Backward, Christian Soldiers
The Republicans are touting Sarah Palin as the new symbol of change. They’re right—she’s busy changing the clock back, way back.
By Mary Beth Crain
Perhaps the biggest, and the deadliest, farce so far in the circus known as the 2008 presidential campaign was John McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate.
At first, when any reasonable, halfway intelligent person heard the news, their reaction was disbelief, followed by a heady sense of optimism—for the opposition. The idea that McCain would pick a woman with less than two years experience as Governor of Alaska and zero experience in foreign policy or anything else to do with global governing, embroiled in a corruption controversy, whose shining credentials for leadership were that she was a hockey mom, a hunter, and a top-notch political-religious reactionary—oh, and let’s not forget runner up in the Miss Alaska contest—was so absurd it seemed too good to be true. This was what was one heartbeat from the presidency? And when the news broke that Palin’s teen daughter was unmarried and pregnant, Democrats scarcely dared to believe their good fortune. The rabidly pro-life Palin, after all, has been a staunch foe of sex ed in the schools. In the chess game of the presidential campaign, it looked like McCain might just have lost his queen.
But never underestimate the American people’s penchant for superficiality over substance. At the RNC the other night, Palin knocked ‘em dead with a sassy, brassy little speech that had everybody—Repubs and Dems alike—raving over its “well-crafted brilliance.” Even Joe Biden, whom everybody expected to wipe the floor with Palin in the coming VP debates, admitted that “she’ll be a formidable debater.” To paraphrase the old comment about Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s farewell speech, there wasn’t a dry eye among the Republicans, or a dry seat among the Democrats.
Oh, Palin was on, all right. She was so lit up with her own brilliance that you almost went blind watching her. She bragged about being a “hockey mom just like all of you,” going on to deliver the one about “What’s the difference between a hockey mom and a Pit Bull? Lipstick!” Ha ha ha ha. It went over with flying colors, but then, it was the Wonder Bread national convention. In this bastion of Old Gloryism, Palin could do no wrong. She contrasted her great experience as mayor of the little town of Whatchamacallit with Obama’s piddling community organizing in Chicago’s impoverished, disenfranchised South Side. She proudly lambasted stupid myths like global warming, embraced offshore drilling, and ridiculed Obama as the guy who’d part the waters and heal the planet, like, right. In fact, her entire speech was a combination of self-congratulation and Obama-dissing laced with all the nasty smugness worthy of the woman who didn’t make Miss Alaska, but just might be our next veep.
And the crowd went wild, and then, the media did too. Instead of being the petard on which John McCain had hoisted himself, Sarah Palin was suddenly the rock star the Republicans had been waiting for. By the time the gushing was over, all the pundits were ruminating on whether or not Palin had even outshone McCain, and would her acceptance speech rub the luster off of his?
What everyone seems to have lost sight of is that Palin’s ability to pander to the right-wing masses with brash self-confidence does not in any way mean that she has anything meaningful to say, let alone that she’s ready to ascend to the second most important political position in the country, and some might argue the world. Contrary to popular belief, being Number 2 (take that any way you like) to Miss Alaska isn’t quite the same thing as being the country’s Number 2 gal.
Should the oldest man who’s ever run for the highest office in the land kick the bucket, and we wake up to President Palin, get out the Pepto Bismol. I shudder to think of this arrogant, self-aggrandizing little twit making the decisions on which our lives depend. While Republican after Republican parroted the new party line that Palin is a radical reformer and the symbol of the “right” kind of change, the reality is that she’s a throwback to the Dark Ages who makes John McCain look like a full-bodied liberal. While Palin is being touted as the Republican’s answer to Hillary, the only thing she’s got in common with Hillary is the X chromosome. In a recent report from MoveOn.org, some of Palin’s more egregious views were chronicled:
• “Palin recently said that the war in Iraq is ‘God's task.’ She's even admitted she hasn't thought about the war much—just last year she was quoted saying, ‘I've been so focused on state government, I haven't really focused much on the war in Iraq.’
The report left out that choice little tidbit about Palin sacking Public Safety Commisioner Walter Monegan in July, ostensibly for “performance-related issues,” when in reality, alleged Monegan, the Governor’s action was a retaliation for his failure to fire her former brother-in-law, Alaska state trooper Mike Wooten, who was involved in a child custody battle with Palin’s sister, Molly McCann. According to news reports, Palin acknowledged that her staff had contacted Wooten but that “most” of those calls were made without her knowledge, and denied that her dismissal of Monegan had anything to do with Wooten. Yeah. Just like poor, innocent Tonya Harding didn’t know her boyfriend and his thug pals were planning on breaking rival Nancy Kerrigan’s leg. What do McCain and “Sarah Barracuda” think? That all of America just fell off the turnip truck?
Come to think ot if, maybe it has. It’s typical of this sound-bitten society that the success or failure of a candidate hinges on his or her ability to bring a crowd to its feet—not on what that candidate is really saying, or, perhaps more importantly, not saying. Lest we forget the power of inflammatory oratory that appeals to the emotions while masking the truth, Adolph Hitler happened to be great at whipping up the masses to fever pitch. Sarah Palin may not be Hitler, but she is a dangerous reactionary ideologue who will stop at nothing, be it firing a librarian or a public official, to further her private agenda at the expense of the rights that define a democracy.
A Pit Bull can be awfully cute, especially with lipstick. But remember—it can also turn on you at a moment’s notice and tear you to shreds. This is one member of the breed that doesn’t belong anywhere near the White House.
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Senior editor Mary Beth Crain's last piece for SoMA was Jesse Jackson's Gaffe.
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