Erik Larson

Oct 13, 2008

Parker Pivot

Originally a letter to the editor, but maybe too pedantic (and long) for those fire from the hip American Statesmen…

I read with interest Kathleen Parker’s October 4 op-ed entitled “Did Palin show she was ready?”. I can’t help feeling, however, that if Ms. Parker thinks a “question remains” about her readiness, she must also think that her recent plea, just prior to the VP debate, for Palin to “…bow out for personal reasons, perhaps because she wants to spend more time with her newborn.” was premature (September 26, National Review Online). A frank acknowledgement by Ms. Parker that she jumped the gun would have been appreciated, but it was curiously absent from her October 4 editorial.

The tone of Ms. Parker’s article, also, was a bit more curmudgeonly than I think typical for her; juxtaposed with her mea culpa omission, it makes her to sound a bit defensive. (Perhaps, even in discussions of politics, consistency still matters…).

On the substantive issue of Palin’s readiness, I agree with Ms. Parker’s distinction between debating and interviewing. Yet somehow she (and I, and many other soon-to-be-voters) thought going in to the VP debate that Palin would do poorly on both counts. So her distinction is, I think, an ex post facto explanation of Gov. Palin’s various performances, and reveals again a kind of stinginess toward her, as if Ms. Parker is trying to retrofit the success Palin has to the previous she’s-a-lightweight conclusion.

Finally, it seems that Gov. Palin is getting up to speed rather quickly; wouldn’t even her skeptics admit? It will be intriguing to see Palin’s readiness increase with her continued exposure to the national political scene. If her learning curve continues, I think the question of her readiness to lead the country will, by degrees, become less urgent, and less interesting.