The cliché is to say that Sarah Palin would only be a heartbeat away from the presidency if she and John McCain win the election. My theory? We're talking about the wrong body part.
Bear with me on this one: everyone can admit that Sarah Palin is hot. Everyone can also admit that John McCain is old. Creepily old. Like, if you were to take away the makeup and the lights, he'd probably look like Emperor Palpatine in the early (and by "early," I mean "not terrible") Star Wars movies. So the first time Vice President Palin sashays into the Oval Office and leans over the Resolute desk to ask President McCain a question, what's left of his old man blood is going to rush belowdecks, and the next thing we know McCain dies with a smile on his face and President Sarah Palin is the one behind the desk.
This is a problem. Though not because of Sarah Palin's political beliefs. The great thing about America is that if enough voters wanted a candidate to legalize eating dead babies, McDonalds would have an extra item on the Dollar Menu by the end of the week. I still have faith in our system, and believe that those in office will both share and shape the convictions of the majority of voting Americans.
This is also not a problem because Sarah Palin lies. All politicians lie. As John McCain probably remembers, Woodrow Wilson was reelected in 1916 by promising to keep us out of World War One; one year later, he began sending 4.3 million American troops on an all-expense tour of Europe. I don't even have to mention Bill Clinton, Richard Nixon, and the rest of those wild and crazy guys. So yeah, Sarah actually did support The Bridge to Nowhere when she was running for governor ... and being close to a country doesn't really count as foreign policy experience (I can see the apartment complex swimming pool from my window, this does not make me Michael Phelps)... and it's easy to say you oppose government spending while allowing federal spending per person in Alaska to rise from 38% above the national average to 71% above between 1996 and 2006. But like I said, bears don't have indoor plumbing, the Pope wears a hat he probably thinks is pretty damn cool, and politicians lie.
So it's not her politics, it's not her lies... just what's wrong with Sarah Palin? Good question. And one which I'll answer by telling you a little bit about the homeless guy who parks himself on the corner near my Los Angeles apartment.
We'll call him Steve, for the sake of anonymity. And for the sake that I don't actually know his name. So, Steve the Homeless Guy. Steve and I both like whiskey, old corduroy jackets, and shouting at women, so I feel like we have a lot in common. Sometimes, when I'm feeling generous (read: got laid the night before), I'll treat him to a beef bowl at the nearby Yoshinoya restaurant. Though, if you ask me, those beef bowls look better coming out than they do going in. And probably taste better that way.
Anyway, Steve may also share my support for free trade; my belief that a good energy policy is the only thing that's going to keep us from living in Ice Age: The Meltdown if we don't get completely blown to hell by the Russians, Iranians, or other -ians first; and my hope that everybody has access to a solid enough education that they're not going to end up like those kids at the end of season four of The Wire, having to choose between getting beat up for snitching or slinging drugs (and not the fun kind of drugs, either).
But just because we've got all this stuff in common, it doesn't mean I want good old Steve kicking his feet back in the Oval Office--one hand on the big red button and the other one fighting off the invisible elephants he's convinced are out to get him.
Why? Because Steve hasn't exactly wowed anyone with his achievements in life. Neither has Sarah Palin. Like she said at the Republican National Convention, Sarah Palin is "not a member of the permanent political establishment." Nope, she was "just your average hockey mom."
Granted, she was probably just being modest, but let's take a look at what Sarah Palin actually has accomplished. In her youth, Sarah Palin was captain of her high school basketball team, and runner up in the Miss Alaska contest. She then switched between five colleges in six years, before graduating from the University of Idaho.
Next, she beat out a local telephone company employee to serve on the city council of Wasilla, Alaska, where she helped keep the local bars open an extra two hours a night. She was soon elected mayor, and was apparently pretty damn popular among her citizens. In case it's been a while since you last visited, Wasilla's official population is 7,028, and the total local city annual revenue is $12,695,563. As a point of reference, Danny DeVito, esteemed actor and -- I kid you not -- voice of "Grundle King" in My Little Pony: The Movie, put his house on the market for $32 million. So two and a half times Wasilla's total annual revenue.
Since then, Palin's served as Alaska's governor, though for less than two years. During that time, she authorized the state to allow TransCanada Alaska to build a natural gas pipeline, and set aside $741 million out of an estimated $2.7 billion in taxes raised from oil companies to distribute among qualified Alaskan citizens. She also sold off the state's private jet and fired her standard-issue personal chef as means of getting rid of unnecessary government spending. Though in my mind, the fact that Alaska ranks only behind New Mexico in the federal spending to tax ratio sort of makes this like saying you're going to stop putting sugar in your coffee to cut back on fat, while stuffing your face with a fried Twinkie at the state fair. But that's just me.
So we see she's gotten a few things done, and has definitely earned at least a polite golf clap. But now let's check how her accomplishments hold up to a few celebrated presidents and vice presidents from both sides of the political spectrum before they took office.
Thomas Jefferson graduated from William and Mary at eighteen with the highest honors, became a lawyer and served in the Virginian state Burgess, authored the Declaration of Independence, served as minister to France, was appointed George Washington's first secretary of state, and was John Adams's vice president, before becoming president himself.
Abraham Lincoln, born into far crappier circumstances than Jefferson, managed to go from being the son of two uneducated farmers to serving as a captain in the Black Hawk War, educating himself in the classics and law, spending eight years in the Illinois legislature, riding the circuit of courts for many years, and serving as a member of the House of Representatives before becoming one of our greatest presidents and telling people who thought owning slaves was cool to go fuck themselves.
Jumping ahead, before ending the Cold War with the USSR and forcing everyone to turn those ugly bomb shelters into the foosball table room, Ronald Regan was a world famous actor, served as president of the Screen Actors Guild, toured the country as a conservative television host, and served twice as governor of California -- the US's most populated state.
You get the idea. If you want, Google just about any great leader, past or present, and you'll find a similar list of accomplishments. I, on the other hand, generally consider it a good day if I wake up before noon. The difference between those men and Sarah Palin and me is that each of them proved he had what it takes to lead the world's only superpower before taking office -- not only by accumulating insane amounts of political, legal, and social experience, but by being so good at those things that they generally made everybody else around them look like a real asshole.
Sarah Palin hasn't shown she's that great at anything, other than crinkling her nose and being charming. I respect her and can relate to her as a person, as I'm sure many people can. Most of us have felt out of place at some point in our education. And love our families deeply. And want to improve the government, whatever that may mean to us. And basically, like Sarah Palin, most of us have had to settle for Miss Congeniality rather than Miss Alaska in the beauty pageant of life. But just because we can relate to her in so many ways doesn't mean she should be in a position to become the leader of the free world. In fact, it means she shouldn't.
History has proven that the greatest presidents are smarter than us, are harder working, and somehow seem to achieve more over the course of brushing their teeth than we will in a lifetime. In short, they have the ability to be extraordinary. I don't have that ability, neither does Sarah Palin, and that's okay so long as Americans realize this should mean the only way she and I are getting into the White House is by lining up for the official tour.
In the mean time, Sarah can join Steve and me at the Yoshinoya. Compared to the beef, their chicken bowls aren't actually all that bad.