Exciting news: Sarah Palin will break the glass ceiling.
And the glass floor. The glass walls, too. Same with the glass roof. Every brittle bit of the gigantic glass house she calls home.
Because Palin's throwing stones now. Big stones. Nasty, spurious stones. The exact kind of stones that a dying, repentent Lee Atwater implored his fellow political operatives to lay down in the name of brotherhood.
One wonders whether even Atwater -- and I'm talking pre-dying, pre-repentence Atwater -- would have had the stomach to claim, as Palin did repeatedly over the weekend, that Senator Obama sees America "as being so imperfect that he's palling around with terrorists who would target their own country." Treason, basically.
About all you need to know about this "palling around with terrorists" charge is where it came from -- where Palin herself said it came from, that is: an article in Saturday's edition of the New York Times. Forget what you might have read on blogs about Obama's acquaintance with former 1960s radical William Ayers. Forget seeing moderator George Stephanopoulos and Senator Clinton tagteam Obama on the subject of Ayers back in April during a nationally televised debate. Forget the bogus chain e-mails you might have seen about Obama and Ayers.
Just do what Palin supposedly did. Rely solely on Saturday's piece in the Times. Really, read it. Click here and read it. Then run a little experiment. See if you can read that piece -- especially the quote from the McCain backer who went to law school with Obama and "saw no evidence of a radical streak, either overt or covert" -- and conclude that Obama sees America "as being so imperfect that he's palling around with terrorists who would target their own country." I challenge any sane, fair-minded American to reach the same conclusion as Palin did.
So what am I insinuating with that last sentence? That Palin's not sane? Not at all. That she's not fair-minded? Absolutely. This smear was a choice. Every time she repeats it is a choice. It's a choice to free herself from the irksome constraints of truth, of empathy, of basic Christian decency.
Sarah Palin is damn lucky not to be running against Sarah Palin.
Think of how a candidate freed from the constraints of truth, empathy, and basic Christian decency would cry "anti-American!!!" over Sarah Palin's links to and Todd Palin's membership in the Alaskan Independence Party, a group that sees America as being so imperfect that it's willing to make Alaska an independent nation.
Shudder at how a candidate freed from truth, empathy, and basic Christian decency would use Bristol Palin's teenage pregnancy to question Sarah Palin's fitness for any and every job -- even the job of mother.
And John McCain, of course, is damn lucky not to be running against Sarah Palin.
Think of Palin ripping into McCain for cheating on his injured first wife and ultimately leaving her for a wealthy heiress. By the time Palin was done with him, we might believe that McCain's infidelity -- and not his war heroism -- tells us everything we need to know about his true character.
Think of Palin smearing Cindy McCain and earnestly asking Americans whether they're really willing to have as their First Lady a former drug addict who took pain pills from her own medical charity and triggered a DEA investigation.
Think of Palin ridiculing McCain's supposed national-security expertise by quoting the 1998 interview in which McCain said of Osama bin Laden, "You could say, Look, is this guy, Laden, really the bad guy that's depicted? Most of us have never heard of him before."
Here, as I imagine Palin and McCain getting mauled by the lipsticked pitbull, I've restricted myself to potential attacks rooted in reality. There's no need to stop there. Once you've released yourself from truth, empathy, and basic Christian decency you can smear a person over anything. Just ask John Kerry.
I'm hoping Palin and McCain will chose not to go there. I'm hoping they will walk around to the other side of their podium and look for awhile at that "Country First" sign they seem to like so much. Because part of "Country First" is -- or ought to be -- a commitment to never running a campaign that might leave nearly half the country believing that their new president is a dangerous, anti-American zealot who needs to be stopped. That, frankly, is where political murder comes from. Assassination. Horrific national trauma.
If Palin won't repent for us, won't repent for America, I hope she'll at least remember Lee Atwater's dying remorse and restrain herself for her own sake. Palin and every single one of us who the Internet has granted the means to go too far and do real harm should read the words of one of the people who Atwater hurt for a living: "I hope those young political consultants who would emulate Atwater's tactics of driving up the negatives of their opponents with the politics of fear will realize that Lee Atwater, confronting death, became, through the grace of God, an advocate of the politics of love and reconciliation."
Or simply watch this.