Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Republican Ticket

Like the rest of the world, I was startled - is that the right word? - when John McCain announced his choice for VP. Since then, in an attempt to figure out what was going on, I've been reading everything I can find in the infamous "mainstream media" about Gov. Palin. I'm trying to be as objective as possible, to counterbalance my visceral reaction to her. In short, the lady creeps me out, probably because she's diametrically opposed to me on virtually every position.

I've deliberately avoided the Internet riffs floating around on her, with one exception: the "Letter from Wasilla," attributed to one Anne Kilkenny - largely because the thing was signed, and showed internal evidence that the author was trying to be fair-minded. Snopes.com considers that letter authentic; much of what I say about her here comes either from that letter or from the New York Times.

I've concluded that Gov. Palin is the affirmative action candidate. She is where she is because she's female, and for no other major reason. To prove this to yourself, just invert the situation. You have the one-term governor of a large but thinly populated state, with no national or international experience or (apparently) interest; with a public record of hiring cronies and family members; a gun supporter, a disbeliever in global warming, a born-again evangelical creationist and right-to-life supporter, with 5 children, one of whom has Down's syndrome, and another of whom is pregnant at the age of 17. And this hypothetical governor is male.

Would this person be anywhere near the vice presidency? He wouldn't even be on the backup list. But she's in the catbird seat.

McCain apparently picked her himself, bypassing the usual vetting process. The New York Times ran a major article suggesting that no one in the Alaska Republican Party - for that matter, no one in the national party - was contacted about the governor before the announcement. It's a very interesting read; apparently McCain simply leaped to the conclusion that this woman could save his campaign and offered her the job on the spot, in place of two or three male candidates with real records of competence.

Consider this as an example of McCain's decision making under stress. Is this really the man you want running this country??

Also consider what this implies about McCain's opinion of American voting women. He thinks we'll vote for his ticket because his number two has ovaries instead of balls. The level of contempt for the people he expects to vote for him leaves me gobsmacked. It is an insult. If I were a Republican woman, I'd be furious. If I were a moderate Republican woman, I'd be practically radioactive.

Gov. Palin has one attribute that is usually required to attain high office: ambition. Is that enough??

6 comments:

  1. Hedera:

    Here's my offline letter to the SF Chronicle's Debra Saunders on Sept 3rd:

    Dear DS:

    Golly!

    I was embarrassed when Californians elected an Austrian weightlifter turned B movie actor as Governor.

    Now we're possibly on the verge of electing a cheerleader beauty contestant as VP.

    That's America for you.

    What bothers me about all this "risk-taking" talk vis-a-vis McCain's impulsive approach to decision-making
    is that riskiness, as a mode of behavior, has all the earmarks of irrationality, emotional imbalance, and
    poor judgment.

    Pundits such as yourself have tried in vain to portray McCain's lack of probity, and his impulsiveness as if these were
    a political asset, remarking his willingness to "take risks" as a character-trait that you admire and believe to
    be a marker for true-blue American genius.

    But politics isn't about taking risks. It's about recognizing what problems exist, and setting about to solve
    them.

    In the field of psychology, habitual or obsessive risk-taking may be hard-wired into the brain, intimately linked to
    arousal and pleasure mechanisms, and may offer such a thrill that it functions like an addiction. The risk-
    taking tendency is especially strong, in, for instance, the criminal stereotype. Those who habitually engage
    in risky behavior may be more likely to engage in foolish or dangerous acts, such as gambling, sex without
    protection, aggressive driving, taking dares, etc.

    I'm not impressed by anything I've heard about Palin. If McCain's impulsive choice to make her his running
    mate is praiseworthy, it could only be so if you accept the notion that risky decision-making per se is a good
    thing.

    She's stuck like the tar-baby to the Alaska Oil Cartel, and her experience has been limited to a provincial
    state largely isolated from the national and international issues which the Presidential office faces every day.

    Taking risks, as a strategy, is appropriate where experience, judgment, and known factors are weighed
    against the potential downside in any given situation. Making decisions should not be like guesswork,
    where you make snap judgments based on intuition, vague impressions, or hearsay.

    Palin may or may not have the skills to suceed. In the meantime, it would be well not to impute too much
    genius to McCain's methods of vetting, whatever they were.

    Foreign and domestic policy-making isn't like playing poker, or blackjack.

    *****

    Here's another entry from a blog I rant on--

    Interestingly, Obama picked up on the neo-Republican tactic of NOT talking about issues, simply presenting images and "feeling" and implying but never specifying solutions or answers. The Republican agenda has always been so repugnant that it could never present it to the electorate. If it could--as it has--divert the Democratic Party from talking about real issues by forcing them instead to fight off illogical charges and fluff issues like abortion and lower-class tax rates, they could capture the dumb white vote in the Midwest, the South, the Prairie and Conservative Southwest. Rush Limbaugh's (and the rest of the smash-mouth attack dogs)' diatribes have always been aimed at this sector of the population, the part that has only a high school education, has no social or political smarts, and is most apt to be exploited by the corporations and crooked legislators (like Tom Delay). This has allowed them to talk endearingly about "populist" "values" and seduce potential Democratic constituencies away from their real interests.

    The Palin choice is another attempt to divert, away from issues, to "personality" and sexiness. Palin is a knock-out, the cheerful cheerleader who could do the math and structure a debate in her favor and wound up being the class valedictorian despite never having asked herself a profound question or been willing to consider a depressing answer. Her choice of a dumb hunter husband is right in line with her manipulative, aggressive agenda (marry the school quarterback). She understood early on how using her physical attraction and good happy-talk optimism could win her access, while siding with "family values" and trite religiosity could produce results. In fact, she's a good deal more like Obama, than almost anyone else you could name.

    The so-called American Middle Class has been consistently shrinking over the last three decades. States that were composed primarily of industrial economies--Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Missouri--and states that were still semi-"rural"--Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Colorado, the Dakotas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama, Louisiana, Utah, Idaho, Montana--have all suffered severe declines in income, median educational level. This is how the Rove strategy was constructed: Hit those places hard with the fake "core" issues; ignore economic realities, and go for "values".

    I predicted six months ago that McCain would win in a landslide, and I stand by that prediction. The more people see Obama, his lack of specificity, his slick skating over thorny questions, the less they're going to like him, especially in those Lower Middle Class states. Even if Obama gets the Black, Latino and Oriental voters, it won't be enough. You can't win with just New York, California, Illinois and Massachusetts. Kerry was unhinged by the Swiftboaters. But Obama starts out with the wrong credentials at the outset.

    The Palin choice was genius, and will turn the tide to McCain. Four more years of greed, corruption, war, suffering, and steeper economic decline.

    Depression, anyone?

    God bless!

    The Neo-Cons were really afraid of Hillary, because she had the cred and tactics to win. They're overjoyed to be facing Obama. They'll have a field day. Obama stole the Democratic nomination, but we'll all suffer in the end.

    ****

    Hedera, I don't know who your female high school class valedictorian was (1964?), but mine was Kathryn Wilkins. She did indeed marry the class basketball star Don McConnell, and maybe they lived happily ever after, who knows?

    Maybe it's an ingrained resentment with me, but I could never stomach those happy-talk All-American pom-pom ingenues. They were going to the moon, or thought they would. Wow. Palin looks like she just finished senior high. Sounds like it too. "I'm your girl!"

    The very worst part about it is: Given McCain's age and health issues, this trollop could actually wind up being our President. Talk about risk-taking!

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  2. We'll have to agree to disagree about Obama, but we're sure in sync about Sarah Barracuda. (The nickname itself says it all...) And just consider: the possibility that she could become president isn't a risk for McCain! Only for the rest of us.

    I don't recall who my valedictorian was - I was class of '63, not '64. I have a vague memory that it may have been another Karen - Karen Iversen. But I wouldn't swear to it.

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  3. "Consider this as an example of McCain's decision making under stress."

    Very good point.

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  4. brian4:47 AM

    we certainly sound like good Democrats! typical educated, enlightened, socially-conscious, ARROGANT arrogant arrogant liberal mentality:

    "...the dumb white vote in the Midwest, the South, the Prairie and Conservative Southwest... that has only a high school education, no social or political smarts..."

    I wonder if this type of attitude turns many Americans away from the democratic party? hmmm

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  5. Brian, I'm not responsible for what other people comment in response to my posts; let me just note that I didn't say a single thing about the "dumb white vote", nor did I indulge in any of Curtis' other personal attacks on midwestern voter stereotypes. I try to restrict myself to comments that are based on facts as nearly as I can establish them. In Curtis' defense, I think he's trying to summarize the way the Republican Party views midwestern voters; but I also don't think he made that very clear.

    In fact I agree with you; this attitude is very off-putting, which is why I try very hard not to indulge in it. As the daughter of a blue-collar laborer with a high school education, I feel a very strong connection to those midwestern voters, although I may not agree with them on all issues.

    Also, I don't understand why "lower class tax rates" is a "fluff issue" - the "lower class tax rates" Obama talks about applies to anyone making less than $250K per year! This is a lot of people in the midwest; it's a lot of people all over the country. The Democratic Party used to be the party of the working people, and I think Obama is trying to be that again, but I don't think he, and they, communicate that very well.

    I don't normally take Curtis on when he rants on as he does; because it would frequently take more energy than I have. But you're quite right that, if I don't, I lay myself open to the accusation that I agree with him, which is not usually true. So thank you for calling me to account on that.

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  6. No one should ever assume that a squawkbox poster's views coincide with the blog owner's. Why do people come to that conclusion? It never makes any sense to me. Hedera has nothing to answer for in this regard. Each poster is wholly responsible for the views s/he expresses.

    The tired old saw about those who "rant"--as opposed to those who slip in a quick two lines and make their getaway--strikes me as a cheap shot. Serious subjects require a little more time and space. We aren't going to solve the world's problems by blogging about them, but it's an opportunity to express opinions that the regular media hardly ever addresses. Our public information is increasingly being monopolized by politically extreme interests. Where else do we get to talk about these things? It may be that the internet is the single most important expansion of the democratic exchange of views since the enfranchisement of citizenry.

    The Republican strategy has been to win that part of electorate which is trapped--geographically and culturally and in almost every other way--in provincial pockets. They know no well-informed, well-read, sophisticated demographic is going to swallow lies without gagging. So they've given up on them. They readily concede New York, California, Massachusetts, etc., i.e., the "elitist" states. I didn't draw the map of the Republican election agenda; THEY did!

    Who do you suppose their broadsides are aimed at? It's all very well to engage in fake indignation about America's "salt-of-the-earth" common man. I've travelled in nearly every state in the union, and I can tell you the Republicans have got it right. Their tactics worked during the Nixon, Reagan, Bush I & II campaigns; and they've gone right back to that strategy this year. As a matter of fact, the conservative vote--once the province of the rich and the privileged (whose interests the Republicans represented)--now is chiefly concentrated among the lower rungs of the population. As the Middle Class evaporates, the refugees flock to the Republicans--through the hot-button emotional issues which have little or nothing to do with their true economic interests. Those voters once tended to gravitate to the Democratic side, but that trend was reversed beginning in the 1970's.

    One strategy of the Conservatives is to paint the Democrats as elitist, condescending to "ordinary, working Americans" who go to church on Sundays and follow the golden rule. Does anyone but a fool believe this trick?

    Politics is a dirty business. Brian objects to the demonization of the American lower Middle Class, and uses that to snipe at the "arrogant liberal mentality." But what is more arrogant or disrespectful than pretending to represent the interests of the vast majority of Americans while plotting their demise?

    Political sophistication isn't something I'd choose as a preoccupation. How much easier to turn my back on real problems and retire to Montana or Idaho and spend my time fly-fishing and reading the novels of Thackeray?

    Brian needs to study the polls results to see who actually votes for what these days, before being indignant. The Democrats--those of us who still are intelligent enough to stick with it--are understandably frustrated with you old-line populist once-upon-a-time Demos. You've let yourselves be seduced with the old snake-oil routine. When are you going to wake up?

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