Contra Julian, I think it's fair to blame her handlers on the extent of her disaster on Katie Couric; she would have done better answering the questions off the cuff and admitting genuine ignorance. Instead they tried to cram her with answers to everything, and got . . . what usually happens in oral exams when a student tries to learn an entire semester's work five minutes before go time. She looked like an idiot studying to be a moron, and not studying very hard, either.
Nor do I think it's quite right to compare it to college debate. No one in a college debate tournament tapes your answers and airs them to several million hostile viewers looking for errors. It's a lot easier to bluff, because the odds are that mistakes won't be caught. The deer in the headlights look was someone who knew that almost anything she said might be wrong, and would show up on the television news on continuous loop the next day.
But the fundamental fact is that Sarah Palin needs to cram because she doesn't know anything. For all I know, she's a genuine expert on the main issues facing Alaska. But the main issues facing Alaska aren't all that similar to the main issues facing people in other states, and they're very much not like the main issues of foreign policy. She is just not ready for this role. Maybe she would have been in eight years, but I think that door is closed.
Andrew wants to know why I'm more freaked out by the bailout package than by Sarah Palin. There are several answers to this. The first is that I did freak out--just ask Peter Suderman, who obligingly listened to me rant about her for forty-five minutes after her convention speech. The second is that, for all this, with the McCain campaign flaming out so spectacularly, I don't find her that worrisome. The third is that even if she gets into office, there's a better than even chance she won't end up as president. And the fourth is that while the last thing I said about her was hardly complementary, I haven't had as much time as I might have liked to devote to Sarah Palin. Andrew may not have heard, but there have been a few interesting developments in the financial markets over the last few weeks. As an economics blogger, I was regretfully forced to forgo full time devotion to the vice presidential race and turn to more trivial matters.