Friday, October 03, 2008

Palin: Screw Substance -- I Want To Be Judged On My Character

Gosh darnit, Sarah Palin is miffed at the questions Katie Couric asked her in that catastrophic interview:
"I did feel there were a lot of things she was missing in terms of an opportunity to ask what a VP candidate stands for, what the values are that are represented in our ticket," Palin said. "I guess I have to apologize for being a bit annoyed, but that's also an indication about being outside that Washington elite, outside that media elite also, and just wanting to talk to Americans without the filter and let them know what we stand for."

Translation: I don't want to talk about issues of substance (as we saw on the regulation question at the debate). I should have been given an hour to just chirp about how I'm from a small town and that makes me better than people from Chicago.

This. Is. Bogus. And it's an insult to the political process that it is even conceived of being a legitimate argument. You want my evaluation of your character, Gov. Palin? You're a whiner who thinks it's an abuse of the process that we got a chance to witness your own intellectual failings.

Incidentally, CNN followed up that quote from Palin with the following paragraph:
In two separate and lengthy interviews with Couric over the last week, Palin seemed to struggle with a number of answers, including a defense of McCain's record on regulation issues. She also appeared to stumble when relating her views on the financial bailout, her foreign policy credentials, her preferred news sources of news, and a Supreme Court case she disagrees with.

Possibly more effective if CNN hadn't written "news sources of news", but it gets the point across. Governor Palin is Governor Robert Ritchie. That's all there is to it.


PG said...

I forget where I read this -- probably someone analyzing Haidt's work -- but many conservatives sincerely believe that character and values are important things to express. They are a matter of substance, and indeed much more so than one's specific ideas about bankruptcy law.

Experts can be hired. The people we elect to represent us therefore should be judged on how representative they are, not on their technical proficiency or knowledge in any area. If our leaders have the right values and communicate those values to a staff of experts, the experts can put the values into practice in terms of laws and policy.

Of course, I don't think much of the values of a person whose priorities required building a hockey rink but billing rape kits to the victims' insurance lest the taxpayers otherwise have to bear that burden. Nor do I think much of the character of a VP candidate who says to the other VP candidate: "I have great respect for your family also and the honor that you show our military. Barack Obama though, another story there."

But Palin is not necessarily being insincere or trying to cover up for areas where you feel she is lacking. If she is like many other conservatives, she genuinely thinks that if voters believe her to be of good character, then she is qualified for the office. Only if her opponent has equally good character (primary) and the same values (secondary) do issues of policy competency come into question.

Judging by her comment about Obama at the debate, and McCain's behavior toward Obama at the Senate bailout vote, they have convinced themselves that their opponent is not merely wrong on policy, but is a person of bad character and bad values. It is exasperating therefore for Palin to have to discuss the tertiary matters that she keeps getting quizzed about, as though her opponent is somehow her equal in character and values when her party believes he is not. For a certain kind of conservative -- not my dad's kind, but possibly Charles Krauthammer's kind (I name the distinction to clarify that one can be very well-educated and a solid thinker and still be this kind of conservative) -- the first three reasons to vote against Obama are Ayers, Wright and (a distant third) Rezko. Policy matters probably wouldn't make the top 5.

It also is this type of conservative who can change policy course most easily, which is why they can exasperate other conservatives a great deal. Now that McCain is on a moral crusade with regard to Wall Street, he comes up with ideas that socialist Bernie Sanders wouldn't voice, like putting a wage control on CEO pay for the firms participating in the bailout, and having shareholders take over the traditional corporate board function of making top level decisions like executive pay and R&D investment levels.

Jake Liscow said...

The problem is that Sarah Palin's character is despicable. Not only has she claimed executive privilege a la Bush administration and Karl Rove in trying to avoid subpoenas in Alaska, she is, as you accurately depict her, a whiner with little upside. The stubbornness of the GOP right now is expected, but the right still can't really think Palin was a good choice. The love affair must be far past over, right? She exceeded her Dan Quayle level expectations - so maybe she's almost as smart as a 5th grader.