Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Palin and an American Dream

A coworker IMed me today:
Scott: In a blunt interview with the Associated Press, the star of the Jason Bourne film series also said there was a good chance John McCain would die in his first term in office and the thought of a President Palin is "terrifying."

“It’s like a really bad Disney movie — the hockey mom…from Alaska, and she’s the president, and it’s like she’s facing down Vladimir Putin and using the folksy stuff she learned at the hockey rink. And it’s absurd, it’s totally absurd, and I don't understand why people aren’t talking about how absurd it is," Damon said.

Jason: and his pundant credentials are?

Scott: Yeah, but that is a pretty funny image of her and Putin.

Jason: yeah, it is. But, like a Disney movie, it bears no relationship to how international politics really works. Bush and Putin don't have policy-changing verbal showdowns facing each other over a boardroom table--or tumbleweeds or something. They have people. The people brief them and most of the work is committee work. Sometimes, at the very beginning and the very end, the president has to digest all of the committee work and make a decision. That decision is going to be influenced to a degree by experience, but to a greater degree by wisdom. Palin has either developed wisdom or she has not. She can face the information and make a choice based on what is right, or not. And frankly, a lot of the time, she'll be wrong--just like Churchill, Roosevelt, and Reagan.

I have no idea if Palin is fit for office, but when she was nominated, I felt something that I have never felt in my life--I believed that anyone can grow up to be president. It used to be a common phrase--"eat your vegetables so you can grow up to be president." Part of our national self-identity was that anyone could be president. We were mocked world-wide for the notion. Nowadays, I doubt any parent would utter that incentive to their kids because they know it is a lie. Palin may stink as VP, I doubt we'll ever find out. But if she makes it, then, to quote another line from this race, I'll feel proud of America for the first time in my life.

1 comment:

Fr. Matthew said...

I have a fairly moderate level of skepticism when it comes to presidential elections because of things like Mr. Damon being a celebrity-pundit. All of the possible scenarios about what "could happen" once a given set of candidates gets into office gets fed into the other 90% of the hype going on around the horse race.

The likelihood that McCain will die in office is negligible. People live a lot longer these days that they did back in Reagan's day. And I think you are quite correct in describing how the whole government process works. People. Committees.

It is not like we are electing a king/queen that has some sort of imperial fiat to make stuff happen. There's influence, but there are the boundaries of the Constitution and "checks and balances" of working with Congress and the judiciary.

This leads me to my skepticism when hearing candidates promise everything but the kitchen sink if they get elected. They can work on certain programs. They can attempt to make things happen or introduce "change" (the buzzword with both parties in this election), but they actually work with a lot more constrains than they admit or the general public seems to realize.