Last week, I found myself on the same boat as Gov. Sarah Palin: I could not come up with a single example of how John McCain is a maverick, either.

Last week, I found myself on the same boat as Gov. Sarah Palin: I could not come up with a single example of how John McCain is a maverick, either. In her interview with Katie Couric that aired before the Oct. 2 debate, Palin demonstrated an appalling ignorance of the world, and an insufficient understanding of it, for a vice presidential candidate. But if we are supposed to believe that Palin does read every newspaper, then, based on her performance in the debate, it’s fair to say that reading and understanding is not the same thing.

Segments of the Couric interview were broadcast on the CBS evening news every night before Thursday’s debate. Americans saw Palin unscripted for the first time, which prompted preemptive damage control, consisting only of feigned conservative outrage at the choice of moderators for the debate. On “Fox & Friends” John McCain had this to say:

“Frankly, I wish they had picked a moderator [Gwen Ifill] that isn’t writing a book favorable to Barack Obama – let’s face it,” he said hours before the debate took place.

Not mentioned on “Fox & Friends,” but still posted on the McCain/Palin website, is the Aug. 21 announcement of Ifill as the moderator – agreed to by both candidates. Also unmentioned is the Sept. 4 profile of Ifill in the Washington Post where she refers to her book by name, and its content. If nobody else in the McCain campaign knew about it, Palin should have if she reads every newspaper.

“If you choose to answer a question, you are going to get clobbered on the answer,” Palin offered as an explanation to her revealing Couric interview. She has not said if that is the reason for failing to answer so many of Ifill’s questions.

The self-proclaimed maverick has little else but her rehearsed talking points and practiced quips that she can only hope make sense when she can’t contain them any longer. Her extraneous outburst of “Say it ain’t so, Joe” made no sense; it wasn’t in response to anything either Joe Biden or Ifill had said. It exhibited a dangerous disconnection Palin has with her immediate surroundings, and her apparent willingness to stick with her practiced lines no matter what the current situation might be.

Throughout the debate, we were subjected to twangy catchphrases, inexplicably timed winks, and contrived self-deprecation, but not one straight answer from the governor.

When she spoke about being a rookie to Washington; about being unable to simply stand by and let the old politics run rampant as usual; about change; about reform; about putting partisan politics aside; about being new; or being different, did it at all sound familiar? How about when she told you to just look at her record as governor if you doubted her?

The shrewd skepticism we eventually learned to have could easily be lost again to oblivious cheers for vague clichés delivered with amplified folksiness. ‘Joe Six-Pack’ himself would be smart to remember that the last eight years have been the direct result of voting not on policy, but on personality; specifically, a practiced and artificial personality. Palin offers the same manufactured persona, but doesn’t offer it nearly as well as Bush Jr.

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