Friday, December 19, 2008

Palin, Kennedy, and NBC

On Slate's political Gabfest, Emily Bazelon, in a fit of pique about how inappropriate it is for New York to even consider Caroline Kennedy for its vacant senate seat, pointed out that Sarah Palin got a much harder time and was arguably more qualified (she is a governor, after all, albeit of a state with around 700,000 people). My first inclination was to admit this point, though I felt a bit of bile rising up in my throat. Palin has at least run for office. Maybe she was treated unfairly, just because she didn't have... oh, I don't know... ANY of the knowledge one would expect a vice president to have, up to and including the nature of the job. No one doubts Caroline Kennedy's intellect (though we haven't seen her trip and fall onto the plate and take a couple of Katie Couric's softball questions in the noggin yet). But she hasn't done the legwork required of a politician. So maybe Bazelon's right. We've been unfair. And maybe I continue to be unfair by feeling so reluctant to give Sarah Palin her due, just because she was staggeringly unqualified on top of holding diametrically opposed views to my own.

Kathleen Parker to the rescue! Her piece in today's Washington Post argues that comparing the two isn't even apples and oranges, but apples and zebras, because even where the two are similar (both are unqualified) it's for opposite reasons. And when I think about it, I admit that I would prefer a smart, inexperienced politician to a woefully ignorant experienced one. Maybe history doesn't support that bias, but I'm a teacher, and I side with knowledge.

In a seemingly unrelated but very interesting piece, Alan Sepinwall writes that NBC's choice to abandon all its ten o'clock programing for more Jay (only-slightly-more-entertaining-than-infomercials) Leno is an "Extinction-Level Television Event". His basic thesis: The networks can plug along as though everything is fine, but as soon as they start to act like they are just other channels on our cable dial we'll suddenly realize it, too. And poof: No more networks.

So how is this related to Palin and Kennedy? Maybe not at all. But I wonder if both Palin and Kennedy are now a bit like NBC, in that we're aware of them, but haven't had a chance to make a judgment about their individual political fates. With Palin, people were voting for Obama, and those that voted for McCain may have been voting for him in spite of her. We don't know yet. For Kennedy, she'll hold the seat until an election, and then the people of New York will decide, rather than just their governor. Maybe, now that these two are on the radar, they may both be judged just like the networks: On content alone.


@bdul muHib said...

I think the networks will remain around for one big reason: the poor. My roommate at the moment tends towards extravagance, even when he can't afford it, so we have cable. I'd rather not, as I watch too much when it's around. But ordinarily, I also see it as an extravagance. The only time I've had it on my own is when I lived for a year in Seattle in a place that got no reception without it, so I got basic cable- the networks plus the Discovery Channel. But it might well be that just like the car companies, we don't need all seven networks. Just as we lost American Motors, we might see MyTV go out- or even a GM and an NBC.

Anonymous said...

What do we know about these two women?
One ran against her Lutheran mentor, maligning him as a non-Christian, misspent town funds on redecorating her office, hired a lobbyist for her town of 5,000, mismanaged a construction project, and ran town debt from about $200 per resident to over $3000. Then the governor put her on the state energy board, but as soon as he got into trouble she ran against him, too (and in the most recent campaign, she began undermining her running mate within weeks). Her "hands-off" governing style means she does no government WORK, just plays the celebrity role. We also know she believes the world is 10,000 years old and has no energy policy that works even for her state.
So exactly what outrageous behavior does the other person have to warrange Ms. Parker's comparison? Nothing much.
At least Caroline Kennedy is intelligent, educated, knows how to communicate, and so far as we know, does not have to lie to make a living. She may not be the best choice for New York, but she hardly falls to Palin's low level of knowledge and ethics.

Anonymous said...

Correction: I meant "warrant."

Benjamin Gorman said...

I agree that Palin is unqualified due to her lack of knowledge and ethics, but Kennedy is also unqualified due to the fact that she hasn't done anything to earn the seat beyond having a famous name. She may turn out to be great, but then, so might your local garbage collector who doesn't carry the Kennedy mystique. My hope is that learning more about both these women (Palin as a consequence of her failed run, and Kennedy after the remainder of Clinton's term) allows us to make a more informed decision about their fitness for office. And that's the connection to the networks: when we realize they aren't that special, either, they may go away, which I what I hope Palin does.

Jamie said...

I totally agree w/ Bazelon. If you go back to the moment that Palin was announced and leave out everything you now know (which is pretty much where we are w/ Kennedy - hmmm, she's a Kennedy and she raised money for NY public schools. Ok what else?) then it is totally hypocritical, not to mention lame. The Palin choice was immediately called "pandering" and she was vilified (at that point) only b/c she was the governor of our least understood state.
All of a sudden Kennedy steps to the plate and it's "oooo, she's a Kennedy so she'll definitly be a good Senator". Nevermind that she has SHUNNED public politics until now.
I agree w/ Bazelon that, as a woman and "feminist" (not that that word has much meaning anymore), I am MORTIFIED that these are the women that our political media is choosing to focus on. New York has got to have a State Congresswoman who has been busting her hump for years that is more deserving of this high office than some so-called "princess of America's royal family".
Whether she's intelligent or not, it's hypocrital, demoralizing, and SCREAMS the east coast way, which is that Old Money gets to do whatever the f**k they want - including a waltz into a Senate seat.
PS - did anyone else find Caroline's lunch w/ Al Sharpton in Harlem just nausiating to the nth degree?

Wakefield Tolbert said...

Palin has run a commercial fishing operation, a town, and then a state.

Obama has basically just run his mouth and jibber jabbered about Americ'a sins. That's about it.
By 2012 he'll have the new found advantage to him and to US of actually having a record to run on.

Whether you like her personally or not is largely beside the point. The issue should be one of qualification on the merits, not of the right of inheretence.

I was, until recently, this nation was about the rule from the people, not the House of Lords and Lordship.

Kennedy is to be hired for being a Kennedy. That's also about it.

Intelligence is not enough, nor is charm and congeniality. Tyranny can amply work with both wonderful traits.

Palin also has the advantage over Obama (also not a comparison that bodes well for him with all his Merry Changemas crap) that she has what one Brit pol has called a "hinterland" existence.

That is to say, rather than being a self-absorbed, egghead creep whose life has been ghostwritten memoirs prior to office and significant social standing, Palin actually has a life beyond politics. She does not need staged photo ops about guns and hunting.

Unlike the law prof, she knows, lives, and therefore understands the term "freedom" as applied to truly free people and has lived the reality of the Second Amendment.

To Obama's Chicago Machine crappola, it is yet one more thing to ban.

Unlike Obama and Kennedy's latest Lordship scion, Palin exudes a cultural self-confidence of the type sorely needed in the Western world among the chatter class.

Wakefield Tolbert said...

I was, until recently, this nation was about the rule from the people, not the House of Lords and Lordship.

Meant to say:

"I was, until recently, UNDER THE IMPRESSION this nation..."

But then again I might be wrong anyhow. In that, "Yes, Virginia, there really is TRUTH in the American Idol Presidency, and we need not mess with the Founding Fathers anymore trolling in their britches, and all issues can now be decided by the Media and the New American House of Lords and Ladies."

Charming to the last.

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