Monday, September 22, 2008

Sarah Palin, Abraham Lincoln, and Sam Harris

In a Newsweek opinion piece, Sam Harris berates Gov. Sarah Palin for not being among the elite in educational and life experiences.

What I do care about are all the other things Palin is guaranteed not to know—or will be glossing only under the frenzied tutelage of John McCain's advisers. What doesn't she know about financial markets, Islam, the history of the Middle East, the cold war, modern weapons systems, medical research, environmental science or emerging technology? Her relative ignorance is guaranteed on these fronts and most others, not because she was put on the spot, or got nervous, or just happened to miss the newspaper on any given morning. Sarah Palin's ignorance is guaranteed because of how she has spent the past 44 years on earth.

Here’s the New York Times in 1859 on Abraham Lincoln’s edging out William H. Seward* as the Republican presidential nominee:

The work of the Convention is ended. The youngster who, with ragged trousers, used barefoot to drive his father’s oxen and spend his days in splitting rails, has risen to high eminence, and ABRAM LINCOLN, of Illinois, is declared its candidate for President by the National Republican Party....Mr. SEWARD’s friends assert indignantly, and with a great deal of feeling, that they were grossly deceived and betrayed.

In light of how hayseed, non-college educated Abraham Lincoln turned out, things look good for Sarah Palin–who, like Honest Abe, is also much more popular with plain folks than the elite.

Fortunately for us, Sam Harris wasn’t the gatekeeper in Lincoln’s nomination and election and won’t be in Palin’s.

*Seward, son of a prosperous doctor and businessman, studied law at Union College and graduated with highest honors.

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