Friday, January 9, 2009
Maybe The Peter Principle Explains Palin
A NEW LEARNING
As Barak Obama’s inauguration approaches even as a Canadian I give thanks that the US has been spared Sarah Palin as its VP. I was nervous for her every time she spoke. I shudder when imagining four Palin years. I believe I know what happened with her nomination.
The TV show The Office demonstrates the Peter Principle, that "In a Hierarchy Every Employee Tends to Rise to His Level of Incompetence." Formulated by Dr. Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull in their 1968 book The Peter Principle, it observes that members in a hierarchy are promoted as they produce competent work yet eventually they are promoted to a position at which they are no longer competent. Of course I am old enough to remember Vice President Dan Quayle. Palin’s foot and mouth dance would have made her a constant distraction as the butt of cartoonists and pundits as Quayle was.
Quayle was plucked from obscurity as Indiana senator by George H.W. Bush 20 years ago. Like Palin, Quayle was supposed to hook the presidential nominee to his party's conservative wing, and usher in a new generation of republicans and replace cultural political elitism with small town authenticity. Wrong!
Here is a string of his verbal gaffes and they represent the proverbial tip of the... "For NASA, space is still a high priority." - "A low voter turnout is an indication of fewer people going to the polls." - "The future will be better tomorrow." - "Republicans understand the importance of bondage between a mother and child." - "I was recently on a tour of Latin America, and the only regret I have was that I didn’t study Latin harder in school so I could converse with those people." - "One word sums up probably the responsibility of any vice president, and that one word is ‘to be prepared’." - "We have a firm commitment to NATO, we are a part of NATO. We have a firm commitment to Europe. We are a part of Europe." - "If we don’t succeed, we run the risk of failure." - "I believe we are on an irreversible trend toward more freedom and democracy - but that could change."
As for Palin, notable examples of her ambiguity and naivety follow.
Asked by People magazine if she was ready to be a heartbeat away from the presidency she answered, "Absolutely. Yup, yup." - On an ABC News interview, she mispronounced “nuclear” as “nucular” but then George Bush has called it “nucler” so given the benefit of a doubt it’s a regional accent. - During the same interview, when asked about her foreign policy insights regarding Russia she answered, "They're our next door neighbors and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska." - Explaining the $700 billion government bailout she said, "But ultimately what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the healthcare reform that is needed to help shore up our economy." - Asked about oil and coal fuels she said, "Oil and coal? Of course, it's a fungible commodity and they don't flag, you know, the molecules, where it's going and where it's not. But in the sense of the Congress today, they know that there are very, very hungry domestic markets that need that oil first. So, I believe that what Congress is going to do, also, is not to allow the export bans to such a degree that it's Americans that get stuck to holding the bag without the energy source that is produced here, pumped here. It's got to flow into our domestic markets first."
Today Quayle is chairman of an international investment firm and living in Phoenix. His children, who were preteens when Quayle hit the public eye, are in their 30s and successful. He has been married to Marilyn Tucker Quayle for 36 years and has two grandchildren.
From where she lives, Palin can probably see Putin turn off the gas to European countries this week. Having said that, she will likely have a competent rest of her life.