July 06, 2009

Palin reaction: Jackson, Schmackson

The implied respect of the American conservative for his country's history, especially the military kind, continues to amuse, er, amaze. Ross Douthat:

With her missteps, scandals, dreadful interviews and self-pitying monologues, [Palin's] botched an essential democratic role the ordinary citizen who takes on the elites, the up-by-your-bootstraps role embodied by politicians from Andrew Jackson down to Harry Truman.

Okay, look, Old Hickory had a lot of characteristics, some of them even admirable, but "the ordinary citizen who takes on the elites" was not one of them, unless by that "elites" means 11,000 British redcoats, and "takes on" means "decimates them with grapeshot."

I mean, all Jackson did was win the greatest American military victory since Saratoga, people. How is that remotely comparable to being mayor of Wasilla, Alaska?

Harry Truman, for that matter, was a distinguished WW1 artillery officer himself, kicking off 27 years of public service, including being elected -- twice -- as U.S Senator (as did Jackson, for that matter) and culminating in the Truman Commission, which got him on the cover of Time magazine as an enemy of wartime waste and corruption. That's all it took to justify his getting the VP nod in 1944.

Yeah, I get what Douthat's trying to say, that you shouldn't have to be Ivy to be President, that and people returning to the workplace after choosing to raise 4 (later to be 5) kids shouldn't be overly discriminated against for that choice (agree on both counts), but surely American voters would be justified in insisting that there be at least some kind of a substantive track record of service to the nation first, before someone gets put into the hardest and most important race of them all.

Truman is a good example to compare Palin with, actually, also turning to public service later in life (enlisting as an army officer at the age of 33, five years after Palin was first elected to her town council), but after that he still had time to put in those 27 years before his own VP bid. Jackson, likewise, had been a figure in Tennessee politics for over 30 years when he first ran for president. Even if you count her 10 years in the town hall, Palin's still at least a decade shy of either of them, and often in far less significant positions. Any American in the lower 48, let alone us non-voting foreigners whose own lives are often so profoundly affected by Americans' choice of leader, can be forgiven by being shocked and disturbed by her rapid, and apparently unjustified ascent to putative back-up for a 70 year-old presidential wannabe.

Posted by BruceR at 03:14 PM