I wish I could have told you more at the time but all of it was put off the record until after the election. There was great concern in the McCain campaign that Sarah Palin lack the degree of knowledgeability necessary to be a running mate, a vice president, and a heartbeat away from the presidency. We’re told by folks that she didn’t know what countries that were in NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, that being the Canada, the US, and Mexico. We’re told she didn’t understand that Africa was a continent rather than a country just in itself … a whole host of questions that caused serious problems about her knowledgeability. She got very angry at staff, thought that she was mishandled…..was particularly angry about the way the Katie Couric interview went. She didn’t accept preparation for that interview when the aides say that that was part of the problem. And that there were times that she was hard to control emotionally there’s talk of temper tantrums at bad news clippings……
She thought Africa was a country and didn’t know who was in NAFTA. I am simply in awe, stunned awe that this person was a heartbeat away from the presidency. Now I can certainly make no claims on having been an ideal high school student. Far from it (I did get better.). But I do remember going over NAFTA in civics class and knowing which countries were involved. I also remember touching on several countries in Africa in our world history class, such as Egypt, Liberia, etc. That was high school. I wasn’t then or even now even considering public office of any kind. I realize we Americans are not the best in geography, but I would have thought something this basic would be general knowledge, especially for a governor of a state! Especially since she could see one of the principle partners of NAFTA from her house! One critical aspect here is that this was off the record until after the election. As the people who were “interviewing” her for the job to see if she is qualified, this is exactly the sort of thing we did need to know about.
Now I know many in the blogosphere have said that she’s just really stupid, and indeed the Couric interviews would tend to lend credence to that. I’ve rarely heard such blatantly incoherent babbling in a serious interview and perhaps this was simply her realizing how unprepared she was. Although I can certainly understand how one can reach a conclusion about low intelligence, I would have to think that this example does not necessarily imply she’s low on the IQ scale. Anyone with a modicum of intelligence, which I think she does at least have, can learn that Africa is not a country. What I think it clearly shows is that she is willfully ignorant. She is simply devoid of any curiosity about anything outside her own narrow field of view. By itself, that does not imply a bad person. But an office at the level she was seeking demands far more.
Why is this still relevant? Of course, there’s always the old maxim how unless we know and understand the history, it will come back and bite us. I also heard that when she stepped off her plane on her return to Alaska, she was greeted by enthusiastic fans chanting “2012!”. I fear we’ve not seen the last of this tunneled vision political aspirant.
Of course, some further insights about what Palin national leadership would have been like might be glimpsed by the temper tantrums, but I’ll leave that for others to have fun with.