Sarah PalinSarah Palin lives 40 miles northeast of Anchorage at the western edge of Wasilla. That distance from Washington, D.C., means that she is close to Russia, which the Republicans have suggested makes her more expert about Russia and Putin. Jon Stewart suggested that she also lives close to the North Pole, which might make her an expert on Santa Claus. If this sounds facetious, it is.

Palin was interviewed by Charles Gibson of ABC News on Friday night, and, to his credit, Charlie tried to pin her down on her supposed opposition to “earmarks,” when it has been established that, when she was Mayor of Wasilla, she hired a lobbyist for $30,000 a year to secure just such earmarks.

The much discussed “bridge to nowhere” that Palin claimed to have turned down during her RNC speech, was actually something she favored, at first. Even after she reversed positions, the $223 million given Alaska for the bridge was not returned by the state. Therefore, as Gibson established, citizens in the sparsely inhabited state of Alaska got $231 per person, while Barack Obama’s home state of Illinois received only $22 per person. Gibson also pointed out that Alaska asked for $3.2 million for a study of harbor seals and the mating habits of crabs, which seems to smack of “earmark,” but which Palin defended.

Actor Matt Damon recently said he was quite frightened at the thought of Sarah Palin a heartbeat away from the Presidency, since John McCain’s age, alone, means that the oldest nominee in history might well not live through even a four-year term. Here is a woman who has served as the Mayor of a town of 9,000 and has been in office as Governor of the remote state of Alaska for less than 2 years.

Harking back to Hillary Clinton’s battle cry, “Who is ready to be President on Day One?”, it is inconceivable to Matt Damon…(and to me)…that either candidate for President would select as his running mate someone whose entire appeal was that he could help win the race inside the United States. The head honchos this year (McCain and Obama) owe we, the people, the very best this country has, to lead us in case they are taken out by the vagaries of fate. I’m not getting the idea that the Republicans have picked that number two person to run, and that makes me mad and sad. Mad that they would squander our nation’s future on an untested quantity and sad that it’s “politics as usual,” which it certainly appears to be.

The person selected number two on the ticket this year has a better-than-average chance of ascending to the highest office in the land…possibly within the first four years. It is disrespectful to the American people and to the world to pick a running mate based solely on that individual’s ability to help carry a ticket to victory in November. There is a higher responsibility to the nation…and the world…. to pick the very best candidate to go head-to-toe with other nations during these troubled times. The individual selected should be confident and capable of facing down the likes of the leaders of Russia, Korea, China and Iran, should the need arise. Listening to Sarah Palin tell Charles Gibson, “I’m ready. I have the confidence in that readiness,” did not make me feel any more secure. She didn’t look or sound “ready.” Far from it. She looked like a nice-enough lady who likes to hunt moose and have kids and whose entire life experience has better prepared her for those tasks than for leading one of the more complicated nations in the world and guiding the ship of state through troubled waters. There were no concrete plans. There were no specifics. There was just the acknowledgment of all the right-wing beliefs that “the base” so loves, despite the fact that survey after survey shows that women in the United States value the right to choose, regardless of religious preference. Being a life-long member of the NRA will get the NRA vote, no doubt. Will it help curb violence on crowded inner-city streets? Unlikely.

When asked by Gibson if her National Security credentials were up to that task (and at least she was asked), Sarah Palin immediately deflected the question, turning it into something it wasn’t, saying, “But it is about the reform of Washington.” From there, she segued on to her credentials on energy, apparently thinking that this old political ploy of not answering the question at all would go totally unnoticed.

I noticed, Ms. Palin.

I’m pretty sure the rest of those listening did, too.

Would you rather have Senator Joseph Biden, who has extensive National Security experience, negotiating with foreign leaders, or the self-styled “hockey mom” from Alaska, who has absolutely no experience whatsoever in this crucial and sensitive area?

The Republican ads that followed the ABC interview trumpeted: “She stopped the bridge to nowhere.” Welllll, maybe not. And the change mantra? Four more years of Republican leadership dedicated to “a win” in an untenable war, to no choice for American women, to status quo on embryonic stem cell research—none of that equates to “change” for the better.

The “Spin-meisters” afterwards (George Stephanopoulus and company) thought she wasn’t very forthcoming. That’s putting it mildly. They did describe Governor Palin as “doing okay on these answers, not great on these answers.” One expert suggested that the VP be coached a bit more before taking on the hard ones.

My take: she didn’t answer the questions asked at all. She did the typical politician buck-and-wing, and that is sad. I thought the Republican ticket had staked its claim to election on being “different” from the old-style politics of Rove and Bush? There was no difference, tonight, between the Bush campaigns of the past two election cycles and the McCain ticket, this year.

The spin-meisters thought she looked very “scripted.” I thought she looked very out-of-her-element and sounded very much like Bush (again) in 2008.