BY EDWIN E. VINEYARD
This writer well recalls a long airplane ride from Oklahoma City to Washington, seated beside Father Peter Green, president of St. Gregory’s College, and reading together a brand new book called The Peter Principle. We would read a page, then pause to chuckle and comment. It was a most enjoyable trip, whereas most of those trips were not – even absent the current draconian airport security measures.
Succinctly stated, the Peter Principle said that sooner or later everyone tends to rise to his or her level of incompetence. The author made his point quite well. We have all seen this principle borne out all around us in our contacts in the business, artisan, and professional worlds.
This point was brought home again recently in one of our rare instances of tuning in Dancing with the Stars on ABC television, and in reading newspaper accounts quoting one contestant in that show’s competition. Bristol Palin finished third after a dismal performance that evening. A “last dance” from a contestant dropped the previous week was dramatically better than two of the three finalists still there, including Ms. Palin.
Later Bristol was quoted as saying that her wanting to win came from a desire “to give the middle finger to all those who hate my mother and hate me.” I understand that a lot of people detest her mother, but “hate” is an inappropriate word for most. I really do not know anyone who hates Bristol, although there may be some.
But I would like to say to Bristol: “Young lady, you have it all wrong. People don’t hate you. You did not make it as far as you did in the contest on your merit. You made it on the basis of your mother’s intense popularity, and some politically motivated contest voters who campaigned by hook and by crook to keep you there. It is not anyone’s fault you are out. You advanced way past your level of competence.”
In the rounds of commentary, I would like to note further that her mother, the ex-half-term governor Sarah Palin, has noticeably advanced way past her level of competence as well.
This woman demonstrates this time after time. Not long ago it was “all the 57 states,” and then the latest gaffe was referring to North Korea as “our good friend and ally.” But she regularly makes new ones as often as she speaks from anything but a prepared script. We’d wish that all of these were deviations in use of the English language, such as her Bushisms, or slips of the tongue. But lo, many come from just plain ignorance. Others come from faulty reasoning, or accepting platitudes and talking points provided to her as a rationale. Worse, she does not seem to know a lie when she tells one, but she goes right on.
Despite her status as a political celebrity, which most of us have difficulty understanding, Ms. Palin is in no way ready for political leadership in government. Her incompetence was demonstrated in her failed attempt at a governor’s duties and responsibilities. She then walked away from those troublesome problems to pursue the money making machine of being a celebrity.
Ms. Palin’s popularity has been fed largely by the media. In a similar fashion, Paris Hilton has a name that is known in the households throughout the country. Should Ms. Hilton decide on a right-wing political career, one might suppose that she would receive lots of publicity and would advance rapidly in popularity among a segment of Americans – and thus shortly reach her level of political incompetence.
Without constant media coverage neither Ms. Palin nor Ms. Hilton would matter much in the universe of human concern. Ms. Palin’s flower would fade and wither because it has no other sustenance. Some of us would, of course, be much less irritable people if this were to be the case.
– Dr. Edwin E. Vineyard, AKA The Militant Moderate, lives in Enid, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer