What Can A Food Critic Bring To The Political Table?

About The Same Thing Sarah Plain Can

Maren Tarro
5 min read
What Can A Food Critic Bring To The Political Table?
“Palin cited, in defense of her qualifications, Alaska's proximity to Russia. I would like to point out that the Alibi runs its political columns mere pages from my reviews.”
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First, can I call you Burqueños? Good.

As I sit in my office writing each week’s
restaurant review I keep the news on in the background. While I’m supposed to be writing about burgers, enchiladas and the occasional finer establishment I often find myself reading the latest political news posted by a wide variety of sources. (And yes I can name them.) And daily I tune into Rush Limbaugh, O’Reilly, Shawn Hannity and, when I can stomach him, Michael Savage.

When John McCain’s pick for running mate came across the wires I, like many Americans, scrunched up my eyebrows and said, “Who the hell is Sarah Palin?”

As I crisscrossed the state in my car for work I listened as conservative radio hosts sang her praises, calling her a “breath of fresh air” and doing everything they could to generate excitement for the possibility of this “everywoman” becoming our nation’s second-in-command. At the same time, questions and doubts were raised about Palin’s readiness to take on such a high-level position, but conservatives dismissed those concerns as sexism and hypocrisy.

I listened as women called in to tell Limbaugh and Hannity how thrilled they were to see someone just like them poised to ascend to the executive branch, and in my own kitchen a friend spoke emotionally of how he liked her because “she’s a mother.” To be honest, I was rather amused by how people latched onto this broad just because she didn’t use big words and reminded them of themselves.

And that got me thinking. If Sarah Palin qualifies to be vice president and, in the event of McCain’s kicking the bucket, president, then maybe I should be thinking bigger than my little food column. I started eying the political columns. And, gosh darn it, why not? As it turns out, Palin and I have several things in common.

Like Palin, I have attended several schools in pursuit of a college degree. While she eventually graduated with a degree in journalism, I finally gave up after my first economics class. Turns out, I don’t give a flying fuck about the GDP of Chile, and I’ll bet Palin doesn’t either.

Palin won the Miss Wasilla beauty pageant; I was crowned rodeo queen in Odessa, Missouri. Palin eloped because her family “couldn’t afford a big white wedding;” I made a trip to the courthouse myself.

When it comes to experience, Palin has spent a relatively short amount of time as mayor of a small town and governor of a state with one of the smallest populations in the country. And me? I was an editorial intern, right here at the
Alibi, but have since moved on to food critic. As governor, she changed how things were run in Alaska and fired her chef. As food critic, I have hoped for the firing of a chef or two.

Palin cited, in defense of her qualifications, Alaska’s proximity to Russia. I would like to point out that the
Alibi runs its political columns mere pages from my reviews.

Palin has charmed Americans with her interesting use of the English language, saying things like “you betcha” and referring to Americans as “Joe Six Pack” and “hockey mom” as a way of conveying how in touch she is with those down on Main St. Well, Burqueños, as your political columnist I’ll be sure to focus on the issues that matter to Jose Cuervo and his baby’s mama. And I’ll probably say “fuck” a lot, just to keep it real.

And just as Palin can answer questions by reading from index cards (which doesn’t mean she understands what she’s talking about), I can order from a menu in French, and I sure as hell don’t speak French.

My point is, because good political columns always seem to have one, voting for Palin (and believe me, many people will for this reason) simply because she seems different from the usual “Washington insiders” is folly. Just as Obama supporters have been criticized for swooning over his “change” mantra, jumping behind Palin because she’s “one of us” is idiotic. If we wanted “one of us” as president we’d have a lottery instead of an election—an election where candidates tell us what makes them more qualified than the average person to take that office.

Maybe she is ready for the job. Maybe her folksy charm is genuine and hiding behind her wink-and-grin act is a brilliant woman whose capabilities defy her inexperience and performance on the campaign trail. But just as my editors won’t likely give me a political column based on my being a writer who’s damn cute and thinks it’d be neat-o—and a political column carries far fewer consequences that a political position—neither should Americans allow themselves to be charmed by a woman who gives very little evidence of her qualifications.

If Palin really is as good as the GOP would have us believe then why don’t they let her show us? Why do they keep her on such a short leash, doling her out in carefully controlled doses when McCain’s base needs a boost? If she’s so brilliant, let her loose in a capacity that’s more than just a shot of short-acting adrenaline until the campaign can find its footing. It’s like she’s political Prozac, not a very real possibility for president.

Trust me, if my editors ever discovered I was a keen political mind just waiting to be unleashed on the public, they’d let me out of the food section more often.

What’s McCain waiting for?

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