Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sarah (Im ready!) Palin takes cram course


By PAT MURPHY

For the first time in U.S. history, political spin doctors have convinced international leaders to lend themselves to a cheap campaign stunt designed to transform a small-town American politician who's had a passport for less than a year into an overnight "expert" in foreign affairs.

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who'll take on most any client for a buck if not for a headline, is shepherding VP-nominee Sarah Palin around the United Nations for two days this week, introducing her to leaders of Afghanistan, Colombia, Pakistan, India, Iraq, the Ukraine and Georgia.

After these tête-à-têtes, she'll proclaim she's a foreign affairs wonk, fully capable of assuming duties of vice president, and, if John McCain's age catches up with him, president of the United States with a handle on the lingo and complexities of international geopolitics.

If these staged visits weren't such an embarrassment, they'd surely be grist for another Saturday Night Live boffo imitation of Palin by Emmy-winning actress-writer Tina Fey.

This McCain camp gambit is as silly as a Presbyterian Church member sitting with the Dalai Lama for 10 minutes, then proclaiming a full understanding of Buddhism.

Palin's handlers have succeeded in diligently keeping her from being asked any serious questions by the public or media. Even at rallies when she's asked from the audience about troubling economic or world conditions, she reverts to practiced applause lines about being a soccer mom with a pit bull personality or a onetime mayor who could see Russia from her bedroom window.

McCain campaign manager Rick Davis blocked TV interviews until television "shows more deference" and "respect" for Palin, which suggests (a) she is regal and deigns to be treated as a blue blood or (b) she's unable to field questions about public affairs usually thrown at candidates for the vice presidency. Even for her UN visits, print and TV were severely restricted in coverage to keep her insulated.

That should go over in global circles if she were vice president or, heaven forbid, president—refusing to meet with foreign officials, members of Congress or the media until Ladyship Sarah is shown proper "deference." Does that include curtsies?

Voters are interested in how she handled herself with these heavyweigtht, multi-language internationalists and what they discussed. Did she spellbind them with tales of shooting wolves from helicopters and eating moose meat, or the story about lipstick on a pit bull? How about Troopergate? Or how she selects advisers—such as Alaska's agriculture director, a high school classmate who qualified with her childhood interest in cows?






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