Thursday, October 02, 2008

Educating Sarah

I remain perplexed at otherwise intelligent people's fascination with Sarah Palin. She's so real, so authentic, yadda yadda...

Oh, I know people like Cinderella stories and the whole McCain/Palin ticket is a pretty fair approximation of 'Educating Rita', with John McCain in the Michael Caine role of crusty misanthropic professor brought back to life by the Cockney hairdresser (read: Alaskan hockeymom) who wants to Better Herself.

There's a persistent meme in America that the Little Guy can aspire to the highest levels; a uniquely American trope - in 'old Europe' the hero's journey usually involved a nondescript youth discovering his royal blood, is the One Foretold, or is otherwise born superior. It's actually an admirable departure from the Motherlands that people in the New World no longer believe that one's station is determined at birth.

Ahem. That said, at its worst, this otherwise admirable belief often degenerates to an anti-intellectualism which would have you believe that 'common sense' trumps actual hard-won expertise and knowledge. It's certainly true that there is a kind of wisdom to be found in experiences in rustic pursuits and small towns, but there are degrees of complexity that exceed the abilities of the homespun wit to cut through, absent any substantive knowledge of the issue at hand.

I'm not totally insensitive, and you'd have to have a heart of stone not to root for the Unsinkable Molly Brown, for instance, when she vows to learn to read and write, and learns to dress like a girl instead of a mule skinner. And yet, however much one might admire her aspirations and her formidable determination, would you really take her opinion on, say, monetary policy? after she hid the paper money in the potbelly stove?

Legally Blonde is fiction, people - FICTION. Some jobs require not only a working body of knowledge, but a proven ability to acquire MORE knowledge quickly and continually and the Presidency (and VP is frankly nothing more than an emergency-backup president) is one of them.

We've seen what happens when an incurious know-nothing with a handful of beliefs substituting for understanding is in command of one of the most complex systems ever. How can anyone possibly be contemplating repeating the error?

Please, however much you may love a Cinderella story, don't bet the entire nation on your own fantasies.


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