"Sarah Palin's a Brainiac"

Probably not literally, but you never know. The heretic in question is Elaine Lafferty, who is a former Hillary Clinton supporter, former editor-in-chief of Ms. Magazine, pretty decent journalism bio – and current adviser to the McCain/Palin campaign, which will of course permit her critics to redefine her as a traitor to her gender.

Yes, I’m aware of how weird that observation looks. It’s a weird election year, in case you haven’t noticed. Anyway:

It’s difficult not to froth when one reads, as I did again and again this week, doubts about Sarah Palin’s “intelligence,” coming especially from women such as PBS’s Bonnie Erbe, who, as near as I recall, has not herself heretofore been burdened with the Susan Sontag of Journalism moniker. As Fred Barnes—God help me, I’m agreeing with Fred Barnes—suggests in the Weekly Standard, these high toned and authoritative dismissals come from people who have never met or spoken with Sarah Palin. Those who know her, love her or hate her, offer no such criticism. They know what I know, and I learned it from spending just a little time traveling on the cramped campaign plane this week: Sarah Palin is very smart.

I’m a Democrat, but I’ve worked as a consultant with the McCain campaign since shortly after Palin’s nomination. Last week, there was the thought that as a former editor-in-chief of Ms. magazine as well as a feminist activist in my pre-journalism days, I might be helpful in contributing to a speech that Palin had long wanted to give on women’s rights.

Now by “smart,” I don’t refer to a person who is wily or calculating or nimble in the way of certain talented athletes who we admire but suspect don’t really have serious brains in their skulls. I mean, instead, a mind that is thoughtful, curious, with a discernable pattern of associative thinking and insight. Palin asks questions, and probes linkages and logic that bring to mind a quirky law professor I once had. Palin is more than a “quick study”; I’d heard rumors around the campaign of her photographic memory and, frankly, I watched it in action. She sees. She processes. She questions, and only then, she acts. What is often called her “confidence” is actually a rarity in national politics: I saw a woman who knows exactly who she is. Read the whole thing, of course: it’s not going to really tell you anything that a reasonably bright and literate adult wouldn’t be able to pick up for him or herself, but it’s always nice to see somebody who can tell the difference between “qualified” and “agrees with me on everything.” Besides, you need to read the whole thing to get to the comments section. To say that the readers were unhappy with the article in question is a bit of an understatement; so is the statement “some of these people might be due for a bit of therapy.” Or, as Jim Treacher (H/T) put it: “If Obama is inevitable, why do these guys and gals sound so nervous?”

Moe Lane

PS: In case nobody’s told any of you yet: while I think that McCain/Palin are going to win next week, even if they don’t the Governor is only going to get more relevant in both the Republican Party and national politics. So if you want to be taken seriously on this website (a number of our readers don’t, I suspect), get your hostility towards this woman under control.

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