From David Brooks:
[Sarah Palin] represents a fatal cancer to the Republican party. When I first started in journalism, I worked at the National Review for Bill Buckley. And Buckley famously said he'd rather be ruled by the first 2,000 names in the Boston phone book than by the Harvard faculty. But he didn't think those were the only two options. He thought it was important to have people on the conservative side who celebrated ideas, who celebrated learning. And his whole life was based on that, and that was also true for a lot of the other conservatives in the Reagan era. Reagan had an immense faith in the power of ideas. But there has been a counter, more populist tradition, which is not only to scorn liberal ideas but to scorn ideas entirely. And I'm afraid that Sarah Palin has those prejudices. I think President Bush has those prejudices.
Thank you! That nails the frustration I've been feeling since the Palin pick. I want to be a conservative (I think, whatever that means these days) but the idea that someone who cannot compose a coherent sentence without days of intensive preparation might very well be in charge of the United States, along with the largest military and nuclear arsenal is in world, is insulting and unacceptable. I've watched in shock as the "She's next door to Russia, so she has great foreign policy," argument has migrated from some Fox news pundit ("Okay, he's a Fox news pundit, what do you expect?") to Cindy McCain ("Okay, maybe she's not the brightest bulb in the shed, and she probably picked it up from the moron news pundit"), then on to McCain himself (WHAT?!?), then on the Palin's tortuous attempt to defend it to Couric (words fail). They really expect us to believe this? Really?
When I first started paying attention to politics it was the conservatives who seemed to embrace and support the intellect. William Buckley was a big fan of St. John's, a college based on the redical notion that some books are objectively "Great," that Truth is not subjective, and that it can be dicovered, at least in part, by us through diligent inquiry. This was in contrast to the intellectually shoddy liberals who filled up colleges with things like Women's Studies, Diversity Studies, etc., etc., etc.
And now it's this party, and Mr. Buckley's political and ideological (but not physical!) descendants who are championing the vice-presidential nomination of a woman who can't even name one magazine or newspaper that she reads on a regular basis! And seriously, with no exaggeration, she cannot form a coherent sentence, and has major problems with prepositions, subject, objects, and all those pesky things only elite, arugula-eating, America-hating liberals care about.
When asked about global warming, she said twice that she's "not going to solely blame all of man’s activities on changes in climate." Huh? To be precise, that's what she said in the Couric interview, direct quote. But then she said pretty much the same thing in the VP debate. Okay, I think she was trying to say that she doesn't think that climate change is solely attributable to man-made causes. Fine. I know there are alot of smart people out there that think that. Fine. It's not the position I have a problem with. But c'mon, it's not that hard of a statement, especially if it's one you truly believe. So why can't she get the subject, object and preposition right, and in the correct order? Is that really too much to ask in a vice-president?
One of the justifications of studying logic and rhetoric in a classical education is that the ability to speak clearly is intrinsically tied to the ability to think and reason clearly. Clear speaking shows clear thinking. One of the best reasons to study Euclid is not as much to understand geometry as it is to expose your mind to one of the clearest and most elegant presentations of any subject that you will ever find. As you go through the propositions you are training your mind to think clearly and logically, moving easily from one mathematical truth to the truth. The same process is followed in Apollonius and Newton (although it's perhaps not quite as straightforward there), and even up through Einstein.
This nomination is a resounding slap in the face to those of us who value ideas, the intellect, and civil political discourse. If we hadn't just suffered through eight years of an aw-shucks, Joe Six-Pack, inarticulate president (and I voted for him in 2000), this might be a little more palatable. It also might be more palatable if we were not on the brink of a potential Great Depression, involved in two messy, horribly mismanaged wars to which I can see no honorable end, and facing a resugent Russia, and increasingly powerful China, and the possibility of a nuclear Iran. Oh yes, and it might be just a tad more acceptable if this incoherent VP were not the VP of a 70+ man with a history of cancer. Given all that, a party that would put forward a VP candidate of this caliber under these circumstances does. not. deserve. to. win. In fact, it fully deserves not only a second but a third helping of its own ass that's going to get handed to it on a plate this November.
UPDATE: William F. Buckley's son Christopher has just endorsed Obama. Read the whole thing.