History is likely to reveal my disdain for Sarah Palin was misguided. The truth is I owe my interest in American politics to Governor Palin's bid for the vice presidency.
Before the late-August morning when I awakened to learn that Alaska's moose-hunting governor would be John McCain's running mate, I had less than tepid interest in politics.
I was a stubbornly proud non-voter, a 41-year-old patriotic American unwilling to tie any of my identity to a political party or ideology. Politics, from my view, were nothing more than an excuse for unabashed public dishonesty.
When presidential politics provoked Barack Obama to disavow the minister who filled in the holes created by Obama's irresponsible biological father, it confirmed in my mind that Obama's message of political change wouldn't stretch nearly far enough to meet my standard of courage and honesty.
It sickens me that we are forced to pretend Obama doesn't have the ability to associate with and even love people with extreme, illogical views, denounce those beliefs in words and deed and remain a rational, fair-minded person. For decades, black people have supported and respected elected white officials who were raised by unrepentant racists, and we are expected to take those white politicians at their word that their parents' views don't interfere with their motivation to be fair.
Hmm. But now I'm supposed to believe that a half black man who owes his entire existence to his white mama and grandparents is a threat to America because his old black minister can't get over the racism he tasted first-hand.
I wanted Barack to make that point, more subtly than I just made it. But I wanted it out there for everyone to deal with. America is full of white and black Jeremiah Wrights, and a good president has to lead them all.
To the dismay of my parents, friends and everyone at my barbershop, I told anyone who would listen there were no substantive differences between John McCain and Barack Obama, only a difference in skin color.
Then along came Paris Palin, and her attempt to purchase the highest level of political power completely on credit.
She is the perfect manifestation of tinkle-down economics and tinkle-down intellectualism. Strapped with good looks, backed by a four-year degree earned at four different, below-middle-of-the-pack universities, and emboldened by a belief that America owes her far more than she's prepared to pay for, Palin desperately wants to piss down on the rest of us from the White House.
She connects because she's like most of America. She's determined to live beyond her means. She represents exactly what landed us in financial crisis. She's a maxed-out, main-street politician being exploited by the political friends of Wall Street willing to extend her credit over the objections of her bankrupt qualifications.
I was in a hotel room in Muncie, Ind., when I heard her name that late-August morning on CNN. My head was buried in pillows. I never looked up. But I was -- for reasons I still don't fully understand -- totally fascinated.
I hopped out of bed, flipped open my laptop, googled Palin and spent most of the morning and afternoon reading as much as I could about Alaska's governor.
I read all the unfounded rumors concerning her last child. I listened to an audio tape of a radio interview where she laughed wildly as her interviewers -- two shock jocks -- ridiculed one of her political opponents by calling the woman a "bitch" and overweight. I discovered that her popularity numbers could be directly attributed to her taking office precisely at the time when oil prices skyrocketed and she could play Santa Claus by redistributing wealth to her constituents. And I learned of her and husband's long ties to the Alaskan Independence Party.
By Saturday morning -- and keep in mind my political inexperience -- I had convinced myself that John McCain was attempting to throw the election with his selection of Palin.
It was the only thing that made sense to me at the time. I'm not that good at finding things on the Internet. In less than 24 hours of searching, I had found numerous red flags in regards to Palin's competence and maturity.
Since Palin's introduction, I have been immersed in election coverage and news. I spend hours every day reading realclearpolitics.com, fivethirtyeight.com, redstate.com, dailykos.com, huffingtonpost.com and watching CNN, MSNBC and Fox News.
By the time I learned that Palin had only recently acquired a passport and had demonstrated zero curiosity about the rest of the world, I began to rethink my position. There was something more at work here. When Palin exposed her embarrassing lack of knowledge during interviews with Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric, I started hunting for a new explanation for her arrival on the national political scene.
Lipstick on a pit bull.
Her exploiters never hid their intentions. They stated them and executed them in her mean-spirited acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention.
Sarah Palin's application for the vice presidency was approved so she could put a pretty face on a divisive, bigoted and desperate political strategy. McCain's strategists realized that President Bush's administration, Obama's pop-star status and record fundraising would make it nearly impossible for McCain to out-duel Obama in a debate about the issues.
In order for McCain to compete, there had to be an appeal along racial lines for two reasons: 1. McCain has to offset the swelling number of black voters who will turn out to vote for Obama simply because he's black; 2. Racial fears normally cause people to make irrational decisions such as a $40,000-a-year plumber getting upset about tax hikes on people making six times more money than him.
OK, so who would be foolish enough to be the front person for a line of attack that included telling America that the potential Jackie Robinson of presidential politics pals "around with terrorists" and sees America as imperfect and different from the pro-America part of America?
Who would be that thoughtless? Only someone running for the vice presidency on credit. Mitt Romney, Joe Lieberman and Tom Ridge wouldn't be that stupid.
Sarah Palin intends to acquire the skill, knowledge and savvy for high office later. In the meantime, she's not going to question the marching orders given to her by the McCain strategists who overlooked her spotty credit application, and she's going to duck calls from the creditors burning up her phone lines.
Who are her creditors? The investigators who wanted to talk with her about Troopergate, the mainstream "elite" media who wanted to ask her follow-up questions, the conservative pundits who wanted her to represent their side of the argument in a coherent, creditable fashion and anyone who watched her one debate with the hope of her answering a direct question.
And look what happened. With a credit score in the low 200s, Sarah Palin still had fraudulent lenders such as Sean Hannity ready to extend her more credit. With McCain sitting by her side to co-sign the loan, Hannity walked Palin through the process of pretending to be a qualified candidate for the vice presidency to the delight of Fox News viewers.
It was stunning. And it's depressing that it's actually working.
Envious that hard-right-wing sham lenders approved Palin for a bailout package and then milked her for ratings bumps, the traditional media lenders have offered to allow Palin to bat her eyes, wink and jive her way through softball interviews.
Fox, MSNBC and CNN are locked in such a heated battle for viewers and advertisers that they care virtually nothing about fulfilling their roles as TV journalists. They're most interested in preserving Paris Palin as a ratings winner to serve as a foil against Denzel Obama over the next four years. The cable news networks cannot match the integrity of Saturday Night Live executive producer Lorne Michaels, who rode Palin to record ratings while allowing Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin to treat the VP candidate like the lightweight she is.
Palin is unworthy of respect. At a critical juncture in our nation's history, she has selfishly asked for and received her 15 minutes and further damaged America's ability to discuss and debate critical issues.
You can contact Jason Whitlock at firstname.lastname@example.org.