Watching the fruit fly speech, I wasn't sure if I was seeing the real Sarah Palin, Tina Fey as Sarah Palin, or Sarah Palin as Tina Fey as Sarah Palin. It's all starting to blur. She was so absurd, so off-the-rails embarrassing, so staggeringly dumb, that it left me thinking that maybe Sarah Palin is a special needs child.
If you missed it, this candidate for vice president of the United States of America made a so-called "policy speech" on special needs children. In that speech she took on earmarks (naturally), and said that money "goes to projects having little or nothing to do with the public good -- things like fruit fly research in Paris, France. I kid you not."
Sorry, but everyone knows -- and I mean EVERYONE -- that fruit fly research is not about fruit flies! What I didn't know specifically, but I love knowing now, is that fruit fly research has led to the discovery of a protein that is apparently critical in treatment of autism in children, the very kind of "special needs child" the candidate was speaking about. Just when you think she couldn't get any more embarrassing.
Palin's supporters are outraged, wondering how we could expect her to know that. Um, when the candidate for vice president of the United States chooses to give a policy speech on a topic that she claims to be an expert on, shouldn't we expect her to actually be an expert? She claims in her speech that she is the one in the McCain/Palin administration who will "lead the reforms" necessary in the area of special needs children. She's not asking us to put her in charge of the church bake sale. She wants us to put her in charge of our most vulnerable children. And, no, it doesn't matter that she is the mother of such a child. Just like it doesn't make her a foreign policy expert because she can see Russia from her house, it doesn't make her an energy expert because she lives near an oil pipeline, and it doesn't make her knowledgeable on the job of vice president because she plays one on TV (she thinks the VP is in charge of the senate!).
For the few people left who continue to stubbornly love this woman, I know it feels great to see someone on the national stage who reminds you of yourself and your own $150,000 wardrobe. I know you felt the same kind of familiarity with George W. Bush, when his brush clearing reminded you of your own 1500 acre estate, er, ranch. I get it. We all suffer from a touch of the narcissist from time to time. But how about we all stop looking in the mirror and start looking out the window? The world is big, complicated, messy, and very dangerous. The problems are deep and the problem solvers need to be deeper. We don't need more superficially familiar, intellectually vacuous, and insecurely arrogant people running the country into oblivion.
What we desperately need are smart, educated, curious, intellectually honest, and genuinely confident leaders. We can't afford to keep voting for ordinary because yet another snake oil salesman (or saleswoman) sold us on the idea that we should somehow be terrified of the extraordinary.