PALIN: ISSUES, SCHMISSUES
Amusing anecdote in today's column by Gail Collins, who's been up in Alaska:
I spent the week here, and almost everyone I talked to wound up revisiting Sarahland unprompted, from a woman who said they went to the same gym, to a Republican who once ran against Palin and told me how, after a debate, she had complimented him on his grasp of figures and policy, and then added: "But then I look over the crowd and wonder -- does that really mean anything?"
I'm assuming that's Andrew Halcro, who ran against Palin in the 2006 governor's race, and who was once willing to attach his name to this anecdote, as The New Republic noted in 2008:
Palin was difficult to debate, Halcro added, because while she didn't know the issues well, she was masterful at tap-dancing around questions and offering "glittering generalities" or populist "happy talk." Halcro told The Los Angeles Times that in a private conversation after a debate in Fairbanks, Palin questioned her opponent's heavy focus on issue positions. "I look out over the audience, and I wonder: Is that really important?" Halcro recalled Palin saying. "Those of us who are policy wonks would say, 'Hell yes'" Halcro told TNR.
A lot of people think this is what would trip Palin up in a 2012 presidential run. I think nimbly, eye-battingly sidestepping the issues and responding to tough questions with folksy generalities and sentiment and patriotic claptrap is precisely how she could win the nomination, if not the election. Remember, this isn't exactly the most well-informed country on the planet.