today in black history

December 13, 2017

Human rights activist Ella Baker is born in Norfolk, Virginia in 1903.

Lowering Expectations

POSTED: October 03, 2008, 12:00 am

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If you read the coverage of last night’s vice presidential debate in this morning’s press around the country, the conventional wisdom is that Governor Sarah Palin “survived” her first and only encounter with her Democratic counterpart Senator Joe Biden. Is this what we have been reduced to in our examination of candidates for national leadership? We have lowered our expectations to the point that a candidate’s “survival” during a debate is hailed as an indication of their credibility as a candidate.

Shouldn’t we expect more?

The debate gave us a seasoned United States Senator versus what appeared to be a candidate for Student Council vice president. The contrast was just that stark. At any moment we expected Governor Palin to start gushing about the Jonas Brothers given her juvenile responses to the questions. Instead of debate, she needs to audition for a Nickelodeon sitcom. There were moments when we wished all formality had been dropped and Senator Biden turned to his opponent and simply ask, “What are you doing here?”

There were moments during the debate that it became clear that the McCain campaign was hoping independent voters would not notice that Governor Palin had little substantive to offer on the critical issues facing our nation. Her reliance on “Palinisms,” those “gosh” and “doggone” responses, would have been exposed if debate moderator Gwen Ifill had simply asked the governor to explain herself. Eight years ago many of us squirmed when we heard another governor stumble over his words and awkwardly spell out his position on the issues during the 2000 presidential election. To our dismay, what we are witnessing this year with Governor Palin moves George W. Bush to the head of the class.

As much as we may disavow the Reagan presidency, at least he had the good sense to select a seasoned public servant, George H. Bush, to serve alongside. Though the elder Bush later turned around and put the male equivalent of Sarah Palin – Indiana’s Dan Quayle – on the ticket who later proved he wasn’t smarter than a fifth grader when he incorrectly spelled potato in front of a classroom full of students. Now we have Governor Palin, whose claim of national security expertise is based on her state’s proximity to Russia, which she claims she can see when looking out her window. Hey, we’re not making this stuff up. If only we were perhaps we would not be so incensed by Senator McCain’s attempt to pull a fast one.

Education and life experience, each on its own, count for something and together they represent attributes that we should look for in our public servants. Throughout this campaign the Republican ticket has sought to minimize the importance of education by ridiculing Senator Obama for his Ivy League degrees; daring to label him elitist for accomplishing what has always been held out as a virtue in our country. Along comes Sarah Palin who treated college enrollment like a correspondent’s course and revels in her own “keeping it real” ignorance. Excuse us, but leave the shout outs to ‘Lil Wayne and Jay Z. Next thing you know she will be giving “props” to her “homies in Juneau.” Spare us the “I’m down with the people” act and tell us why we should put you one step away from the Oval Office.

November 4 is no longer Election Day. It is the date for a National Intervention, to confront those responsible for the mess we are in and to reject the campaign to subject our nation to a “Governance for Dummies” version of a presidential administration.

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