It should come as no surprise that John McCain's VP nominee elicited rowdy applause from an otherwise comatose gathering of Republican delegates. The Republican Party, it seems, never tires of hearing the same talking points about the Democrats, and they never stop looking for newer and younger people to deliver them.
It is worth noting, however, that McCain's convention frame is the exact opposite of the 'Country First' message the Arizona senator plastered all over the walls in Minnesota.
What are the tenets of that frame? (1) Government is a trick to defraud working people of their paychecks; (2) standing together for anything but war is a waste; (3) responsibility ends at walls of one's home; (4) personal gain first, country--last.
By now, Americans know darn well what Republicans whine about--whether those Republicans live in small town Alaska or not.
No wonder Americans feel more frightened, alone and divided than at any time in recent memory: 8 years of Bush/McCain whining has left the country on the ropes.
To see this complaining in black and white, we need only look at the text of McCain's VP nominee's speech.
The Drumbeat of GOP Complaining
The typical Republican complaining in Palin's speech emerged most clearly in a the section where she cut down Obama's campaign. After 20 years of Republicans using these same talking points (yawn...), Americans are all-too familiar with them.
These talking points have nothing at all to do with actual problems or challenges the American people face each and every day. They are not really even campaign issues. The lines Sarah Palin used are about branding the Democrats in the media, having been produced over decades of framing research. The point of these lines is not inform the public about policy, but to define the Democratic party in negative terms. If you missed the Sarah Palin speech and want to know what she said about the Democrats, simply turn on FOX News to any show, or dial up the Rush Limbaugh radio program. Sarah Palin's talking points about the Democrats are no different than anything you will hear on right-wing media 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, twice on Sundays and Christmas.
Here they are as repeated by Palin in front of the RNC, highlighted to make them easy to spot (the 'he' referred to in this quote is Barack Obama):
What does he actually seek to accomplish, after he's done turning back the waters and healing the planet? The answer is to make government bigger ... take more of your money ... give you more orders from Washington ... and to reduce the strength of America in a dangerous world.
A Republican accusing a Democrat of wanting 'bigger government,' 'more of your money,' and being 'weak' on national security? How innovative (zzzz...).
And that is just the pre-amble. Palin continued by running through the full list of Republican branding points about the Democratic Party, a list that read like a transcript from a 'best-of' Sean Hannity show:
America needs more energy ... our opponent is against producing it.
Victory in Iraq is finally in sight ... he wants to forfeit.
Terrorist states are seeking new-clear weapons without delay ... he wants to meet them without preconditions.
Al Qaeda terrorists still plot to inflict catastrophic harm on America ... he's worried that someone won't read them their rights? Government is too big ... he wants to grow it.
Congress spends too much ... he promises more.
Taxes are too high ... he wants to raise them. His tax increases are the fine print in his economic plan, and let me be specific.
The Democratic nominee for president supports plans to raise income taxes ... raise payroll taxes ... raise investment income taxes ... raise the death tax ... raise business taxes ... and increase the tax burden on the American people by hundreds of billions of dollars. My sister Heather and her husband have just built a service station that's now opened for business - like millions of others who run small businesses.
How are they going to be any better off if taxes go up? Or maybe you're trying to keep your job at a plant in Michigan or Ohio ... or create jobs with clean coal from Pennsylvania or West Virginia ... or keep a small farm in the family right here in Minnesota.
How are you going to be better off if our opponent adds a massive tax burden to the American economy? Here's how I look at the choice Americans face in this election.
Hold on a second! Did Sarah Palin refer to the Democratic party as 'Democratic' instead of the typical 'DemocRAT' the entire right-wing media uses as a slur? Goodness gracious, she did say something new after all.
But that is about all that was 'new.' The rest of Palin's whining was old cheese.
'Obama doesn't want to find more energy!' the Republicans whine, when Democrats spend ages proposing entirely new forms of sustainable energy.
'Obama wants to give into the enemy in Iraq!' the Republicans whine, when the GOP controls the military and thwarts every policy shift the Democratic Party has proposed.
'Obama will let the terrorists kill you!' the Republicans whine, when the GOP has used its tenure to turn domestic security into an ineffectual joke that results in old ladies in wheelchairs being padded down for vials of hand cream.
'Obama will raise your taxes!' the Republicans whine, when the GOP has given billions in tax cuts to billionaires, who take that money and hide it in off shore accounts while working people lose their homes, spend their savings on prescriptions, and go bankrupt trying to pay off loans for college degrees that did not earn them job security.
'Government is a scam that benefits Obama!'
'Obama wants to get rich by stealing your money!'
'Obama will fall asleep at the helm and the terrorists will flood into American and kill everyone!'
It's the same old GOP whine, alright.
Can you imagine what this means for the rest of the 2008 Presidential election?
Well, uh...it means the rest of the campaign is going to be exactly like the last campaign.
And the one before that.
And the one before that.
The Democratic ticket is going to try to talk about the economy and national security and sustainable energy. And each time they try to start that conversation--the pragmatic conversation about solving problems that the American public wants to have--the GOP's VP candidate will whine about 'big government,' 'higher taxes,' and 'terrorists, terrorists, kill, terrorists, 9/11.'
Wind and solar energy? Big government, high taxes, terrorists!
Health care coverage for every American? Big government, high taxes, terrorists!!
Redeploy troops out of Iraq, track down Bin Laden? Big government, high taxes, terrorists!!!
American schools are failing are children? Big government, high taxes, terrorists!!!!
It may seem redundant to say it, but that is the message we get from the McCain Convention: Same old GOP whine, new bottle.
So, enjoy the next few months, America! Heck, you already know the script.