"Sarah Palin, do you guys really like her?"
My dad's doctor asked me this a couple of weeks ago. His smile seemed to shout, "Are you guys crazy?" I had taken my 94-year-old Republican father to see him several times, but politics never came up. Did the doc really want to go there? It went something like this:
"What's the problem with her?" I said.
"Well, she's, she's --"
"Really? Why, because she isn't as glib or articulate as you elites like? She didn't answer Katie Couric or Charlie Gibson the way President Obama would have?"
"Yes -- I'm one of those elites."
"How stupid do you have to be to take on the establishment in Alaska and win? How stupid do you have to be to have -- at the time Republican presidential candidate John McCain picked her -- an 84 percent popularity rating in Alaska? She had more executive experience than Obama."
"Well, she doesn't come across as prepared."
"I don't know what qualities you look for. But I'll tell you what counts for me: character, competence and vision. She's likable. She has a strong, stable marriage with a down-to-earth husband. She has convictions that I agree with. Government too big? Check. People taxed too much? Check. Stay on offense in the war on terror? Check. For me, what's not to like?"
"I'd worry about her judgment."
"Do you worry about Vice President Joe Biden's?"
"No, why should I?"
"Where do I start? Put aside all the gaffes. He's the one who, during their debate, cited the wrong part of the Constitution when asked to describe the role of the vice president. As a new member of Congress, he voted to cut off funding to the South Vietnamese. This helped lead to the slaughter of millions in that country and Cambodia. Biden routinely challenged President Ronald Reagan on fighting the Cold War, even though even some Reagan haters now believe Reagan's policies helped speed up the fall of the Soviet Union. Biden opposed the first Gulf War. Wrong. He supported the Iraq War, then argued that Iraq should be divided into three parts, then opposed the surge -- said it wouldn't work -- and then opposed the war that he earlier voted for. Wrong.""C'mon, you're entitled to change your opinion."
"You are. But we are talking about judgment. And Palin has taken a consistent and defensible position on the war. You may disagree, but at least she's clear. And the surge did work. Iraq might just make it. We'll see what the Middle East is like in 20 years. So far this month (of December), zero coalition combat deaths in Iraq. Pretty impressive."
"Yeah, it is."
"And I don't know how you feel about abortion. But Palin is, as I'm sure you know, strongly pro-life. She learns she's pregnant with a child with Down syndrome. Even many pro-lifers would have aborted that child. Palin didn't. That's talking the talk and walking the walk, and yes, 'us guys' think it's admirable."
"I, I don't know whether she's bright enough."
"And a lot of people on the left thought President George W. Bush was dumb, too. Are you one of them?
"I admit it."
"Did you know he had better grades in college than Al Gore?"
"Did you know he scored higher on his military IQ test than did John Kerry?"
"Did you know he got a higher SAT score than did Rhodes scholar Bill Bradley?"
"Obama is clearly smart," I said.
"Yeah, and he doesn't turn people off. He's brilliant."
"OK. And it took Obama nearly three months to decide how to respond to the request for more troops in Afghanistan. In making important decisions -- things that matter -- a president spends more time than it takes to answer a reporter's question on what the 'Bush Doctrine' means. Oh, and about turning people off, Palin's popularity is now about equal to Obama's."
"Well, I just feel more comfortable with him."
"Would you feel comfortable with him if he were a low-tax, low-regulation, limited-government, strong-national-security Republican -- same guy, different views?"
"OK, then this is really about ideology."
"Well --" he laughed.
"Were you OK with bailing out all those banks?"
"No, but Bush did it, too."
"He shouldn't have, but how we got there is about government butting into the housing business. What about bailing out GM?"
"Do you think the stimulus package truly 'created or saved' a bunch of jobs?"
"Are you OK with ObamaCare?"
Dad's doctor suddenly turned into Mr. Hyde. He teed off on the government dictating how he should practice medicine. He predicted that costs would go up, not down. He predicted that quality would go down, not up. He talked about the importance of the profit incentive.
"Sarah Palin feels the same way you do."
As for my dad, some swelling, occasional dizziness -- not bad for a 94-year-old. Thank you for asking.