For nearly two weeks now, I've been suffering from a newly-minted malady called Palin-paralysis--a nasty tv-transmitted virus I caught after watching Sarah Palin's divisive and derisive acceptance speech. You know, that salute to "small town values" that lionized plucky, scrappy hockey moms and demonized yucky, crappy community organizers.
The primary symptoms are nausea, a perpetually clenched jaw, and a half-baked Alaska-induced brain freeze; can't get out of bed, can't blog, can't even blog in bed. The surreal spectacle of the Palin pick, the depth of cynicism and carelessness that it demonstrated, and the embrace of this ludicrous choice for veep by so many folks is truly appalling. As Matt Damon told the AP:
"...It's like a really bad Disney movie. You know, the hockey mom, you know--"Oh, I'm just a hockey mom from Alaska!" And she's the president! And it's like, she's facing down Vladimir Putin, using the folksy stuff she learned at the hockey rink. It's just absurd. It's totally absurd and I don't understand why more people aren't talking about how absurd it is. It's a really terrifying possibility. The fact that we've gotten this far...and we're that close to this being a reality is crazy. Crazy."
But the McCain campaign is not so much a bad Disney movie as a Beltway retread of Invasion of The Body Snatchers, in which the straight talkin' maverick senator's crusty ol' carcass comes back to life--well, sort of--as a robotic Rovian pod-politician flatly intoning flagrant lies, pandering to the basest of bases, doing whatever it takes to win. Josh Marshall said it best on Talking Points Memo:
All politicians stretch the truth, massage it into the best fit with their message. But, let's face it, John McCain is running a campaign almost entirely based on straight up lies. Not just exaggerations or half truths but the sort of straight up, up-is-down mind-blowers we've become so accustomed to from the current occupants of the White House...
... John McCain is running the sleaziest, most dishonest and race-baiting campaign of our lifetimes.
As Grist's Dave Roberts noted, McCain, in an interview with a Portland, Maine tv reporter, claimed that Palin "knows more about energy than probably anyone else in the United States of America." If he really believes this, he's an idiot, and if he doesn't believe it, he's a shameless liar. Either way, he's demonstrated, yet again, that he doesn't deserve to be president.
E. J. Dionne wrote a column in the Washington Post on Wednesday plaintively entitled "Does The Truth Matter Anymore?" in which he expressed surprise at the McCain campaign's fearless fibbing. Other pundits, notably Chris Matthews and James Carville, are still having trouble reconciling the McCain they once admired with this disingenuous creep and his equally creepy veep.
But wallowing in all the moose manure from Wasilla gets us (on a bridge to) nowhere. After moping around for days, bemoaning the swift-boating of Obama and badgering my female friends to add their voices to the chorus of Women Against Sarah Palin (90,000 strong and growing), what finally roused me out of my slump was a rant from Craig Ferguson, the Scottish talk show host who became an American citizen earlier this year. I never watch the Late Late Show, so I would have missed it if it weren't for this Daily Kos diary from paddykraska. The whole clip is worth watching, but here are some highlights:
"This is a very important election, this one, but you would not know it from the way it's being reported. Y'know politics is covered like show business, now. On the Today Show this morning, they're, like, "Which candidate would you rather have dinner with?" Here's an easy answer--NONE! They're politicians, I don't want dinner with you, I don't want your friendship. Here's what I want to know; what are you going to do for this country, pal? What are you gonna do?...
...The news reports are either very tabloid-y, or they're trying to be funny like Jon Stewart, maybe because more and more people say they're getting their news from late night tv, which, believe me, is not a good idea. I like the Daily Show, I like Jon Stewart, I think he does a bang-up job, a great job, but let him do it. The rest of the news people, TAKE THIS JOB SERIOUSLY! This is important...
...Do you know what bothers me? Every election year, as well, you get the voter registration drives aimed at the young people--"Rock the vote, the vote's crack-a-lackin'!"...are we so lost that we have to be sold our own democratic right? What the hell is wrong with, what is going on? We have to "sexy up" the vote for young people?...
...Here's what I'm saying to you--if you don't vote, you're a moron. I know what you're saying--"well, not voting is a vote." No, it isn't. Not voting is just being stupid.
Voting is not sexy, voting is not hep, it's not fashionable, it's not a movie, it's not a video game, all the kids ain't doin' it. Frankly, voting is a pain in the ass, but here's a word, look it up, it is your DUTY to vote.
The foundation in this democracy is based on free people making free choices, so, young people, if you can't take your hand out of your Cheetos bag long enough to fill out a form, then you can't complain when we end up with President Sanjaya.
Listen, I'm an American. This country, as it is, at war, right now--Americans in foreign lands wearing uniforms representing this country are losing their lives. Americans here in this country are losing their homes. We have two patriotic candidates, right? They both love this country, they have different ideas about what to do with it. Learn about them, read about them, question them, listen to them. Then, on election day, exercise your sacred right as an American, and listen to yourself."