vendredi 3 octobre 2008

There you go again: the CD

Sarah Palin, channeling Ronald Reagan

I was going to write this as a question and answer post, but since I was not sequestered for an entire week with Republican strategists and prep people, I had no time to write out my talking points. Otherwise, I would have come armed with a set of pat answers in reply to a different set of questions. This strategy works well when your audience is in a coma.

But I digress. Last night's much awaited debate has already been dissected by the pundits. I hope it will serve as a turning point in this election campaign, in the sense that we can all just forget about lightweight Sarah Palin and move on to a serious discussion of who is going to lead us out of the mess that eight years of Bush has gotten us into, at home and abroad. At home, our economy is a trainwreck. Not a trainwreck in the making; a trainwreck that has already happened. Our economy has lost jobs every month in the last nine, and unemployment is at 6.1 percent, which is high for the US. It would be even higher if so many of our potential young entrants to the job market weren't being trained for battle and then shipped to Iraq. So much for higher taxes being the cause of job losses, Sarah. Nice try!

Abroad, our image is in tatters. You don't have to believe me; I just lived abroad for 22 years. What could I possibly know about how the rest of the world views America? Let's just say that the day after 9/11, America garnered a huge amount of goodwill from its allies; within 18 months, George Bush and his neo-conservative strategists (where are they now?) had totally blown it. Not content to just blow it, they then proceeded to obliterate it. The US will need YEARS to recover, no matter who is president.

It took me a few minutes to figure out who Sarah Palin was striving so hard to imitate last night. But after the second or third "you betcha" and "gosh darn it," punctuated with winks (did you know that winking is what liars do?), a hazy and frightening image from the past began to come into view. It was not one I wanted to see. It was that amiable moron whose election coincided with my departure from the United States. When Sarah said "There you go again, pointing backwards," there could be no doubt that she was made of pure Teflon. She was even coiffed to remind the old folks in the Midwest of the late Ronald Reagan. Seriously, check out their respective hairstyles. As a reminder, Reagan used that line to great effect against Jimmy Carter. And then went on to preside over the economic policies and mindset that have done so much to get us where we are today: in a big fucking mess, shouting across a huge political divide.

In case there was any doubt about who she was channeling, Palin even trotted out a quotation that is widely attributed to Reagan, likening the United States to a shining city on a hill. Did she know, or care, that the author of this quotation is in fact John Winthrop, who was himself making a biblical reference (to the words of Jesus)? And that he wrote this in, like, 1630? That is, 1630 A.D. -- before America was America? Before our forefathers raped and pillaged the native population in their quest for resources, riches and Westward expansion? Oh, there I go again, pointing backwards. Sorry!

Okay, so Sarah Palin did not spontaneously combust on stage, which her handlers and fans undoubtedly see as a victory of sorts. Whatever. Her Teflon grin, faux folksy manner and memorized talking points will not win over people who are in touch, but they sure won't bother those who are out of touch and who already love her. However, to those who believe that authenticity matters, I suggest thinking about two minor but telling details that prove, if proof were needed, that Sarah Palin is a complete and utter phony. Not only that, but she's a heartless bitch. There. I said it.

She began by asking (off-mic - wink wink) if she could call Senator Biden "Joe," to get that folksy thing going. But then she failed to do so except once, when she wanted to use the Ronald Reagan line. She began that sentence with "Say it ain't so, Joe," a line she would have used even had Hillary been her opponent. Totally fake. Then, after she tried her ninth or tenth variation on the "I'm just a mom" theme, and Biden replied with what I think was the answer that gave him the victory in this pseudo-debate, instead of expressing the slightest bit of human emotion, Palin launched into yet another canned speech about McCain being a maverick. Any human heart would have been touched by Biden's moment of real emotion. The man lost his wife and daughter in a car accident, and nearly lost his two sons. His reference to it was entirely relevant. Her blithe and callous decision to ignore it was cold. Or maybe she simply did not hear it. After all, she spent most of the time Biden was talking either jotting down her next talking point on the list she came on stage with or rifling through her index cards.

For a maverick and Washington outsider, she sure seemed to know a thing or two about Politricks. Ronald Reagan would have been so proud. I can hear him now, saying "where's the rest of me?"