Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sarah Palin's college daze

By Michael J.W. Stickings

For those of you who can't get enough Palin -- I've pretty much had enough, though, obviously, I'm still paying attention -- the L.A. Times has an interesting feature today on Palin's five-year, four-school, three-state college career. In short, she is "barely remembered at all," having "left behind few traces."

I don't think you need to have attended, say, Harvard Law School to be president -- and consider that Bush is both a Harvard and a Yale grad -- but, obviously, one should hope for more than Palin's meager achievements. It's not so much that she isn't remembered, or that her college career was so erratic, or that the several colleges she attended aren't all that great, it's that she seems to lack -- and here she is like Bush -- that certain seriousness, and sense of purpose, and engagement, that comes from a genuine interest in academic learning, as well as curiosity, both intellectual and about the world in general. For Palin, the world is pretty much just Wasilla and its immediate environs.

She wanted to get of Wasilla, understandably, but she just went briefly to Hawaii, then on to Idaho. Even at the University of Idaho, where she majored in journalism, "her name appears nowhere in the archives of the campus newspaper." She went to Matanuska-Susitna College, near Anchorage, for a semester, where "[g]enerous educational loans from the state of Alaska [along with beauty pageants] helped her pay her way," before returning to Idaho and graduating with a bachelor's degree in communications, launching her brief career as a sports reporter. In other words, she didn't really distinguish herself in any way during her time in college. And, after a few years as a reporter, she became a career politician.

Does any of this matter? Yes: that her college career was so erratic and unfocused, and so shallow; that some of her education was government-supported (given her libertarian views on government); that she became a career politician backed by the extremist Alaska Independence Party; that she has never demonstrated much of an interest in anything outside the narrow context of her small-town Alaska upbringing other than the oil industry; and that she seems to be an utterly shallow, unserious, uncurious, anti-intellectual person propped up by outsized ambition and an ego to match.

And all this look back over her college career reminds us is that she's utterly unqualified to be anywhere near the White House.

(Photo from the LAT. That's Palin (then Heath) on the left, with friend Stacia Crocker, at a dorm party at the Univ. of Idaho.)

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