Where Have Our Standards Gone?
Sarah Palin survived the debate, but her down-home message can do little to reassure voters who have every reason to demand a change of direction.
What does it say about a nation, when the true take away message from a vice-presidential debate is that one of its participants actually does have the ability to string together a series of coherent sentences? Talk about the poverty of low-expectations. Sure, Sarah Palin made it through last night without adding to her long list of cringe inducing moments. But for a nation facing its greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression, two sustained wars, and the lingering concern of the whereabouts and activities of Osama Bin Laden, being folksy just isn’t good enough. Competence matters. And clearly, Palin falls short.
Over and over, Governor Palin evaded questions, returned to the well-worn “Maverick” crutch, and sang the same ole’ Republican tune about the evils of government. But it’s hard to sell the tired anti-government spiel when your running mate pseudo-suspends his campaign to make sure that very government comes to the rescue of interconnected economies here and abroad.
It is true though, that Palin had her moments. She was most effective when she directed barbs against her opponents. But despite the provocation, Senator Joe Biden refused to rise to the bait and avoided any patronizing comments, focusing steadily on why Barack Obama should be president and not John McCain.
Still, what sort of a Maverick would pass up the opportunity to painstakingly spell out how her ideas differ from the status quo? Despite ample opportunity, time and time again, the governor failed to specify just how a McCain/Palin administration would differ in any substantive way from the debacle of the Bush/Cheney years. Whether it be the issue of making permanent the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest of Americans, or reviving America’s badly tarnished image around the world, the McPalin Express is easing on down the tracks laid by their woefully unpopular Republican leader. Maverick or not, Palin failed to provide any daylight between the domestic and foreign policy failings of the Bush Administration and just where she and John McCain plan to take the nation in the critical years ahead.
If there is one thing we’ve learned since the earliest of days of this historic electoral season, it is the hard and fast fact that Americans want change. And for good reason. Over the past eight years we’ve gone from peace and prosperity to none of the above. In this year alone, we’ve lost over 600,000 jobs, hit a five-year high unemployment rate, and had millions of families face the personal tragedy of foreclosure. In Iraq we’ve seen the number of American deaths top 4,000, had over 30,000 suffer injuries, and approached a record number of former service men and women who could no longer live with the lingering horrors of war; and as a result, took their own lives.
It’s time for this insanity to end.
Palin may have very well saved her political future from going down Dan Quayle’s road to political oblivion—that is if she avoids like the plague any future in-depth interviews inclusive of follow-up questions that press for specificity. But in the end, of the two candidates who took the stage last night, only one displayed a mastery of the facts, articulated clear plans for the nation’s precarious days ahead, and spoke genuinely of the challenges of raising a family in uncertain and unfortunate times. Joe Biden passed that bar and kept his ticket on the road to success.
For all her winks, smiles, and good-ole-girl vernacular, Palin failed to make a convincing case for McCain’s faltering campaign. We’ve already seen what it’s like to have Joe Six-Pack and a Grumpy Old Man run the nation. Reversing the order on the ticket and changing Joe to Jane, just isn’t good enough.
-By Avis A. Jones-DeWeever for the Women's Media Center. The WMC is a non-profit organization founded by Jane Fonda, Gloria Steinem, and Robin Morgan, dedicated to making the female half of the world visible and powerful in the media.