Sarah Palin and the Politics of the Irrational

News at Home

Mr. Palermo is Associate Professor of American History at CSU, Sacramento. He's the author of two books on Robert F. Kennedy: In His Own Right (2001) and RFK (2008).

In The Age of American Unreason, Susan Jacoby writes: "If Bush's election was not a measure of conscious anti-intellectualism on the part of voters, it was certainly a measure of the public's indifference to demonstrable mental acuity and knowledge as standards for the presidency." (p. 285)

In recent years, presidential races have become highly personalized media events. They focus voters' short attention spans on the individuals who are running, rather than on the policy prescriptions they represent. This battle of wills allows the Republicans to construct a false narrative that might resonate with just enough voters to put them over the top in the Electoral College. The qualifications of a presidential candidate don't seem to matter much. Experience, intelligence, and competence actually can be detriments -- just ask Al Gore and John Kerry. Whether it's the Florida recount in 2000 with an assist from a Republican Supreme Court, or Swift Boaters eviscerating a war hero's military record in 2004, or Willie Horton scaring the bejeezus out of white middle-class people in 1988, the Republicans have turned American presidential elections into quadrennial experiments in applied social psychology.

As John McCain's campaign manager said: "This election is not about issues. This election is about a composite view of what people take away from these candidates."

At this point in the election of 2008, with the red states becoming redder and the swing states tightening up, we're heading straight into familiar Republican ground. In "Great American Hypocrites," Glenn Greenwald notes: "What matters is that Democrats and liberals are weak, effete, elitist, nerdy, military-hating, gender-confused losers, whose men are effeminate, whose women are emasculating dykes, and who merit sneering mockery and derision. Republican right-wing male leaders are salt-of-the-earth, wholesome, likable tough guys -- courageous warriors and normal family men who merit personal admiration and affection." (p. 90) The fact that these Republican tropes are based on lies only seems to strengthen their appeal as faith-based political belief. And the corporate media repeat this meta-frame in a thousand different ways without ever setting the record straight. With Sarah Palin as McCain's running mate the Republicans have the "salt-of-the-earth, wholesome, likable tough guy" -- but this time in the form of a woman.

McCain looks old and haggard and delivers a terrible speech. With his languid, deathly persona he cannot go into the mega-churches like Bush used to do and get the faithful eating out of the palm of his hand.

Enter Sarah Palin.

According to Susan Jacoby, two thirds of Americans want creationism to be taught along with evolution in public schools; over half of Americans reject any form of biological evolution (even guided by God); and "42 percent say that all living beings, including humans, have existed in their present form since the beginning of time." (pp. 22-23) And "25 percent believe that Christianity was established by the Constitution as the official government religion." (p. 299)

Although impossible to measure, part of the rise of right-wing Christian fundamentalism in recent years was a backlash to the cultural and social gains women made with the successes of the Second Wave feminist movement, (like the career opportunities Sarah Palin has enjoyed). The Republicans have cleverly figured out a way to channel that anti-feminist backlash into garnering support from conservative voters by nominating an interesting and attractive (if unqualified) woman candidate who embodies the old white male social agenda. This ploy would never work in a political environment where reason and logic prevailed in the collective decisions of an informed electorate.

The 72-year-old McCain looks weak, anemic, elderly; he's not a dynamic personality. Sarah Palin gives him everything he lacks: Christian fundamentalist bona fides, which distract from McCain's adultery and marital history; average "hockey mom" status, which distracts from McCain's $100 million fortune; and hunting, fishing, and general outdoorsiness to compensate for McCain's decrepitness.

Sarah Palin leads anti-abortion rallies. She is a fundamentalist Christian who preaches abstinence-only sex education (even though it clearly failed in her own family), creationism in biology classes, and when she was mayor of Wasilla she tried to ban gay-friendly books in the local library. She and her family hunt moose in the Alaskan wild. Compared to those families who only hunt deer and squirrels in rural Ohio or Pennsylvania the Palins are awesome frontier people; they give an inferiority complex to every hunter in the lower 48. The National Rifle Association couldn't ask for a better spokeswoman. Todd Palin wins the grueling 2,000-mile "Iron Dog" snow machine race every year where as "First Dude" he proves his measure against other Alaskan men. Palin gave birth to a Down syndrome baby choosing "life" by example. Her eldest son has just shipped out to Iraq as a soldier in the United States military. And she is beautiful.

For this election, Frank Luntz's focus group corporation could not have cloned in a laboratory a better Republican woman demographic!

So far the corporate media have given Palin a free ride. When it was obvious in her interview with Charlie Gibson that she did not have a clue what the "Bush Doctrine" is, CNN's David Gergen's analysis was that it didn't matter because "most Americans" and "most journalists" also don't know what it is. I guess we don't have to worry about whether a vice-presidential candidate knows that there are nine justices on the Supreme Court because "most Americans" don't know that either.

"One wonders whether any candidate," Susan Jacoby writes, "instead of trying to prove that he or she is just one of the folks, would dare to tell voters that the nation needs not an ordinary but an extraordinary person as president and that one crucial qualification for the nation's highest office is the intellectual ability to distinguish, in times of crisis and on a daily basis, between worthwhile and worthless opinions." (p. 287)

We'll see whether the Republicans' latest social science experiment will succeed or fail. There is hope. There are over 30 million Americans who claim to have no formal ties to any religion, and 16 percent of Americans describe their outlook as wholly or predominantly secular. There are religious centrists who have been alienated by Bush's Bible thumping and who care more about poverty, the environment, and universal health care than controlling women's bodies and discriminating against gays and lesbians. The economy is in tatters. The Iraq war is unpopular. The Republicans were tossed out of Congress. And Bush is the most unpopular president since Richard Nixon. There are more registered Democrats than ever, and Barack Obama has generated enormous excitement among new voters and the Democratic base. Sarah Palin is a lightweight (like Dan Quayle), which means she's a major gaffe waiting to happen, and even some mainstream journalists seem ready to give her a bumpy ride.

The McCain-Palin juggernaut can be stopped. But it won't be easy.

The Obama-Biden campaign will need to get out huge numbers of young people, blacks and other minorities, and newly registered voters to counter the formidable army of Christian soldiers that McCain has unleashed by tapping Palin. I wouldn't let her campaign unimpeded in the swing states without running some TV ads and direct mail that put her on the defensive -- and soon. Democratic 527s should attack Sarah Palin's strengths. Most importantly, the false Republican narrative of an effete, "elitist" Democrat versus a "salt-of-the-earth," regular guy must be countered and disrupted.

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Lorraine Paul - 10/2/2008

We have a much better system in Australia, it is based more on the UK system. The leader of the elected party becomes Prime Minister. No circuses aimed at the wider electorate to fool them into thinking that they had actually had a hand in the choosing.

Lorraine Paul - 10/2/2008

Bill, I had typed out an 'interesting, lengthy and informative' <g> reply to both you and Mr Reiger. However, the internet let me down, for when the grand moment came for me to click the 'submit' button HNN told me that my password or user name was invalid.

Of course, my first action when these little hiccups occur is to panic, subsequently my reply to you both is now probably floating somewhere in cyberspace never to be read or appreciated by your good selves!

Limping away discouragedly from the keyboard I pondered again as to why I hadn't used microsoft word and then cut and pasted to the comment box.

A. M. Eckstein - 10/1/2008

Mr. Heuisler, here's another prominent conservative:

Will told Senate staffers on Sept. 30 that Palin was "OBVIOUSLY not qualified to be President of the U.S."

Not just "not qualified", but "OBVIOUSLY not qualified." He said that her interviews with Couric were "a disaster".

Again, none of what I have posted above is coming from the Obama side.

art eckstein - 9/30/2008

Here's *another* well-known conservative who now finds Palin embarrssing, Mr. Heuisler:

September 30, 2008 7:20 AM

"I think she has pretty thoroughly — and probably irretrievably — proven that she is not up to the job of being president of the United States," David Frum, a former speechwriter for President Bush who is now a conservative columnist, tells the New York Times today

art eckstein - 9/30/2008

Mr. Heuisler, on "Hardball" this evening (Monday, Sept. 29), Michelle Bernard of the Independent Women's Forum (a very conservative group) characterized Palin's performance and answers in the Couric interview as "abysmal."

ABYSMAL, Mr. Heuisler. This isn't coming from an Obama supporter, but from a prominent McCain supporter.

art eckstein - 9/29/2008

BH, here's what HE wrote yesterday (Sunday, Sept. 28):

"Certainly, a significant number of Republicans were discouraged by Palin's performance in the Couric interviews that have already aired."

This statement from the very conservative Byron York is not Obama-propaganda, Mr. Heuisler! York is stating a FACT. And there's a reason for that FACT--like Palin's claim to Couric that being governor of a state (for 18 months) that happens to be located near Russia gives her significant "foreign policy experience" as she explained to Couric. (In what way, eh?) This statement has become a national joke.

art eckstein - 9/29/2008

The mother is clearly happy, Mr. Heuisler, that Obama referred to the braclet--in fact, she is "ecstatic." That's from an interview with the Associated Press.

You wrote "against family wishes". You were wrong.

Bill Heuisler - 9/28/2008

Mr. Eckstein,
As usual you have your facts wrong.(Try googling "Obama bracelet of KIA soldier")

This is a Milwaukee news account, but you can look it up anywhere.

"Shockingly, however, Madison resident Brian Jopek, the father of Ryan Jopek, the young soldier who tragically lost his life to a roadside bomb in 2006, recently said on a Wisconsin Public Radio show that his family had asked Barack Obama to stop wearing the bracelet with his son's name on it. Yet Obama continues to do so despite the wishes of the family."

"Radio host Glenn Moberg of the show "Route 51" asked Mr. Jopek, a man who believes in the efforts in Iraq and is not in favor of Obama's positions on the war, what he and his ex-wife think of Obama continually using their son's name on the campaign trail."
"Jopek began by saying that his ex-wife was taken aback, even upset, that Obama has made the death of her son a campaign issue. Jopek says his wife gave Obama the bracelet because "she just wanted Mr. Obama to know Ryan's name." Jopek went on to say that "she wasn't looking to turn it into a big media event" and "just wanted it to be something between Barack Obama and herself." Apparently, they were all shocked it became such a big deal."

But, he also said that his ex-wife has refused further interviews on the matter and that she wanted Obama to stop wearing the reminder of her son's sacrifice that he keeps turning into a campaign soundbyte. This begins at about 10 minutes into the radio program. (Download radio show HERE)


Brian Jopek: Because of some of the negative feedback she's gotten on the Internet, you know Internet blogs, you know people accusing her of... or accusing Obama of trying to get votes doing it... and that sort of thing.

Radio Host Moberg: Yeah

Jopek: She has turned down any subsequent interviews with the media because she just didn't want it to get turned into something that it wasn't. She had told me in an email that she had asked, actually asked Mr. Obama to not wear the bracelet any more at any of his public appearances. Which I don't think he's...

Moberg: It has been a while since he's brought it up.

Jopek: Right. But, the other night I was watching the news and he was on, uh, speaking somewhere and he was still wearing it on his right wrist. I could see it on his right wrist. So, that's his own choice. I mean that's something Barack Obama, that's a choice that he continues to wear it despite Tracy asking him not to... Because she is a Barack Obama supporter and she didn't want to do anything to sabotage his campaign, so, if he's still wearing the bracelet then, uh, that of course is entirely up to him.

Moberg: Maybe there's a difference between wearing it and making a point to bring it up in your speeches

"Sir, the NEXT time you make a charge like that, you might want to check that you have your FACTS straight!"

Bill Heuisler:
It must be tough to be wrong ALL the time.

art eckstein - 9/28/2008

BH, you've evidently slandered Obama on that bracelet with the soldier's name on it.

Sir, the NEXT time you make a charge like that, you might want to check that you have your FACTS straight!

Headline from AP (Associated Press):

Soldier's mother 'ecstatic' about Obama's bracelet

By DINESH RAMDE – 1 hour ago (i.e., from 8 p.m. Sunday night):

MILWAUKEE (AP) — The mother of a Wisconsin soldier who died in Iraq says she was "ecstatic" when Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama mentioned during Friday's debate the bracelet she gave him in honor of her son.

Tracy Jopek of Merrill told The Associated Press on Sunday she was honored that Obama remembered Sgt. Ryan David Jopek, who was killed in 2006 by a roadside bomb

art eckstein - 9/28/2008

The post-debate polls are on my side about Obama, BH.

When you get an outright call by a columnist in National Review for Palin to withdraw because of her incompetence--well, you ought to think about what's going on. They published it. And Kathleen Parker isn't the only conservative who thinks she is doing awfully. I cited chapter and verse of conservative (dare I say it?) despair about her. To Parker and Rich Lowry add David Brooks (and, about McCain himself, George Will).

Rather than throw insults at me, BH--debate the people on your own side.

Bill Heuisler - 9/28/2008

Mr. Eckstein,
There was no Obama "competence".
Obama deferred to McCain eight times in the 90 minutes and couldn't name one area in government where he would cut spending. He defended his vote to cut off spending for the troops by saying he voted against the war from the beginning. He could not deny nor explain how his statement to meet w/o precondition with Iran's megalomaniac was good for the US and insisted on misquoting Henry Kissinger. He used a KIA soldier's name against family wishes and showed conviction only in the area of mandatory US medical insurance. His performance was not presidential and most polls show he lost the debate.

Since you read National Review so assiduously, you must know how popular Sarah Palin is with nearly every writer and with most readers. The same cannot be said of Biden in any magazine, left or right.

Thursday night will dissappoint you.
Bill Heuisler

art eckstein - 9/27/2008

Obama's competence was proven last night, so your argument, based on "the 57 states", if it ever had any weight, has none any longer.

Meanwhile, Palin's incompetence was proven in the horrible Katie interview on CBS. Even Rich Lowry (very conservative) thought she was awful, and Lowry has said so now in public. So did Kathleen Parker (very conservative), who suggested in a column that Palin voluntarily withdraw. THAT was in the National Review.

I'm on firm ground, BH.

Bill Heuisler - 9/27/2008

Mr. Eckstein,
Substituting insult for argument must just be your way of compensating.

I understand you feel threatened by a strong, accomplished woman. And we know Biden and Obama are difficult to champion. We also realize you are reduced to insult and innuendo in order to rationalize being against Palin "long before I found this out."

You apparently believe guilt by association only affects Women. You apparently believe admitted serial plagiariser and gaffe-cursed Joe Biden is superior to an "ignorant insult of a candidate" whose ignorance you fail to cite.

Does Obama's allusion to 57 States, his not knowing Russia has a veto in the UN or his statement that Iran is a tiny country convey any ignorance?
Were the Palins married by the Kenyan minister you dislike so much? Were their children baptised by him?
Of course not. You attempt insult, but the embarrassing Wright analogy escapes you.

Your insults only highlight your rather amusing struggle to unearth a rational argument.
Bill Heuisler

E. Simon - 9/27/2008

Q. "Of course there are a number of other lies out there about Palin, some of which are rehashed in this article, but the dinosaur "quote" is such a good one. Why did you believe this lie?"

A. Because it's been credibly reported and not refuted. And because she certainly seems willing to believe a lot of other silly nonsense.

Another valley activist, Philip Munger, says that Palin also helped push the evangelical drive to take over the Mat-Su Borough school board. "She wanted to get people who believed in creationism on the board," said Munger, a music composer and teacher. "I bumped into her once after my band played at a graduation ceremony at the Assembly of God. I said, 'Sarah, how can you believe in creationism -- your father's a science teacher.' And she said, 'We don't have to agree on everything.'

"I pushed her on the earth's creation, whether it was really less than 7,000 years old and whether dinosaurs and humans walked the earth at the same time. And she said yes, she'd seen images somewhere of dinosaur fossils with human footprints in them."

art eckstein - 9/27/2008

Muthee is overtly anti-semitic, and believes in witches, and he is one of Palin's major spiritual advisors. Does that make me against Palin. I was against that ignorant insult of a candidate long before I found this out.

But as to the point about Obama: Obama's campaign manager is Jewish--that's whom he trusts. McCain's campaign manager owns a firm that is a paid lobbyist for Freddie Mac--that's whom HE trusts.

Kurt Reiger - 9/26/2008

Mr. Eckstein- Thank you for your observation. I have many Jewish friends and always try to listen to their concerns about anti-semitic sentiment in the country. And, before this election, I might have been sympathetic to your concern that Palin's minister might be anti-semitic or that his prayers might be offensive.
But in this election, where the connection between Obama and Wright is closer than any parishioner - minister relationship ever in US Presidential politics, and Wright is giving awards to Louis Farahkan, why should I believe you are actually concerned with what goes on in a church? Why should any gentile believe his Jewish friend's anti-semitic concerns if those Jewish friends do not vehimately denounce Farahkan and Wright and, yes, Obama's strong connection?

Bill Heuisler - 9/26/2008

Mr. Eckstein,
Your hypocrisy is appalling.

If the Republican VP's incidental church encounters are so offensive, what about the Democrat Presidential candidate's habitual church mentor?
Reverand Wright's Liberation Theology is replete with race hatred and he married and baptized the Obamas for twenty years while the Palin family hardly knew Muthee.

Muthee blessed Palin, Wright damned thte US - love vs hate. Isn't your judgement a bit unbalanced?
Bill Heuisler

omar ibrahim baker - 9/26/2008

A subject that that I deem truly crucial is seldom , if at all to my knowledge,discussed is :the method? system? process? by which a VP candidate is chosen. The way the non insiders see it is that it is the belated personal, subjective and whimsical choice of the caucus/convention approved presidential candidate . That he or she who is only a heart beat away from the Presidency is so selected is truly amazing.

art eckstein - 9/26/2008

Palin goes to a church where a minister (Paster Muthee) asks Jesus directly to make her governor while he lays hands on her head--the same minister who has hunted for witches in Kenya, and who in that same laying on of hands asks Jesus to protect Palin from witches.

Earlier, this same minister declared that we need "good Christian businessmen and women, bankers", and inveighed against "the Israelites" in their, um, banking. Should play well in Florida...

AND we have a video where Palin declares how Pastor Muthee has been a big help to her.

Bill Heuisler - 9/25/2008

Dear Ms. Paul,
You are very perceptive about me and my motives. I defend Sarah Palin the way I would defend my wife...or you, against lies, bigotry and rudeness.
Voting for or against her and McCain is beside the point, but hastily believing smears on the internet (and not corrected by a complicit MSM) is to indulge in an Inquisition.

Palin is an accomplished woman who deserves at least our courtesy. She reminds me of many wonderful women and triggers the same protective instincts I would exhibit if this were any woman and not part of one of the most important decisions we will make in our lifetimes.

Doesn't it make you angry when agenda-driven people try to manipulate you? Doesn't it make you mad to find out certain people don't think you're smart enough to investigate their claims and find out the truth?

Haven't you wondered why more time isn't spent worrying about the gaffe-prone Biden or many disreputable colleagues in Obama's past? I have and I don't like being considered naive or a fool.
Best wishes, Bill Heuisler

David M Ward - 9/25/2008


I should say that, as with the current financial crisis, which has its roots with Democrat adminstrations (And the Congress' refusal to act on the Bush Administration requests for more regulation in 2002, 2003 and 2005), President Bush is took a non partisan approach to the problem.

David M Ward - 9/25/2008

"Avoiding reality is incompetence. FEMA's errors were systemic and bipartisan and hurricanes will keep coming and this is a bigger rethinking and retooling than some pastiche appraisal of a political administration's posturing."

More BS.

The Katrina response as portrayed in the media and by the democrats was a political exercise. FEMA, and the rest of the federal government, responded in as timely a fashion as the law allowed.

Kurt Reiger - 9/24/2008

Ms. Paul-
Thank you for your response. I want to ask, why do you think Sarah Palin is a "religious fundamentalist"? What has she ever done, as mayor or governor, that would make anyone think of her as a "religious fundamentalist"?
Yes, I know where she goes to church, and I am not excited about it. And I do think where you go to church, or don't go, is a legitimate question. But in this election, when the major candidate's church is giving awards to Louis Farrakhan, Father Pflegger is a regular and where Rev. Wright is the main guy, Palin's church looks almost mainstream. So my question to you is, since we a talking about church, why call Palin a "religious fundamentalist" and not call Obama a "hate mongering racist".

Lorraine Paul - 9/24/2008

Bill, I can only go by what has been 'allowed' to be known about her. I believe in gun control, she doesn't. We must protect our environment if only for the selfish reason that we rely on clean air and water for our own survival - she wants to drill for oil and gas in an ecologically endangered area rather than seek alternative fuels. I find hunting as outdated as button-up boots and yet this woman revels in it. The US is a child of the Enlightenment, Palin would have it back in the middle-ages where women were slaves to their biology.

(To be honest, Bill, you can bring all the emotive words to the subject of birth control that you want, but the final decision should always be between the woman and her medical practitioner. I am profoundly grateful that I have never been in a situation where I had to make such a decision. You should be too!!)

I will take your word for it that her belief that dinosaurs did not live 4,000 years ago is nothing more than an urban myth. However, the ignorance she has shown to, and of, the world, in the few psuedo-interviews I have seen, would well be suited to those times. I ask you, Sean Hannity???

Astonishment would be my only answer to you if you support her candidacy (although you haven't actually said you do). None of us come to the table without our irrationalities and prejudices, myself included, on the other hand, I have always thought of you as a man of sense and rationality. Are you defending this woman due to a sense of chivalry or do you truly believe she is "ready to lead" the most powerful nation on earth?

Bill, I could appear on TV and say the same things that Palin and McCain are saying. "...fixin' and shakin''!! Yes, this whole system needs that, any taxi-driver will tell you so, but does that same taxi-driver know how to go about it? Probably as much as Palin does.

Bill Heuisler - 9/24/2008

Ms. Paul,
Dangerous, you say? Your knowledge of her positions has proven imperfect in the past and continues to be lacking. But let's examine who is the more dangerous, Obama or Palin.

Do Palin's anti-abortion beliefs bother you more than Obama's vote mandating the death of a living child, an abortion survivor?
Obama also voted for Illinois SB99 mandating "K through 12" teaching on STDs and the circumstances of HIV.

He denies both. Before you deny these votes or their effect look them up. Then explain how killing or debasing the defenseless is not dangerous.

Uninformed hatred sounds pathological to me. I remember your previous HNN entries as balanced and reasoned. Would you explain your unbalanced and unreasoned animosity toward a woman you obviously hardly know?
Bill Heuisler

Lorraine Paul - 9/24/2008

Because it fits in with what I already know about the woman. I apologise if I have defamed her in error. However, there is so much more that I find repulsive about her beliefs and actions.

I am NOT an intellectual snob, however, like most who frequent HNN I have graduated from a tertiary institution. At that institution I was taught to analyse text and other forms of communication (Communication was one of my majors). This, along with my life experiences, has led me to be very, very alarmed at the possibility of John McCain and Sarah Palin being elected to the two most powerful positions, not just in the US, but internationally. Many people in your own country are also speaking out against Sarah Palin's record.

To the best of my knowledge, Palin is a religious fundamentalist, therefore, I would assume she would take what is written in the Bible as a literal truth, that is, god created the world in seven days...he gave us dominion over the animals...and, my personal favourite, the Book of Revelations. I find John McCain to be so desperate to be president that he has eschewed all sense of proportion regarding the methods he will use to attain that 'exalted' level.

I have no innate respect for an individual regarding his/her place on the 'pecking order'. You both know that worthiness does not necessarily equate with fame and/or riches. My own extended family is one which others may admire and even envy, on the other hand, family secrets remain family secrets. LOL

Palin's repellent societal views, which include appointing her cronies to positions in which they are beholden to her, are another aspect of my distaste towards her. Do you deny that she charged women for their rape-kit??

The list is long and I don't intend to enumerate all of it in this post, others have done that better than I could in other arenas. As one woman said, she stands for everything I oppose. She is NOT a Hillary Clinton. I can only reiterate that statement.

Bill, you know I don't mince words. Therefore, I say to you that you have a very dangerous woman standing for vice-president and you should be as alert to ferretting out every aspect of her life as you can. Now is not the time to be partisan. She is as much a danger to your liberty as she is to mine. One serious illness away from the button.

And, yes, I have been elected to several committees and have been secretary of several. Further, I did have the option to go further if I wished. Fortunately, although I have the intestinal fortitude to deal with such, my ethics (and commonsense) led to me resigning and running for my life never to be a 'joiner' again!! I also had the responsibility of being carer for both my parents for over 12 years. One of my dearest friends and confidantes has Down Syndrome.

Now you all know more about me than I would wish to reveal!

Kurt Reiger - 9/23/2008

Ms. Paul - I sincerely would like to ask you - and I am not being cynical - why you would believe such an obvious lie about Palin as the dinosaurs lived 4,000 years ago "quote"? Of course there are a number of other lies out there about Palin, some of which are rehashed in this article, but the dinosaur "quote" is such a good one. Why did you believe this lie?

art eckstein - 9/23/2008

Mr. H, like I said--if you believe that Palin was not just bs'ing with vapid generalities in a desperate attempt to hide the fact that she didn't know specifically what Charlie was talking about (and STILL didn't know when he explained that he was talking about the famous Bush Doctrine of 2002)--well, if you really believe that, then, like I said, I've got some high-priced AIG stock i'd like to sell to you.

Less sarcastically, I don't think many people interpeted what happened the way you do--and there is a reason why that is so. Of course, you can believe what you wish; I can't stop you from it.

Bill Heuisler - 9/23/2008

Dear Ms. Paul,
As one of an, "articulate, intelligent, highly-educated people able to analyse and sometimes reject what is dished up to us through our various institutions" I would think you could easily discern a fraud.

Let me help. Please google:
This is not the complete ip, but someone as highly intelligent as you can probably figure out the admission of "unbearable bob" that his dinosaur blog about Palin was a hoax.

Many of us lesser beings like and admire a woman who has been elected to City Council, Mayor and Governor. Have you been elected to anything?Your disdain for, and ignorance of,
the hoi polloi combine to make you a thoroughly ridiculous caricature of the absent-minded, pompous academic.
Bill Heuisler

Bill Heuisler - 9/23/2008

Dear Mr. Eeckstein,
Congratulations on your psychic insight. The ability to read Sarah's mind is a precious gift that will come in very handy when she's VP. Can you also read Gibson's mind as he gave the wrong (also not the latest) Bush Doctrine?

Palin's answer was closest to #2 and Charlie's version was #3, which he did not volunteer until Palin had already stated,
"I believe that what President Bush has attempted to do is rid this world of Islamic extremism, terrorists who are hell-bent on destroying our nation. There have been blunders along the way, though. There have been mistakes made...."
Her answer wasn't perfect, but she was as close to a Doctrine-version as was Charlie.

Could Biden have done as well, or is his mind opaque to your psychic powers?
Bill Heuisler

Lorraine Paul - 9/23/2008

I am astonished that there are members of this Network who are against the running of this article. We are supposed to be articulate, intelligent, highly-educated people able to analyse and sometimes reject what is dished up to us through our various institutions. Especially when these institutions attempt to cover up their inadequacies with hyperbole and obfuscation.

Sarah Palin is definitely not an educated woman. Nor is she intelligent. She is shrewd and able to taste which way the wind is blowing, in other words, a populist. This does not fit her for high office. She could not even adequately perform as a mayor of a small city.

Those who would vote for her should be ashamed of themselves to lower their standards so far. Even dedicated Republicans should be insulted that McCain has chosen her as a running mate.

Thanks to the internet this is the first time I have managed to have more than a surface view of presidential elections. What I have seen so far is a party without a shred of verisimilitude pandering to the lowest common denominator.

Shame on those of you who are prepared to aid them in this charade!!!

Bloody hell! The woman is convinced that dinosaurs lived only 4,000 years ago!

art eckstein - 9/22/2008

Dear Mr. Heuisler,

If you think Palin was asking, from her expertise on foreign affairs, which of the 4 possible Bush doctrines Charlie meant, I've got some AIG stock to sell you.

Palin didn't ask which Bush Doctrine, and when Charlie specified which one anyway (the 2002 most famous Bush doctrine), she couldn't identify it, couldn't answer the specific question.

Moreover, not only didn't she know the Bush Doctrine, but instinctively she wasn't honest enough to admit that she didn't know, and attempted instead to bs her way out of the tight corner she was in. She failed in that, too. It was very instructive.

Raul A Garcia - 9/22/2008

Avoiding reality is incompetence. FEMA's errors were systemic and bipartisan and hurricanes will keep coming and this is a bigger rethinking and retooling than some pastiche appraisal of a political administration's posturing.

Bill Heuisler - 9/22/2008

Ms. Kazmier,
Allow me to remind you of four Bush Doctrines:
1)The original Bush Doctrine as cited at the time by Charles Krauthammer involved withdrawing from the ABM treaty and rejecting Kyoto. He also announced new American Unilateralism.

2)After 9/11 Unilateralism changed to the War on Terror. In his address to Congress a week after 9/11, Bush said, "Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime."

3)In 2003, Bush offered his major justification for the Iraq war with Charlie's doctrine of preemptive war.

4)Bush's second inaugural address was the last Bush Doctrine, "The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world."

Four Bush Doctrines - which one did Charlie mean?

Laugh out loud, Ms. Kazmier, but not at Sarah Palin. She obviously knows more than Charlie Gibson...and you.
Bill Heuisler

Charles Lee Geshekter - 9/22/2008

Last night on 60 Minutes, Obama was asked about Iran's nuclear weapons and what he would do about them.

Among the possible responses he would launch as President, he included a first strike against Iran, or what some ranters here might call "pre-emptive war."

Evan Shawn Powell - 9/22/2008

Quick someone grab a ruler and we will ask the candidates to whip it out and we will settle this once and for all.

Lisa Kazmier - 9/22/2008

He's pale and with all his POW talk, would you really call him "robust"?

Lisa Kazmier - 9/22/2008

LOLOL. It was a dodge. What doctrines? Define 3 versions then. It's about pre-emptive war and nothing else. The ranting all comes from the neos commenting.

Let's hear about creationism as science, too, while we're at it.

Donald Wolberg - 9/22/2008

Actually, Mr. Bush had a higher GPA than Mr. Kerry.

Bill Heuisler - 9/22/2008

Mr. Palermo,
You wrote, "she did not have a clue what the "Bush Doctrine" is". Wrong.
Sarah Palin responded, "In what respect, Charlie?" because she knew there are many Bush Doctrines.

I love pointing out the fatuous when it comes from the Groves of Academe, but neither Gibson nor you can possibly have (or have had) a clue about the Bush Doctrine because there are three (or possibly four) Bush statements that have been described in the mainstream press as "Doctrine".

Before you wrote this silly article you should have taken a moment and done some elementary research. But,
since neither you nor Gibson know there are many Bush Doctrines, you both managed to look foolish.
Bill Heuisler

Donald Wolberg - 9/22/2008

This is one of the more superficial, idiotic and contenless rants recently seen. It adds little to the discussion and nothing substantive. One might wonder why Mr. Biden (66) years old and in much worse physical shape than Mr. McCain was not "analysed." Mr. Biden has had two life threatening brain episodes and a life treatening lunh embolism episode--his hair plugs are likely not life threatening, jsut generally offensive. Similarly, why has no one asked if Mr. Obama's alcohol, pot and cocaine use, featured in his autobiography, has had any permanent impact to his ability to reason. I wondered at his comment that he, "had visited 57 of out 58 states," or that, "we must do away with all forms of carbon." It can't just be that he is not terribly bright.

Charles Lee Geshekter - 9/22/2008

For some shrewd insights into the mindset of those many academics who will enthusiastically agree with the claims made by Palermo's article, see a fascinating essay by British sociologist Frank Furedi on "Turning Sarah Palin into a 21st Century Witch."


Grant W Jones - 9/22/2008

Maybe the HNN editor ran this article in order to demonstrate WHY so many Americans are stupid, especially after a college "education."

Nancy REYES - 9/22/2008

You are supposed to be a historian, aware of history and able to discuss nuances.

Yet instead of a calm intellectual discussion, why do you use smear words ("anemic McCain" is one example) and talking points of the Daily Kos to persuade us?

James W Loewen - 9/22/2008

Oh, c'mon, relax. There is some analysis in the article. It would be better with facts, but then, so would both of these first two replies.

James W Loewen - 9/22/2008

It's too simple to write, "Experience, intelligence, and competence actually can be detriments -- just ask Al Gore and John Kerry." First, John Kerry's GPA at Yale was just as bad as W's. Second, both Gore and Kerry ran less competent campaigns than W did. A week before the election, Kerry, fumed "what is our message" (at his campaign and at himself). I dare anyone to say what Kerry's position on Iraq was.
If you cannot run a competent campaign, who says you can run a competent administration?
Of course, it turns out that the Bush administration CANNOT run a competent administration. Surely Gore or Kerry would have done better, whether in avoiding Iraq or helping New Orleans. But their campaigns did not imply that.

Richard Landes - 9/22/2008

this is a rather awfully partisan rant of very limited value other than, as KR notes, a gauge of just how low the intellectual level of academia has reached. it doesn't even try to maintain some analytic distance. i wonder what it's like to be his student.

Kurt Reiger - 9/22/2008

Why would HNN run this article? It has no historical value and little contemporary value. It is full of already debunked half truths and not quite truths.
Did HNN run the article to show the rest of the world how loony left and irrational history professors are these days? I did learn one thing, Sacramento State must be a seriously mediocre place if this type of thought is typical.