“The American People Are Vetting Her.”

Admittedly, I’m just not that interested in Sarah Palin anymore.  I think her significance in this election cycle can be pretty succinctly summed up to several bullet points:

  • She energized the conservative base.
  • She energized the Democratic base.
  • She’s politically adept.
  • On all other bases of knowledge, she may not necessarily be out and out stupid, but she is at the very least dangerously uninformed on the issues for a potential vice president.

Beyond this, she helped increase McCain’s ability to raise money, but on the other hand, she more than anything else may have delivered Florida to Obama whilst at the same time turning off some of the more reasonable and free thinking of conservative minds.

So, outside of that, I really don’t spend much of my time thinking about Sarah Palin beyond occasionally going back to watch the Tina Fey skit again because that was effing hilarious.  Generally, I recognize that in the end running mates rarely make a significant impact on election outcomes, especially in the negative because people simply don’t vote for the bottom of the ticket.

But there is the possibility that things may be different this year; outside of the collapse on Wall Street, since the selection of Palin it’s almost as though the GOP has been doing everything it could to try and trick people that it would be Palin at the top of the ticket, not McCain.  After all, at least among the base she is far more popular, received with far more enthusiasm, and is capable of raising far more money.

Yet, outside the base, Palin continues to appear to be a poison pill, and to its discredit, the McCain campaign continues to do the one thing that will only exacerbate the situation; they refuse to let anyone actually ask Palin questions (outside of highly regulated and increasingly friendly interviews.  I really don’t know who they can find friendlier than Sean Hannity, but if Team McCain announces that Rush Limbaugh will be Palin’s next interviewer, I will find myself highly unsurprised).

This, of course, has brought the McCain/Palin ticket under intense criticism particularly from the very media they are stonewalling.  The pat answer from McCain?  “The American people are vetting her.”

Steve Benen further goes on to ask the right questions and make the right points.  By what measure are the American people vetting Sarah Palin?  What, exactly, would be the definition of the word in this context because in this context vetting can’t possibly mean anything resembling what it typically means for most politicians.

Vetting is, and should be, a rigorous process.  I’m personally unconcerned with a politician’s personal life, or even, to a degree, their associates depending on the nature of that association.  On the other hand, I am greatly concerned about instances that point to a pattern of distrustful behavior, abuse of power, and poor governing principles.  For instance, I don’t think John McCain’s affair with Cindy McCain before she took his name, subsequent divorce of his first wife, and marriage to Cindy is nearly as vital as his involvement in, say, the Keating Five scandal, or perhaps being a chief deregulator for decades up until a week ago when all of a sudden deregulation became intensely unpopular.

That’s what vetting is, and that is exactly the opposite of what is going on with Sarah Palin.  As was made clear at a recent campaign stop where a reporter did dare to ask Palin a question, questions aren’t allowed.

What the American people are being allowed to vet is a shaky construct of what the McCain campaign wants Palin to appear to be, not what she actually is.  They are being granted the opportunity to vet her speech writers and ability to read off of a teleprompter and little else.

Keep in mind, this is a woman who has not been availed to the press at a press conference once since her naming as Vice Presidential candidate (McCain himself, who had once promised weekly Q&A sessions has actually managed to have gone twice as long without a presser).

Not only are we not allowed to vet her past, as evidenced at least in part by the team of McCain lawyers who traveled to Alaska to shut down investigations into Troopergate, but also the question embargo on the candidate herself suggest that vetting the way she thinks is also completely and entirely off limits.

Yes, it’s bad, in fact, it’s so bad that the press weren’t allowed access beyond a photo spray when Palin finally made a trip abroad to meet with world leaders.  The inherent danger behind this is obvious; we could possibly elect someone to be a heartbeat away from the presidency without knowing anything about her, good or bad.

It is possible that she could be an extremely intelligent and well-informed individual.  It is also likely, as pointed out in this post from Balloon Juice’s Michael D, that Palin is less experienced than a street performer paid to impersonate her.

Contrary to the claim from the McCain campaign, the American people are not vetting her, no one is, and until the embargo is lifted, the American people must deem her simply unqualified by any measure without her qualifications being put to the test.

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