a very bad liar (to her credit) and was unwilling to tell a major lie in order to cover up the little one. But it bothers me a great deal that she’s already being manipulated into telling lies by the McCain team. This does not show strength of character: rather, it reveals someone willing to compromise her integrity in order to get elected. In other words, more of the same old politics.

    I will add my prayer to yours for Governor Palin.


  14. +JMJ+

    Jeff, your hypothetical interview with an ideal candidate is almost exactly like something the physicist Richard Feynman once wrote! I wish I could quote it here, but I can’t even remember which book it is from. Feynman’s point was that if we had more leaders willing to ask questions rather than leaders absolutely certain they have the answers, then we’d have better leadership.

    I like the idea, but don’t know if I agree with it 100%. Let’s say that we have a campaign in which both candidates are like the above theoretical interviewee. How would we decide whom to vote for? In that case, what each would have to prove is that he has the greater discernment when it comes to choosing advisors and processing what they have to say.

    Yet remember how many great leaders of the past–good men thrust into leadership roles–have been brought down by corrupt counsellors. If Governor Palin is, as you say, already being influenced for the worst by McCain’s team, then it’s possible that she truly is your ideal candidate who has just happened to have fallen into a pit of vipers.

    So that scenario is a Catch 22, I think.


  15. Jeff, I appreciate your saying this about wanting to get back into the game. I’ve been saying for a long time that I think that deep desire is behind a lot of the “lesser of two evils” talk and behavior. We Americans find it incredibly hard to sit on the sidelines of elections. Not only do we feel un-civic, we also just feel lonely.

    By the way, my only problem with your hypothetical interview is that I _do_ have opinions on both of those topics, so I suppose I wouldn’t give just those answers. I don’t know if this means I’m too opinionated, but believe me, I’m sure there would be things the interviewer could come up with about which I would have to say, in honesty, “I don’t know.” Or at a minimum, “Well, I _think_ such-and-such, but that’s tentative, and I could be wrong.”

    Not a way to win elections, I’m afraid, but it should be.


  16. I’ve seen what I believe to be the Palin-type before. They are the type who believe that if a person is essentially good, they will do good things. If a person does bad things, then they are a bad person. That there are highly competent people that are scum doesn’t figure into the worldview. That there are good people that shouldn’t be allowed to cook their own dinner doesn’t enter the worldview.

    I find your interview down right scary. I know it is attempting to impart the importance of modesty, but it comes across to me as the glorification of defeatism.


  17. There’s nothing significant here. Palin sparring with a leftist, steering toward answers that might sell to a public that hasn’t a clue about the nature of the financial crisis.
    Were she stronger on the bailout issues she might have pointed out that it was REGULATION that was the problem; forcing institutions into market-adverse lending, NOT a lack of regulation, and thus un-masked the advocacy journalism she was facing. But, on balance, she betrayed no lack of integrity as the comments suggested. None at all. She certainly had as great a command of the subject as the “reporter.”
    The one great weakness she can never compensate is that she is stuck as a running mate to a very bad candidate, a man with few clues on fiscal issues and no real ethical base on anything. He is an ambitious careerist who was fortunate enough (politically), through no virtue of his own, to have been a prisoner of war. As that becomes clear to her, she simply has got to grow quiet or change the subject. She can’t actually run against the ticket.


  18. Pingback: Jeff Culbreath: The Sarah Palin Tragedy | Steve Skojec

  19. Jeff, Jeff, I think the world of you because you not only speak Catholicese but you are living it!

    The campaign is not an episode of jeopardy and let’s see who we can trip up/quiz/embarrass until she is no longer a viable candidate on air.

    I don’t want a “know it all, intellectual/battle-worn candidate”. I want a person man or woman of integrity with VALUES especially MORAL values.

    She has ’em. Don’t conform to the standards set by the socialist media. We don’t HAVE to play by their rules. I refuse to do so.

    I want someone who is prolife and has lived prolife and paid the price.

    I don’t care what flavor-of-fool the media has made the candidate. I refuse to traffic in their corrupt currency of PR/empty suit/grand false facade/ NONSENSE.

    Why, oh why, must the Republicans always cannabilize our own? Honor? Integrity? Or greedy self approval?



  20. I want someone who’s pro-life too. But I also want someone who isn’t going to support a bail-out of bad investors at huge taxpayers’ expense. By linking with the McCain campaign, she has put herself in the position of having to defend bad policies in just about every area: the antithesis of the conservative values we love her for. I really hoped she would have said no to being his running mate.


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