Charles Krauthammer is getting an enormous amount of flak for this comment:
"She is very smart and adept. Great political instincts and is a star. The problem with her, I think, is that she is not schooled. I don't mean she didn't go to the right schools. I mean when you get into policy, beyond instincts -- I like her political instincts, I like her political overall view of the world -- but when it comes to policy, she had two-and-a-half years to school herself and she hasn't and that's a problem," Charles Krauthammer told Bill O'Reilly on Tuesday. "It's not only the lack of schooling, it's the lack of effort to school herself and the lack of insight to see that she needs it."
I read something in the Christian Science Monitor back in 2008, that I was ambivalent about at the time, but that has since taken on a new importance.
On April 17, 2006, Palin and I participated in a debate at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks on agriculture issues. The next day, the Fairbanks Daily News Miner published this excerpt:
"Andrew Halcro, a declared independent candidate from Anchorage, came armed with statistics on agricultural productivity. Sarah Palin, a Republican from Wasilla, said the Matanuska Valley provides a positive example for other communities interested in agriculture to study."
On April 18, 2006, Palin and I sat together in a hotel coffee shop comparing campaign trail notes. As we talked about the debates, Palin made a comment that highlights the phenomenon that Biden is up against.
"Andrew, I watch you at these debates with no notes, no papers, and yet when asked questions, you spout off facts, figures, and policies, and I'm amazed. But then I look out into the audience and I ask myself, 'Does any of this really matter?' " Palin said.
While policy wonks such as Biden might cringe, it seemed to me that Palin was simply vocalizing her strength without realizing it. During the campaign, Palin's knowledge on public policy issues never matured – because it didn't have to. Her ability to fill the debate halls with her presence and her gift of the glittering generality made it possible for her to rely on populism instead of policy.
I frankly think Krauthammer is being kind. Her studied ignorance is a symptom of a much bigger problem--over confidence bordering on, and perhaps entering to the territory of arrogance. She has, on the strength of her gifts, gone very, very far, and so it's understandable that she believes that 'the rules' don't apply to her, but winning elections in Alaska on the basis of glittering generalities and personal charisma, does not prepare one for a national election, or worse--the possibility of winning and finding oneself totally out of one's depth like another charismatic personality who gave a killer speech at a national convention.
I might have conceded that this is all very subjective a week or two ago, but Palin is clearly going all-in on a strategy that is either very bold, or very stupid. Regardless how it turns out, it is in fact a clear indication that, as Karl Rove has stated, she believes 'the rules' do not apply to her.
We are now two and a half years into Barack Obama's administration, and he also thought the rules didn't apply to him. If it comes to a race between Obama and Palin, it will seem to me to be a choice between hanging and firing squad.