Sunday, August 31, 2008

What Kinds of Idiots Do They Think Democrats Are?

First class, obviously. And why not? Democrats, not just the Clintons, have been known to glorify Ronald Reagan and claim that they hold him in high esteem, and there are Democrats who voted for George Bush – not just in 2000, when he seemed harmless enough, but even in 2004. And, of course, Democrats still support the people whom they voted into office in 2006, and who then betrayed their hopes faster than a speeding bullet. But are there Democrats who will vote for McCain because he picked Sarah Palin? The idea boggles the mind.

It has been reported, since McCain’s announcement, that Papa Doc Bush (of “voodoo economics” fame) picked J. Danforth Quayle to run with him because his advisors thought putting someone dumb and “cute” on the ticket would close the gender gap. [I thought he did it to insure that no one would try to assassinate him.] Quayle of course was many times more suited to the office than Palin is, but he too was a fly weight and a laughing stock. Closing the gender gap by nominating her, an anti-abortion almost beauty queen, is so over the top, even by Republican standards, that it defies credibility. Are there really benighted supporters of Slick Willy’s wife who only want a candidate who has a vagina? Although I cede to no one, except perhaps McCain, in holding Hillary fans in contempt, I don’t think so.

It could be, of course, that the doddering “maverick” and his handlers are just doing what their “guts” tell them to do, following Baby Doc’s precedent. If so, McCain’s gut must have been suffering from a profound case of indigestion the other day. At his age, it is not unlikely. However I don’t think this is what happened. I think McCain’s handlers, if not the candidate himself, have reasons. They are desperate and stupid reasons, but reasons nonetheless.

The prattle about disgruntled Hillary voters is a red herring. Palin was picked to placate the GOP’s useful idiots – the gun totin’, environment spoilin’, Christian Taliban. Palin is, as Pat Buchanan put it, a “new young Republican.” She is what happens when a mediocre and “conservatively” inclined but perky journalism major (with a minor in political science) grows up. Were she a few years older, she might have decided, after reproducing in copious quantities, to home school her brood and do as the Lord requires by minding her husband and staying home to pick up after him. But, as with others who grew up in the Age of High Reaganism, she gave in to the “maverick” in her. With the much more senior “maverick’s” handlers having a hard time making the label stick, and with the useful idiots threatening to stay home in November or even defect, Sarah Palin was, as it were, a godsend.

Don’t get me wrong. I still believe that Maria Shriver (Kennedyesque, media-friendly, “bipartisan” and “experienced” by First Ladyhood) should have been Obama’s VP, and not just because then the Terminator turned Kindergarten Cop would have become the Second Lady, Lynn Cheney’s worthy successor. I’m therefore no enemy of dadaesque politics, and I’m not stuck on distractions, like relevant experience. But the Palin selection leaves a foul taste. From governor of a barely populated and distant state (for less than two years) and nominal leader of the Alaska National Guard to commander in chief is too much even for me. Oh, and did I mention that she played girls’ basketball in High School where she was known as “the Barracuda? How scrappy!

Leave it to John McCain to select someone to be one heartbeat away who knows nothing and cares less about war and peace and geopolitics and economics (except as it affects Big Oil) and on and on. Leave it to the geezer, the cancer survivor.

To be sure, as some Fox News clown reported, she knows enough about Russia, having lived across the Bering Straits from it. And unlike Obama and Biden, she has had “executive experience.” [Of course, McCain has had no more of that than Obama or Biden have, but who’s counting?] Better her perhaps than her co-thinker – or, rather, her would be co-thinker, if she had any thoughts -- Dick Cheney. But still. It’s not a happy or constructive flirtation with the absurd. It’s the kind that makes sensible people feel ill.

There is a silver lining, though; Palin's selection has brought out the best in Maureen Dowd, and it will be good for comedians for weeks to come. No longer will Steven Colbert have to struggle to find ways to make McCain’s boringness funny. Who knows – soon Alaska jokes, or maybe moose jokes, will be all the rage. Too bad for Alaska; too bad for Bullwinkle.

It will boost the ratings of the coming VP debate too. No doubt, McCain’s advisors are savvy enough not to let the former Miss Wasilla go on stage with the immortal words of H. Ross Perot’s pick for VP: “who am I? why am I here?” But when she’s up there with Joe Biden and she starts in again about how her candidacy is like Hillary’s, who will stop Mr. Acela [that’s the name of the AMTRAK train he allegedly rides home every night] from saying “I know Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton is my friend, and you, Missy, are no Hillary Clinton.” For Plagiarism Joe, the temptation will be too much.

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