Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

Sarah Palin’s lack of world curiosity eerie parallel to George W. Bush

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Originally published on on Mon, 09/15/2008 – 10:01am

In most of Chicago, you can know how far you’ve gone if you follow the numbers: 8 city blocks equal a mile. It’s a mile from Diversey to Addison, from Halsted to Ashland. So a quarter mile is only 2 blocks, from Addison to Grace, from Ashland to Ravenswood. Heck, I walk twice that distance to get to the train in the morning.

So a quarter mile isn’t a long distance. But apparently, a quarter mile into Iraq makes a big difference, or at least, this is what the McCain campaign has noted in the latest revision of America’s fun game, “Where the f%$k has Sarah Palin been?”

To be fair, this time Gov. Palin hasn’t said she went into Iraq. In her interview with Charlie Gibson on ABC, Palin finally admitted having gone to Mexico — her first admission to this. She also clarified that she had been to Canada — her first admission to this as well, though the campaign had previously corrected the original report to include our neighbor to the North. (More on her “trips” to Mexico and Canada later.) But Palin did not mention Iraq as a place where she has been.

Palin’s spokesperson Maria Comella confirmed that Palin “visited a military outpost on the other side of the Kuwait-Iraq border.” One would need permission to cross into Iraq, so if Palin has actually been in Iraq, it was likely against some regulation since no one seems to think she had permission.

If Palin didn’t go into Iraq, and the McCain campaign is lying about this, it shows the lack of ethics that has dominated the campaign. And if you consider that this is a serious charge, understand that Gov. Palin herself says she never went, so someone is grossly mistaken or lying. If Palin did go into Iraq, and didn’t realize it, since a quarter mile into Iraq doesn’t look different than a quarter mile into Kuwait, then it didn’t much of an impact to her.

This is the second official revision of where Palin went on this one trip, her only trip beyond North America. And this trip, while in “support of the troops” was politically motivated. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but it fits into a theme.

When Gov. Palin’s campaign finally admitted she had been to Canada, it came across as a stupid, naïve mistake. After all, Palin grew up near Canada, and so it would be logical that Palin had been there many times. Heck, I’ve been to Canada so many times I can’t remember all of them, even if a lot of those trips were just to Windsor.

Turns out Palin has only been to Canada once — in 2007 — and again likely on business. We don’t know whether it was for business, but she has bragged about this potential natural gas pipeline that would go through Canada. You might figure she was in Canada for that purpose.

So we have two trips outside the United States in a 44-year-old life, both times while in her role as Governor of Alaska, and both of those in the last 2 years.

Now there is a third trip — to Mexico on vacation. We don’t know when that trip was or where or how long. But technically it’s a trip that is not business-related. But I do have one question I would ask about the trip: who organized the trip? Did a girlfriend in college ask Sarah Heath (as she was know then) whether she wanted to travel to Mexico? Did Sarah plan a trip by herself? Was this a family trip when she was 9?

The issue isn’t the travel resume of say, Joe Biden. This is about curiosity. This is about curiosity to want to travel to other countries to see how other people on this planet live and breathe, how they cope with problems and solutions.

As we learned last week, a lot of you have been to a lot of countries. I confess my travel itinerary is pretty small (though I have been to Canada twice so far in 2008), but it isn’t from lack of interest. I read, watch travel shows, and talk to people who have lived in other countries. I’ve never been to Sweden, but I am very impressed with how they achieve a happier life than we seem to do in the United States.

There is no shame if you have never planned a trip outside the country where you live. There are Americans who never think of going anywhere other than this country. And there isn’t anything wrong with that. But these people should not run for vice president – ever – regardless of party or ideology. If Barack Obama had picked someone such as this with no curiosity, this same essay would apply equally.

I have read articles, mostly from conservatives, that Palin would be good for Canada since she lived near Canada, and understands Canada. I would strenuously argue that one business trip to Canada in 2007 isn’t enough, even if she did do some sightseeing, a highly unlikely occurrence.

There was a thought, probably from these same conservatives, that George W. Bush in 2000 would be good for Mexico, since Bush was the governor of a state that touched Mexico. Vicente Fox and current Mexican President Felipe Calderón, if allowed to be honest about Bush, would tell a much different story. Bush also had similar issues over his lack of travel before he was elected, and given his ignorance at how the world works, even 7 years later, perhaps naiveté isn’t the right way to go for leadership.

Listing where you have been is much more than reciting names of countries, like you were in geography class. Those trips are supposed to make an impact on who you are. Visiting troops in Kuwait and Germany (and maybe Iraq) is nice, but how much of those countries does she really know? If all she saw in Germany were American bases, how much does she know about the country? She does know Ireland has an airport. And to grow up near a foreign country (Canada, not Russia) and never have gone for any curious reason whatsoever, this lack of awareness is a credential not to be the next vice president.


Written by democracysoup

September 15, 2008 at 10:01 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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