Sarah Palin’s Missing Skin

Posted on Saturday 14 November 2009

I’m looking forward to reading Sarah Palin’s book. Like Barack Obama’s Dreams from My Father, Palin’s Going Rogue will likely give insights into how she thinks, and who she is at a much deeper level than hyper-partisan electoral politics could ever give.

I expect to come away from reading it with an even stronger liking for her personally — just as I did Obama’s book.

She is, on so many levels, utterly ordinary. One cannot be a parent (much less a Mom), and not have a deep empathy for her problems with Bristol. She has a beautiful family, she’s active, she enjoys the outdoors, she works hard…

The narrative is, profoundly, Ordinary American Family.

Unsurprisingly, though, the book’s early excerpts demonstrate unequivocally how utterly unsuited she is for the highest national office. NOT because of her politics (though I disagree with many of her positions). NOT because of her uninformed opinions (much of which can be resolved through education and exposure).

Sarah Palin’s bottom-line problem is much deeper than any of these. She’s unsuitable, ultimately, because of a personality quirk that many people share: extreme thin-skinnedness. It’s a problematic character flaw wherein every barb is a personal affront that must be rejoined, and every insult is deeply internalized.

Friends, one cannot hold high political office in this country and take offense at the ruminations of the blogosphere. One cannot aspire to be the leader of the free world and simultaneously complain publicly about the boyfriend of one’s daughter… or about the mean interviewer who asked questions one couldn’t answer.

It doesn’t matter, when all is said and done, whether she can master the finer nuances of international foreign policy. How does that matter if, after meeting with a foreign leader, she’s likely to feel slighted and start lashing out personally?

It’s completely natural, imo, to feel defensive about one’s family. Certainly I do. And her desire to give as good as she gets — to get right down in the muck and wrestle directly — is absolutely understandable. Ordinary people do it all the time — even as other ordinary people find the inner strength to rise above it; to “grow a skin”.

Being the quintessential Ordinary Person — an aspect of Palin highly praised by her many admirers — isn’t nearly enough for her aspirations. For all her many strengths, she has a crucial, fatal character flaw that cannot be ignored.

The top office demands, at the very least, decorum and dignity — and Sarah Palin is lacking badly there. Personal muck-wrestling and petty score-settling does not belong on Pennsylvania Avenue.

During the campaign, Sarah Palin struck me as eminently human, with many personal traits I admire. I’d love to have her as a neighbor. I’d enjoy discussing issues of the day with her over dinner — disagreements and all.

But I could never, ever, envision her at the top of the Executive Branch of our government.

I really hope she doesn’t run. For our sake, and for hers.

(Cross-posted from The Moderate Voice)

4 Comments for 'Sarah Palin’s Missing Skin'

    November 24, 2009 | 8:45 pm

    I agree completely. I’ve been waiting for the book to go on sale here in Asia, as I find her charming (even when I disagree with her, which is often). I never, ever wish to see her in any political office.

    November 24, 2009 | 10:13 pm

    My copy arrived today. Did you know her daughter was the poster child / baby for the Alaska Right to Life group? (I didn’t…)

    December 31, 2009 | 7:47 am

    So, post-read, how has your opinion of Palin changed, if at all?

    January 7, 2010 | 9:45 am

    Oops — sorry, didn’t realize this comment had come in. (email forward is broken and they won’t respond to me…)

    Post-read, my opinion of her has changed very little. Most of the book is precisely what I expected. She’s a dynamo. She’s bright. She’s ambitious. She lives an extraordinarily busy and productive life.

    She strikes me as an excellent mom as well, and much of her post-election reaction stems from that.

    She’s also petty and vindictive. There are entire sections of the book that name names, all the way back to city council days — people who made her mad or she didn’t like.

    All in all, an interesting person who’d be fun to know, as long as you don’t get on her bad side.

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