Friday, October 3, 2008

Sarah Palin

My take on the performance of Palin in the VP debate; This is the first United States presidential election that I have been following so closely for obvious reasons- I love elections and right now I live here in United States! The election has been pretty interesting, watching out for Hillary in the beginning and now Palin. After all despites more than 200 years of independence they still have not had a woman at the helm of affairs! Where as we developing nations in south Asia, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh we have all had great women politicians.
Hillary Clinton was fabulous. She had the right credentials, she spoke right, she had the charisma, she had her policies right, but she failed to gracefully accept the challenge posed by a rookie!! By the time the primaries were finished, she looked desperate for power which I feel was her undoing. But she is a politician any party and country should be proud of, a person who can represent the country abroad. After all, being in the white house means interacting with leader from every corner of the world. And United States could have felt safe in the hands of a person like Hillary. Well now that Hillary is not running in 2008, we will have to keep watching her.
On the contrary is Sarah Palin. I had not watched her interviews before, but having read about her ‘Russia close to Alaska’ statement, I was rather amused. Yes, she is spontaneous; she is the mom next door; she is cute but is she a VP material? I was very disappointed. Is this the best female candidate this entire country has to offer? Most of the times, she intelligently beat around the bush failing to answer. She was adamant that she will speak what ever she knew regardless of the question. It reminds me of a fellow in school, who used to cram two-three chapters on the previous day of the exam and end up writing only about the two chapters what ever the questions were. But she is smart enough to sound very confident, for she is a good politician-material. She knows how to strike the populist note and tried to sound the person next door. But is that enough? One person with questionable IQ and dubious judgement at top position here in this country has created enough mess that the entire world needs at least a few years to recuperate. The world is more dangerous than it was 8 years ago, economically it is more fragile than it was 8 years ago, poverty has increased, and income inequality has increased. Everyone is worried about their jobs, about their mortgages from America to Europe to India.
How well does Sarah Palin mean in a circumstance like this? She does not seem to understand security issues. She feels Iraq is at the heart of terror!!! So where did Bin Laden go? Did he suddenly disappear from the most-wanted terrorist list? So that means she does not even remember ‘weapons of mass destruction’ that Mr Bush was so scared of and managed to scare the entire American public with it to secure another term. Thank goodness he cannot run again. Who knows he could have said India has ‘weapons of mass destruction’ so smoke out India next. Now the faint public memory cannot even understand that the person whom they could be voting for is so unaware of the events not long ago! Again she wants to build an embassy in Jerusalem. If only American and Israelis had kept away from Palestine and parts of Jerusalem, the world would have been a far peaceful place. In the first place I really don’t understand the Israeli concept of the land being promised by God to Jews. No one has seen god promising the lands, but Israel continues to occupy disputed lands. The ultra right wingers continue to build settlements in disputed areas. What I do appreciate is their guts to settle down in a hostile region and make sure their borders are safe. Just know where to keep your enemies, neither far that they escape your sight, nor close that they can hurt. I wish India could pursue such an aggressive policy like Israel does with its neighbours. Coming back to American embassy at Jerusalem, does Ms Palin even know how dangerous a place Jerusalem could be for an American embassy? As outsiders, as foreigners who just read news papers we are so much more aware of the problems in other parts of the world which Ms Palin does not seem to know. Does that mean she does not even read news papers?

On issues of economy, she kept on saying that tax cuts will improve the number of jobs and all the problems of the economy will be solved miraculously. Wow! Is it so simple? If it were so simple we professional economists would be out of jobs !!! One simple question is why is that after eight years of tax cuts has led the American economy into today’s quagmire? How did the jobs evaporate if tax cuts were a cure? And she kept highlighting fiscal austerity. But has it not been proved that what matters is the quality of spending than fiscal austerity and a zero based budget? Of course spending on a wasteful war is no more a good option. As I see it, there was a time when America had to spend on wars to pump prime their economy. But Iraq war proved rather different stretching too long and far more expensive to pump prime but large enough to suck crucial resources out of the economy. It is time to stop the bleeding wounds from further haemorrhage. So both measures are problematic. She fails there as well.

Then if there is a question she could not comprehend or she did not know the answer, she just got back to something she knew a bit. Energy policy. Wow. How intelligent. I was reminded of Rabri Devi in her initial days.
The saddest part of Ms Palin is that despite her inadequacy, is that she subscribes to a brand of policies that has just been proved to be wrong. Free markets will never work, tax cuts will not increase jobs, market fails without the interference of government (regulatory or participatory) and there are no simple solutions to complex issues. All these have so long been proved in the academic circles but so poorly received in the policy circles. She is just in the wrong boat at the wrong time. Her lack of knowledge is only aggravated by her leaning towards free market philosophy. That’s a heady combination.

There are a few more issues that I find rather too old-fashioned for my tastes, one is her anti-gay stance. Hey come on, gays are normal people, they need to have their own choice whether to get married or to live with each other or to get hospital visitation rights. What applies to a relationship between a man and a woman should also apply to a relationship between two men or two women. Another such issue is that of abortion rights. It is all about choice. There are people who want to have babies and there are those who would not want to. The choice should obviously be left to individuals. Spending money to promote unwanted babies will just lead to unloved and uncared for children. What life can such children look forward to? Strange when she knew her conscience will not allow her to go for an abortion; she should have at her age known better to use other preventive methods. Now what did that end up with? An infant affected by down’s syndrome, who needs to travel and keep awake at odd hours because ‘mama has to pose for a photograph’!
She is always pitching in for the mom-next door image, contrasting and characterising her fresh-ignorance with that of the seasoned long time Washington-ers. Unfortunately her parenting skills are not great either. Her teenage daughter is pregnant, the way she brings her infant son for all photo-ops is sad. So where does Sarah Palin fit in?

I just imagine Sarah Palin facing gutsy politicians like Mayawathi, Jayalalitha or for that matter Mamatha Banerjee. (Sonia Gandhi again is rather too coached!!! just like Palin) Agreed that politics is a different ball game in India, but these ladies are no-no-brainers. They know what it is to be where they are; they are astute, well informed and are great spin doctors. No wonder they survived in the male bastioned Indian political fiefdom. Will Sarah Plain hold upto them? The Answer is pretty clear. Sarah Palin fails to fit into the jigsaw puzzle .

No comments: