I’m going to respond point-by-point to Bob Herbert’s article, Palin’s Alternate Universe . Bob Herbert is an Op-Ed columnist for the exalted New York Times. And he makes me mad!
Here we go!
1. Herbert: “Sarah Palin is the perfect exclamation point to the Bush years. We’ve lived through nearly two terms of an administration that believed it could create its own reality: ‘Deficits don’t matter.’ ‘Brownie, you’re doing a heckuva job.’ ‘Those weapons of mass destruction must be somewhere.’ Now comes Ms. Palin, a smiling, bubbly vice-presidential candidate who travels in an alternate language universe. For Ms. Palin, such things as context, syntax and the proximity of answers to questions have no meaning.”
Response: John McCain has worked to limit government spending. He obviously doesn’t believe that deficits don’t matter! Sarah Palin had nothing to do with how Bush handled Katrina. And a lot of people from both parties believed that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton both voted for the war resolution. And, although Barack Obama opposed the Iraq war from the outset, take a look at what he says in Audacity of Hope:
“Like most analysts, I assumed that Saddam had chemical and biological weapons and coveted nuclear arms. I believed that he had repeatedly flouted UN resolutions and weapons inspectors and that such behavior had to have consequences” (294).
Herbert is the one who disregards context, not Sarah Palin. As far as syntax goes, I thought her sentences were just fine.
2. Herbert: “In her closing remarks at the vice-presidential debate Thursday night, Ms. Palin referred earnestly, if loosely, to a quote from Ronald Reagan. He had warned that if Americans weren’t vigilant in protecting their freedom, they would find themselves spending their ‘sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was like in America when men were free.’ What Ms. Palin didn’t say was that the menace to freedom that Reagan was talking about was Medicare. As the historian Robert Dallek has pointed out, Reagan ‘saw Medicare as the advance wave of socialism, which would ‘invade every area of freedom in this country.” Does Ms. Palin agree with that Looney Tunes notion? Or was this just another case of the aw-shucks, darn-right, I’m-just-a-hockey-mom governor of Alaska mouthing something completely devoid of meaning?”
Response: Palin may or may not have known the context of Reagan’s quote. Quotes can have meaning apart from their original contexts. But, as Reagan affirmed in his debate with Carter, he supported an alternative program to Medicare, so he wasn’t for throwing the sick elderly out onto the streets. And why should we assume that Medicare was the best way to address the problem? Does Mr. Herbert know how much this entitlement costs? He’s the one who lives in an alternate universe! And I resent him calling any deviation from liberal orthodoxy a “Looney Tunes notion.”
3. Herbert: “This is such a serious moment in American history that it’s hard to believe that someone with Ms. Palin’s limited skills could possibly be playing a leadership role. On the day before the debate, the commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, Gen. David McKiernan, made an urgent appeal for more troops, saying the additional ‘boots on the ground,’ as well as more helicopters and other vital equipment, were ‘needed as quickly as possible.'”
Response: What? So David McKiernan supports some sort of surge? I thought Joe Biden said he didn’t!
4. Herbert: “The morning after the debate, the Labor Department announced that the employment situation in the U.S. had deteriorated even more than experts had expected. The nation lost nearly 160,000 jobs in September, more than double the monthly losses in July and August.
“Conditions are probably worse than even those numbers indicate because the government’s statistics do not yet reflect the response of employers to the credit crisis that has taken such a hold in the last few weeks.
“Where is the evidence that Governor Palin even understands these complex and enormously challenging problems? During the debate she twice referred to General McKiernan as ‘McClellan.’ Neither Ms. Ifill nor Senator Biden corrected her.
“But after Senator Biden suggested that John McCain’s answer to the nation’s energy problems was to ‘drill, drill, drill,’ Ms. Palin promptly pointed out, as if scoring a point, that ‘the chant is ‘Drill, baby, drill!’’
“How’s that for perspective? The credit markets are frozen. Our top general in Afghanistan is dialing 911. Americans are losing jobs by the scores of thousands. And Sarah Palin is making sure we know that the chant is ‘drill, baby, drill!’ not ‘drill, drill, drill.'”
Response: First of all, so she mangled the guy’s name! She was close enough. At least she knows how many states are in the U.S., unlike, say, Barack Obama. Reagan mangled a lot of leaders’ names, and he ended the Cold War. Not that I expect the snobbish New York Times to acknowledge that fact, since it lives in its own little universe, apart from the real world.
Second, “drill, baby, drill” is an answer to our sagging economy, kind sir. We need more jobs. Having energy independence can create those. End of story. Maybe Sarah Palin is more sophisticated than the elitist media think!
5. Herbert: “John McCain has spent most of his adult life speaking of his love for his country. Maybe he sees something in Sarah Palin that most Americans do not. Maybe he is aware of qualities that lead him to believe she’d be as steady as Franklin Roosevelt in guiding the U.S. through a prolonged economic downturn. Maybe she’d be as wise and prudent in a national emergency as John Kennedy was during the Cuban missile crisis.
“Maybe Senator McCain has reason to believe that it would not be the most colossal of errors to put Ms. Palin a heartbeat away from the presidency.”
Response: Roosevelt, who had farmers burn their crops when people were going hungry? What got us out of the Depression was the war, not the New Deal. Of course, Herbert would probably dismiss what I said as a “Looney Tune notion,” since it doesn’t accord with his liberal orthodoxy.
6. Herbert: “He’s got just four weeks to share that insight with the rest of us.”
Response: Herbert assumes that “the rest of us” share his view of Governor Palin. The New York Times does not speak for me. Hopefully, we’ll see in the coming election that it doesn’t speak for a lot of people. We certainly saw that in 2004!
There’s nothing like a smug, condescending New York Times opinion piece to put me solidly in the Republican camp!