Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Short Attention Span Political Theater

The writer Geoffrey Dunn once referred to former Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin’s career as the Alaskan Iquitarod. Let's look at the resume: Palin quit five colleges on her way to a less-than-demanding journalism degree, quit before completing her term as mayor of Wasilla, quit her post on the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, and quit before the end of her term as governor of Alaska. Now she hasn't even completed her planned bus tour across America, dropping apparent plans to visit the Southeastern and Western United States and other locations..

This is a woman with a bad undiagnosed case of attention deficit disorder. No wonder she can't complete a coherent sentence and has shown no interest in reading anything more complex than a cereal box top. ADD people can be incredibly creative. You can cope with, and even make use of ADD, if you acknowledge the condition and have the discipline and the treatment required. Palin, however, is in denial and is to arrogant to learn how to complete tasks and understand issues. She'd rather wing it than do even minimum homework. This is the woman the GOP wanted to be one heartbeat from the White House in the administration of an elderly cancer survivor.

Can you imagine Palin going through the tedious slog of formulating complex policy, lobbying and negotiating for legislation in the U.S. Congress, conducting summits with nettlesome leaders over difficult diplomatic crisis, overseeing challenging military operations with no clear paths to success, and trying to persuade, rather than hector, the American public on controversial issues?

Just three years ago, Palin received a major party nomination for the vice presidency of the United States. Of the 47 vice presidents in U.S. history nine have risen to the presidency because of the death of their predecessors - John Tyler, Millard Fillmore, Andrew Johnson, Chester A. Arthur, Teddy Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, Harry Truman and Lyndon Johnson – and one because of a president’s resignation, Gerald Ford. In other words, more than 20 percent of the VPs have become chief executive before a president’s term was completed.

Had GOP presidential nominee John McCain won against Barack Obama,, the nation might have faced not just a budget or trade deficit, but severe attention deficit in the White House. Thanks for thinking so much about the country's future in 2008, Republicans.


Michael Phillips has authored the following:

White Metropolis: Race, Ethnicity and Religion in Dallas, Texas, 1841-2001 (Austin:  University of Texas Press, 2006)

(with Patrick L. Cox) The House Will Come to Order: How the Texas Speaker Became a Power in State and National Politics. (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2010)

“Why Is Big Tex Still a White Cowboy? Race, Gender, and the ‘Other Texans’” in Walter Buenger and Arnoldo de León, eds., Beyond Texas Through Time: Breaking Away From Past Interpretations (College Station: Texas A&M Press, 2011)

“The Current is Stronger’: Images of Racial Oppression and Resistance in North Texas Black Art During the 1920s and 1930s ”  in Bruce A. Glasrud and Cary D. Wintz, eds., The Harlem Renaissance in the West: The New Negroes’ Western Experience (New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2011)

“Dallas, 1989-2011,” in Richardson Dilworth, ed. Cities in American Political History (Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2011)

(With John Anthony Moretta, Keith J. Volonto, Austin Allen, Doug Cantrell and Norwood Andrews), Keith J. Volonto and Michael Phillips. eds., The American Challenge: A New History of the United States, Volume I.   (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2012).

(With John Anthony Moretta and Keith J. Volanto), Keith J. Volonto and Michael Phillips, eds., The American Challenge: A New History of the United States, Volume II. (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2012).

(With John Anthony Moretta and Carl J. Luna), Imperial Presidents: The Rise of Executive Power from Roosevelt to Obama  (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2013). 

“Texan by Color: The Racialization of the Lone Star State,” in David Cullen and Kyle Wilkison, eds., The Radical Origins of the Texas Right (College Station: University of Texas Press, 2013).

He is currently collaborating, with longtime journalist Betsy Friauf, on a history of African American culture, politics and black intellectuals in the Lone Star State called God Carved in Night: Black Intellectuals in Texas and the World They Made.

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