Thus far I have been very successful in keeping this site from delving too deeply in the discussion of politics, but I'm afraid I'm going to have to suspend that practice of mine, at least for this post.
And as much as I would like to go on and on celebrating Barack Obama for winning the presidential election, I must instead focus on the subject of Sarah Palin. To be more precise, I must focus on this notion that she represents the future of the national Republican Party, and is perhaps even a viable candidate for the Republican nomination for 2012.
But before I discuss the future of the Sarah Palin and the Republican Party, I would like to touch on the past for a bit - the past as in this election. There have been a number of reports that there are a number of staffers within John McCain's former campaign who are blaming Palin for costing McCain the election. This notion is certainly untrue, I believe, or at the very least I believe it is foolish to say that Palin directly cost McCain this election. To the extent that Palin cost McCain any votes, and by extension the election, is the direct fault of John McCain and his advisers for selecting Sarah Palin.
So no, I don't believe it's "fair" to blame Palin for McCain's loss. However, I'm even more disturbed by these false equivalencies that I've heard some trot out that no one blamed John Edwards for John Kerry's loss or no one blamed Joe Lieberman for Al Gore's loss. Of course no one blamed Edwards or Lieberman for the respective losses of Kerry and Gore. This has nothing to do with the fact that Palin is a woman, as I've heard some suggest. Rather, this has to do with the fact that Sarah Palin was woefully unqualified to be Vice President and, by extention, President.
No one in their right mind can say that Sarah Palin was equally qualified to be Vice President as the last two who failed in their bids for the same office. She displayed a fundamental misunderstanding of what the role of the Vice President is, despite being given a number of opportunities to articulate the job description. Her media appearances were an absolute disaster, to the point where there were at least a couple of appearances where John McCain had to sit alongside her seeming to act as a chaperone of sorts. And yet, Sarah Palin did not cost John McCain the election. To the extent that she had any negative effect on McCain's candidacy, John McCain is directly responsible for selecting someone who demonstrated little to no understanding of important issues.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm thoroughly enjoying all of the Republican infighting that is now taking place. I love the story about Palin being unfamiliar with the countries that constitute NAFTA (with some reports going so far as to say that she was unaware of the countries that are actually in North America), as well as the story that she was evidently unaware that Africa was a continent (or her questioning of whether South Africa was part of the country of Africa). I don't know how much of this is true, but I don't completely buy this argument that she has made that this was all taken out of context. Or at least if these things were taken out of context, how much does this mitigate the damage that her credibility has already taken?
Let's address the NAFTA thing first. I would be willing to cut her some slack on NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) because the continent of North America actually includes all of the Central American countries. However, the fact of the matter is that she is the governor of the state of Alaska. Alaska's only neighbor is Canada. It would seem to me that if you are the governor of any state in the United States you should be aware of what nations are involved in NAFTA. I won't go so far as to believe that she didn't know what countries are in North America because if you want to be absolutely correct about the continent of North America, then you must include the Central American countries as well (something that I could not do off of the top of my head). Still, I think that it would be appalling if she was unaware of the nations in North America as they apply to NAFTA.
Now moving on to the Africa comment, I find it hard to cut her any slack on this one. As hard as it is for me to believe that she would be unaware that Africa is a continent and not a country, I just cannot come up with a plausible explanation for what "taken out of context" means in this situation. I would love for someone to articulate some context for me in this situation in which Palin does not seem foolish. I'm serious; I would really like for someone to do this for me.
What bothers me most about the Sarah Palin candidacy and post-candidacy is that you have people like Mika Brzezinski who are going out of their way to defend Palin. There is a chance that Brzezinski does it from a feminist view point, but I find such a defense absurd. I had two conversations with my mother in which we discussed Palin, and I think that we both agreed in totality. Sarah Palin as a candidate for national office at this time was an embarrassment to the nation as a whole, and to educated women in particular. Her lack of basic understanding of the issues was striking and there is no way she should have been able to get as close as she did to the Vice Presidency. The selection of a woman as a candidate to occupy one of the two highest offices in the land by the Republican Party is truly something that should have been a moment to celebrate because it is clear that the talent level that women represent in this country as a whole is significantly underrepresented in elective politics. However, the notion that Sarah Palin was the most qualified woman that could have been nominated within the Republican Party is absolutely laughable and belies a cynicism that makes their sizable electoral loss wholeheartedly deserved.
What happens next? Well, a large number of members of the Republican Party believe that she could actually be their nominee in 2012. I truly don't get it. I don't understand for the life of me how Republican voters honestly believe she could garner more than fifty percent of the vote in a national election. Those tapes of her interviews and the reports that have come out post-election are not going anywhere. I just don't see how she buries the scars she has suffered, fairly or unfairly, during this presidential campaign. But if the Republicans believe that she is their future, who am I to interfere?