Friday, 12 September 2008

American Idol

BY ROGER EBERT Sun-Times Movie Critic

I think I might be able to explain some of Sarah Palin's appeal. She's the
"American Idol" candidate. Consider. What defines an "American Idol"
finalist? They're good-looking, work well on television, have a sunny
personality, are fierce competitors, and so talented, why, they're darned
near the real thing. There's a reason "American Idol" gets such high
ratings. People identify with the contestants. They think, Hey, that could
be me up there on that show!

My problem is, I don't want to be up there. I don't want a vice president
who is darned near good enough. I want a vice president who is better,
wiser, well-traveled, has met world leaders, who three months ago had an
opinion on Iraq. Someone who doesn't repeat bald- faced lies about earmarks
and the Bridge to Nowhere. Someone who doesn't appoint Alaskan politicians
to "study" global warming, because, hello! It has been studied. The returns
are convincing enough that John McCain and Barack Obama are darned near in

I would also want someone who didn't make a teeny little sneer when
referring to "people who go to the Ivy League." When I was a teen I dreamed
of going to Harvard, but my dad, an electrician, told me, "Boy, we don't
have the money. Thank your lucky stars you were born in Urbana and can go
to the University of Illinois right here in town." So I did, very happily.
Although Palin gets laughs when she mentions the "elite" Ivy League, she
sure did attend the heck out of college.

Five different schools in six years. What was that about?

And how can a politician her age have never have gone to Europe? My dad had
died, my mom was working as a book-keeper and I had a job at the local
newspaper when, at 19, I scraped together $240 for a charter flight to
Europe. I had Arthur Frommer's $5 a Day under my arm, started in London,
even rented a Vespa and drove in the traffic of Rome. A few years later, I
was able to send my mom, along with the $15 a Day book.

You don't need to be a pointy-headed elitist to travel abroad. You need
curiosity and a hunger to see the world. What kind of a person (who has the
money) arrives at the age of 44 an has only been out of the country once,
on an official tour to Iraq? Sarah Palin's travel record is that of a
provincial, not someone who is equipped to deal with global issues.

But some people like that. She's never traveled to Europe, Asia, Africa,
South America or Down Under? That makes her like them. She didn't go to
Harvard? Good for her! There a lot of hockey moms who haven't seen London,
but most of them would probably love to, if they had the dough. And they'd
be proud if one of their kids won a scholarship to Harvard.

I trust the American people will see through Palin, and save the Republic
in November. The most damning indictment against her is that she considered
herself a good choice to be a heartbeat away. That shows bad judgment.

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