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Jim Chattin, Published December 12 2010

Palin is not presidential material

Sarah Palin has been in the media eye as much as she possibly can be. It’s not just Fox News. She gets plenty of air time in the “lame-stream” media, as she calls them. She has coyly dangled herself out there as a possible 2012 presidential wannabe, never quite admitting she’s aiming for the big brass ring. But when asked if she could best President Barack Obama in a general election, she coquettishly says, “I think so.”

She has learned a lot from those early interviews when she famously couldn’t name a magazine or newspaper she read on a regular basis, or her lame take on foreign policy (though her geography was spot on – Russia is indeed next door to Alaska). If it isn’t Fox News or some other fawning news outlet, she does her best to either avoid other media or ensure her appearance is carefully managed to protect and polish her image.

Her supporters think the world of her. She’s a housewife with lots of political ambition who left John McCain in the dust; a mature and handsome woman who keeps herself in telegenic shape 24/7; a “mama grizzly” whose brand of common sense is enjoyed by millions; a maven of political maneuvering who still baffles the best of the old-school political prognosticators.

Of course, she will run for the presidency in 2012. She just wants to keep a bit of mystery about it all; it allows her to keep her informal, shoot-from-the-hip, you-betcha persona, with little risk of showing herself to be less than desirable presidential material. In the meantime, her handlers are rounding off those rough edges, making her sound more and more as if she actually knows the deep background of each of the issues that confront the country.

Palin is not presidential material, unless one thinks a citizen who is bright and witty, politically astute, with a garage-sale-sense for the bargain, the flashy equivalent of an “American Idol” stand-in, is such material. It would be a travesty. We should elect the best we have to the highest office in the land. Yet, too many Americans think Palin’s brand of aw-shucks common sense is just what the doctor ordered despite the evermore complex and technologically demanding challenges we face.

We are in competition with the best and the brightest in the world. If too many Americans think “so what?,” then we can expect U.S. power on the world stage to diminish, and we blithely settle into new head-in-the-sand isolationism. Pathetic.