Since Sarah Palin won't rule out running for the presidency in 2012, her performance recently at the Tea Party convention in Nashville deserves more scrutiny. Voters may have to soon evaluate her as a future leader of our nation and defender of the free world. Which makes her strikingly vapid answers to the softball questions thrown her way all the more frightening.
The last time Palin barnstormed the country as Sen. John McCain's running mate, she had a glaring lack of comprehension of national issues. But then she had a lot to learn in a short time.
By now she should be prepared, particularly since she quit her day job. But she's not. While her written remarks at the Tea Party were intelligible, her performance during the question period demonstrates that Palin has no ready command of issues and has little to offer beyond platitudinous and confused rhetoric.
Sitting in comfy armchairs she answered questions put to her by the adoring Judson Phillips, founder of Tea Party Nation.
Palin was asked: "We hear about the Obama plan. What's the Palin plan?" Her answer on her national defense plan — the entirety of it — was this: "And when it comes to national security, as I ratchet down the message on national security, it's easy to just kind of sum it up by repeating Ronald Reagan when he talked about the Cold War. And we can apply this now to our war on terrorism, you know. Bottom line, we win, they lose. We do all that we can to win."
Compare that bit of nearly indecipherable triumphalism with the answer President Barack Obama gave at a news conference Tuesday when asked about Iran's decision to further enrich uranium, which is too long to reprint verbatim.
First he spoke about efforts to negotiate with Iran and the country's rejection of the offer to convert "low-enriched uranium" into the "isotopes that they need" for medical research and hospitals. Then Obama said bluntly, "That indicates to us that, despite their posturing that their nuclear power is only for civilian use, that they in fact continue to pursue a course that would lead to weaponization."
He went on to discuss the "regime of sanctions" being developed to isolate Iran and the role China and Russia might play.
Whether you agree with Obama's approach or not, it was an articulate briefing that gave context to and specific action for a vexing national security issue.
Back to Palin, who was asked at the Tea Party for her three top things to get done if conservatives win majorities in Congress.
It was here that Palin peeked at her hand for some palm-prompter help, meaning she was probably given advance notice of the question. Even so, her answer was a garble of attack-Obama talking points and pandering to the Christian Right.
Palin: "We've got to rein in spending, obviously, and not raise it extremely high budgets and then say, Okay, we are going to freeze a couple programs here. That doesn't do us any good really. We've got to start reining in the spending."
Palin's excruciating syntax aside, she's a jejune thinker. Without notes, she could barely conjure the words to cryptically criticize Obama's budget.
Her second priority, she said, is domestic drilling and mining for fossil fuels — "oil and gas and our coal." She offered a fuller energy policy in her prepared remarks, but extemporaneously, the equivalent of "drill, baby, drill" was all she could muster.
Palin's last must-do for Congress is to allow "America's spirit to rise again." To do this, she said, we should seek "some divine intervention again in this country so that we can be safe and secure and prosperous again. To have people involved in government who aren't afraid to go that route."
Gee, is there really a dearth of religious politicians? I can't seem to find any who aren't. But I don't doubt some miracle for our nation would be needed, desperately, if Palin-like conservatives took Congress.
During the Q & A, Palin called on people to run for office who have no elective office experience and don't have "some kind of fat elite resume in their back pocket." I guess that is one way to make herself sound cogent by comparison — dissuade candidates with training, education and knowledge.
All I can say is in 2012, I "hopey" we don't "changey" to this embarrassing woman.