I’m sort of old-fashioned in that I tell my creative writing students that they have a responsibility to the truth of their own experience and that the way they use language reveals the extent to which they have taken that responsibility seriously. Listening to Sarah Palin reminds me of nothing so much as listening to an unprepared & incurious freshman discussing the reading for the day. After listening to Palin for a while, I feel stupider than when I began. In recent days I have found that immediately after listening to Palin, reading a big chunk of Beckett or Chekov is the best antidote. See also: The poetry of Sarah Palin — not since rumsfeld have we had such a master.
My single insight is that when McCain responds to a question, he responds from the position of the isolated ego — “I did such & such. . .” — whereas Obama responds as a member of a group — “we must do. . . such & such.” McCain wants to be president because it will fulfill his personal ambitions; Obama wants to be president in order to accomplish things beyond himself. McCain responds with anecdotes about his personal experience, telling us that he has been to Russia, or Pakistan; Obama responds with an analysis on which to base his proposed actions.