Thursday, September 4, 2008

Sarah's Peak

To no one’s surprise, Sarah Palin read her lines well, but of that more later. I must say, in praise, that the prime time Republicans have been less churchy, on the whole, than their Democratic counterparts. But, after two weeks of this, if I hear one more “God Bless America,” I just might run amok – like the universally maligned Reverend Wright. However, the Republicans have not been shy about invoking notions of “evil,” an essentially theological concept that has passed into ordinary, secular discourse – as in the expression “lesser evil.” In that sense of the term, the Republicans’ infomercial wreaks of evil – not just in the police repression around the Xcell Center, but in the hall itself. It would be hard to imagine a more odious collection of human beings; just look at the remarks that set them off! Would that the God who spared John McCain from a convention visited by Dick Cheney and George Bush would rapture those folks far away. He deserves them and they’d surely not be missed.

Prime time was preceded by some “business like” speeches by the female CEOs (or rather deposed CEOs) in the Maverick’s arsenal. Surely, Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina were pissed off mightily that a non-entity from nowhere got the nod, and is getting all the attention. But, with an eye to their respective futures, they were good troopers. Maryland’s hapless Michael Steele did his part too as the token black guy. “Drill Baby Drill.”

Pissing the right people off is the one good thing about the Republican convention. George Bush is pissed off for being royally dissed. And Dick Cheney, even as he bank roles his pet neo-Cold War project in (formerly Soviet) Georgia must be even more pissed off – not only for being dissed, but for the idea that the Maverick would replace him with someone much better looking who is also a better shot.

Prime time was dominated by two of the most repellent creatures in our political universe, Mitt Romney and Rudy the G. The formerly “moderate” governor of Massachusetts came off like the borderline fascist he is in his pious, family lovin’ heart: xenophobic, racist, and anti-progressive (railing against “liberals” with a zeal unknown since Ronnie the Actor Reagan was in his prime). I confess I couldn’t bring myself to watch much of Rudy. There was a George Carlin concert on at the same time on HBO. Carlin was railing against coercive friendliness – the “have a nice day” stuff. He was, as always, intelligent and on point. Switching back and forth from Rudy, with the sudden drop in brain pressure, I felt in danger of coming down with the bends. In between, was the ever likeable Mike Huckabee, mouthing much the same crap. If the Maverick’s idea was to choose a running mate with whom Americans can “relate,” Big Mike would have done as well as Sarah Barracuda. Obesity is on the rise within the Republican base, and Huckabee could have gotten the votes of those Christian Taliban who struggle with diets.

Then came the main event. The two times I’ve heard Sarah Palin talk, I couldn’t help but think of a perky High Schooler running for Student Council. Evidently, that tone resonates with odious audiences. What her handlers had her say was conventional McCain gibberish, but it was interesting as a portent of things to come. There was nary a word about abortion or stem cell research or creationism or (pointedly) abstinence only sex education or any other so-called wedge issue that would alienate “independents.” She didn’t even rail against Muslims, the way Mitt Romney did. After “introducing” her large and stupidly named family (too bad that Bristol’s impregnator, though present, didn’t get a nod), recounting her “experience” (Karl Rove style, making a virtue of an absence and a vice of the real thing – as in Bush v. Kerry on military service), and then heaping praise on John McCain, we got to the interesting part: casting aspersion on the Obamas, and praising her own maverick nature and her efforts at “reform.” Already the morning after, even on NPR, investigative reporters are tearing into the myth of Sarah the Reformer. Her “experience” is so slight that she didn’t have much opportunity to do much of what she now claims she’s against -- lobbying for earmarks, being for the so-called bridge to nowhere (before she was against it), making nice with the Alaskan Republican establishment, and so on. But nearly everything she has done reveals the lie behind her self-representations. Lets hope the press doesn’t let up, because it’s a sure thing that the Democrats will. They just can’t seem to learn that nice guys (and “gals”) finish last. Neither did they learn the lesson of George Bush: never to “misunderestimate” a successful politician just because he or she is a nitwit. If they paid attention last night, they’d realize that there are people, lots of them maybe, for whom nitwits rock.

The more worrisome thing is that the Maverick’s handlers are dredging up all the anti-Obama nonsense the Clintons brought to the fore. There isn’t much – Michelle’s remark about finally being able to be proud of her country, the speech in San Francisco about how desperate people cling to their guns and their religion. But Republicans are good at making the Big Lie stick. Thus I fear we may be on the brink of a “culture war” of the kind Republicans conjure up periodically. This time, though, with Obama as the target, it’s sure to have a more than usually racist undercurrent. Why else would the Pat Buchanans of the world fall head over heels in love with the bland, troubled Palin family? What is that about except nostalgia for a great White Nation of self-reliant men (and a few token women), who know how to dress a moose?

Will Obama and Biden get nasty enough to fight back? If they don’t come forward with real policy alternatives and real opposition to the empire’s perpetual wars – which, of course, they won’t -- getting nasty is their best, maybe their only, chance of fighting back a presidency likely to be even worse than Bush’s.

Since they won’t go after McCain for the crimes he committed against the Vietnamese, and since, unlike genuine anti-imperialists, Democratic “doves” are not all that different from Republican “hawks,” there isn’t much for them to get nasty about – except Sarah Palin. From now on, she should be an easy target. According to Republican spinmeisters, her speech showed she had the qualifications for the job. Well, sure, since being able to read a teleprompter is a qualification. She was a broadcast journalism major, after all; with a minor in political science. But how well will she do when she doesn’t have a script? I’d wager all the moose meat in Wassila that she’ll be so clueless that only a Republican – indeed, only one of their godly, useful idiots -- could still love her.

For a while, it looked like Sarah peaked playing high school basketball. Then fortune (or was it the Intelligent Designer?) smiled and, as if by a miracle, she became governor of Alaska. She might have peaked there, had not the Maverick, upset that he couldn’t get his buddy Joe Lieberman on the ticket and hating Mitt Romney’s (and also Karl Rove’s) guts, picked her out of nowhere. Now she’s so out of her depth that I almost feel sorry for her. Once she starts to crumble, not all the Maverick’s men will be able to put her back together. Count on it – Sarah Barracuda peaked for the last time in Saint Paul, Minnesota, in prime time last night.

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