Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Hoax Does not Alleviate Palin's Africa Problem

There's a great deal of hyperbole surrounding the question of whether or not Governor Sarah Palin knew that Africa was a continent at the time of her selection as John McCain's running mate. In the desperate hunt to be first to break a news story, MSNBC's David Shuster recently identified the unnamed source in the Africa story as “Martin Eisenstadt, a McCain policy adviser, who has come forward today to identify himself as the source of the leaks.” The problem: Martin Eisenstadt doesn't exist and neither does the Policy Institute that "employs" him, the Harding Insitute for Freedom and Democracy. MSNBC is only the latest media outlet to be duped by a pair of film makers who want to create a TV show based on the character.

The veracity of the claim that Palin didn't know Africa was a continent is still unclear. The hoax only surrounded the identity of the source, not the actual claim itself. In the end, however, it is irrelevant whether or not Palin knew Africa is a continent. There is a lot of other evidence out there that both critics and supporters will turn to to try and prove their case that Palin was qualified or unqualified to be vice presidential nominee. The hoax will do little to change people's feelings on the topic.

As I have pointed out in a previous blog post, I am unequivocally in the "unqualified" camp--and not for any reasons of ideology of partisanship. Her resume alone, irrespective of her general intelligence level, should have been enough to disqualify her. I also had numerous conversations with Republicans who raised similar reservations. And polling confirmed that a great majority of Americans, 3 out of 5, felt Palin was unqualified for the job. If Palin is set on become a national figure for the GOP, she will need to work extra-hard to rehabilitate her image. Four years is a long time in politics and she could do it. However, if the Africa story is true, I have some advice for her: buy an atlas!

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