I sat through Rudy Giuliani and the debut of Sarah Palin - and I've come to only one conclusion. Republicans are mean. No whining here. I'm no Phil Gramm. Just an objective statement of fact based on first-person observation. Nasty. Snarky. Mocking. Sarcastic, Punch you in the nose first and then laugh at you because your face is full of blood and you look kinda funny now. And then kick you while you're still down - don't forget that one. Jesus says so. And then holler "USA! USA! USA!" and "Drill, Baby, Drill!" Nice people. And distressingly enough, on the second/third/whatever night of the Republican Convention, the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul was filled with them. And they sure don't seem interested in winning my vote.
Let's see, how to appeal to all those wavering independents and disaffected Hillary supporters? Let's insult those stupid Democrats and Obama people reeeel good and kick 'em in the teeth, sneer at their efforts to be inclusive, to work toward unity and rehabilitate America's damaged image around the world, or to help people in great need, and then make a shameless plea for their support at the polls. Scoff, especially rudely, at their community organizing efforts - the ultimate and most effective hands-on grassroots outreach programs that help people in need directly where they live - especially if government has turned its back. If Sarah Palin wasn't belittling the community organizer, Rudy Giuliani before her was literally laughing at the very words "community organizer" every time he uttered them.
I wonder how the community organizers of America will take to this repeated slap-in-the-face - they who toil long hours for far lower pay and benefits (if they're lucky) than Palin OR Giuliani likely have ever had to try supporting a family with. "Obama has never had to lead people in crisis," Giuliani smirked. No, he's merely been in the trenches with his sleeves rolled up, HELPING people in crisis, when he could have been in Manhattan, going for the big bucks like you've been doing, Rudy, ever since your time as mayor ran out. Maybe Giuliani and Palin enjoy the luxury of being arrogant and smug like this because they're fortunate enough never to have needed the help or ideas or energy or efforts of a community organizer. I'm sure these Republican celebrities and the conventioneers who snorted and stomped and ate it all up are, at heart, nice people. At least I would hope so. But that's assuming they even have hearts. And unfortunately, I don't see much evidence to support this from any of the behavior on display on Sarah Palin night.
"She spoke to me as a mother," according to one female delegate from California. I'm sorry to hear that. Does it mean said female delegate, too, is a thumb-your-nose meanie? Listening to Sarah Palin made me wonder about this, as she paraded around the stage of this political pageant in her "America's Hockey Mom" garb, flattering herself as being the pit-bull with lipstick. Does that mean Palin is raising all those kids to be mean, hurtful, snide, and snarky - the way Mom just was - to crazed, slobbering cheers from snorting red-meat attendees? I'm a mother, too, and she did not speak to me. To say her remarks, and those of Giuliani before her, were off-putting would be the understatement of the decade. Evidently the Republicans aren't content to guilt us into voting for John McCain, who died for our sins broken bone by broken bone - as Fred Thompson recited in long, arduous, agonizing detail the night before. No, if we aren't driven by guilt, or the standard GOP fare - fear, then maybe it'll be by flat-out bullying.
And of course, in Palin's case, there was also the ever-present family. Funny enough, this is the same family whose members we're told are off-limits, private not public figures, noncombatants, who must be left alone and are not open for public discussion or questioning. They're the same family members who were lined up in the front row of the box seats, in the spotlight, passing the baby around between them so all could see, touch, pet, and coo. There was the pregnant teenager holding hands with her boyfriend - who looked decidedly uncomfortable having to clean up and wear a suit and tie and sit there in public with all those strangers and TV cameras. Each one was introduced by name from the audience and described at length, including the extended family members not present. Then those who were on hand were hauled up on stage after Palin's speech to be showcased in public again. But - they're - um - really not public personae now and not to be touched, okay? Perhaps with her eldest daughter's pregnancy clearly in view, that explained why Sarah Palin may have forgotten to sound off about one of her pet policies: doing away with all sex education in public schools other than abstinence-only.
I should have known. I've sat through more Republican raise-the-roof campaign speeches than I can stomach. The hypocrisy and half-truths (at best), and flat-out lies (at worst) were legion. Both Palin and Giuliani also made sure to include the reliable fall-back references to 9/11, although Palin had an ingenious new way to sneak it in. After all, her older son ships off to some place called EYE-rack on - bless my soul - September 11th of this very year. I guess he'll be fighting for her freedom to mock and insult and belittle all the people with whom she disagrees.
And that's the painful point of this particular evening. We heard little of what the Republicans specifically plan to do to help America or dig her out of the epic economic and foreign policy holes into which their traditional policies have dumped her. But we did hear plenty of what they obviously consider their best strengths - being mean and nasty. That and more tax cuts for the rich and drilling in every other person's back yard - with the possible exception of John McCain's many properties - will get you a few minutes needing to meet with a community organizer.
They don't offer anything meaningful for anyone but the very smug and the very rich - because the tax cuts they occasionally mention this week will inevitably be the same old baloney - or baloney for you if you're not among the elite haves or have mores. They don't offer many other stories than the one we already know almost too well by now about John McCain's background. Did you know he was a P.O.W.?
They don't offer any indication that they won't keep bloating Washington the way Republicans have for the past seven-and-some years, especially if they like all that ultra-expensive war-making and exploding debt which will be tantamount to a lifetime tax increase on every man, woman, child, AND four-footed creature in the nation, endangered or not. They don't dare mention He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named as their immediate legacy, even though their stale ideas are just George W. Bush, piled higher and deeper. They don't offer change except to dress the next Dick Cheney in a skirted suit. And while Palin thumbed her nose at the media and insisted she was going to Washington to serve "this great country," I wondered if that was the same country from which she and her husband, an Alaskan Independence Party member, seem so interested in seceding. Or, wait a minute. It must just suddenly be all different now.
If you want smart-ass remarks and cruel, arrogant putdowns, and you want to talk trash about Barack Obama, Palin and pals are your kind of people. Palin proved in her big speech that she could sling mud as well as shooting moose. Yes, she can dish it out. And she can read that speech that was written for her by the McCain campaign guys very well. Here's hoping she'll be able to take it, too, because she made it clear that she's ready to play with the big boys - on equal footing, and to be as mean, nasty, and insulting if not moreso. Maybe that also means they no longer have to live under the restrictions against duking it out with a girl.