You don't have to expect every politician to be a serious policy wonk to believe that he or she ought to have a grasp of at least the basics of the key issues they debate. And if they don't have that grasp at the beginning of a debate, then they ought to by the end of it. If there's one thing we can say about the last year, it's that we all learned a lot about health-care policy. Or at least most of us did.
People are beginning to notice that Sarah Palin has morphed into something quite new: not so much a political figure as a kind of multimedia brand, one for whom actual politics seems almost ancillary to the generation of greater and greater celebrity. When you look at Brand Palin, she begins to look like the Fox News of politicians.
In 1854, Henry David Thoreau wrote in Walden,
his chronicle of his time spent puttering about in the woods, that the
advent of the telegraph was unlikely to make us much better informed:
"We are eager to tunnel under the Atlantic and bring the Old World some
weeks nearer to the New; but perchance the first news that will leak
through into the broad, flapping American ear will be that the Princess
Adelaide has the whooping cough." Thoreau could be a bit of a downer.
In an interview with Newsweek, John McCain has denied he ever claimed to be a "maverick," which is pretty remarkable, since this was the idea on which his entire career was constructed. "'Maverick' is a mantle McCain no longer claims; in fact, he now denies he ever was one. 'I never considered myself a maverick,' he told me. 'I consider myself a person who serves the people of Arizona to the best of his abilities.'" Right.