As a general interest opinion columnist, I've complimented, criticized, questioned and satirized a long list of people, places and things, not to mention current events, trends and the news for 16 years. Whether it's been sports heroes gone bad, class divisions in the black community, sex and dating or the perils of xenophobia, I've chimed in on it all.
Naturally, like any columnist, I've had my say about public figures, actors, athletes and elected officials alike, the latter of whom often engage in behavior that makes it easy or unavoidable to cover their antics. All of which brings me to Sarah Palin for the third consecutive week.
In 16 years of writing, I have never written about one person for three straight weeks. I'm not sure that Gov. Palin and her running mate would give a rat's ass about what an urban black man thinks of her politics and chances of succeeding Darth Vader Cheney but she can run over her shoes and I'll run over mine.
After waxing bombastic for the past two weeks about the utter ridiculousness of her candidacy, I had become overcome with emotion-filled discussions with others about this woman. I realized that my blood pressure rose and stomach literally and without a hint of exaggeration did flips when I talked about why she shouldn't be elected.
I simultaneously exercised poor and fine judgment by watching her recent performance in the interview with Katie Couric. The combination of her obvious lack of foreign policy knowledge and exposure that flowed from the governor's smart mouth and sharp tongue (neither of which is substantiated or justified by an overly impressive body of work and public service), solidified my belief that she has as much business being vice president as George Bush had being president.
In the spirit of civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer, I was sick and tired of being sick and tired of Gov. Palin invading my consciousness and violating my right to not be exposed to nonsense. I wanted her to be a nebbish, but in the spirit of keeping your friends close and enemies closer, I had a personal and journalistic obligation to track her whereabouts and musings. And just when I was on the cusp of temporarily abandoning paying her attention, along comes conservative columnist Kathleen Parker, who last week wrote, in part:
"As we've seen and heard more from John McCain's running mate, it is increasingly clear that Palin is a problem. Quick study or not, she doesn't know enough about economics and foreign policy to make Americans comfortable with a President Palin should conditions warrant her promotion. ... When Palin first emerged as John McCain's running mate, I confess: I was delighted. She was the antithesis and nemesis of the hirsute, Birkenstock-wearing sisterhood--a refreshing feminist of a different order who personified the modern successful working mother. Palin didn't make a mess cracking the glass ceiling. She simply glided through it."
I keep up with Parker's work for the same reason I stomach Bill O'Reilly, usually when visiting my barber, who also has a need to know what the enemy is thinking and blustering about at any point in time. Parker's columns are clear and concise and decidedly conservative. She gets to the point and you get her point. She doesn't mince words, which makes it even easier for me to understand that we don't agree on much.
So just last week, right before I made a final decision to take a break from lambasting Gov. Palin, Parker also wrote: "Like so many women, I've been pulling for Palin, wishing her the best, hoping she will perform brilliantly. I've also noticed that I watch her interviews with the held breath of an anxious parent, my finger poised over the mute button in case it gets too painful. Unfortunately, it often does. My cringe reflex is exhausted. Palin filibusters. She repeats words, filling space with deadwood. Cut the verbiage and there's not much content there.
"Only Palin," wrote Parker, "can save McCain, her party and the country she loves. She can bow out for personal reasons, perhaps because she wants to spend more time with her newborn. No one would criticize a mother who puts her family first. If BS were currency, Palin could bail out Wall Street herself."
Right now, I absolutely love Kathleen Parker, for she helped me to write this week's column when I was in a journalistic black hole.
Moreover, in her frustration, candor and unintentional nature lesson, she helped me to better understand and appreciate why sometimes lions eat their young.