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Palin = Quayle

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There was once a time in our history when the name Dan Quayle was synonymous with incompetence.  In fact, so low was America’s opinion of the junior senator from Indiana that it is hard to believe that someone less qualified and more incompetent could ever find themselves in the position of presidential running mate.  Alas, that was before the world was introduced to Governor Sarah Palin.

For a bit of fun I recommend reading this New York Times article from October 1988 about Dan Quayle.   The similarities between Quayle and Palin are frightening.  Just for fun try reading the article and every time you see the name Quayle, substitute the name Palin.  The effect is funny, if not frightening.Tonight the former mayor of Wasilla will take the stage in the first and only Vice-Presidential debate of the 2008 election.  What can American’s expect from her?  Will it be a redux of her speech in Minneapolis?  Probably not, that speech was written for her by some very smart people.  Will it be a rerun of the fumbling, bumbling interview she gave Katie Couric?  Probably not, the parameters of the debate limit the chances of such a catastrophe.  Instead it will most likely be a middling performance which changes no one’s opinion of her.  Democrats should consider such an outcome a clear-cut victory.  American’s are already inclined to believe she is a national joke.

Viewers should expect to see Palin aggressively remind them she is “everywoman.”  If she cannot answer a question her answer will be, “Well, back in Alaska we have more important things to do than worry about (fill in the blank).  We worry about jobs, about the price of gas, and about our families.”  She will use the words “establishment” and “insider” as if they are bad words.  She will fold terms like “Joe Six-Pack” and “Hockey-Mom” into answers about the economy and the war.  She will cast herself as a working mother, an outsider who promises reform.

Objectively there is no problem with this; populist politicians have succeeded in many elections.  What makes Palin different from them is she lacks the intellectual curiosity to back up her ambitions.

The problem with Sarah Palin trying to be “everywoman” is she is applying to a job that not any woman can fill.  She is applying to become the second most powerful elected official of a nation deep in crisis.  Her cavalier pronouncements of “averageness” will ring hollow with Americans because they already have a low opinion of her.  Her familiarity with the “common man” will only remind Americans that she is not prepared to make difficult decisions.  Her assertions that she will govern from the gut and surround herself with good advisors will remind American’s that they elected George Bush on a similar promise and look where that got us?

Palin is going into tonight’s debate essentially making the argument that her inability to do the job makes her able to do the job.  That is nonsense.  Democrats should just let her make the argument and have faith that the American people (and the media) will see her for what she is — just a hockey mom from Alaska.

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Victor Maldonado

Victor Maldonado