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A Nation of Third Graders: The Debate Over Sarah Palin

By       Message Constance Lavender     Permalink
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Governor Palin claims: "Well, our founding fathers were very wise there in allowing through the Constitution much flexibility there in the office of the vice president. And we will do what is best for the American people in tapping into that position and ushering in an agenda that is supportive and cooperative with the president's agenda in that position. Yeah, so I do agree with [Dick Cheney] that we have a lot of flexibility in there, and we'll do what we have to do to administer very appropriately the plans that are needed for this nation. And it is my executive experience that is partly to be attributed to my pick as V.P. with McCain..."

Third Graders are just developing skills to process more complex concepts and abstract ideas: Dick Cheney had a very clear idea of what his role would be as vice-president. Chief co-executive, neocon warrior, detail-oriented, hands-on (as in CIA) manager, and energy expert (ENRON and Haliburton).

The governor coherently constructed a compound noun, worldview. She appeared to marvel at the pairing of the two words in a startling pronunciation of the term, as if she was performing alchemy, fusing together two magical elements to create some new substance with Third Grade wonderment, but she offered no intelligible idea of how she and her ticket would define that complex word. What exactly are your plans, governor, if, good heavens, you should get in there?

Does a Nation of Third Graders really need adult-approval-seeking [Palin: "And I appreciate, too, Senator Biden, getting to meet you, finally, also, and getting to debate with you. And I would like more opportunity for this."]

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Do we need as vice-president someone who needs to be part of an activity that makes them feel important ["... our founding fathers were very wise there in allowing through the Constitution much flexibility there in the office of the vice president."]

Do we need someone who is sometimes silly, as in claiming that foreign policy credentials include being able to glimpse, barely, a foreign country from one's bedroom window or catching stray satellite television broadcasts from Moscow?

These are serious times that demand more than Third Graders, even as charming and delightful as Third Graders may be.

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Third Graders are able to focus on the past (read history) as well as the future (read vision, policy statements, substantive ideas). Yet Governor Palin faulted Senator Biden for pointing to the past when he reasonably criticized the current administration presided over by a president from the governor's own party. This election is precisely about a referendum on the past eight years under Bush-Cheney and the future direction of America. Poorly developed Third Graders may not want to see the past, but as George Santayana noted, those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

Governor Palin passed the debate litmus test for Third Graders, but she didn't earn any extra-credit points. Her lack of experience, and lack of an adult ability to describe a vision of how McCain-Palin would differ from the status quo (she seemed to be constantly referring to notes on her podium; bold-faced, clearly highlighted talking points?) underscores her very real need, like all Third Graders, to think for themselves, and develop individual opinions, especially as they begin to read and to acquire information through the media.

Third Graders are just beginning to understand the other side of things and to accept others' opinions as valid and real. Third Graders want to know the reason for things. It is not clear for adult voters what the reason is to vote for Governor Palin. Last night did not clarify that confusion.

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Constance Lavender is an HIV-Positive pseudonymous freelance e-journalist from a little isle off the coast of Jersey; New Jersey, that is...

In the Best spirit of Silence Dogood and Benj. Franklin, Ms. Lavender believes that a free (more...)

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