Sunday, September 14, 2008

Echoes of Dubya in the Alaskan Wilderness

funny pictures
From I Can Has Cheezburger?

Quick follow-up to my last post on Tina Fey's wonderful Sarah Palin send-up (and also my earlier fretting on what seems to be her willful ignorance of foreign policy).

James Fallows at the Atlantic cogently analyzes why Palin is clueless about the Bush Doctrine and why this should rob us of our sleep:
How could she not know this? For the same reason I don't know anything about European football/soccer standings, player trades, or intrigue. I am not interested enough. And she evidently has not been interested enough even to follow the news of foreign affairs during the Bush era.

A further point. The truly toxic combination of traits GW Bush brought to decision making was:

1) Ignorance
2) Lack of curiosity
3) "Decisiveness"

That is, he was not broadly informed to begin with (point 1). He did not seek out new information (#2); but he nonetheless prided himself (#3) on making broad, bold decisions quickly, and then sticking to them to show resoluteness.

We don't know for sure about #2 for Palin yet -- she could be a sponge-like absorber of information. But we know about #1 and we can guess, from her demeanor about #3. Most of all we know something about the person who put her in this untenable role.

(My emphasis. Read his whole commentary here.)
Now, I did follow European soccer when I lived in Germany, and it's great fun - but only if you're willing and able to invest some effort in it. Otherwise, you're left with a sea of furrin names that don't mean much. Same for furrin policy. But darn it, virtually everyone I know who's involved in local politics has more of a clue about the Bush Doctrine than Sarah Palin does.

That, to me, is pretty strong evidence that Palin suffers from congenital lack of curiosity about foreign affairs. Seems to me that Fallows really underplays his second point. His third point - about "decisiveness" - is pretty well illustrated by Palin's approach to preterm labor. If you object that this was a "personal" arena and thus no predictor of how "resolute" she'd be as president, please recall her "I did not blink" mantra in the Charlie Gibson interview.

Fallows could've also added a fourth similarity to GW Bush: Palin's penchant for cronyism, secrecy, and intimidation, as reported in the New York Times. Apparently her attempt to fire the Wasilla public librarian was only her warm-up act. And Troopergate is only the most publicized manifestation of her Nixonian qualities.

All of this adds up to someone who I wouldn't want on my local school board, much less a heartberat away from being Leader of the Free World. The only person I trust less, at this point, is the guy who picked her.


Appalachia said...

This is exactly my fear. I don't think Obama is all that "experienced," and it has never bothered me because I trust his curiosity, his ability to hire the best people to advise him on key issues, and his open-mindedness to weighing a whole range of perspectives, including many from people who might outright disagree with him.

Bush didn't have "experience" either, but he also didn't have curiosity and, as you say, he was -- woe for the world -- "decisive." I fear Palin is the same -- in the absence of experience and curiosity, she'll fall back on religious ideology and Cheney-esque neocon talking points -- and "not blinking."

Sungold said...

Thanks for stopping by, Appalachia. I agree very much on you analysis of Obama. One think that reassured me was the strength of his campaign organization; he has run such a smart campaign, I'm not very troubled by his relative inexperience.

It helps, too, that I feel confident he knows what's meant by terms like the Bush Doctrine, the unitary executive, etc.

As for "not blinking" - repeat that phrase often enough, and all I can picture is a scene from Clockwork Orange.