Every parent has done it. "Watch this! She high-fives!" The parent giggles proudly, "She's a genius!" Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but they all high-five. Even my dog has learned to high-five. Which leads me to the obvious....a pit bull can learn to high five.
One conservative journalist said that Palin didn't learn the easy way by going to Harvard, she learned the hard way, on the streets. I guess if I ever need open-heart surgery I won't go to one of those doctors who learned the easy way in medical school. I want someone who learned surgical technique on the streets of Wasilla. Conservatives have long sent their sons and daughters to our greatest universities, but now they've decided to surrender those admirable values in exchange for pandering to the people they endeavor to inspire. The Republican party's contrived contempt and manufactured mistrust of intellect is not only counter to what they've always believed, but is terribly dangerous to the country they claim to put first. To indoctrinate a nation to renounce education and intellect is to shamefully discourage and suppress the very thing that America has not only historically exalted but needs so desperately right now.
They talk of competing in the worlds of science and medicine, technology and economics and yet present us with a presidential candidate who has repeatedly shown and even admitted that he knows very little about such things, has repeatedly voted against funding for education, but will repeat at every opportunity that he is an expert at winning wars, though he's never actually won one. They talk about teaching our children to compete in the global economy and international relations and yet they present us with a vice presidential candidate who has to memorize talking points and cynically condescend to us with winks and "doggonits" in order to conceal her astounding and terrifying lack of genuine knowledge.
Is Sarah Palin really the best and the brightest? Shouldn't a leader inspire us by example, be curious as well as ambitious, humble as well as formidable, gracious as well as robust, and learned as well as knowable? Folksy does not have to mean ignorant, regular does not have to mean ordinary, and earnest does not have to mean frivolous. For an example of this, look at one Joe Biden. To call him a "Washington elitist" or a typical "east coast politician" is to shamelessly insult the type of American we like to claim as unique and special to our nation. Ironically, Joe Biden is the very type of person Sarah Palin aspires to be, a "real American" who tirelessly works for his country, never forgets where he's from, and constantly looks forward to where we should be going. One thing is certain, Sarah Palin is no Joe Biden.
Sarah Palin and those like her do not aspire to transcend anything more than lowered expectations. Her foresight and ambition only reach as high as she tells you to look. The terms "Joe Six Pack" and "Hockey Moms of America" are code for the type of person she assumes won't aspire to anything more than mediocrity. The talent of Sarah Palin is in her ability to charm some with her folksy demeanor while concealing her stunning vacuousness. The obscenity of John McCain is in his selfish willingness to reignite a culture war by attempting to provide someone like Sarah Palin entree to an office that she should only see from the other side of the velvet rope on the White House tour.
Last night's debate was a David and Goliath match-up. Not because Joe Biden is a towering and formidable foe to a less-prepared civilian. Look again and tell me if you can tell the hero from the monster. Need some help? Goliath is the one who is condescending, arrogant, sarcastic, combative, insulting, childish, patronizing, untruthful and divisive. The monster doesn't lead, it misleads. It doesn't inspire, it frightens. It doesn't protect, it provokes. The monster is what has dominated us for eight long years. Sarah Palin is just the brand new model.
The monster marches and devours and never sleeps and it can only be defeated by its opposite: Hope, Courage, Knowledge, Kindness, and Grace. Those are the traits we saw in Joe Biden last night. They're the traits we see in Barack Obama. But most importantly, those are the traits they see in us.