Here we are less than two months away from the presidential election and, as expected, the campaign trail has become a Republican freak-show. The once-maverick Sen. John McCain, who promised to run a clean, honorable campaign, has descended so low into the bowels of dirty politics it's downright despicable, while his grossly inexperienced vice-presidential running-mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, desperately tries to lie herself into the Executive Mansion. With the GOP's Darth Vader, Karl Rove, as their Shaman and strategic guru, McPalin is trying to convince voters that it is they, not the Democrats, who are the real agents of change. This claim would be comical if it wasn't so absurd and infuriating. Yes! Fed up with the last eight years of ruinous Republican rule? Why not vote for change and give Republicans four more years!? But America does have a real choice this year. A real opportunity to bring about real change. And his name is Barack Obama. But a strange phenomenon's occurring: incredibly, McPalin's co-opted Obama's central campaign message.
Tell me something please: How does a party with a rich old white nominee appear to have successfully claimed the mantle of change over the party whose ticket is topped by a black man? This one's even more mystifying than the two draft-dodgers, George Bush and Dick Cheney, successfully convincing voters in 2004 that they were the tough guys who could protect America while the decorated war hero John Kerry could not. Ya gotta give these guys credit. They've mastered the art of propaganda. If you say it, and say it often enough, it must be true.
There's more. How does the party that's controlled Washington for virtually all of the last fourteen years have the audacity to run on change? How does a party that's been rocked by scandal and corruption boast that they're headed to Washington "to clean up that swamp." And while we're at it, how does the party that holds as its #1 priority prohibiting women from making choices about their own bodies get away with attacking Democrats as being sexist while presenting themselves as pro-women? How does the party of rich white people label Obama an elitist? How does the party that gives big tax breaks to the wealthy and to corporations paint themselves as champions of the little guy? How does a candidate like Palin, who's cut Special Olympics funding by 50% get to "promise" voters that a McPalin administration would be a "friend and advocate" of special needs children? How does a party which has allowed corporate America to pollute our air and water get to run as environmentalists? How is this all happening? Where is the public outrage? Where is the media scrutiny?
And the campaign continues to get dirtier each day. Earlier this week the McNasty ticket accused Obama of making a derogatory remark about Palin when he said his now infamous line "You can put lipstick on a pig and guess what, it's still a pig" in mocking McCain and Palin's change theme. Perhaps the sanctimonious McCain has forgotten, but he used the same phrase last year to describe Hillary Clinton's health care plan. I guess it wasn't sexist then. Or maybe it's just more of the same old Republican "Do as I say, not as I do" philosophy in action. Lie #1
Then later in the week came McNasty's disgusting, shameful attack ad accusing Obama of authoring a bill while in the Illinois State Senate that would require kindergarten children to be taught comprehensive sex education. The ad was immediately denounced as patently false and intentionally deceptive not only by the Obama camp, but by almost every major mainstream media journalist. The truth is, the measure advocated teaching children how to defend themselves against sexual predators. More complicated subject matter such as homosexuality, intercourse and contraception was not a part of the curriculum. And, the bill received support from a broad coalition of public health and education organizations including the Illinois Parent Teacher Association, the Illinois State Medical Society, the Illinois Public Health Association and the Illinois Education Association. Lie #2.
There was also Palin's revising history on her "Bridge to Nowhere" support, essentially saying I was for it before I was against it. Not only was she for it, she hired a lobbying firm to snag the $200-million earmark. When the bridge deal lost support, she ended up with the dough anyway. Lie #3.
And then came the moment we've all been waiting for, when the anti-choice, anti-gay, anti-stem-cell research, gun-toting, carcass-skinning, book-banning, evangelical creationist Palin faced ABC's Charles Gibson in her maiden interview. Her performance was an embarrassing display of ignorance on the major domestic and global issues of the day, clearly demonstrating to any sane, rational person that the plucky little hockey mom is woefully unprepared to serve this nation as vice president, let alone be ready to step in as president in the event of a crisis.
When Gibson asked if she had met any foreign heads of state, Palin winced and said no, then claimed that if the question was put to most other modern vice presidential candidates the answer would be the same as well. Well, not quite Sarah. You'd be the first veep in 32 years not to have met any foreign heads of state. Lie #4.
Gibson then moved on to global warming, reminding Palin of her position that it's not caused by human activity. In a flip-flop, she stated that some of it is indeed man-made, yet denied her previous position: "Show me where I have ever said that there's absolute proof that nothing that man has ever conducted or engaged in has had any effect or no effect on climate change. I have not said that." Well, in an interview last year with a Fairbanks newspaper she said: "I'm not an Al Gore, doom-and-gloom environmentalist blaming the changes in our climate on human activity." Lie #5.
And when Gibson asked her whether she agrees with "The Bush Doctrine" she was utterly clueless, and it was painfully obvious. Rather than take the honest path and say she wasn't all that familiar with its tenets, she opted instead to take the high school bluff route, answering the question with a question ("In what respect, Charlie?"). Jeff Spicoli would've been proud.
Throughout the interview I felt embarrassed for the little arctic spitfire. With every question, she appeared either like a frightened deer in the headlights, or, as the teacher's pet looking for praise when providing what she thinks is the correct answer. Worse, some of her answers pertaining to foreign affairs were so vague and stilted that they sounded like the kind of "bring peace on earth" vacuous gems offered up by a beauty queen (not a stretch for the former Miss Wasilla and Miss Alaska runner-up).
Though I never thought it possible, Palin makes 1988's GOP vice presidential embarrassment, Dan Quayle, finally appear highly credentialed and experienced by comparison when you consider his two terms each in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. Perspective is a beautiful thing.
Of course, the McPalin campaign once again shed its crocodile tears, accusing ABC and Gibson of being too harsh on their wondrous gal. Of being too professorial, too condescending. That he was out to get her.
So was Gibson guilty of journalistic high-sticking? Give us a break. What was he supposed to do, toss her softballs? Let's get something straight: McCain appoints a total political neophyte to be vice-president and a heartbeat away from the Oval Office, vehemently insists she's qualified, sequesters her from the press for two weeks, and then when he finally wheels her out of the GOP safehouse he whines that Gibson asked the tough and completely fair and reasonable questions?
Hey Sarah, there's no free pass here just because you're cute and perky. If that's all we wanted we'd elect Katie Couric. If you want to shed the snow shoes and play in the big leagues you're gonna have to pass the smell test with the American voter. You're gonna have to face the media many times between now and November, and you better know what the hell you're talking about. You're asking us all to take you seriously as a potential president, commander in chief of the greatest military, and leader of the free world. If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen. Oh, I'm sorry, was that sexist?
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