Robin Oakley explains Sarah Palin

Robin Oakley explains Americans why the Alaskan candidate for the American vice presidency does not appeal well to a European audience. Of course that is a way to praise the candidate. He puts forward all the sound bites. I find his analysis of the imaginary European view of Palin like what he described the European view on Sarah Palin: half-baked.

For Europeans, who were alienated during George W. Bush's first four years by a president who showed little interest in their continent and patently cared nothing for the opinions of its leaders, the turning point probably came with the appearance on the Katie Couric show when Palin confessed to not having had a passport until 2006.

A few days ago I got me a passport again. It is about 60 Euro and you need ugly biometric images. As a German you hardly need to provide a passport, most states accept identity cards and within the Schengen area you get hardly checked. That is why my citizen office advised against a pass port. For me a pass port is old fashioned tradition. For Palin a passport is a symbol of foreign experience. I think no one in Europe would even care. And diplomats get their own diplomate passports, right? The ones where the police cannot stop the drunk driving (Russian) diplomates.

But something else sounds frightening and naive and Americans just don't seem to care. Asked about the role of the foreign policy of her state she described the United States as a force for good in the world, as a beacon of light. While Americans hate their state bureacracy the appreciation for their foreign policy and their state sounds like a Monty Python joke for European listeners. John Cleese mocked Palin as a parrot. This may be true for all of the candidates. The question is what he or she does parrot. You won't find a European who regards "good" and "evil" as categories of professional foreign policy. The notion of realpolitik is just too strong as is the scepticism of the Levithan. [insert European state] as a force for good? Sounds like a defamatory joke.

European probably also understand the strategic cold war role of Alaska and the battles over the Arctic Sea. It sounds stupid why a person who is qualified to lead a gigantic state should not be qualified to run the United States. After all most EU member states are much smaller. US interiour policy is not that much different from pan-European foreign policy. For foreign policy all you need to understand is that the policy field requires you to play conservative. And when powerful parties do freaky stuff the diplomats call that a 'doctrine'.

Her real strategic problem for the elections is one of self-presentation. Palin's team presented her as the 'hockey mum', the Washington outsider. Her problem is not an alleged lack of qualifications but that her team was so cynical to present her as an unqualified person, as "one of them" to appeal to voters. A rhetorical understatement on purpose which leads to silly and disrespectful questions like which newspapers she reads.