“Frankly, in American politics, the standard of intelligence and academic excellence is not very high. Deeply reflective people are not common in American politics, and they are often not successful.” —Ross Baker, professor of political science at Rutgers.
Given this, it’s possible that Sarah Palin may do just fine in the debates. No joke. The expectations are SO low, that she might just end up surprising some folks regardless of whether or not she knows a damn thing.
All she has to do is not seem completely disoriented or confused, answer a few questions as if she were confident in her answers, and people may think she did okay.
Can’t imagine that happening? I have a hard time with it, too, but here’s what former Alaska state representative and gubenatorial candidate Andrew Halcro has to say about debating Palin:
I should know. I’ve debated Governor Palin more than two dozen times. And she’s a master, not of facts, figures, or insightful policy recommendations, but at the fine art of the nonanswer, the glittering generality. Against such charms there is little Senator Biden, or anyone, can do…
On April 18, 2006, Palin and I sat together in a hotel coffee shop comparing campaign trail notes. As we talked about the debates, Palin made a comment that highlights the phenomenon that Biden is up against.
“Andrew, I watch you at these debates with no notes, no papers, and yet when asked questions, you spout off facts, figures, and policies, and I’m amazed. But then I look out into the audience and I ask myself, ‘Does any of this really matter?’ ” Palin said.
While policy wonks such as Biden might cringe, it seemed to me that Palin was simply vocalizing her strength without realizing it…
Palin is a master of the nonanswer. She can turn a 60-second response to a query about her specific solutions to healthcare challenges into a folksy story about how she’s met people on the campaign trail who face healthcare challenges. All without uttering a word about her public-policy solutions to healthcare challenges.
Luckily, the media has not let Palin get away with this lately and her most recent interviews have not been widely considered “successful”. But…
Never underestimate the power of underestimating.