The debate over Caroline Kennedy's qualifications for a seat in the U.S. Senate is getting louder, and the number of side arguments over the way JFK's daughter and Alaska's governor have been evaluated in their respective quests for higher public office are increasing. Sweet Caroline's supporters say she deserves her shot at the Hillary Clinton chair. Sarah Barracuda's troops point to the rank hypocrisy of those who give Ms. Kennedy a free pass after having savaged Gov. Palin.
National Review's Jonah Goldberg argues that Sarah Palin earned her job as Governor of Alaska through her own hard work and dedication, and he decries the viciousness of the personal attacks that were made on her and her family after she was nominated by John McCain and approved by the delegates to the Republican National Convention as the party's 2008 vice presidential candidate. He says that Caroline Kennedy hasn't earned a Senate seat:
Simply, the Kennedy clan is no priestly caste, serving as the conscience of the nation, and its progeny do not deserve eternal deference.
Now, I know the comparison between Palin and Caroline Kennedy is not perfect. Each has strengths where the other has weaknesses, and the jobs of senator and vice president aren’t identical (the former actually has more responsibility, for starters).
But the comparison is nonetheless revealing. Palin’s selection triggered troughs of bile, vomited up from nearly every respectable liberal quarter. A Florida congressman, and Obama surrogate, insinuated that Palin was a “Nazi sympathizer” and anti-Semite (she’s not, but Caroline Kennedy’s grandfather was). Her by-the-bootstraps story was ridiculed by nearly every ex-debutante newsreader and avowed “feminist” in America.
Meanwhile, Caroline, with a resume perfectly suited to being a Kennedy and little else, is a Cinderella who deserves a Senate seat because, well, she just does.
Whatever Palin’s faults, Sarah Barracuda’s America has a lot more going for it than Sweet Caroline’s.
Most pundits to the right of political center make similar arguments. But there is one glaring exception - columnist Kathleen Parker. Parker has already earned herself a reputation as a Palin-obsessed Christophobe, and even her friends have had enough of it. Her latest Townhall.com column argues that it's no big deal to hand Caroline a Senate seat because the Kennedy heir would just be one among one hundred in the chambers and therefore couldn't do that much damage. Palin, on the other hand, gasps Parker, wanted to be just a heartbeat away from having her finger on the button labeled "nuclear holocaust." It never occurs to the caustic columnist that Sarah Palin has a deep and abiding respect for life and would be one of the last persons on the face of the earth to casually bring an end to so many lives on the scale demanded by global thermonuclear war.
But Parker gives herself away as just another e-mail inbox addressee for the sort of anti-Palin talking points widely distributed by our Democrat friends:
Palin's demonstrated lack of basic knowledge, her intellectual incuriosity, her inability to articulate ideas or even simple thoughts all combined to create an impression of not-quite-there.
Even Stevie Wonder could spot the talking point memes in this paragraph, memes which the anti-Palin elites have been spouting for months. Let's take a look at them.
It's curious that the "lack of basic knowledge" meme hasn't dropped off the talking points white paper, considering that Joe Biden is about to take the oath of office to become Vice President of the United States, the same office Parker and her fellow elites insist Sarah Palin was not qualified for. Biden has demonstrated a lack of basic knowledge on the subjects of American History, the Constitution, basic foreign policy, elementary school arithmetic and even the energy policy of the administration he will be working for. And, yes, he will be just a heartbeat away...
The "intellectual incuriosity" meme is one that I have already addressed when I pointed out that the President of Afghanistan, after meeting with Palin, "found her quite a capable woman" and said that "She asked the right questions on Afghanistan." That is not the impression a person who is intellectually incurious makes on a head of state. But there are some additional arguments to make on this point. Elaine Lafferty, feminist, Democrat and former editor in chief of Ms. magazine, writes that Gov. Palin is smart, curious and insightful:
Now by “smart,” I don't refer to a person who is wily or calculating or nimble in the way of certain talented athletes who we admire but suspect don't really have serious brains in their skulls. I mean, instead, a mind that is thoughtful, curious, with a discernable pattern of associative thinking and insight. Palin asks questions, and probes linkages and logic that bring to mind a quirky law professor I once had. Palin is more than a “quick study”; I'd heard rumors around the campaign of her photographic memory and, frankly, I watched it in action. She sees. She processes. She questions, and only then, she acts. What is often called her “confidence” is actually a rarity in national politics: I saw a woman who knows exactly who she is.
Finally, Parker drags up the "inability to articulate ideas or even simple thoughts" meme that is a popular weapon among the elites to fire at Palin. Had Parker and her Palin-bashing fellow elites bothered to watch the interview of Gov. Palin conducted by CNBC's Maria Bartiromo, they would have witnessed the object of their venom ably and effectively articulating ideas on energy independence, jobs, conservation and other issues. Her appearance on Charlie Rose with Gov. Janet Napalitano (as well as a few minutes with her solo in the green room) again showed Palin to be able to discuss ideas effectively without benefit of teleprompters, written notes or coaching. Palin's performance in the vice presidential debate has been praised by Frank Luntz's focus group, a host of bloggers and pundits such as Politco.com's Roger Simon:
Sarah Palin was supposed to fall off the stage at her vice presidential debate Thursday evening. Instead, she ended up dominating it.
She not only kept Joe Biden on the defensive for much of the debate, she not only repeatedly attacked Barack Obama, but she looked like she was enjoying herself while doing it.
Steven Keller, Director of the George Washington University Debate Team and an Assistant Professor of Media and Public Affairs at GWU, said:
"I thought Sarah Palin hit a grand slam to right field. It was an excellent debate. Joe Biden did a fine job, but Sarah Palin exceeded expectations by a 100 miles with her poise, her self-confidence and her ability to stay even with Joe Biden all the way."
With each new column she produces taking her further around the bend, it's clear to many, even her friends, that Kathleen Parker is the one who's "not quite there."
And so the debate will rage on unless Caroline Kennedy somehow doesn't get a free ticket to the Senate for at least two years. But those who have attacked Gov. Palin's experience, intellect and abilities and who also want to see another Kennedy representing New York on Capitol Hill can hide neither their hypocrisy nor the emptiness of their arguments against Sarah Palin.