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First off, I suppose it might as well be considered a victory for McCain that we're spending all this time discussing Sarah "Moose Stew" Palin instead of how pretty much all the big speakers at the DNC crushed it every they opened their mouths. I'm not convinced that 'managing the news' is less effective a strategy than actually doing things of substance -- after all, that's how the G.O.P. has been running the country since Reagan -- so the fact that America has completely turned its attention away from the non-stop airtight case against electing McCain made in Denver and towards a former television sportscaster who may soon be in the same position as Theodore Roosevelt, Harry Truman and Lyndon Johnson may indeed be a solid body blow for the Republican Party. But then again, we'd be having the same conversation to a greater or lesser degree if the pick had been Tim "Zero" Pawlenty or Mitt "Dogshit" Romney or anyone else. The real score was the G.O.P.'s decision to break the last remaining gentleman's agreement in politics, that you not step on the other guy's convention gains. So the negation of the post-DNC bounce was probably a given one way or 'tother.

Second, though it is hardly imaginable that such a thing is necessary, maybe now is a good time to mention that Sarah Palin is not, in fact, the first woman to be nominated for the Vice-Presidency of the United States. The first was Geraldine Ferraro, a Democrat, named as the running mate of Walter Mondale in 1984. It is not surprising that the Republicans are 25 years behind the curve in matters of demographics, nor is it surprising that their choice smacks rather flagrantly of pandering ("Hey, allegedly disaffected Hillary Clinton voters! Check this out! She's got far less integrity, experience and ethics, but check out that vagina!"); this is the way things get done in the exciting world of the right, where the business of interacting with people who don't look like all of their presidential candidates is a slow and difficult one that they'd honestly rather not have to deal with. It may or may not be instructive to recall that during the 1984 race, the National Organization for Women, who had a pretty rough time of it during the Reagan years, got wind of the fact that a woman was being considered for the VP slot, and stalked Mondale for several weeks, including at a major campaign appearance. Of course, at a certain level, they were right: the time was right for a woman VP, and the women's movement had taken a beating that deserved revenge in the form of a high-profile move just such as nominating Ferraro. But the constant pressure and the shouting down at big public appearances ensured only two outcomes: Mondale would appear to have caved or Mondale would have appeared to have scorned the female vote. It didn't really matter in the end, as Mondale would get trounced by one of the biggest landslides in electoral history by a wildly popular Reagan riding the crest of jingoistic sentiment; and only four years later, the Republicans would start their own Grand Experiment in Pandering (George H. W. Bush, before choosing sponge-brained himbo J. Danforth Quayle as his running mate, was asked about his VP pick and said "I haven't chosen her yet"). But it's something worth remembering, on this 'historical' occasion.

Naturally, the right is falling all over itself in an attempt to prove that Palin is the next Iron-Drawers Maggie Thatcher. It would probably be best for both sides if they just dropped the whole 'experience' angle, which now hurts both sides; after all, the Democrats have just spent a few weeks doing a decent job arguing that experience doesn't matter, and they'd look pretty silly if they turned around and argued that it did. But the Republicans, who have just spent a few months arguing that experience does matter, are now stuck trying to defend a vice-presidential candidate whose name they might have well gotten by clicking the 'Random Article' feature on Wikipedia. This had led them to some, well, comical choices. First there's the "Commander in Chief of the Alaska National Guard" argument, which might carry a bit more water if (a) Palin had ever had cause to actually deploy them and (b) they were our first line of defense against the Soviets. But as it stands, they're just leaving themselves open to some wise-ass pointing out that the Alaskan National Guard numbers slightly more than the active military forces of Luxembourg and slightly less than those of Trinidad and Tobago. Equally curious is the "executive" argument, which states that Palin, whose entire political experience consists of being mayor of a town with less people than Joe Biden's graduating class at the University of Delaware and being governor of a state with less people than Barack Obama's senatorial district in Chicago, is in fact more experienced, because her experience was as an executive. This is an interesting argument and also might be a lot more convincing if it didn't seem so much like someone arguing that he, as the President and CEO of Billy Bob's Lawnmower Repair and Donut Shed since 2007, is far more experienced than someone who has only been a senior vice-president at IBM. It will be highly enjoyable to see what other tortured analogies they come up with to establish Palin as the most experienced experiencer in the history of experience.

Finally, because I know that visual aids are so important, I'd like to present the following chart. I know that a lot of people are really happy that a woman has been nominated for the VIP slot, but the difference between pandering and progress is that you not only nominate someone of the right demography, but of the right ideology. Far be it from me to talk anyone out of their enthusiasm, but there's a reason that black people didn't rush to support the presidential campaign of Alan Keyes.

Likely Reaction of Arab-Americans at the Announcement of an Arab Candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize:

Likely Reaction if Arab Candidate Was Osama bin-Laden:

Likely Reaction of Gays at the Announcement of an Gay Candidate for Senate:

Likely Reaction if Gay Candidate Was Roy Cohn:

Likely Reaction of Black Voters at the Announcement of an Black Candidate for President:

Likely Reaction if Black Candidate Was Uncle Ruckus:


Aug. 30th, 2008 10:54 pm (UTC)
You are supposed to be asleep, sir.
Aug. 30th, 2008 11:15 pm (UTC)
I see what you're saying in the first paragraph (here comes the "but), but I think we need to get away from thinking that any gain by the Republcans, however slight, has somehow toppled the Democrats, leaving them gibbering and weeping in the wreckage of their hopes and dreams. The GOP is walking wounded. Also, this was stuntcasting, and it was quickly treated as such in the press.

Also, Palin's lack of experience does need to be hammered at by the Democrats. Why? Because if Obama is incapacitated, which is damn unlikely, we get a 35-year warhorse. If cancer-boy goes down, however, which is scarily likely, we get the president of the refreshment committee.

On the plus side, we can finally get away from shuddering over the thought that McCain was planning to run with Cotton Mather or Joachim von Ribbentrop.
Aug. 30th, 2008 11:21 pm (UTC)
There are rumors that the fifth baby is her actually her daughter's. OOOOOOOO. Alaska is totally Peyton Place with igloos.
Aug. 31st, 2008 02:01 am (UTC)
This is my favorite rumor. I'd also like her to turn out to be the White Witch of Narnia in disguise, and she's lured the GOP nod with promises of Turkish Delight.
Aug. 31st, 2008 02:21 am (UTC)
Sarah Palin = shark.

John McCain = The Fonz.
Aug. 31st, 2008 02:24 am (UTC)
Right. Because, before this, he was all cool, wearing the lighter jacket and we actually saw occasional exterior scenes and different camera angles in the show.
Aug. 31st, 2008 02:38 am (UTC)
Oops. Forgot the link: Sarah Palin = shark.
Aug. 31st, 2008 02:25 am (UTC)
there's the "Commander in Chief of the Alaska National Guard" argument, which might carry a bit more water if (a) Palin had ever had cause to actually deploy them and (b) they were our first line of defense against the Soviets

But what about those damned commie polar bears?
Aug. 31st, 2008 03:30 am (UTC)
I agree that Palin's selection was a completely cynical, calculated political move, but suggesting it's possible to have much less integrity than Hillary Clinton is pretty laughable.
Aug. 31st, 2008 07:46 am (UTC)
Really? The nadir of integrity is Hilary Clinton? No one in the history of politics - no one even in contemporary politics - is lower? Really? That's even defensible?
Aug. 31st, 2008 03:07 pm (UTC)
I didn't say anything about her being the worst in the history of politics; I'm not interested in a "angels dancing on the head of a pin"-style debate about who was worse, Clinton or Nixon. There are pretty strong arguments for each.

As for the contemporary American political scene, she and her husband are about as low on the integrity scale as you can get. To suggest otherwise displays a Kool-Aid mustache. In the past they've sold out or insulted key parts of the Democratic constituency time and again to get ahead, and many of the tactics used by her campaign this primary season should serve as a reminder of that.
Aug. 31st, 2008 08:38 pm (UTC)
To suggest otherwise displays a Kool-Aid mustache.

"Challenging my absolutist statement implies fanaticism."

Okay, buddy!
Aug. 31st, 2008 09:28 pm (UTC)
All I'm saying is that HRC represents the low side of integrity on the Democratic side of the aisle. I'm not implying that there aren't plenty of Republicans, or Libertarians, or Greens who are in her league. But if you can't get beyond pure partisanship to recognize the shadiness of characters in all parties, then there's really no point in having a discussion - thus the statement about the Kool-Aid mustache. Unwavering subscription to any ideology implies, at the minimum, a paucity of clarity in one's mental faculties.

Apologies to ludickid for this thread drifting somewhat off topic. The intent of my original comment was merely to express a bit of reserve toward the hyperbolic statement suggesting a relative unknown like Palin has less integrity than someone who has publicly demonstrated very little of that characteristic for going on two decades, yet somehow gets away with anyone in her own party calling her on it.
Aug. 31st, 2008 10:21 pm (UTC)
No worries, you clearly expressed your reserve towards hyperbolic statement.
Aug. 31st, 2008 09:51 am (UTC)
Important that you realise that Roy Cohn was not gay. Just that he liked to have sex with men. It's easy to see how the confusion would arise.
Aug. 31st, 2008 03:24 pm (UTC)
You stay classy, Anchorage


flavored with age
Gun-totin', Chronic-smokin' Hearse Initiator
Ludic Log


Leonard Pierce is a freelance writer wandering around Texas with no sleep or sense of direction. If you give him money he will write something for you. If you are nice to him he may come to your house and get drunk.

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