Is Sarah Palin Going to be Ready for the Debate?

Three weeks ago, when I had relatively the same opinion of Sarah Palin as I do now, I thought she’d do well in her debate with Joe Biden.  The rationale was that with so much time, that she would be prepared enough to slide by.  As we know, if you are going against a good debater – just getting by usually means you win the debate.  Ask George Bush about that in 2000 and 2004.  Both years Kerry and Gore appeared to win the debates, but Bush was considered the winner.  The theory goes, the lower your expectations and the higher from the other candidate – the less the underdog has to do to win.  That coupled with putting Biden in a difficult position to not seem sexist or elitist, seemed to give credence to this view.

However, recent events have made me reconsider this position.  First, the lack of access to Palin to the media shows that her handlers are not comfortable with her not talking from a script.  The Bush Doctrine gaffe was a great example of what they are concerned about.  However, Today’s events at the UN provide more evidence that they are still not comfortable.  For those who missed it, after initially not allowing access by the press pool to her meetings today – starting with Afghan President Hamid Karzi – her team finally relented to the media – for 29 seconds.  That’s right 29 seconds – sufficient to hear her ask about Karzi’s child, but nothing else.  These meetings have/will be very controlled.  She has a team of advisers in the room with her and the conversation would be at a high level.  Even then, her team was not comfortable with the press listening to their conversation.  There are a lot of potential reasons – 1) her advisers would do most of the talking 2) it would be an extremely superficial conversation 3) they are not sure what she is going to say. 

With a week to go before the debate, they are continuing to keep tight controls on her.  That doesn’t appear to be a ringing endorsement of her ability to answer random questions.  Since her interview with Charlie Gibson, which most liberals thought was going to be a softball interview, she hasn’t put herself in a position to answer the tough questions again.  She did an interview with Sean Hannity where he was also lobbing softballs to her.  In her Town Hall meeting, she answered questions from a pro-Republican audience and the questions were along the lines of, “What do you say to people who say you can’t be a mother and the Vice-President?” Not exactly Bob Woodward.  When she was willing to play ‘stump the candidate’, McCain thought better of it and cut her off.  Additionally, she has not had a press conference since being named to the ticket.

I used to believe that, given time, she’d ‘bone up’ and be ready for the debate and general questions.  But, I am starting to really wonder if she is the type of person who just doesn’t get it.  The more you hear about her record and what she’s done in Alaska, the more you realize she may be more in the mold of George W. Bush – relenting constantly to a team of advisers.  

Now, I’ve been alive long enough to realize anything can happen – and often does.  It could be that the McCain campaign is comfortable and either still doesn’t want to take a risk prior to the debate or playing coy and she will come out swinging hard.  It may also be that as she hunkers down over the next week, she will come out with sufficient knowledge to hold her own and consider it a win.  Those are very plausible scenarios.  However, she just doesn’t seem to demonstrate much depth at all.

 If she was strong on the economy or foreign policy – a la Obama or McCain, respectively – she could probably take a crash course and be ready.  But let me ask a question to most of you out there.  Do you think, in the midst of long campaign days and nights, you personally could learn enough about foreign policy (including details about Korea, China, Georgia, Russia, Latin America, Pakistan/India, Indonesia, the Middle East, Canada and any obscure area that may have problems), domestic policy (details of the bailout, environment, unemployment, immigration, inflation, crime, tax issues, energy, farm issues, states rights, consitutional issues, abortion, stem cells, etc.), and campaign related details?  These are top level issues.  The questions will be much more detailed and relationships between issues will need to be understood.  I submit that she has about the same level of knowledge as most of America when it comes to these issues.  Heck, as one who has Political Science degree and stays relatively current with the news – I’d have trouble feeling comfortable after a month of cramming that I could answer these questions.

She cannot continue to answer questions by either saying it’s all about reform or energy independence, it simply isn’t that easy.

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One Response

  1. Female George Bush.

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