How have Obama supporters gotten any work done this week? Ever since Sarah Palin was trotted out on to the national stage, I must have received a dozen viral e-mails about her on a daily basis. These have included the Eve Ensler piece from these pages, the one about the Women Against Sarah Palin blog, Gloria Steinem's take on her in the Los Angeles Times, and the Deepak Chopra item about Palin being "in essence" Obama's "shadow." Hell, I even wrote a post over the weekend about how the media needs to get some self-respect and demand that she submit to their scrutiny, like everyone else.
And I do opt to lose a lot of time checking out HuffPo's Big Sarah Palin Page for a daily adrenaline charge. She belongs to a church that believes you can pray away the gay? She asked the town librarian how she felt about banning books, and when the poor woman responded "Not so good," had her fired? She actually kept the personal chef on the payroll, couldn't find a buyer for the jet on eBay, only gave up on the Bridge to Nowhere when it was politically expedient? The outrage!
Outrage is delicious, and her outrageousness to progressives is the gift that keeps on giving--that's a big part of why the GOP hired her to run for the VP job. McCain's handlers would rather have America talking about anything besides policy, and she's a long-legged, tough-talking distraction. Chief strategist Rick Davis admitted to as much when he said, in a case of wishful thinking, that this race would be about personalities, not issues. If you were running the campaign of someone whose voting record is almost completely aligned with George Bush, and whose positions on Iraq, taxes and healthcare are just about as popular, wouldn't you want the same thing?
So they introduce the country to Sarah Palin, and suddenly the GOP base is coming out to her running mate's formerly sleepy rallies in droves. They wave signs that say "Drill, baby, drill" and chant "Sarah, Sarah"--dare I say it, she's a celebrity! She famously kills, cleans and eats wild varmints, is back at work three days after dropping a baby, has said infant passed around onstage like a hot potato so everyone can have a photo op with him, makes her 17-year-old daughter and future son-in-law sit with their hands fused together whenever they appear in public, but forgets to remind him to spit out his gum first... Sigh.
See how easy it is for me to fall into the habit of heaping scorn on Sarah Palin, even when I'm trying to make the point that not only is it a waste of time, but exactly what the GOP wants? As long as we're talking about her, we're not talking about ol' what's-his-name. John McCain is the one the Republicans chose to assume the highest office in the land, and it's his qualifications or lack thereof that Barack Obama benefits from highlighting. He's the one who would be in a position to appoint justices who could turn the Supreme Court irrevocably to the right, and he's the one who would continue the saber-rattling, ultra-hawk, income disparity-increasing policies of George Bush. And his own party seems ambivalent at best about him. Every minute spent fuming about Sarah Palin takes away from the time we could be talking up Obama's goals, or fighting back against the right-wing smear machine.
So I'm suggesting here that the anti-Palin rhetoric and the e-mails, which I fear go around in circles and don't make their recipients feel anything they don't already, cease and desist. Let's save our fire for the man at the top of the GOP ticket, the one who's currently hiding behind his running mate's oversized shadow.