Glenn Beck confessed that he was so taken by Sarah Palin's speech that he wet his pants. Sean Hannity was equally rapt but less confessional; still, I would not want to be responsible for his laundry.
As you might suspect, I was quite able to control my biological functions during her speech. Everything I had read, even from her worst enemies, assured me that she was impressive in person, and she certainly was. But since my concern is whether she is fit to be president, I was listening instead for indications that she might not be up to the job for which she was auditioning. It was a tough assignment, considering that she was speaking to a crowd eager to adore her, reading a speech on matters of little substance that someone else had written.
I heard five things that troubled me.
1. This actually passed me by, but others have pointed it out. Her reference to Harry Truman emphasized his small-town values but omitted his considerable national experience and reputation - a comparison that does not redound to her credit. It also may have reminded some listeners that Truman became president only because the president he served under died in office. Reminding us of McCain's fragility may have been a poor tactic.
2. She referred to Obama as "turning back the waters and healing the planet." This whole Republican obsession with Obama as Messiah is, as I have suggested in other posts, idiotic. Smart people sometimes say stupid things, but people who make a habit of saying idiotic things are, regrettably, often idiots.
3. She repeated the story that she had told Congress "thanks, but no thanks" for the Bridge to Nowhere. This story, as has been well established, is true neither as literal fact nor as metaphor. Yet she repeated it. This suggest a certain imperiousness that can be fatal in politicians.
4. She continued a Republican theme of belittling "community organizers." Why don't self-anointed conservatives embrace the idea that people acting outside of government can work together to make their communities better? Republicans should not only love community organizers but should consider that experience superior to experience gained through inherently corrupt, inefficient, overreaching government.
5. I have seen no one else pick up on this, but I thought it was the oddest and most troubling thing in the whole speech. She said, "Al-Qaida terrorists still plot to inflict catastrophic harm on America. [Obama]'s worried that someone won't read them their rights."
What could that possibly mean? At best, it might mean that she opposes the 1966 Supreme Court ruling in Miranda vs. Arizona. Why this should be an issue in 2008 is a mystery. I thought we had all by now pretty much agreed that having people aware of their legal rights is not a bad thing and should not conflict with competent law enforcement. Maybe it means that she thinks Obama wants American soldiers to read enemy soldiers their rights before firing in combat. If Obama -- or any other rational person -- has ever said such a thing, it's news to me.
At worst, it might mean that she endorses the whole Bush administration argument that the president has power under the Constitution to imprison anybody suspected of certain crimes anytime he wants for as long as he wants, with no obligation to ever file charges or present evidence of any sort. If this is what she thinks, she is utterly unfit for high office. She owes us an explanation.