There’s a little food for thought that crossed my radar screen recently.
Our beloved television and cable media seem to have bit hook, line, and sinker on the GOP bait to make this election a high-school homecoming contest between the democratic candidate for President and the Republican candidate for Vice-President.
Hey, she’s colorful! She’s cute! And, as her would-be boss is fond of telling adoring audiences, her husband — are you ready — won a really long snowmobile race! If you don’t think that qualifies her to be leader of the free world, you must be one of those eastern elitists that reads newspapers instead of listening to talk radio. And heck, we’ve never before had a “moose-hunting creationist in go-go boots” (as the BBC recently called her, really) for Vice President. What a hoot that would be!
You do have to give her credit for reading her talking points (over, and over, and over . . .) with relish. She’s pretty lively on the stump. But there is the little complication of the content of her speeches. We’ve heard the claim that Sarah Palin is a reformer that sailed into Alaska with both guns blaring and cleaned the place out, right? She’s a new breed of anti-corruption type, right?
Once you look under the lipstick (sorry, couldn’t resist) you see something alarmingly familiar. First, there is the line from her convention speech, repeated endlessly at campaign appearances elsewhere, about saying “thanks but no thanks” to the notorious Bridge to Nowhere. As critics quickly noted, she was “for it before she was against it“, and then after it became clear that the thing was a loser politically, she jumped ship and abandoned the bridge, but kept the pork money! Can you say, “no new taxes”? But here’s the kicker: she’s still saying it! This is what, if the other side were making the claim, conservatives would call “bearing false witness against your neighbor”.
Perhaps that particular family value is no longer convenient in the Republican machine. You can certainly understand their willingness to let it slip given how enormously successful bald-faced lies turned out to be during the swift boat campaign in 2004 (and the same sleazeball who engineered that one is counting on a reprise with his latest shotgun-blast-in-the-back, “Obama-Nation“).
The problem with this effective but highly unsavory strategy is that John McCain has staked his entire reputation on being different, and on modeling an integrity that has been all too scarce among the Karl Roves and Scooter Libbys and Jack Abramoffs and Tom DeLays and Duke Cunninghams and Larry Craigs of his party in recent years. I had a lot of respect for John McCain in 2004 and actually would have considered voting for him. Alas, it appears that the “straight talk express” has jumped the tracks and crashed, mortally injuring all on board, and is likely to take the rest of us down with it.
As Tom Friedman recently wrote of the McCain campaign:
“It’s a campaign now built on turning everything possible into a cultural wedge issue — including even energy policy, no matter how stupid it makes the voters and no matter how much it might weaken America.
I respected McCain’s willingness to support the troop surge in Iraq, even if it was going to cost him the Republican nomination. Now the same guy, who would not sell his soul to win his party’s nomination, is ready to sell every piece of his soul to win the presidency.”
Then there is the reformer claim. As the NY Times reports:
“Interviews show that Ms. Palin runs an administration that puts a premium on loyalty and secrecy. The governor and her top officials sometimes use personal e-mail accounts for state business; dozens of e-mail messages obtained by The New York Times show that her staff members studied whether that could allow them to circumvent subpoenas seeking public records.
Rick Steiner, a University of Alaska professor, sought the e-mail messages of state scientists who had examined the effect of global warming on polar bears. (Ms. Palin said the scientists had found no ill effects, and she has sued the federal government to block the listing of the bears as endangered.) An administration official told Mr. Steiner that his request would cost $468,784 to process.
When Mr. Steiner finally obtained the e-mail messages — through a federal records request — he discovered that state scientists had in fact agreed that the bears were in danger, records show.
“Their secrecy is off the charts,” Mr. Steiner said.”
Is it just me or does this sound exactly like the people that have dominated both the White House and Congress for most of the last eight years? This is what the Republican party is trying to pass off as “change”?
As Harry Truman memorably said, “I wonder how many times you have to be hit on the head before you find out who’s hitting you? It’s about time that the people of America realized what the Republicans have been doing to them.”
Seems to me this country could use a community organizer in its top ranks. I’ve pretty much had it with Governors.