Today in Palin

It's Tuesday, and you probably know what that means.

Published September 16, 2008 6:30PM (EDT)

Here it is, your day in Palin:

-- on why we should care about "tanning-bed gate," or whatever the hell we're calling Sarah Palin's installation of a $35,000 tanning bed in the governor's mansion. (I prefer to refer to it by the title used by Radosh: "Baked Alaska.") While Palin's love of the fake tan doesn't say squat about her ability to be vice president, it is the Alaskan, female equivalent of John Edwards' $400 haircuts. In other words, it smacks of hypocrisy from a woman who claims to be nothing more than your average hockey mom.

This touches on one of my biggest political pet peeves: Why is America so fixated on electing an "average American" to be president? I like to think of my political leaders the same way as I like to think of my doctors: invincible and omniscient. (Would I want an "average American" to perform my appendectomy?) This reminds me of a conversation a friend of mine once had with his therapist. "It occurs to me that you don't really know much about who I am," said the therapist. "Are there any questions you'd like to ask me?" "No," my friend responded. "I'd rather not think of you as a real person." The same goes for me and the leader of the free world.

-- Monday's Wall Street Journal has an editorial by Cathy Young that itself contains a roundup of Palin-related articles (a roundup within a roundup -- it's like a fractal!). Broadsheet readers will probably bristle at any article that starts with the term "left-wing feminists," but Young does bring up an interesting question: "Whether or not they agree with her politics," Young writes, "[you'd think that] feminists would at least applaud Mrs. Palin as a living example of one of their core principles: a woman's right to have a career and a family." (I mean, hey, the woman has five kids and is trying to be V.P.) What's more, her snowmobile-driving, oil-working, "first dude" husband -- hardly one of those so-called pretty boys -- is taking time off from his job while she pursues her ambition. How's that for a feminist twist on a candidate whose policies, one could argue, are anything but?

-- On the other hand, not all self-described conservatives are going gaga over Sarah -- as is the case with David Brooks' latest editorial in the New York Times. To quote:

Sarah Palin has many virtues. If you wanted someone to destroy a corrupt establishment, she'd be your woman. But the constructive act of governance is another matter. She has not been engaged in national issues, does not have a repertoire of historic patterns and, like President Bush, she seems to compensate for her lack of experience with brashness and excessive decisiveness.

The idea that "the people" will take on and destroy "the establishment" is a utopian fantasy that corrupted the left before it corrupted the right. Surely the response to the current crisis of authority is not to throw away standards of experience and prudence, but to select leaders who have those qualities but not the smug condescension that has so marked the reaction to the Palin nomination in the first place.

By Catherine Price

Catherine Price is an award-winning journalist and author of Vitamania: How Vitamins Revolutionized the Way We Think About Food. Her written and multimedia work has appeared in publications including The Best American Science Writing, The New York Times, Popular Science, O: The Oprah Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Washington Post Magazine, Salon, Slate, Men’s Journal, Mother Jones, PARADE, Health Magazine, and Outside. Price lives in Philadelphia.

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