Friday, September 5, 2008

Reprogramming Sarah Palin

The biggest danger for Sarah Palin isn't that she'll be dismantled by Democrats, or by the so-called mainstream media. A greater fear of mine is that she'll be reprogrammed, and ruined, by her Republican handlers.

The Washington Post reports today that Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman is among the people coaching Palin in preparation for her critically important debate with Senator Joe Blowhard. But I think Palin could risk looking foolish, and having a Dan Quayle moment, if she tries selling herself as the second coming of Henry Kissinger.

This shouldn't be Jeopardy prep, and she'll be wasting her time, and likely become a deer in the headlights on debate night, if she spends her days memorizing the name of the president of Azerbaijan, in a vain attempt to woo the Washington and media establishments.

There's no shame in Palin acknowledging that foreign policy expertise is not normally required of governors -- and in pointing to the long list of contemporary governors-turned-presidents who had none when they went to the White House. There's no shame in her noting that any president or vice president has access to the best advisers imaginable, inside and outside the executive branch. There's no shame, and she might even win points with potential voters for candor, in admitting that there will be some learning on the job, while stressing that she'll have an excellent mentor in Senator John McCain.

And that sort of humility might help draw a sharper contrast with the egomaniacs on the Democrat ticket.

A better use of Palin's time would be tutoring her on Joe Biden's abysmal misjudgments on foreign policy over the years. She might start by studying this critique of Biden's Cold War-era foreign policy positions in The Wall Street Journal.

A chimp could function reasonably well as president, in my opinion, and many have. Being an autodidact, as Jimmy Carter fashioned himself, may actually be a hindrance. What matters more than a mastery of minutia is intelligence, common sense, good instincts and composure under pressure -- qualities that this woman already has shown in spades.

She may look the part in her Marian the Librarian glasses, but Republican attempts to reprogram Palin, and turn her into some policy wonk pinhead, may dull her natural political instincts and rob her of the authenticity that makes her so appealing.

But it would be just the sort of mistake "the stupid party" would make.

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