Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Great for Alaska
Laura Rozen flags a passage from Gail Collins that I think sums up nicely the problem with Sarah Palin. Everything I've seen of her makes it clear that she's not only a gifted communicator (not sure how she'll wear with time, though), but that she's also no policy lightweight. She's got an obvious command of Alaskan politics, from party infighting to the issues that drive voters' concerns. But that's all. The problem isn't that she couldn't eventually achieve the same kind of command of national politics, but that she hasn't yet done so.
During the Democratic primaries, I pointed out that whereas Hillary Clinton was campaigning in an America she already knew intimately, Barack Obama was in many ways discovering America through the campaign. But after a long and hard fought 18 months, he has discovered it, and the four years he's spent in Washington served the same purpose. I think that given the same kind of learning period, Palin could probably hold up, even if she isn't Obama's intellectual equal. (I'm not sure how many people are.) But she hasn't been given a learning period. She's been given a trial by fire.
The question isn't one of qualifications or experience, but of scale. The Obama campaign's line of attack ought to be, Palin's great for Alaska, that's why she should stay there.