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Sarah Palin: Faux Populist

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So, you think Sarah Palin is embarrassed by the crib-notes-on-the-palm incident?

You're kidding, right?

This woman, like national candidates of both parties, doesn't draw a breath without a team of political and image consultants vetting her choices. Wardrobe, hair, make-up, speaking style, text, context. This woman hasn't moved a muscle spontaneously since she was selected as McCain's running mate.

These gaffes represent a gamble by Palin and her handlers, a bet they are hedging. Republicans and economically weary, anti-Obama independents want W back again. You remember. George W Bush, who, as Ann Richards famously stated, was "born on third base and thinks he hit a triple." Bush, who stumbled through his eight years with an anti-intellectual, homespun style that embraced malapropisms and a legendarily incurious attitude toward issues and the world. Some celebrated him as honest and more real. That was all calculated, too.

Palin reads off the palm of her hand because she can't whittle or cast a fly rod or shoot a wild animal while giving a policy speech. (Then again, who knows?) She reads her palm in order to send a message to her anti-Eastern establishment, Obama-hating, OK-You've-Had-Your-Black-President-Experiment, Tea Party types. That message is, "I'm just one person, doing the best I can with what God gave me. Like all y'all out there."

And it was aimed right at that camera. Right at you and me.

I still believe in Barack Obama. Each new president since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975 has been faced with an ever-growing mountain of problems that resist solutions, let alone solutions crafted with bipartisan support. Energy, America's dwindling role in the global economy, health care, terrorism and its impacts.

We may struggle for the remainder of our history to solve those problems and we may come up short. But we are doomed to failure if we choose another incurious, phony populist who pulls off some bad Will Rogers moves and calls that a presidency.