Palindrones

The strongest argument John McCain has made against Barack Obama is that of Obama not being experienced enough to hold the office of President. So, naturally, Senator McCain chose a person who has been governor of Alaska for two years to be his VP. This sort of naked cynicism really has to be savored to be properly appreciated. The irony to be found here is loamy, richly fertile, and surprisingly deeply layered. On the surface, there is the obvious; McCain has said as recently as a month ago that his main qualification for a running mate was that that person be the ‘person most prepared to take his place’. If Sarah Palin is the person in the GOP most qualified to replace McCain ‘at a moment’s notice’ there must be an even greater deficit of political talent in the Republican party than previously imagined, which should stagger the minds of all who had imagined that we had already scraped the bottom of the barrel.

Hillary Clinton spent most of her adult life in politics. She has served as a senator and as one of the most politically active First Ladies this side of Eleanor Roosevelt. She has long been known to be a powerful voice for women as well as children and the poor, she has been at the forefront of some of the most controversial and daring public policy debates in recent history, and she is more familiar with the workings of government and current national priorities than most people on the planet. She has fought through absurd opposition to earn her chance at national office and has been attacked and smeared in the ugliest possible ways because of her gender. Sarah Palin earned her place on a national ticket by being a woman and religious conservative. Less than two years ago she was the mayor of a town of less than 10,000 people. Tokenism is never pretty, and the more obvious it is, the uglier it gets.

Sarah Palin has a son in the military who could find himself in Iraq, yet she has not bothered to think about the war there very much. She is the daughter of a science teacher who thinks creationism should be taught in public schools. In her brief time as governor she has taken some steps to fight the corrupt cronyism of Alaska Republicans, but is also being investigated by an independent commision for allegedly trying to get her sister’s ex-husband fired. She allegedly fired the police chief of Wasilla for supporting her political opponent. She was a Pat Buchanan supporter in 1996. She is staunchly against a woman’s right to choose.

Of course, for the PUMA’s who are deranged with bitterness, none of these things matter. But if McCain wants this fraction of a faction whose importance is a self-deluded fiction, he can have them. They certainly haven’t done Hillary any good. They’re like an embarassing drunk friend who makes racist jokes at parties. It’s long past time to show them the door. Here’s how Riverdaughter feels about Palin’s stance on abortion: She’s anti-choice. Truth: We know what she is but if Obamaphiles insist on calling us post-menopausal, dried up pussies, you shouldn’t be surprised if we are suddenly unsympathetic towards young female Obamaphiles who find themselves unintentionally pregnant.‘ There’s more, but this brilliant thesis statement accurately captures the political philosophy of the PUMA’s. (It’s also why Riverdaughter is my favorite of the PUMA bloggers. She gives herself away up front while being utterly oblivious that she is doing so.) These are people who would happily reverse ‘Roe V Wade’ because they feel they’ve been personally insulted that their candidate lost the nomination. That their candidate is a fierce protector of women’s rights who would be absolutely mortified by the above statement makes no difference to them. This is not a political movement. It is a very vocal handful of deranged amateurs who are drunk on their own self-importance and don’t even realize that they are the useful idiots of the GOP. Republican money founded the PUMA PAC and right wing media promotes them. What is extraordinary is that they believe their own bullshit enough to think that there really are a significant number of Hillary voters who are so disgruntled that they’d vote for an anti-choice creationist. But believing the smoke and mirrors they set up are actually the real thing has been the fatal flaw in Republican thinking for a long time now.

Palin’s strong Christian beliefs and her gender are the obvious reasons McCain chose her for a running mate. That religious beliefs and gender should not even be considerations for a person’s fitness for office is obvious, but to hear the echoes emanating from the hollow heads of the media one would think that McCain’s choice was brilliant in it’s subtlety and nuance. Hillary and Barack, regardless of what Clowny McStupid may say, have not succeeded because of their race and gender, they have succeeded despite it. While the right wing commonly complains against consideration of advancement based on gender, race, or cultural background, they engage in it with surprising nakedness.   

Still, it would be unwise and unfair to completely dismiss Palin out of hand. One of my favorite films is Rocky, and there’s a similar element to their stories. Rocky was a small-time thug and club fighter who never had any real opportunities. Apollo Creed is the undefeated World Champion who wants to have a spectacle match but none of the top ranked contenders can fight, so Creed gets the idea to offer a chance to an unknown underdog. Rocky is chosen because Creed likes his ring name, ‘The Itallion Stallion’. Rocky knows he can’t win, but he wants to go the distance to show he’s not a neighborhood bum. He knocks Creed down in the first round and goes the distance, losing in a split decision. The American Dream is about opportunity, and Sarah Palin has one for the history books now.

2 Responses to “Palindrones”

  1. hmm. the difficulty is, of course that a lot of people see no further than a womb – the gender becomes everything – so although a female VP candidate isn’t unheard of, it is still *so* unusual, that it sparks comment and a lot of that comment is factored that she is a woman, of little experience and of old school republican view, but a woman nevertheless. The politics take a backseat to the person.

    I see Palins inexperience as less relevant than Obamas – although you have to look closely at the office of vice president and determine whether it is ‘ceremonial’ for want of a better word rather than of any practical use, i can’t differentiate between a few years at senate or the mayoral office of a smallish alaskan town – they’re both pretty inconsequential when compared to the political records of both McCain and Biden – but one is running for Commander in Chief – and one is running as second-best..Unless McCain suddenly thinks, oh crap! I’m 72! and pegs it, then there is little chance of Palin being president (at this point)

    I do agree with one of the points in your Puma-people link thingy, that it is as absurd for a black person to support Obama purely on the basis that he is black, as it is for a woman to support Palin purely by merit of having a womb. Arguably the potential for the first black president is something that you have quite rightly said that you are proud of – and you are ‘lucky’ in that he is a democrat – however – When i was eleven, Margaret Thatcher ran for prime minister – and in my eleven year old mind, this was amazing! that a woman could run for prime minister and *did* achieve the highest office in our land did fuel my interest in politics – but her policies were at best ‘divisive’.

    theres a vice presidential debate, isn’t there? sometime in october? Biden Vs Palin – that will be interesting. 🙂 and i like that you referenced rocky, i imagine there is a lot of referencing ‘miss congeniality’, ‘pretty woman’ ‘legally blonde’, ‘ and Erin Bronkovich’ You can’t ignore that Palin is a woman – but it shouldn’t make for sloppy referencing in at attempt to be vaguely amusing – and i imagine there will be quite a lot of that over the next couple of months.

    (not ‘meh’ at London as such – Meh at the travelling! – probably another three trips until i find out re job – only one of those actually ‘tested’ and not for a wee while…shall keep you posted.

  2. D-
    Thatcher was my example to people who worried that Clinton was going to menstruate all over the Constitution or something. While I have no love for her Tory Conservatism I respect her and find her a useful name to confound sexist Republicans with. After all, Reagan loved her, and to a large number of our conservatives here Reagan comes right after Jesus.

    The last two Vice Presidents have been very powerful people with tremendous influence on their adminstrations. There’s no doubt of this when thinking of Cheney, but Al Gore is no slouch in his own right. In the last sixty five years, the VP has had to assume the office of the Presidency three times. Harry Truman and LBJ were chosen to boost their tickets without any expectation that they would actually serve, and Ford was a ‘clean’ congressman chosen to replace a crooked VP and make Nixon look less dirty. This is why Obama’s pick was shrewd and McCain’s is shortsighted. If the 72 year old man with recurrent cancer want to run for President, that’s fine. There’s nothing in the Constitution that says he can’t and being aged or in mediocre health doesn’t mean that he can’t lead (there’s too many examples of eldery or infirm leaders who did just fine to name here). However, it does mean that his VP pick is significant.

    Of course it would make no sense to support Obama simply because he is black. There have been other candidates in the past who were black who didn’t generate anything remotely like this sort of excitement because they just weren’t very good candidates for the office. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton were leaders in the African-American community who tried to parlay that into a political base for a run at the Presidency. This marginalized them as much as if Gloria Steinem or another leader of the feminist movement tried to make a national run. Obama has built his career toward being a national polititian by not pigeonholing himself into identity politics while not turning his back on the concerns of the African-American community. It’s quite a trick, really, and it wouldn’t have worked a generation ago. What I am getting at is that I don’t think that most of the people who support Obama are doing so because of his race. However, I think that the people who most virulently oppose him are doing so because of his race. Obama has managed to piss off both Jesse Jackson and right wing racists. That’s an achievement.

    I just thought the ‘Rocky’ reference was appropriate. I suppose this election season is proving to be a rorschach test for a person’s sexism and racism, if nothing else. I was actually thinking of the Biden/Palin debates when it occured to me. By all rights, Biden should mop the floor with her but if I’ve learned one thing it’s that the oddsmakers don’t decide outcomes. A debate is far more subtle than simply weighing the candidates resumes to see which is heavier. Going in as an underdog doesn’t mean one is going to lose, it means that one has the opportunity to win. Going in as the top dog means that one has everything to lose and very little to gain. Palin’s strength and weakness are the same thing; she is basically an unknown quantity.

    I can understand being sick of the travel. I am very excited for you and this opportunity. You deserve this job. Will keep my fingers and toes crossed.
    Kisses across the sea,
    W

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