by Ian de Stains OBE

In a recent TV debate Sarah Palin was asked how she felt about research into leukemia. Ms. Palin admitted that she didn’t actually know where Leukemia was exactly (it not being in full view from Alaska), but was all in favor of supporting former Soviet states.

OK, this is a joke. But what is not at all funny is that anybody in his right mind can begin to take this ridiculous woman seriously. The fact that Fox News thinks she is a creditable political commentator should only serve to underscore the vapidity of her views. It also says something about Fox’s own values.

The real worry is that here we have someone who appears seriously to be setting out her stall to run for president of the United States of America in the next election. Be afraid. Be very afraid!

This should be of serious concern to everyone—in America and outside of it. The very fact that such an individual can expect to be taken seriously should sound global alarm bells. That she might actually be taken seriously is a terrifying proposition, and yet it is by no means out of the question, even though in a recent in-party poll on three possible contenders for the Republican ticket, the Barracuda came third with a comfortable popularity rating of just three percent.

A recent book, Race of a Lifetime: How Obama Won the White House by Mark Halperin and Joel Heilemann, details why Palin was chosen as McCain’s running mate at the last election (in itself a frightening illumination of the lengths to which politicians and their strategists will go to try to gain an edge) and the attempts made to begin her education. The campaign chief is reported to have said, “She doesn’t know anything.”

Among the things she didn’t know: that North and South Korea were separate countries and why that was so; that Saddam Hussein did not attack America on 9/11; and what was the role and function of the Federal Reserve.

The book talks of the towers of index cards Palin used to try and record the information she might need in debate, and the squalid conditions in which she existed while trying to assimilate the knowledge you might expect a vice presidential candidate ought rightly to have at her fingertips (if not written on the palm of her hand.)

It is most telling—and most frightening—to learn that by the end of the campaign the McCain machine had decided that in the most unlikely event of his winning, special measures would have to be taken. Palin would have to be relegated to a basically ceremonial role (in other words, the VP’s role would be redefined), and there could be no question that if McCain was no longer able to preside, the country would not “be left in the hands of a President Palin.”

Ian de Stains is the executive director of the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan.

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