08.30.08

Sarah Palin inexperience

Posted in Politics at 6:10 pm by ducky

The Republicans are accusing the Democrats of a double standard, contending that if it’s okay for Obama to be inexperienced, it’s okay for Palin to be inexperienced. There is a whole issue of scale here, however. While Palin does have management experience (which is good), it is in such a tiny, tiny pond that it seems ludicrous to compare it to Obama’s experience. It’s sort of like the GOP repeatedly yelling, “Joey can’t drink because he’s only eighteen!”, giving the right to drink to twelve-year-olds, and responding to criticism by saying, “You wanted to allow underage drinkers too!”

Many other people have pointed out her lack of foreign policy experience, so I don’t need to do that. I’m also worried about her lack of domestic experience. In the political realm, does she have any idea how finance markets work? Does she know what the principal products of Texas, California, Illinois, and New York are? Does she have a sense of how agriculture in the Midwest differs from agriculture in the West? Does she know anything of the history of the Colorado River water rights issues, the Mormon trek from Nauvoo to Salt Lake City, the role of steamboats down the Mississippi, or the Trail of Tears?

In the personal realm, has she ever set foot in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Las Vegas, New Orleans, or Miami? Has she ever worked closely with an African-American or a Latino? Will she have trouble understanding a southern drawl? Has she ever toured a manufacturing facility? Has she ever been to a professional baseball or football game? Has she ever ridden a horse? Has she ever been on a subway? Has she ever seen an alligator or heard cicadas keening?

I used to think that “sophisticated” was a euphemism for “snobby”, but I now realize that it is a shorthand for having had a wide variety of life experiences and exposure to many different ways of looking at the world. While maybe it isn’t important if she has never ridden a horse, maybe someday she’ll be chatting with the Saudi Ambassador about horses, and if she mixes up “canter” and “trot”, he’ll think she’s a rube.

Having exposure to many places, many ideas, and many people prepares you better for handling many problems with many places and many people. Obama has far, far more experience with the world — both foreign and domestic — than Palin does.

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