Right in Dark Times

My column yesterday was about a book called The Anti-Intellectual Presidency. In it, I expressed some very faint hope that the cretinizing effect of recent exchanges between the Demopublican and Republocratic candidates might be mitigated once the debates started. It is clear that I have no great future as prophet before me.

Aside from the bizarre and even desperate move by McCain himself to get out of Friday's scheduled event -- and to postpone indefinitely the Veep debate -- we can now witness Palin's most recent interview. It will not do to read the transcript. Only while watching the actual video is it possible fully to appreciate the wisdom of Palin's handlers in keeping her away from open microphones as much as possible:

Even so, it seems to me obvious that this is the face of a future president. Perhaps not this decade, but sometime in the next. It is important to understand that -- and, if not to accept it, then in some way to come to terms with it.

The trends that, as Lin argues in his book, hollow out any possibility of serious political discussion are precisely why Palin will be an ideal vehicle for a politics that evades deliberation, as well as the proxy for that segment of the American public (not a small part) that loathes it.

She will be better coached in the future, and learn the art of translating ignorance into arrogant self-confidence. She was able to manage that on a state level, but will need a little more practice to pull it off on the larger public stage. All it will take is time.

UPDATE: Aside from being one of America's finest book reviewers, Jon Swift is making a sober estimate of the state of the polity: "McCain is not by nature one to be rash and impulsive, but I think it's time for him to throw caution to the wind for a change and ask Barack Obama to agree to suspend the entire election/"

September 25, 2008 10:01 AM | | Comments (4)



I do hope you -- we, because I share your opinion -- are wrong about Palin's future viability for high political office. But I do think that her being "untimely ripped" from the seedy and corrupt Alaska political scene and her disastrous performance thus far may be hammer blows to her future chances. She'll have to settle up with some very unamused Alaskans before any future run, and I doubt she holds the governor's chair. That will sink some of her ambitions, but our mutual pal Rick Perlstein would point out that Nixon came back from even more abject humiliations.

Nixon was smart if not telegenic. Back then, being untelegenic was a handicap but not a disqualification. That has changed. And now being smart itself is a disqualification, at best. I'm no enthusiast for meritocracy, as such, but this is pretty worrying, no matter how you slice it.

By the way, Rich, here's a neologism you might appreciate: mediocrityocracy. It can be surprisingly useful in certain contexts.

Thanks for the link, Shane. A movie I have seen more than once, and doubtless will again, one of these days.

A good campaign '08 slogan would be "McCain-Palin: They've Got Electrolytes." It's not too late.

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