Friday, October 03, 2008

Channeling Ronald Reagan

An editorial in Friday’s New York Times suggests that we have set the bar so low for our politicians that we are satisfied with Sarah Palin’s debate performance simply because there were no substantial gaffes. Is this where dumbing down has taken us? Indeed, we have set the bar so low, the governor of Alaska may look to it for a libation.

Given that she made not one, but two references to Ronald Reagan, during the debate, it’s time to put her pretentions that she is channeling the gipper to rest. Only her script writers could think she might squeak by on that smile, that wink, and “Gosh darn it,” or “Come on, Joe” schtick, and her faux attempt at Reagan charm.

But, whether we agree with Reagan or not, Sarah Palin is no Ronald Reagan. While Reagan had speechwriters; all presidents do, Reagan only needed to read from a script when he was in Hollywood. He didn’t need to go to a summer camp for future presidents.

Reagan courted the press, and didn’t hold it in contempt. Sarah Palin repeats the phrase “mainstream media” as if it’s a mantra, but it’ll take more than a mantra to convince her audience of her authenticity.

Palin’s idea of folksy is a euphemism for trashy. Her nomination was intended to pick up the sixpack, redneck, trailer vote that was swaying towards Hillary; the Second Amendment boys and their Second Amendment toys.

Those who coach Palin may think it wise to play the Reagan card, but the only way in which Sarah Palin resembles Ronald Reagan is when it comes to economics, and while Reagan could dodge a bullet better than almost anyone; make no mistake, he knew the answer.

Palin has turned evasion into an artform. That she knows little about the subjects that most concern us these days is only part of the problem. A greater issue is that she’s so damn happy with the little bit that she does know. She isn't even aware, for instance, that it's not the vice president's place to challenge the decision of her prospective boss as she recently did when McCain decided to pull up his tent, and drop out of the race in Michigan. This should be an embarrassment even by maverick standards.

But, more importantly, if given the chance, she will embarrass this country with her intellectual agoraphobia when it comes to foreign policy; with her deliberate mispronunciation of words like Iran, Iraq, and what she calls nu-cu-lar power.

Remember, Reagan started out as a Democrat. It was only as he was approaching his later years that he switched parties. Some might argue that Reagan’s switch to Republican was evidence that he was in the first stages of Alzheimer’s, but no one would argue that Ronald Reagan had a heart. The governor of Alaska has a Ford Explorer.

Sarah Palin’s pathetic attempt to channel Reagan does a disservice not just to her party, not just to history, but the truth of who Ronald Reagan was. Her attempt to feign tolerance, despite her record of intolerance when it comes to choice, gay marriage, and animal rights, shows contempt for the audience at which she repeatedly winks. It’s the kind of grizzly contempt that only someone heartless enough to shoot wolves from 20,000 feet can display.

Whether you agreed with him or not, Ronald Reagan wasn’t an embarrassment to his country when it came to foreign policy.

So, while Tina Fey, and others, entertain with a terrific parody of her, anyone who finds Palin’s winks, nods, and references to six pack soccer moms charming, or amusing, is in for a big surprise come November if she is, gawd forbid, second in command of our military and our country.

Ronald Reagan is, no doubt, rolling over in his grave from this comparison and, if Palin really wanted to “score one for the gipper,” she’d exit stage right.

Those who call Palin “feisty” can’t distinguish between feisty and arrogant.

While there are some who might find her ignorance and contempt for history quaint, the prospect of somebody like Sarah Palin ever finding her way to the Oval Office should trigger outrage from anyone with a pulse, and a passport.