Unserious Sarah

Having gone rogue on Captain Kirk, more reason not to take Palin too seriously


Thomas Schaller
December 14, 2009 6:59PM (UTC)

I must say, I find Sarah Palin to be a wholly unserious politician -- and certainly the prospect of her sitting in the Oval Office to be an unserious prospect. She demonstrates little depth when it comes to issues. As Sam Tanenhaus points out in a recent New Yorker review of Palin's book and new books published about her, Palin's political philosophy is little more than boilerplate about small government and loving America -- cheap, easy and thus unserious fodder for a nation in serious need of serious ideas to solve serious problems.

But you have to hand it to her on one count: Palin is good at not taking herself too seriously. For all the satirical digs rained down upon her by the incomparable Tina Fey, Palin still had the courage to go on "Saturday Night Live" last year. And now, after the ultra-ironic William Shatner first did an art-house interpretation back in July of statements Palin made upon announcing her resignation, and then followed that up Friday night by reading a few select and rather absurd passages from "Going Rogue" on Conan O'Brien's show, Palin responded in kind: appearing on Conan right after Shatner Friday to read "a few choice excerpts" (and pretty dumb observations at that) from Shatner's book.

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A lot of Americans think that, politically, Palin's a joke. Having a sense of humor and being willing to laugh at oneself doesn't qualify somebody to be mayor of a small town in Alaska, no less president. But give her this much credit: She doesn't take herself so seriously that she can't take a joke -- or dish it back out.


Thomas Schaller

Thomas F. Schaller is professor of political science at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the author of "Whistling Past Dixie: How Democrats Can Win Without the South." Follow him @schaller67.

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