Monday, September 15, 2008

The Whole World is Laughing (Part 2)

...at America.

Now, I know the picture at the left is a fake. But it captures the spirit of Sarah Palin, the young hockey mom from Alaska named as his running mate by the senile John McCain. I had to laugh when a CNN documentary yesterday mentioned that she ran away to get married when she was "almost eight months pregnant." As a right-wing Christian, abortion was out of the question (her pregnant 17-year-old daughter Bristol is due to marry her boyfriend any day now), and she gave birth to a child with Down Syndrome less than a year ago (net rumor mongers say she provided cover for an earlier child of her daughter's). Some might find these "family values" courageous, even admirable. She is also an avid moose hunter who hates gun control, believes polar bears should be taken off the endangered species list, flip-flopped on issues like the notorious "Bridge to Nowhere," advocates the teaching of Creationism in schools, is skeptical about global warming, attended five different colleges in six years (graduating with a journalism degree), thinks that some books should be banned from libraries, and wants to drill for oil everywhere in her pristine home state.

Her stints as mayor of a small town and now governor of the northernmost state are riddled with evidence of hypocrisy and cronyism (see the New York Times exposé for the latest). While claiming to be against "earmarks," one of McCain's targets, she has obtained more federal money per capita for Alaskans than any other state. In a highly controlled debut interview by ABC-TV's Charles Gibson last week, she revealed an appaling ignorance of Bush's preventative war doctrine, and claimed she was knowledgeable about Russia because it could be seen from an Alaskan island. "To many Europeans, especially of a liberal bent," the London Observer editorialized, "the emergence of Sarah Palin as one of the dominant forces in American politics is a cause for dismay." Movie reviewer Roger Ebert called her "The American Idol candidate":
What defines an "American Idol" finalist? They're good-looking, work well on television, have a sunny personality, are fierce competitors, and so talented, why, they're darned near the real thing. There's a reason "American Idol" gets such high ratings. People identify with the contestants. They think, Hey, that could be me up there on that show! My problem is, I don't want to be up there. I don't want a vice president who is darned near good enough. I want a vice president who is better, wiser, well-traveled, has met world leaders, who three months ago had an opinion on Iraq.
After watching moose-hunter Palin's pitiful performance with Gibson, and noting the current hysteria around her candidacy, New York Times columnist Bob Herbert writes that he has "the scary feeling, for the first time in my life, that dimwittedness is not just on the march in the U.S., but that it might actually prevail." Newsweek columnist Eleanor Clift said that Palin "is the most thinly credentialed vice presidential contender since Dan (potato with an "e"). Quayle, who was put on the ticket in '88 because the old guard thought a good-looking first-term senator could attract young voters." But Palin is more like Quayle's wife Marilyn, writes Clift, "whose speech at the 1992 Republican convention denouncing feminism and extolling traditional motherhood helped lose the race for the GOP." TV humorist Bill Maher got a lot of flack for saying that Palin now "has the opportunity to be on a ticket opposite of Barack Obama, the first black man she’s ever seen." As the mayor of a small town in Alaska, "When she got a phone call at 3 in the morning, it was because a moose had gotten in the garbage can." This is important, according to Maher, because McCain claims that "we’re at war, it’s a dangerous world out there. The Democrats don’t get that. I, John McCain, am the only one standing between the bloodthirsty Al Qaedas and you. But if I die, this stewardess can handle it."

Tom Friedman believes that Palin's extremist views and advocacy of drilling anywhere and everywhere for more oil to feed our addiction "is symbolic of the campaign that John McCain has decided to run. 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." At the Republican Convention in St. Paul, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani a notorious cross-dresser (seen here in a fund raiser), roused the crowd with his cry of "drill, baby drill!" In his New York Times column, Friedman said, "In order to disguise the fact that the core of his campaign is to continue the same Bush policies that have led 80 percent of the country to conclude we’re on the wrong track, McCain has decided to play the culture-war card." With the economy crumbling and indecision the rule in the Middle East, the McCain campaign denounced Senator Barack Obama for using the phrase "lipstick on a pig" and put out a new television ad accusing the Democrat of wanting to teach kindergartners about sex before they learn to read. Can Sarah Palin “reform” Washington" Friedman's response: "as if she has any more clue how to do that than the first 100 names in the D.C. phonebook?"

"The feeling is familiar," writes Jonathan Freedland in the London Guardian. "I had it four years ago and four years before that: a sinking feeling in the stomach. It's a kind of physical pessimism which says: 'It's happening again. The Democrats are about to lose an election they should win - and it could not matter more.'"
But what of the rest of the world? This is the reaction I fear most. For Obama has stirred an excitement around the globe unmatched by any American politician in living memory...If Americans choose McCain, they will be turning their back on the rest of the world, choosing to show us four more years of the Bush-Cheney finger.
For America to make a decision as important as this one, "while the planet boils and with the US fighting two wars - on the trivial basis that a hockey mom is likable and seems down to earth, would be to convey a lack of seriousness, a fleeing from reality," and one that would show beyond doubt that America is in historical decline.

I can add little to the comments above. It's echoed by sentiments from my friends in the U.S. and Europe. America's insularity and native conservatism, its "me first!" attitude and jingoistic patriotism, is pushing a once noble symbol of democratic aspirations to the brink of disaster. America's fall might bring the rest of the world down with it. Who knew that a hockey mom could pose as dangerous a threat as a nuclear holocaust?

5 comments:

Roxanne said...

Thanks, Will, for this informative post. You do a lot of work on/for your entries. I always learn something when I read your blog. Thanks for your hard work.

Take care,
Roxanne

Barbara Burt said...

Bill, Bill, Bill. Please check your resources. I know you only watch or read the liberal news but they are not always correct. There are numerous mistakes in your latest blog. Just to name a couple, number of colleges she attended is incorrect and the fact that you state she was 8 months pregnant when she married Todd is totally incorrect and in fact nothing but a smear, which seems to be the way of the left wing press here in the states. She had her first baby, Track, eight months after she and Todd were married. I am sure most if not all the other incorrect information that is being published will be corrected eventually. It is too bad that because she is a woman that the personal attacks are being unjustly leveled against her. Let's hope in the next 48 days the smear tactics will stop and turn to the failing economy and more important issues. Then we might be able to discern who really should be President. You know I still love you, no matter how much we disagree. Take care of yourself.

Barb

Anonymous said...

Oh, Barbara, Barbara, Barbara [What a peculiar rhetorical device -- repeating Bill's name as if plaintitively calling his name across the void separating you in your self-satisfied position on the right from his hopeless and disdained (pardon the expression) liberal turf!]. Please check *your* resources. I've known you since 1952, so I hope I am not too presumptuous in reminding you that there are so many more sources beyond the entertainers and propagandists like Rush Limbaugh and Fox News! How fatuous of you to emphasize Bill's alleged error about the number of second-rate colleges Sarah Palin attended! And who cares how many months pregnant she was or wasn't when she got married, unless you're wanting evidence that she had sex (OMG!) before marriage? The electorate doesn't care. But is it "unjust" of Bill to ask you to infer by his well-researched quotes (including several which can hardly be dismissed as "smears from the left-wing press") that she is completely unqualified to be the virtual president -- that is the elected official who would automatically become president were the aged McCain, if elected, succumb to his various geriatric maladies? (By the way, I hope you are in better health at this point in our lives than John McCain. I am, I hope, thank you. But we just don't know at this point, do we?) I agree with you that unjust personal attacks are being leveled against her. She is such an obvious and easy white trash target, it's pitiful. The fact that she can't speak intelligently, that she doesn't even know the Bush Doctrine, that she's untravelled, etc., and that she's obviously a political opportunist -- these things make her easy prey for low-minded parodists. But Barbara, Barbara, Barbara, think beyond that, please! Do you really want someone with such a limited world view, with so little proven ability at handling sophisticated political problems (beyond staging Nixonian acts of retribution on those who disagree with her) to become the most powerful person in the world? Can't you see the cynicism of McCain -- he who would desperately choose such a running mate simply because she might energize people in that faction of "the base" who were getting bored and finding the disingenuous "straight truth express" a bit tedious? There is no honor is this man. He has forsaken any credibility he once had as a "maverick." And although I respect traditional Republican values, anyone like you who is clinging to the Republican ticket in these days has to be regarded as either ill-informed (ignorant), slow to understand (stupid), voting out of habit (incurious) or just plain selfish (evil). There are a lot of you out there, I know. Are there other possibilities? Which describes you, my old friend?

-Paul Vorwerk

littlebang said...

If the world is laughing at Thai and US politicians, what about the Australian politician who lost his job as soon as he got it for drunk dancing on a leather couch in just his undies : http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_3004185.html?menu=

Anonymous said...

Bill,no posts. No emails. Very quiet. Is everything ok. sandy.