Self-confidence after honest self-inventory is even better.
Alas for America, Sarah Palin, the first-ever female Republican vice-presidential candidate, seems to possess plenty of the former after having done precious little of the latter.
There's a fine line between self-confidence and hubris, but Palin appears to have not merely located and crossed that line, but convinced herself that having done so is a praiseworthy virtue. Indeed, although she would likely disagree, without her hubris, Palin's increasingly sad media moments would be utterly without substance.
It's not that Palin couldn't provide voters with facts or explanations; it's that she chooses not to do so. Whether her GOP handlers have told her that she doesn't need to do more than wrinkle her nose, call interviewers by their first name, pose prettily, and repeat increasingly unconvincing buzzwords and talking points – or whether she herself doesn't think we deserve anything more – hardly matters. The end result is the same.
Ever since the self-described “pit bull with lipstick” showed Sen. Hillary Clinton that absolutely “anybody” can become vice-president (except for Sen. Hillary Clinton), I have fought hard to separate my intense dislike for her message from my intense dislike for her methodology. What, I wondered, is it about this MILF-y politico that sticks in my craw with such intensity? It has been my dream since before I could even read to see a woman president. After all, as a child I thought I might like to grow up to be the president. Or an astronaut. Or a teacher. Or an actress. Or a writer.
I was enraged when I learned that Wal-Mart refused to carry t-shirts reading “Someday a girl will become president.” I was thrilled when Hillary Clinton entered the presidential race, and disappointed, but strangely empowered, when I realized that I couldn't bring myself to vote for her.
But Sarah Palin has inspired an entirely new confusion of responses, nearly all of them profoundly negative.
As I've stated before, it's not her stance on guns – after all, I have a conceal-carry permit. It's not her decision to raise a Down syndrome child – after all, I have a mentally retarded sister. It’s not her history as a one-time beauty princess – after all, I’ve worked in the adult entertainment industry for nearly twenty years. It's not even the fact that she's staggeringly unschooled in matters of national and international politics – after all, I've had to be a “quick study” on any number of unfamiliar topics during my writing career.
After much honest and sometimes uncomfortable personal self-inventory on my own part, I realized that it is Palin’s utter refusal to acknowledge that the position she aspires to step her sensible high heels into is an awe-inspiring one unlike anything she’s attempted to date; one for which her previous experience, while helpful, has not truly prepared her. To deny this is to bring her judgment into serious question.
This doesn’t mean that Palin needs to pretend to have any more experience than she already has; it merely means that she should be honest about that experience and genuinely explain why and how it matters. Easily uncovered lies and obvious exaggerations or avoidance answers do not qualify.
It doesn’t require Palin to “blink” or appear the coward or the fool to honestly acknowledge that living across a maritime divide that barely allows a glimpse of a largely uninhabited one-time Iron Curtain delineating Russian island a continent away from its nation’s capital isn’t much of a foreign policy credit. Stammering that journalists are unfairly “mocking” her for claiming that it is more than fulfills the requirement for appearing the fool, however. Explaining how it feels to live in and govern a state with no domestic borders, on the other hand, could provide those in the 48 contiguous United States with deeper insights and greater understanding.
Admitting that there are challenges to face when springing from locally focused governor of a sparsely populated and geographically alienated state to the second most powerful leading role in the modern world would remove the stink of arrogance and ignorance that has rapidly tarnished her political bloom – at least for those few voters still waffling on whether to hire the woman who so boldly hopes to become the country’s first female vice-president – and possibly president.
It is not a sign of weakness for Palin to acknowledge humbly that the task before her is the greatest in her short, if profitable and drama-rich, professional career. Indeed, it would be a sign of strength and integrity; two things from which this campaign season and country could benefit.
Without that sign, the electorate is left to marvel at her gams, yearn for her eyewear, groan at her gaffes, wonder at her GOP crafted celebrity status, and take on faith that she even realizes how important the stakes are and how utterly in the deep end she has found herself.
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