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Will Sarah Palin jump the shark before or after the presidential election?

A poor job of preparation blunts Palin’s ability to save the McCain campaign

The job of preparing Sarah Palin to face the media was done poorly. The campaign held off the press for several weeks. This gave the Governor a chance to cram for her debut but it also let the press set an ambush. I don’t know what was done in the period between Sarah Palin’s introduction to the country at the Republican convention and her first interview but it was not effective. Mrs. Palin didn’t let her inner bulldog out. Instead, the press went on an offensive to prove she is not qualified for the office she is seeking.

Successful politicians develop a knack for answering the question they want asked instead of the question that was asked. Most people think this is done so the politician can make the point they want and to some extent that is its purpose, but the most important function of this tactic is that it prevents the politician from looking and sounding stupid. This is extremely important for politicians that are used to speaking their mind. The press has gotten used to this and is usually complicit in the fraud by not asking probative follow-up questions.

Sarah Palin does not have this skill (and the press wants you to know it). It is visibly and audibly evident when she retreats to her talking points. I’m sure that some of it is the fact that she now has to toe the company line of the McCain campaign. The danger here is that she loses the genuine quality that draws people to her.

These interviews have given pause to many undecided voters and some of her early supporters. The question of whether Governor Palin is qualified to be president is ever present. When a candidate does not have many ambitions for the office, we accept their limitations as long as they are in line with what they wish to accomplish. When the candidate becomes POTUS and suddenly reaches beyond their abilities, we end up in the pickle the current occupant of the oval office has created. This is not a year for small ambitions. The perils swallowing the country require competence.

The poor performances in interviews have raised the stakes of tonight’s debate. If the Governor does not distinguish herself, she could have a short career as a national figure. If she does well, she will probably stick around long enough to disappoint her many fans when she eventually shows herself to be a talented politician.

The question remains. We might get our answer tonight.

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