Answer the Question

At the American Spectator, Jay Homnick defends Palin’s inability to name a single Supreme Court case other than Roe:

In a pre-debate forum on CNN, a number of participants were jabbing Palin for being unable to tell Katie Couric of a single Supreme Court decision other that Roe v. Wade that she disliked. At this point Klein jumped in to trump them with a much more substantive critique. What was so embarrassing, he said, was that she disagreed with Roe but stated that she believed there is a right to privacy in the Constitution. This despite the fact that the decision in Roe v. Wade was based on the premise that there is a Constitutional right to privacy! None of the other panelists challenged Klein on this point. The viewer was left to conclude that only a neophyte or an airhead could think both those things were true.

In truth, Klein is unmasked as an idiot, as behind the times, behind the learning curve and completely out of touch. (I don’t include “boorish,” because he needs no unmasking in that area: simply read any of his columns at random.) The sitting Chief Justice of the United States, John Roberts, believes that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided but that a right to privacy does exist.

This trite “right back at you” formulation doesn’t do a thing to enhance Palin’s credibility. Incidentally, I agree completely with Homnick on the privacy issue, but of course Joe Klein’s views on constitutional jurisprudence are completely irrelevant to the election. Sarah Palin, on the other hand, may become Vice President in just over a month. As John McCain’s second, I imagine she’ll have some input on possible Supreme Court appointees. If – God forbid – she takes over as President, she’ll be the one making Supreme Court appointments. All this suggests she should have some familiarity with our constitutional history.

The Palin pick has forced conservatives to go to absurd lengths to defend the governor’s qualifications, no matter how foolish her public statements may be. The flubbed Bush Doctrine response, for example, provoked howls of outrage from the Right, who rushed to assure us that the issue was simply too complex (I thought Bush didn’t do nuance?) to explain in such a short Q&A segment. Never mind the fact that anyone reasonably acquainted with our nation’s foreign policy should be able to at least summarize the controversy. Never mind the fact that Palin’s deer-in-the-headlights look and incoherent response revealed all you need to know about her own ignorance.

Now that we’ve finished applauding Palin for “clearing” the bar (small hurdle? slight incline? bump in the road?) during last night’s debate, perhaps we should go back to the question of her fitness for the Vice Presidency. No one doubts her talent for political theater, but – doggone it! – her substantive responses were like a parody of GOP talking points. “Wave the white flag of surrender?” Really? Perhaps she scribbled that one on her palms with magic marker right before the thing started.

Granted, Biden doesn’t have much to recommend either, but at least he projects a sense of minimal competency. Having never been president (you don’t say?), I can’t speak to the demands of office, but I get the sense that the day-to-day administrative stuff is pretty far-removed from our ideological dogfights. I don’t mean to imply that ideology is unimportant. However, Bush’s response to Katrina suggests that crisis management can sometimes be evaluated on its own merits rather than through some absurd ideological prism. In other words, if Palin is incompetent, the right instincts won’t matter on a whole host of issues that rarely get talked about during our intensely partisan election season.

Political considerations dictate Palin stay in the race – anyone who thinks McCain would risk an Eagleton ’72 scenario is kidding themselves – but her ability to govern is still lacking in any category except political theatrics. Mainstream conservatives have fallen for her head over heals so I’m sure Palin will have a bright future on the talk radio circuit, but that does little to reassure me she’s prepared for the Vice Presidency.

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Filed under Conservatism, Presidential Politics, The Media

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