Sarah Palin: From Foreign Policy to Chinese Astrology

Hours before U.S. Senator Joseph Biden and Alaska Governor Sarah Palin face-off in St. Louis, Missouri in the only vice presidential debate of this election season, there is an expectation that foreign policy will be discussed.

How will Palin, the Republican candidate, redeem herself after the world's reporters and bloggers mocked her for saying her foreign policy experience stems from the proximity of her home state to Russia?

By means of background, here's an extract of her notorious interview with CBS anchor Katie Couric:

When asked if she was involved in any negotiations with Russia, Palin responded:

We have trade missions back and forth, we do. It's very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia. As Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where do they go? It's Alaska. It's just right over the border. It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there, they are right next to our state.

Tim Sparks of German-American blog Across the Pond, like other global bloggers, had seen the video and read other press about Palin's lack of experience. He writes that Palin may be in for a shock:

Things beside experience – like judgment – matter when it comes to foreign policy. And yet, it’s hard to deny that Biden gets some kind of advantage from having met and talked with these foreign leaders in a way that Palin never has.

In a rant about “white privilege” on a Canadian blog called a boy named sue is the following opinion:

…if you merely question the experience of a small town mayor and 18-month governor with no foreign policy expertise beyond a class she took in college and the fact that she lives close to Russia – you’re somehow being mean, or even sexist.

Daniel Andersson, a 23-year-old Swedish blogger who has traveled to many nations, is astonished:

She actually claimed that seeing the Russian border from Alaska was a qualification of foreign experience in her CV. She got her first passport one year ago, myself who have been to China, Russia, Canada, US as well as Israel, seem in some way to be more qualified than her.

As to whether Palin's Alaskan home was close enough to see Russia, Erik Rasmussen, an American living in the northern Spain community of Colindres, uses a geometric “Distance to Horizon Calculator” to determine Palin would have to jump 101 kilometers (or 63 miles) into the air to see Russia from her Wasilla home.

Rasmussen summarizes:

…an astronaut in the Space Shuttle passing directly over Wasilla could definitely see Russia as well, but no one down in the atmosphere that allows aeronautical flight could.

For a British perspective, it's worth reading the words of Karl Smythe, a blogger with OpenUSA, part of the open Democracy project, who opines:

Tonight has become very much a referendum on Palin herself: finally free from the straightjacket of her media handlers, if she fails to sufficiently replicate the energy, conviction and, most importantly, clarity of her coming-out speech at the Republican National Convention and appease concerns over her recent missteps, this debate may ultimately prove a far more damaging blow to John McCain's Oval Office aspirations than his mishandling last week of the congressional deliberation on the $700 financial bailout package.

Relegated to the fringes of electoral coverage since his unveiling in Denver, Biden now has an important and delicate role to play. Faced with the challenge of debating a female opponent with exceptionally low levels of expectation, Biden must shun his infamously verbose and long-winded style of rhetoric to match Palin's snappy sound bytes while finding an appropriate tone on the night with which to underscore the frailties of his opponent. But he must not come across as domineering, patriarchal, snide or misogynistic – a balancing act that George H.W. Bush found difficult when facing Geraldine Ferraro in 1984.

Finally, Margot the Marrakesh Mystic of Morocco explores what Chinese astrology says about Palin.

Here is a sampling of Margot's interpretation of Water Rabbits and Wood Dragons, both of which apply to Palin:

…an excellent memory…attract many supporters who rally to their defense when they least expect it. They can rally powerful allies to their aid, and are never without resources or influence so long as they do not carry their neutrality so far that no one will take their side…a fragile and emotional nature, and cannot bear harassment or dissent…easily influenced…not very decisive and can come under the sway of others…adept at formulating and implementing their ideas and working cooperatively with others, even if condescending on occasion…outspoken, proud, and fearless when challenged.


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