Saturday, September 13, 2008

A Revealing Question

I have been thinking about the Charlie Gibson interview with Sarah Palin this last Thursday, and the question he asked her about the "hubris" in accepting John McCain's invitation to become his running mate. Many people have registered objections regarding the question, especially since it was coupled with questions that implied that she didn't have the experience necessary to do the job, and it was asked in a somewhat condescending manner. I would be remiss if I failed to acknowledge the fact that Gibson also asked the question of Obama several months ago. It wasn't asked with the same tone at all, nor did Gibson question the "community organizer's" experience when he asked the question. Don't take my word for it. Nice Deb has already helpfully compiled both clips here.

Like many conservatives, I was less than pleased by the question. However, the obvious bias is not really the reason for my displeasure. I have simply come to accept that the major media outlets and many in the 'entertainment' industry are in the tank for Obama, and the Democrats, even though I still cannot fully grasp why. No, the reason for my displeasure with the question, around which the rest of the interview was framed didn't immediately come to me, and yet it irritated, much like a grain of sand stuck in my shorts after a trip to the beach. This morning,while ironing my shirts, it came to me. The very question itself said more about the person asking it than the answer ever could. A person not just willing to ignore the other governors who had been elected President, but to ignore the lack of experience in the leader of the opposing ticket, who is actually running for the job.

Charlie Gibson, according to Wikipedia, was born in the midwest, in the town of Evanston, Illinois. His family later moved to Washington. D.C., where he attended a private college prep school, Sidwell Freinds, and then went on to Princeton. Because his grades weren't good enough to get him into a top-tier law school, he decided to go into journalism instead. As a practicing attorney myself, I found this to be a curious turn. It isn't necessary to go to a top tier law school to become an attorney, or even a good attorney. What going to a top tier law school can accomplish for you is landing you a high-paying job at a prestigious law firm, and can frequently be a stepping stone to other careers noted for their wealth and power. However, if you have friends who by virtue of their upbringing, may have become wealthy and powerful on their own, knowing them can aid your career as a journalist, and you may find your own star starting to rise. If you were part of that world to begin with, you might start to think that others from it have the very same right to live and work in it. With his Columbia and Harvard pedigrees, Barack Obama is part of "the Club". With the favorable treatment in the media, that skirted any real investigation into who Barack Obama really is, and why its ok for a Presidential candidate to chum around with unrepentant terrorists, it was looking like the cypher with the fresh young face and unparalleled speech-delivery ability was going to sail into the White House on a tide of media adulation buttressed by enthusiastic idealists delighting at the prospect of finally being absolved of "white guilt" that was never theirs to bear, or those seeking to congratulate themselves for their state of enlightenment in voting for the first black President of the United States, people like Charlie thought it was all sewn up. And then the apple cart was upset. The war hero selected the hockey mom, and the backs of the elite were raised up.

Sarah Palin, not Barack Obama, symbolizes the American promise come to life. Her past is a story of her own making, not a path charted for her by others. She did not train herself in order to one day walk the corridors of power. She grew up, like so many, being told that she could one day become President, but unlike many whom she so discombobulates, she did not grow up believing that the Presidency was her own best destiny, either. Nor will she wear it, like a heavy and prestigious cloak, when she walks away from office, either. She will go back to charting the course of a life that is not scripted, accepting the bad with the good, and doing so as herself, not former governor/VP/President.

Charlie's worldview has been shaped by his experiences. He can't help seeking the result that he does. He sees the upper echelons of power filled with people like him. The best families, and the best schools. And when a woman who is only temporarily a politician, but always a mother, a wife, and a person of faith placed in close proximity to the White House, he, like so many others, had to act. Such a person simply could not be worthy without the training, and all it entails. Charlie's question about hubris was his way of asking her why she felt it was ok to tread on sacred ground...proximity to the Presidency...without first paying her dues. Charlie's question about hubris was a display of hubris. A moment when his job took a backseat to his role as one of the chosen. Charlie doesn't believe in the equality of opportunity. Charlie confuses ability with pedigree and credentials. Charlie doesn't believe in the average American, because the message he has been bathing in since his youth is that he is something more than them. in another era, we might have called Charlie a royalist, since he seems to believe only a certain select group is capable and has the right to lead. His question showed a frustration with a group in this country who recognize a leader when they hear one, a group that understands that understands that a new perspective isn't a bad thing, and refuse to be lead to someone else's choice and be told that it is the only reasonable one.

I don't begrudge Charlie his 8 million dollars a year. Ideally, I'd like to make that kind of money myself. That is what America is about. Doing the best you can for yourself and your family. I hope he'll understand when I don't buy into the world they way he wants it to be, as I vote for the candidates I believe in, largely because they believe in America.