Since John McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate, we’ve all heard a lot of talk about “qualifications.” Many wonder if Palin is really qualified to be vice president — or president, if Maverick McJowls kicks the bucket while in office. In fact, Gwen Ifill, moderator of the vice presidential debate, suggested during the debate that Palin’s Achilles heel is her lack of experience. But what exactly makes someone qualified to be “a heartbeat away from the presidency,” as all the pundits like to say? Is it national experience? Decades of service in Congress or the military? The ability to shoot a wolf from a moving helicopter? Or is it just cute glasses and that certain je ne sais quoi?
Honestly, it’s probably all of these things. But behind that telegenic face, there’s no doubt that Palin is lacking in several areas that should be required for a potential vice president. Despite this, the McCain campaign and the GOP have attempted to redefine what it means to be qualified, focusing on physical proximity to other nations and a pretty face instead of things like any experience whatsoever working with international leaders or national politics other than asking for $233 million for certain infrastructure repairs.
Unfortunately for the red-staters, Palin isn’t even the leader in the categories the Republicans are stressing these days. In fact, there are many people, places and things out there with more expertise in these fields. In order to illustrate these glaring spots of inadequacy, here are just a few notable items that are more qualified than Mrs. Palin:
- The Diomede Heliport. The heliport is the only safe means of transportation in and out of Little Diomede Island, Alaska. Located off the coast of the mainland in the Bering Strait, Little Diomede is less than a mile from the International Date Line and only 2.4 miles east of its sister island, Big Diomede — which happens to be Russian territory. This proximity to Russia clearly makes the Little Diomede heliport far more experienced in matters of international relations than Palin. It’s closer, so it must know so much more! Not only does its location offer the best foreign affairs experience one can receive while remaining on American soil, but its eight-year tenure as the only way to get to and from the island has provided it with years of experience dealing with pressing national issues such as transportation, security on flights and infrastructure for all 170 of the island’s residents. Sarah Palin may be able to see Russia on a clear day, but the heliport on Little Diomede could tickle Siberia if it wanted to. But it doesn’t. Because we’re not really friends with Russia right now — and nobody knows that better than International Relations Expert Little Diomede Heliport.
- Dina Lohan. Have you noticed that Sarah Palin is a woman? And a mother? The Republicans certainly wanted you to notice, trotting out the whole gol’danged family on stage at the convention, like it was the country’s biggest Thanksgiving dinner. But Palin isn’t the only one who can get married and reproduce. You know who else is a woman with kids? Bleached-blonde stage parent Dina Lohan. Like Palin, Lohan also has a large brood of children and, also like Palin, Lohan’s oldest daughter has been the recent subject of much controversy and tabloid fodder. But while both of them have pushed their motherhood into the limelight, only one of them has won an award for it. That’s right: Dina Lohan, Long Island Mother of the Year. She even got a plaque! Sarah Palin may be a mom five times over, but has she won any prizes for it? I think not. Dina: 1, Sarah: 0.
- Dexter. It has a relatively small regular viewing population of about one million, but the vast majority of those people are fiercely loyal to it. Some criticize it, saying it only has experience airing on a minor cable channel, or that it appeals only to a concentrated, specific demographic with a tolerance for serial killers. These may be valid points, but what actually matters is that, while Sarah Palin has only been a figure on the national stage for two months (twenty if you count her gubernatorial term), Dexter has been making its way into the homes of everyday, hard-working Americans since October 1, 2006 — a whole two years. Now that’s experience. Given Dexter’s significantly longer tenure in the national spotlight, it seems clear that this television show would be far more prepared to deal with national issues than Gov. Palin.
(And for those of you who agree with the experience issue but feel that Dexter is tragically lacking in the crucial prerequisite of serious-looking glasses, never fear. There is still a solution. Know what other creative, bespectacled show premiered in October ’06? That’s right — 30 Rock.)
- Google. Hey, remember that Katie Couric interview where Palin couldn’t think of a single example of John McCain supporting regulation of the economy in his 26 years in Congress? Maybe she was right and there are no other examples, but she could’ve at least tried to dredge up some ancient, almost-irrelevant speech from 10 years ago. Oh wait, Google can do that. Google would find those (hypothetical) examples of McCain’s action, and you can bet Google would “bring ‘em to ya” a heckuva lot faster than Palin, even if you still have a dial-up connection. With her inability to answer Couric’s question, Palin cast herself as the cuil of the political information gatherers. And please — I think we all know that Google is still vastly superior to little upstart cuil. I’d frankly be much happier if Google were running the country. They’re all going to be our overlords in a few years anyway. We might as well elect them.
- A cicada. Those of us who spent last year here in Chicago know all too well the terror of cicada years. Like Palin, these beady-eyed demons are kept cloistered out of sight for extended periods of time, with only the occasional 29 seconds of contact with the media. But then they suddenly burst forth, covering the ground, the cable channels and random town halls in Michigan with their omnipresent drone. Though we usually can’t make any sense of what they’re saying, the wise ones among us know it has something to do with a global takeover — or possibly moose hunting en masse. However, unlike Palin’s sporadic and completely unpredictable emergence from her cone of silence, at least cicadas are consistent. We know when to expect them, and we know what they’ll do. Which is more than we can say for “America’s Hottest Governor.”
So Sarah Palin may not be the most qualified person or even inanimate object for the vice presidential position. But it’s not hopeless, even for her. She can take comfort in the fact that if this politics thing doesn’t pan out, she’s got a future for herself in the film industry.