Friday, September 19, 2008

Sarah Palin: Flash in the pan

Sarah Palin is crashing and burning as a vice presidential candidate. How badly? Check out this graph from Daily Kos. A week ago, her positive/negative rating was 52/35 (52% had a positive impression, 35% had a negative impression).

Today, it is 41/46. So her positive rating dropped 11 points in one week.

So much for energizing the base.

There are lots and lots and lots of issues involved in a presidential campaign. No one agrees with any candidate on every issue. Almost no one completely understands the candidates' positions on the various issues.

But everyone understands "experience," because everybody has experience of some kind. And everyone learns from experience, so just about everyone understands how important it is. This is one reason that Obama was vulnerable on that score.

This is also why I think choosing Palin was a fatal miscalculation on McCain's part. Obama counters his lack of experience with the claim that he has superior judgment, notably his opposition to the war in Iraq. The fact that the primary campaign was so long gave voters months to evaluate him. Sarah Palin is being evaluated in a matter of weeks.

What goes largely unsaid about experience is why it is so important: because there are certain things that can only be learned from it. Almost all of us eventually realize that there is a limit to what can be learned from books or in a classroom.

What Obama consistently demonstrates is that, despite not having a long resume, he has clearly learned from what experience he does have.

Sarah Palin has clearly not bothered to learn much from her experience. Which is something that, again, most people are familiar with. We all know someone who just hasn't figured out what they are supposed to have learned, despite all kinds of experience. Sometimes they just don't get it; sometimes they just don't care; sometimes they think they don't need to learn from experience, because they are always right.

All three of those apply to Sarah Palin. She clearly doesn't get that she needs to learn from experience; she doesn't care whether or not she does, because she hasn't had to so far; and she clearly believes, as Bush does, that she is almost always right.

One of the best ways to learn from experience is to occasionally fail. That forces you to figure out how to do better. Sarah Palin has never lost an election (as far as I know). She has never had that humbling experience in politics. Obama has.

Sarah Palin is about to learn some very valuable lessons.

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