[I started to post on this article, then pulled it because it was unfair to make critical assumptions about Sarah Palin's knowledge before she'd had the chance to show what she's learned. After seeing the first clips of Palin's interview with Charles Gibson, where she displayed her understanding of foreign policy, I'm confident that my thought were right on target.]
E.J Dionne asks The Right and Wrong Questions for Palin
Here are two important paragraphs buried at the bottom of a story in today's New York Times:
"Aides traveling with Ms. Palin have reported back to associates that she is a fast study -- asking few questions of her policy briefers but quickly repeating back their main points -- who already has considerable ease and experience before cameras.
She asks few questions but likes to parrot back answers? She prefers “light preparatory materials” to “heavy briefing books?” And this is the person we want next in line to be president? It sounds as if she makes our current president seem hugely informed and intensely curious.
Sounds like she's prepping for a Bible Quiz, I thought.
One commenter to Dionne's article has this to say:
I've been in compressed learning environment, and that's exactly how I would respond. Why? Asking too many questions is a sign of someone who gets side tracked, and isn't a good use of time. Compressed briefing notes are much easier to absorb.
So how much has she absorbed? Take a look:
Yeah. We've seen this before - the student who hasn't been to class all year and stayed up all night trying to cram at the last minute. There are times when you can skate by with a few names and slogans - sales meetings and political campaigns, for example. That "compressed learning" is sufficient if you, a) will never have to revisit the topic, or b) already have a grasp of the topic. A little learning is a dangerous thing.
On a more political note, take a look again at the third clip. About 0:59, Palin visibly brightens when she says, "You can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska!" Women's equality may have been set back 15 years - we pass up a competent woman like Hillary Clinton and then present someone who's hard to take seriously as a grownup.
More seriously yet, Palin says war should be a last resort, but seems to embrace military conflict in every tight situation that Gibson actually raises. Iran? Israel can bomb 'em any time they want. Russia? Of course we might have to fight 'em; why not? You have to suspect that she's not ad-libbing here and that worries me.