Thank you for the question, Ms. Ifill — patronizing though it is. And, yes, if pressed, I could probably stand up right now, walk across the stage and name every country on that blank map of the Middle East you’ve so graciously set up for me. But I think I’ll pass.
First of all, I’d rather not spend next week fielding questions about whether I saw Tina Fey doing another impression of me of Saturday Night Live, this time bending over to point out Yemen — during which, of course, she’ll throw in a blank stare and gratuitous wiggle of her butt in order to suggest that the only reason John McCain picked me for the vice presidential slot was because I was once a beauty queen.
Second of all, I’d rather not log onto the Internet next week and discover that one of your producers has surreptitiously supplied Bill Maher, who two weeks ago called me a “category five moron,” with a camera angle that shows a flash of cleavage — which, of course, he will freeze-frame and weave into an obscene rant.
The point, Ms. Ifill, is that ever since I accepted Sen. McCain’s invitation to be his running mate, I’ve become an object of ridicule and derision among the media elites whose commitment to political correctness apparently admits an exception for howling, sophomoric sexism as long as it is directed at their ideological adversaries.
It’s not that I expected a fair shake, Heaven knows. I realize that there’s a deep-seated emotional investment among liberal commentators in the candidacy of Barack Obama. I watched them chew up and spit out one of their perennial darlings — Hillary Clinton — when she stood in the way of their group hug. I heard Senator Clinton called a “big f — -ing whore” by an Air America host; I heard one MSNBC host accuse her of “pimping out” her daughter, another call her a “she-devil,” and a third suggest that she needed to be taken into a backroom and beaten senseless to convince her to drop out of the primary race. And I heard a CBS News anchor — yes, the same one who turned a recent interview with me into a pop quiz — ask Sen. Clinton if she remembered being nicknamed “Miss Frigidaire” in school. Ugly stuff, isn’t it? So it’s no surprise that when Senator McCain began to surge in the polls after he selected me as his running mate, the liberal media would come loaded for bear every time I made a public statement.
Ever since Senator McCain made that selection, by the way, I’ve been working hard to get up to speed on foreign policy and global issues. The reason I wasn’t up to speed beforehand is that, curiously enough, I’d been focusing all my energy on doing the jobs I’d been elected to do. When I was elected mayor of Wasilla, I tried to be a good mayor. When I was elected governor of the Alaska, I tried to be a good governor. I didn’t regard either position as a stepping stone to anything else. I saw no need to go on fact-finding tours, at taxpayers’ expense, to foreign countries in an effort to bolster my geopolitical credentials for higher office.
By the time John McCain and I take office in January, rest assured I will be up to speed on geopolitics. I will be altogether qualified to be a heartbeat from the presidency. And I’ll surround myself with altogether qualified advisers and staff, not yes-men and yes-women. Because I know from experience — the very experience my opponent, Sen. Biden, lacks — what it is like to make an executive decision. I know what it is like, after the legislative wrangling is done, after the wheeling and dealing by party hacks who are determined to maintain political cover and plausible deniability, to have the buck stop at my desk, to enact a law by my signature, to put my name on the bottom line.
So no, Ms. Ifill, I think I’ll keep my seat. You can take down your blank map. I came here tonight to discuss, to the best of my abilities, the international and domestic issues that confront the United States and to provide the American people with an insight into my governing philosophy. I didn’t come to convince voters that I could be a Jeopardy champion. If that’s the main qualification for the vice presidency, then I’d suggest both Sen. Biden and I step aside for Ken Jennings.