by ROBERT HEROLD & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & M & lt;/span & y late father once told me that "arrogance mixed with ignorance makes for a bad brew." That's the perfect characterization of Sarah Palin. The woman personifies out-of-control hubris. And then you have to add in her woeful ignorance. She is so supercilious that she doesn't even realize that she should be overwhelmed. Her chirpy immodesty, coupled with John McCain's rising crescendo of bellicosity ("We are all Georgians now!"), is scaring away serious-minded conservatives.
David Frum, author and former speechwriter for George W. Bush says that while he has some trouble with Obama, given what McCain has revealed about himself -- that he is a reckless and petulant politician -- the thought that Obama might not win this election is too terrifying to contemplate. And that's what conservative insider David Frum says.
& lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & P & lt;/span & alin does have her supporters. William Kristol, the New York Times' designated neo-conservative standard-bearer, wrote last week that voters shouldn't be concerned that the 44-year-old novice couldn't take over as president. After all, he reminds us, other young vice presidents have been called on to take charge at a moment's notice. To make his point, he cites Theodore Roosevelt, who was only 42 when President McKinley was killed.
Sarah Palin? Compared to Theodore Roosevelt? Has Kristol lost his marbles? Let's roll the tape: Before TR became vice president, he had graduated magna cum laude from Harvard; served in the New York State Legislature; served as head of the United States Civil Service Commission; served as the New York City Police Commissioner; served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy; formed the "Rough Riders" and fought in Cuba; been elected governor of New York; and traveled West where he had written more than 30 books.
Kristol, to no surprise, missed the revealing point, which is most relevant to our present circumstance: Specifically, TR's past served as an extremely accurate predictor of what he would do as president.
He was a reformer before he was chosen to run as vice president; his ardent nationalism and imperialistic impulses were also there for a long time. Unlike McCain's unknown choice to be a "heartbeat" away from the Oval Office, Roosevelt already had a national following before he was nominated and selected. Americans had followed the career of Roosevelt, the "Rough Rider." Once chosen to be McKinley's running mate, TR did what he always did -- he went to the hustings and spoke his mind. Palin? She has spent her first few weeks as the vice presidential nominee hiding out from the press while working feverishly with her neo-con tutors who attempt to give her a quick Civics 101 course.
When McKinley was assassinated just months into his second term, the Wall Street power brokers, who harbored concerns about this young progressive, talked themselves into believing that past wasn't prologue, that TR would honor the conservative GOP platform on which McKinley had run. At the very least, they expected to be consulted.
Then he didn't, and they weren't.
Just five months after taking office, Roosevelt up and ordered his Attorney General to invoke the Sherman Antitrust Law against J.P. Morgan's "latest paper creation," the Northern Securities Company.
"There had been no warning save the logic of Theodore Roosevelt's career." So wrote Roosevelt's biographer, William Harbaugh.
& lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & P & lt;/span & rofessor Harbaugh was right. It is about the "logic of one's career" -- McCain's, Obama's, Biden's and, yes, Palin's, too.
Of McCain it must be said that the logic of his career, most especially his pandering to the religious right since 2000 (I can't imagine TR pandering to anyone), suggests strongly that, should he be elected, America would be in for four more years of George W. Bush, including injudicious application of military force. (The logic of Barack Obama's career suggests far more reliance on intelligence, deliberation and diplomacy.)
About Palin? Let's begin with her arrogant, mindlessly giddy response to Charles Gibson's question about becoming president. Or take her administrative style, as shown in Alaska. While Roosevelt insisted on "merit hiring and promotion," for Palin it has all been about loyalty. It has been secretive. It has been about control. It has been about cronyism. Her scary attack on the Wasilla librarian over banning books was no isolated event. And, my guess is, as her story unfolds, we will also find corruption, Alaska-style.
Ignorance? She wallows in it. Global warming? (What, me worry?) Wild game control? (Let's shoot all the wolves, and let polar bears fend for themselves.) Creationist beliefs? (It's all God's plan.) And we haven't even begun to talk about her inability to have a serious discussion about world affairs or domestic issues. Theodore Roosevelt talked to everyone, about everything, and did it without any tutors.
I'm with Republican David Frum. The thought of a petulant old man in the White House while his "Legally Brunette" version of Lady Macbeth waits in the wings is too frightening to contemplate.
Palin's speechwriter -- one of George W. Bush's trusted wordsmiths (how's that for change) -- oddly inserted a line comparing her to Harry Truman, Democrat, populist and sworn enemy of the Republican Party. In his rousing St. Louis campaign speech, delivered in late October 1948, Give 'Em Hell Harry bluntly stated: "Any farmer who votes against his self-interest, that is votes the Republican ticket, ought to have his head examined."
That's just what the McCain campaign has become -- hoping that somehow voters will mistake Sarah Palin for Teddy Roosevelt or Harry Truman and vote against what's best for them. Unfortunately for McCain, the head-examining is now well underway, and it's his head voters are starting to study.