Like a washed-up boxer who forgets to punch his opponent in the testicles or a figure skater who misses a chance to bludgeon her rival's kneecap, there's something so disillusioning about Sarah Palin's failure to accuse Barack Obama of hating the U.S. Constitution.
I still think it will happen. Maybe it's happening right now as I type these words. But with the old Sarah it would have happened yesterday. She's slow. Slower than when we met her. This is why I don't clothe my own pit bulls in finery from Neiman Marcus. Silky, tailored garments make them contented, complacent, docile, slow to maul.
I'm talking about yesterday's tizzy -- the unearthing of a 2001 radio interview during which Obama uttered the phrase "redistributive change." Naturally, the Axis of Drivel -- Fox News, Drudge, and the McCain-Palin campaign -- pounced on Obama's 2001 phrase, pointing out that those two words mean Obama is a commie who will take your life savings and dole it out to winos and welfare queens. But somehow the GOP's hair-trigger demagogue of a vice presidential nominee glossed over the phrase that's really most ripe for demagoguery.
Obama, sounding very much like the constitutional law teacher he was at the time of the 2001 radio appearance, described the U.S. Constitution as a "charter of negative liberties." Negative?! Our liberties are negative?!!!
Now, don't bother me -- or Palin when she gets around to this -- with the fact that negative liberty is a philosophical term to describe rights that keep the government from doing things to us: establishing a national religion and forcing us to worship according to its edicts, abridging our freedom of speech, subjecting us to cruel and unusual punishment, infringing on our right to keep and bear arms, etc.
Whatever the facts may be, the phrase "charter of negative liberties" just sounds weird. Take it from a comment on a recent blog post:
"It is very convenient for Obama that the term 'negative liberties' is an accurate one. But his choice of words, taken in the entire context, is very telling. For most people, including those listening to that broadcast, the word NEGATIVE is synonymous with BAD. Obama knows this."
Damn right!!! And while he's at it, Obama should stop using the word "constitution" because a few people might think he means "prostitution" or "constipation."
Why is Barack Obama comparing our sacred inheritance from our founding fathers with whoring and intestinal blockages? Why does Barack Obama hate the U.S. Constitution? And why oh why isn't Gov. Palin asking these phony, baseless, demagogic questions?
She needs to lay a trap. She needs to bait the Obama campaign into explaining "negative liberties." Because when they do that, they'll talk about the work of the philosopher Isaiah Berlin and his lecture "Two Concepts of Liberty." The man's name was Berlin. Berlin was the capital of Hitler's Nazi empire. Berlin is where Hitler's communist archenemies later built the Berlin Wall.
Why does Barack Obama love Hitler? Why does Barack Obama wish the Berlin Wall was still standing and oppressing millions of people under communist dictatorship? And why oh why isn't Gov. Palin asking these phony, baseless, demagogic questions?
We've come to count on her for this sort of thing. When Republican Senator Chuck Hagel describes Palin as being "arguably the thinnest-resume candidate for Vice-President in the history of America," she's supposed to be the sort of politician who can bat her lashes and make us think Hagel was just complimenting her svelte, girlish figure.
Could it be that she needs some lessons from her running mate? After all, McCain is performing admirably on the demagogue front. He's calling Obama a "socialist" and going around the country peddling a socialist plan to spend hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars buying up bad home mortgages.
Now, that's "redistributive change" we can believe in. Especially if we don't have access to a dictionary. Or a library. Or even a TV.