Friday, September 26, 2008

I Can See Russia From My House

Sarah Palin's detractors enjoy using the line Tina Fey used while parodying Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live. Fey said in a dead-on Palin impersonation, "I can see Russia from my house." Is this a unfair criticism of Palin, considering Palin never used that exact line, or does it provide a insight into the first term governor that should make us all stand up and question Palin's basic fitness to be our next Vice President. Let's first look at what Palin actually said that was the basis for Tina Fey's words in that memorable skit.
Charlie Gibson of ABC news interviewed Palin over a two day period from September 11th through September 12th. Here's the relevant part of his interview.
GIBSON: What insight into Russian actions, particularly in the last couple of weeks, does the proximity of the state give you?

PALIN: They're our next door neighbors and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska.
About ten days later, Palin was interviewed by CBS news anchor Katie Couric. She was asked a similar line of questions.

Couric: You've cited Alaska's proximity to Russia as part of your foreign policy experience. What did you mean by that?

Sarah Palin: That Alaska has a very narrow maritime border between a foreign country, Russia, and, on our other side, the land-boundary that we have with Canada. It's funny that a comment like that was kinda made to … I don't know, you know … reporters.

Couric: Mocked?

Palin: Yeah, mocked, I guess that's the word, yeah.

Couric: Well, explain to me why that enhances your foreign-policy credentials.

Palin: Well, it certainly does, because our, our next-door neighbors are foreign countries, there in the state that I am the executive of. And there…

Couric: Have you ever been involved in any negotiations, for example, with the Russians?

Palin: We have trade missions back and forth, we do. It's very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia. As Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where do they go? It's Alaska. It's just right over the border. It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there, they are right next to our state.

These answers represent more than mere gaffes, they represent a gross misunderstanding of foreign policy and should make the hair of anyone listening stand on end. How can we take such a candidate serious? If Barack Obama made a statements like these, Hillary Clinton would have been the Democratic nominee on February 5th of this year.

Sarah Palin sees the world in simple black and white terms, when the world is actually filled with multiple, complex shades of gray. We've suffered through the last seven and a half years with a President who governed by the philosophy that "you're either with us or against us." That simple black and white philosophy got us a war without end, large budget deficits, an extremely divided country, and a financial climate that looks almost as bleak as the days of the Great Depression.
Let's get serious, Vice Presidents must be able to step in and fill the role of the President on a moment's notice. Not everyone who's taken the oath of office for President throughout our history has been up to the job, and the same goes for many Vice Presidents. But has any of them demonstrated such a fundamental air of incompetence as that of Palin? Yes, she's got energy, drive, certitude, and can invigorate the base, but these qualities without a deep understanding of the basic issues we face in the world today are a dangerous combination. Alexander Pope wrote: "A little learning is a dangerous thing; drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring: there shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, and drinking largely sobers us again."
Hopefully if John McCain is elected, he will live a long life, and we will never have to see Sarah Palin's incompetence in action. However, the choice of Palin casts serious doubts into the judgment of John McCain. In John McCain's biggest decision since deciding to run for President, he has failed miserably in picking Palin. She was certainly not the most qualified person McCain could have picked. She isn't even the most qualified Republican woman for the job. Where's Kay Bailey Hutchinson when you need her?
One final thought: Barack Obama may have spent only 140 days or so in the Senate before he made his announcement to run for President, but he has demonstrated, whether you agree with his views or not, that he has an in depth understanding of the complex issues our next President will face. He would certainly have not survived the relentless onslaught of the Clinton campaign during the primary if he didn't have such an understanding.

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