Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Second Coming of Harriet Miers

John McCain's selection of Alaska Governor, Sarah Palin, as his running mate on Friday is one of the most transparent, reactionary moves I've seen in political gamesmanship is quite some time. The selection was clearly made for one reason: to take as many of Hillary Clinton's disgruntled primary voters as possible. There's no other plausible explanation for choosing a woman from a sparsely-populated, little-traveled state with no foreign policy positions, let alone experience, who no one has ever heard of. The move was clearly designed to take the news spotlight away from Obama's Convention appearance as fast as possible with the added side show of pretending John McCain is some sort of women's libber all of the sudden.

Palin's acceptance speech was pretty standard fare, hitting all the required BS points, like being a mother (apparently a qualification for high office?), loving her children (must take guts), being married to a Steelworker, and being against 'politics as usual.' (Logic dictates, though, that if every politician were against the 'same old politics' like they say, the status quo wouldn't exist. But somehow it persists with al the 'change' artists in the midst. Odd.)

Of course, by being against 'politics as usual,' what Palin means is that she is a cookie cutter, typecast archconservative of the standard mold. Both McCain and Palin mentioned that she "fought the oil companies," but perhaps they meant fought for the oil companies, as Palin has been out in front of the movement to disregard all scientific evidence and drill in ANWR. An honest mistake, I'm sure.

Palin is also for the teaching of Creationism (read: magic) in place of science in schools, opposes abortion even in cases of rape and incest, and supported Pat Buchanan in opposition to George Bush being too moderate. If Palin's offering 'change,' it can only mean a harder turn right, but I don't think that's the impression (or aftertaste) she's trying to leave with the voters. No matter, they don't listen that carefully, anyway.

Did I mention she's a woman? A strong and capable one at that. While McCain may have selected Palin in an effort to woo Clinton voters, it's hard to fathom that the feminist persuasions of a large portion of them would be swayed to vote for a woman like Palin who is a polar opposite of nearly everything Clinton stood for (in public). McCain seems to have tried to pick a person that would both woo the base and disgruntled Democrats, but may have failed on both counts.

Palin's speech also hits the typical "one of us" platitude, one of the most familar tactics in the usual politics she so despises. She is not alone, of course, Michelle Obama did the same earlier in the week, and both McCain and Obama constantly bicker over who's more Joe Six-Pack. The tactic is tired, worn, and completely immaterial to who would better lead the country, yet it persists.

The American electorate seems determined to select a Mother-in-Chief or a Golf-Buddy-in-Chief rather than a leader of the country. This preposterous notion that in searching for the best leader of the country we should spend even one second worrying about who's more normal flies in the face of logic and reason. Politicians should give up the act, and voters should stop caring. Everyone loves their children, it doesn't qualify you for high office.

From a purely practical aspect, it's hard to imagine the selection of Palin as a boon for McCain. By selecting a woman who opposes every progressive stance pertaining to the sex, he has pushed away the very voters he was aiming for with the choice. By selecting a woman, he may have pushed away his own base. I can't foresee him changing his mind, but the selection of Palin has Harriet Miers written all over it.

Update: September 1 @ 1745 CST

Already? Bristol Palin is pregnant.

Personally, I couldn't care less, as it has nothing to do with her mother's ability to govern (her not having the slightest acquaintance with foreign policy handles that), but does this not affect her ability to serve as theocratic strongman for the McCain campaign?

Can we now be spared the circus routine of the GOP traveling the country assuring us that unwed mothers are unfit to be human beings? Please? I doubt it.

Again, this has absolutely no bearing on the ability to govern, but that's exactly the point. We know they still love their daughter, as does everyone else the GOP has railed against for decades. We know kids are faced with difficult choices and they sometimes make the wrong ones, but that's exactly the point. Everyone understands that except for the theocratic moralista on the Right. If you have an unwed teenage mother at home, you have to leave your regressive moralizing there with her.

Also, as an aside, I don't want it construed that Palin wasn't picked to shore up the base. Obviously that was the choice. I was working off the assumption that that was a given, and moving from there, making the choice of James Dobson's wet dream a woman rather than the more well-known men of the same constitution the operative variable.

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Anonymous said...

You're writing is easy to read; and, nornally, I find it very well thought out even though I don't always agree with your opinion. But your initial thoughts on Sarah Palin as Senator McCain's running mate was disappointing for me to read. In fact, it was so disappointing that I'm convinced you watched and read too many Democratic talking points from the DNC and Obama campaign, as well as from the MSNBC, CNN, and NBC news networks. You made this statement, "The selection was clearly made for one reason: to take as many of Hillary Clinton's disgruntled primary voters as possible. There's no other plausible explanation for choosing a woman from a sparsely-populated, little-traveled state with no foreign policy positions, let alone experience, who no one has ever heard of." This statement is wrong. John McCain chose Sarah Palin first and foremost to solidify his conservative base. By everything I've read and seen 48 hours later, he accomplished that. Zogby's poll numbers and write-up on The Drudge Report demonstrates this reality. With one brave, well-thoughtout, and wise decision, John McCain chose the right person with solid conservative credentials, executive experience (although, admittedly, limited, yet more than Obama, Biden, or McCain), and with the ability to give a speech and to speak off the cuff with clarity. The fact that Sarah Palin is a woman just serves to disprove the liberal opinion that Republicans and conservatives don't vote for minorities or women because of their heritage, race, or gender. Most conservatives and Republicans care about a candidate's views, beliefs, and past decisions; not their heritage, race, or gender. I suggest you seriously consider whether or not you are remaining unbias as you were when you initially generated this insight and unbias website. May God continue to bless you and the talent and wisdom He gave you. I'll always be a fan of yours. John Beckmann.

Tim said...

I wrote this on Friday night without having watched any of the news coverage surrounding it. In addition to those that agree with me, I have since seen plenty of those with completely different takes, such as yours. [Although, to prove that your (private, with no help) opinion is true you cite a "write up on the Drudge Report." Does that not tear down your own argument?]

When my take coincides with another that's been expressed, it's bias. When yours coincides with another, it's something different? I very rarely read opinion pieces of the standard fare, and haven't watched network news in weeks, so I find it doubtful that my opinions have been overtly shaped by them.

The bottom line is that VP's are chosen for purely strategic reasons, whether to win a swing state or shore up a perceived weakness. They aren't chosen as the best leader, they're simply strategic. But that isn't the argument made in favor of them. As soon as their selected, all of the sudden every supporter was thinking that the whole time, and they just knew that the Presidential candidate would make a decision so perfect. It's as transparent as it is stale.

You say the decision was well thought out, but upon what do you base that? McCain and her met once. She tears down his only line of attack gaining any traction (experience), especially in the arena of foreign policy, which she hasn't even forayed into yet.

You say conservatives vote for views and beliefs, yet in November we will see them vote for a man that they have railed against for over a decade, a man that they claimed didn't share those views and beliefs. So how far does that impenetrable nobility go? Democrats would certainly tell you that they do the same, but in November voters are ultimately voting for the D and the R, nothing else.

Face it, Republicans would have voted for Guiliani had he been won the nomination, despite the fact that he's had several mistresses, been divorced three times, dresses in drag and engages in any number of other things that those so-called conservative value-holders abhor (in public statements). Republicans would have supported as VP (or candidtate) the former governor of a state that legalized gay marriage and has a mild form of socialized health care. In the two party system, values are out the window in November.

You also seem to have this obsession with telepromptors. Is that really the line Republicans are going to take this year? Obama uses a telepromptor? In 2000, speaking like a bumbling fool with only a passing acquaintance with the English language didn't matter. Now you can't use any prompts at all? (Unless you're Republican, of course) In 2000, being a governor with no foreign policy experience who dodged military service didn't matter. Now, serving a single term on the Foreign Relations committee after a lifetime of world travels is the same as no experience. (Little, yes, but more than the current resident of the White House.)

Which is it? Oration does or doesn't matter? Experience matters or it doesn't? As far as I can tell, there's only one consistent theme to all your arguments: Whatever's good for the Republican Party is the right criterion for that day.

As for my "remaining unbias[ed]" I'm not sure what you're referring to. When I criticized the choice of Biden, you offered no such proposition. When I criticized the repulsive love-fest that was the Democratic Convention you made no such accusation. But when I'm cynical (an inborn trait, as you well know) about McCain's choice without even watching opinions about it, suddenly I'm a tool of Democratic talking points and prone to brainwashing? (Whereas your completely individualistic, unbiased opinions stem only from the intellectual, independent stalwarts of Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and Drudge.)

Tell me this, was there a candidate for VP that you (or Drudge) wouldn't have manufactured consent for? Just as the Democrats ignored Biden's pitfalls to laud that decision, so the Republicans will do with Palin. My stance on both is consistent, biased only to the rules of logic. You can't say the same.

You think I've changed, but I haven't changed. All those things that we agreed upon during the Clinton years, I still agree with. I'm still a fan and supporter of Constitutional governance. It is you, not I, who has decided that so long as a Republican is in office, the founding documents of this country you profess to love can take a back seat. It is you, not I, who is willing to pretend that men like Jefferson, Adams and Madison did not exist.

Republicans love to paint critics of their policies as "America-haters," but nothing could be further from the truth. It's simply that we love the ideal of America as it was conceived. Loving the freedoms and opportunities provided by this country does not preclude anyone from criticizing the policies of its current leaders.

You love your children, and you would never construe criticism of their decisions as "hating" them. Nor would punishing them for, oh I don't know, sneaking and staying out all night in high school be a signal of some nefarious allegiance to the neighbors' children.

Loving America isn't waving the biggest flag or sporting the biggest yellow ribbon on your car. It's supporting the ideals upon which this country was founded, and those ideals have been absolutely trounced in recent years, with the perpetrators all the while claiming that it is actually they, pillagers of the Constitution, that love this country.

So you can say I have bias if you wish. So long as you realize that my only bias is to the Enlightenment ideals of this nation and the documents that serve as the product of that intellectual milestone. America should indeed serve as a model for the rest of the world. But we should serve as the model of the minutemen and the Constitutional Convention, not the Red Coats and King George.

I am indeed biased: I will support the rules of logic no matter who's in office. I will never sell my ability to reason to unfettered, overzealous support of a figure simply because they put an 'R' or a 'D' by their name. I will not sacrifice credulity to be sucked into this decrepit two-party system which pits false opposites against each other at the expense of all reason.