Despite her recent media blitz, a growing majority of Americans — over 70% in a new poll — think she's unqualified to be president. What the former Alaska Governor is qualified to do: make people mad.
In a Washington Post poll conducted on February 4-8, 71% said Palin was unqualified, up from 60% in November. Fifty-five percent view her unfavorably, while only 37% — the lowest yet in Post polls — have a favorable opinion. Interestingly, a majority of Republicans view Palin as unqualified — says Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo, "The key tell in these numbers is that even more and more of the people who like her and continue to like her are coming to the realization that she's simply not equipped to serve as president."
Of course, Palin's always been unqualified, and it hasn't stopped people from paying attention to every little thing she does. The latest: a black bracelet she wears in honor of son Track. Eric Robinson writes in the Yale Daily News that the black bracelet is meant as a memorial for soldiers killed in the line of duty, and Palin's is disrespectful since Track is alive. He writes,
Commemorating Track's service by wearing a a black memorial bracelet which is reserved for those dead or even a red bracelet for those missing in action, demonstrates a horrifying contempt for those who gave their last full measure of devotion or an almost unbelievable ignorance of the importance of symbols in American history.
Unfortunately, given Palin's reputation and frequent public statements, I assume it is the latter.
Ignorance is always a good bet with Palin, but law professor William A. Jacobson argues that the black bracelet for living soldiers is more common than Robinson admits. He says, "To make the leap from Palin wearing a commonly available deployment bracelet to Palin having contempt for fallen soldiers is both a bridge too far and a bridge to nowhere."
Perhaps more substantive than bracelet-gate are criticisms about Palin's comments on another "professor of law" — Barack Obama. Obama-bashing has always been Palin's stock-in-trade, and her words have sometimes had racial undertones. Charles Ogletree, Harvard professor and executive director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice, thinks that's the case with Palin's statement on Saturday that "we need a commander in chief, not a professor of law standing at the lectern." According to Inside Higher Ed, Ogletree "says he sees the "professor" label as a thinly veiled attack on Obama's race. Calling Obama "the professor" walks dangerously close to labeling him "uppity.""
Palin has certainly stirred up xenophobia among her base for years, and perhaps some of her supporters will take her comment as shorthand for a black man who's risen above his station. But most obviously, her "professor of law" jibe is about one main plank in what's looks like the early rounds of her 2012 presidential campaign — anti-intellectualism. Joe Klein, in a new piece for Time, writes,
[O]ne might even argue that you betcha is American for "Yes, we can." At least, in a certain sort of America: the land of simple truths, where nothing Barack Obama does makes sense. I mean, why bail out the big banks when they're the ones that caused all the troubles in the first place? And why spend more money when you're already running a deficit? That's not what Americans do: they sit - inevitably - around the kitchen table and tighten their belts. And what's all this about global warming? The White House is up to its Truman Balcony in snow. And why not just whack the Iranians before they get the bomb?
A basic tenet of Palin's platform is treating Americans like they're stupid — and like that's a good thing. But while not everyone is well-informed — and while it's all too easy to whip a mob up into an anti-death-panel fury — Palin may overestimate how simple her "real America" is. According to the Post poll, a big chunk of it may be smart enough not to vote for her.
Latest Palin Controversy Is Lefty Hokum [Newser]
Yep, She's On Fire [Talking Points Memo]
Calling Obama 'Professor' Is Palin Code for 'Uppity': Prof [Newser]
Professor In Chief [Inside Higher Ed]
Robinson: Palin's Bigger Blunder [Yale Daily News]
Poll Finds Most Americans Are Unhappy With Government [Washington Post]
It's Her Party: The Brilliance Of Sarah Palin [Time]
Anti-Palin Faux-troversy Of The Day: The Black Bracelet [Legal Insurrection]