In a television era overflowing with reality based programming, it is both surprising and amusing that the best reality show out there is the current presidential election. These past few months have been an onslaught of one political gaffe after another, with moments of triumph intermittently dispersed throughout. The aggression and cattiness are at levels that contestants on America’s Next Top Model can only aspire to.
CBS’s recent roll out of the Katie Couric/Sarah Palin interviews have stirred up quite a storm – and rightfully so! I was shocked at how uninformed and incoherent Governor Palin came across. Furthermore, to actually have John McCain by her side, like a protective father figure, just in case she needed a helping hand was one of the most sexist things I have seen to date. SNL did an amazing job of recreating the interview, but sadly they could have aired the original and gotten just as many laughs.
This would all be incredibly entertaining if our country wasn’t at stake. Sarah Palin doesn’t just seem to be in “over her head,” she comes off as a woman completely uninterested in the world around her. She only recently got a passport, admitted (before being ‘tapped’ as VP) that she had only “heard about the surge on the news” and could not come up with a single publication that she regularly reads. I have no doubt that she is a shrewd and smart woman, if she weren’t she would not have been able to get to where she is today.
It seems that she is popular in Alaska, and has implemented some good policies for the state. However, Alaska is very different from the rest of the United States. I know this because I have lived there. Unlike ‘the bottom 49,’ Alaskans profit from the land on which they reside:
Every year, the state legislature takes out 8 percent from the earnings, puts 3 percent back into the principal for inflation proofing, and the remaining 5 percent is distributed to all qualifying Alaskans. To qualify for the Alaska State Permanent Fund one must have lived in the state for a minimum of 11 months, and maintain constant residency.
This is neither good nor bad but it is different from how the national government works. Governor Palin often touts the fact that she “gave that money back to the people,” but in actuality this is a policy that has been in action since 1982 – way before Palin became governor. Furthermore, the state lacks racial diversity, and although about 15% of its residents are Native American is a fairly homogeneous state. It is beautiful and filled with a culture of its own, but it is important to note that its state policies and demographics do not necessarily prepare someone for Vice President.
Joe Biden has not been without his slip ups either, but unlike Palin when it comes to the issues, he knows what he is talking about. Biden’s gaffes stem not from ignorance, but from the classic “speaking before you think,” problem. He says what’s on his mind, but is in no way uninformed. This is probably why Biden’s stumbles do not effect him as much as one would think. He may accidentally ask a paralyzed man to stand up at a campaign rally, but the story fades quickly as it has no bearing on his ability to execute decisions on important policies. Sarah Palin’s “slip ups” raise doubts about her knowledge and understanding of the issues, making them much more significant.
Tonights debate should be interesting. While it is easy to assume that Joe Biden will walk out the ceremonious champion, I wouldn’t go there so fast. Debating Palin will no doubt be a challenge. Any aggression will be touted by the Republicans as sexism, and let’s not forget Bidens gaffe-tastic ways. Were I advising Joe Biden I would recommend he stick to the issues, because this is where Sarah Palin loses her bearings. Biden needs to give short and succinct answers and then turn the floor over to Governor Palin. I cannot wait to see how this plays out. National interest is at peak level, and this is both Biden and Palin’s chance to show the American people that they are ready, willing and able to lead this country.
Hopefully no matter why we tune in, the focus of the debate will remain on the issues. It is so important right now to focus on what really matters: the economy, national security, civil rights and social issues. I cannot wait to hear the candidates opinions. It should be an interesting night, and the perfect continuation of the greatest show on TV!