Alex Massie

There’s No Stupidity Like Palin Stupidity

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You'd have to stupid to think an Ivy League* education must be a necessary qualification to be President of the United States but you have to be even dumber to consider it a disqualification.

And, to be sure, there are many ways of answering the question Bill O'Reilly asked a prominent American politician the other day. O'Reilly's question was:

Do you believe that you are smart enough, incisive enough, intellectual enough to handle the most powerful job in the world?

I believe that I am because I have common sense and I have -- I believe the values that are reflective of so many other American values. And I believe that what Americans are seeking is not the elitism, the kind of a spineless -- a spinelessness that perhaps is made up for that with some kind of elite Ivy League education and a fat resume that's based on anything but hard work and private sector, free enterprise principles. Americans are -- could be seeking something like that in positive change in their leadership. I'm not saying that that has to be me.

Just for fun, if also because some barrel-dwelling fish need to be shot regardless of the honour that accompanies doing so, this is the list of Ivy League educated Presidents: John Adams, James Madison, John Quincy Adams, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, John F Kennedy, George HW Bush, George W Bush, Barack Obama.

Add Bill Clinton, Gerald Ford and Rutherford B Hayes to the list if you fancy including those who went to an Ivy League Law School.

Now this list is no better and no worse (even though it includes Wilson) than a list of those that didn't go to the Ivies. But that's not the point. Plenty of decent to plausibly praiseworthy Presidents either didn't go to college or went to less kenspeckled institutions. The revealing fact - all too damn revealing really - is that when asked a softball question of this sort Palin decided that rather than answer it in any positive way, pointing out that Truman and Reagan and others hardly attended "elite" colleges and how that says something admirable about the American way of politics, she chose to view and answer the question in terms of the Culture Wars. She has no idea what she's for, just what she's against.

This was, to be fair and in terms of its defensive self-pity, a Nixonian response. But does anyone believe Sarah Palin has Nixon's skills? If only she did...

And, again, to be fair, no-one would accuse Palin of having a "fat" resume. Indeed, her "private sector" experience, until now, amounts to four years working for a local TV station and some time helping her with her husband's fishing business. Even by her own standards this seems skinny stuff.

Palinism is Yahooism and the final, long-delayed, triumph of the Know-Nothings** and there's no point, no matter how instinctively appealing her schtick and her anti-Washington stuff may be, in trying to pretend otherwise. Anyone who truly believes she is the answer to the Republican party's problems is, to put it mildly, mistaken.

*Reminder: the Ivy League is a sports conference, not an academic one.

**For some reson I originally wrote this as "No-Nothing" which makes no sense at all. Duly corrected.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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