After John McCain made the fateful decision to select then-Alaska governor Sarah Palin as his running mate in the 2008 Presidential race, it was quickly clear that while she was a camera-friendly sound byte machine, she wasn't excellent at knowledge. Among her many gaffes? Belief that the Queen of England served as the leader of the British armed forces.
The Telegraph reports that the new HBO film Game Change (above, Julianne Moore in the lead role) showcases the McCain camp's disastrous decision to select Palin to join the Arizona Senator on the GOP ticket. Filmmakers conducted dozens of interviews with former McCain staffers, including former top advisor Steve Schmidt, and they found more stories that fit with a narrative we've all sort of pieced together: Palin was enthusiastic, but boy did she lack knowledge. And because her ignorance was matched only by her defensive insistance that it was everyone else that was stupid, not her, it's difficult not to seize on this sort of story with smug toldjasoism.
After Palin's appearance at the 2008 GOP convention, she was given a crash course in history from the Spanish Civil War to the post-9/11 era and made dozens of neon flashcards to help her study the history she should've learned at the eight dozen or so colleges she attended. But she soon ran out of juice and became despondent and withdrawn. During one of the frantic cram sessions, Schmidt asked Palin what she would do if Britain threatened to withdraw from the Iraq War. She responded that she'd "continue to have an open dialogue" with the Queen. The Prime Minister is in charge of that sort of thing.
As with everything said by a guy on a team that lost, Schmidt's anecdotes about Palin should be taken with a grain of salt. He's a political operative, which means he hates admitting that he goofed, and the sort of person dumb enough to think that Palin would attract some of Hillary Clinton's disenfranchised supporters simply by virtue of the fact that Plain and Hillary have similar ladyparts and bitches love ladyparts would likely be dumb enough to think that Palin's to blame for the campaign's ultimate failure. There's no doubt that Schmidt, and others involved in the campaign, are sore from the loss.
But on the other hand, Sarah Palin hasn't done anything in public that's proven she's anything but a publicity-hungry self promoter with delusions of grandeur, and has never had an interview where she's wowed the audience with smart analysis drawing on a massive knowledge base.
And with her again revisiting the well-worn winky "is she serious?" flirtations with a Presidential run, it's important to remember: even if she is reading all of the newspapers and magazines, she isn't ready to lead a country or a major party Presidential ticket. Or a history discussion group.