I'd planned to talk next about my admiration for Hillary Clinton and her amazing performance at the DNC, but I have to address the Palin Madness. Madness!
RNC: Ten Harsh Lies Are Better Than Nine
Just when it seemed like the Democrats and all of our positive energy was going to sail into office, that crazy racist McCain (oh, yes, I'll get to that in another post, just hang tight) brought a surprise date to the Republican National Convention. (Cue slow head shake of denial.)
The best thing about the DNC was that Democrats respected differences and focused criticism on policies and politics. Not the case at the RNC.
The speakers barely took a breath between slinging personal barbs that served only to give the audience the adolescent satisfaction of a "gotcha" moment. It was negative, draining, and hate-spewing. Also, mostly lies. Real family entertainment.
The rhetorical skills on display at the RNC were misdirection, exaggeration and caricature, applied in the time honored tradition of twisted propaganda. Hitler and Goebbels spring to mind, but we must give Karl Rove and the Bush administration credit. They are historically gifted at creating All-American, bite-sized, easy-to-swallow hate. Like a greasy ballpark hot dog made of venom.
At the RNC, the Fear Brigade pulled out out all the stops. They excited the crowd with the kind of childish "you think you're better than me?!" taunts used by weak-minded bullies and co-opted by vicious Republican administrations ever since Spiro Agnew called Nixon's opponents "an effete corps of impudent snobs who characterize themselves as intellectuals." And we all know how that administration turned out.
It was real blood stirring stuff, designed to make you pick sides faster than a bombardment grudge match
Except...this isn't a playground and real leaders don't indulge in the tacky luxury of venting personal prejudices or vicious snarkiness. Which finally brings us to Sarah "Barracuda" Palin, who is so tin-earred that she doesn't even get how appropriate and terrible that nickname is. Sigh.
The Other "Woman"
Sarah Palin is a stone cold bitch. And I'm not joking around about the pit bull thing, either.
Yeah, women are reacting emotionally to her instead of parsing her politics. That's because we recognize her. We're freaked out because we know how malicious she is, and how successful her tactics are.
Believe me, we've tangled with her so many times:
- the ringleader in the locker room who engages the shy girl with bad skin and "weird" clothes, just to make her gang laugh
- the student in the seminar who skips all the classes, but convinces the professor -- male or female, doesn't matter -- to let her submit an "extra credit" project ("borrowed" from her roommate) so she can pass without ever doing the work
- the Executive Director who comes into the office and within six months replaces all of the women executives on her team with identical white men
- the mom on the playground who coldly regards another woman's crying child without offering comfort, but practically challenges you to a fist fight when your kid cuts in line for the slide
- the "friend" who always has time to put down another woman behind her back, but is always "too busy" to support or celebrate anyone else
- the false-feminist who claims that women who can't get ahead are at fault for not trying hard enough
- the first one to tell you what is wrong, the last one to ask how she can help, and always, always the one who gets her way -- or else.
We're livid because we've all been elbowed out of the way by a Sarah
Palin who believes that the rules only apply to other people, aka the
"suckers" between her and the prize. We know that she sees everyone as
competition, and that anyone is fair game.
At the convention, Palin showed that she is mean and willing to play dirty, using whatever methods are handy to achieve her self-serving goals. Too bad if it "inconveniences" the people around her. For example, Bristol, her 17 year old pregnant daughter.
Yes, you're damn right we're going there. If she wants to include "good at juggling projects because she's a Mom" on her resume, then she opened the topic herself.
So, my conservatively liberal Dad (the combination is a Massachusetts specialty) was in a bar in Maine, sitting next to some women discussing the election and Bristol Palin.
"Excuse me, I couldn't help but overhear your conversation, and I have a question," he said.
"What if you were offered a great job, the most wonderful job in the world, but you knew your 17 year old pregnant daughter would be publicly humiliated on the cover of every magazine in the world? Would you take it?"
The women did not take kindly to his question and answered with tart alacrity.
"That family is doing the right thing! It's none of our business! Besides, they asked the daughter and she said it was okay!"
"Well, the daughter already demonstrated her poor judgment, didn't she?" my Dad replied. "If I were in that position, as a parent, I wouldn't even consider the job. Nothing could make me hurt my child that way."
This being Maine, I believe the ladies then picked him up and bodily threw him out of the bar, but he didn't share that part.
Anyway, I agree with my Dad that Palin's decision to sacrifice Bristol to the slavering media hounds, in exchange for a potential job, seems rather selfish and hurtful. Plus, if she can do that to her daughter, what is she willing to do to the rest of us?
Special Needs: Literally True, At Times Also Wicked Expensive
Then there is Trig, her infant son with Down Syndrome. She plans to use him to challenge America's notions of "what is normal and what is perfect?" How charming. She already found a use for him!
(Also was it really necessary to haul any newborn on stage, late at night, with a lot of flashing lights? And did you see her turn his head so that the cameras could capture his terrified, confused, five-month old baby expression? Nice. Again, I think that says a lot about her decisions as a mother.)
My very dear Aunt Patty has Down Syndrome. I also worked for several years in vocational and residential setting with adults with special needs, many with Down Syndrome.
As a group, folks with Down Syndrome are sweet, funny, regular people, if somewhat more prone to hugging than the rest of the population. They are mostly engaged in the same pleasures and challenges as the rest of us. But there are also significant health complications and limitations that go with the condition, and they require some assistance to live full lives.
As Palin will learn first hand as she raises Trig, people with special needs have just that: special needs, for programs, support, and care. Things that cost money, and that our government provides out of the taxes we pay.
It takes a lot of nerve for a Republican to stand up and address the parents of people with special needs as if she was going to be their savior. They know that Republicans traditionally slash the services that support people with special needs. Democrats have a track record of funding them. It’s
pretty hard impossible to believe that Palin will suddenly reverse decades of GOP budget cutting.
With her "noble" pledge to be the champion of these parents, I wonder what Palin has to say to the mom of a 23 year old son with special needs who is sitting at home, losing hard learned skills, because the federal grant that funded his vocational workshop was eliminated so all of the supervisors were laid off?
For that matter, what words of wisdom does she have for the developmentally delayed 56 year old woman who lost her job at the grocery store, along with her ability to pay rent and live as independent adult, because a federal wage matching program was cut?
It’s nice that Palin wants to challenge our "perceptions of
normal" but platitudes are free. They don't help someone learn to cook
dinner unassisted, or pay for a home aide to help someone bathe and
keep a dozen medications straight.
Those things cost money, some would even call them expensive, but that's the kind of support people with special needs require. Is Palin going to cough up the cash for them, or just make it illegal to use the word "retarded"?
Show us the money, honey.
For Hire: Small Town Girl, Self-Taught, Good With Secrets
Palin is not an even trade for Hillary Clinton, she is her opposite in every possible way.
Not once in her RNC speech did Palin say she believes in public service, or that she got into politics to make the world a better place. Instead, she spent time belittling Obama's work in the community. But why get into politics if not to serve your community? Oh, right. For the power.
This is a narrow-minded and insular woman, who demonstrates zero interest in the world beyond our borders. In 2007, when she went to visit the troops in Kuwait, she had to get a passport. Her international travel is limited to that trip, which also included a stop in Germany, plus a visit to Ireland (cough pub crawl! cough) at some distant point in the past. Oh yeah, and she "can see Russia" from parts of Alaska.
I'm not saying that you need to have visited all seven continents to be qualified to be President, but you should be able to name them.
Crafty and bright as Palin may be, she is not an educated person, and her experience all occurred in the small pond of "Alaska's Meth Capitol." She propelled a win at a Pretty and Popular contest, held out of the back of her local church, into a good paying job. That's sorta admirable, I guess, but it in no way qualifies her for the highest elected office in our country.
Let's talk about five colleges in six years. Is she going to get her MBA online, nights, if she's elected Vice President?
Seriously, that kind of instability is a red flag! She bounced around a bunch of random schools, and according to the LA Times, "despite her journalism degree, she does not appear to have worked for the college newspaper or campus television station." If she wasn't writing or being on TV, what kind of journalism was she studying?
Like so many stories about Palin, it doesn't add up.
Rumors of wrong-doing swirl around Palin like smoke. And where there is smoke...although I bet it will be hard to find concrete proof of anything. She's quite skilled at keeping things secret.
Palin certainly hid that pregnancy in a chillingly capable way. At seven months pregnant, no one could tell? Because she was wearing camouflaging scarves? It makes you wonder, what else is she hiding?
And then we have the small town ruling family mafia mentality. She may have driven herself to work every day, but that's probably because she sent her driver to terrorize the ex-brother-in-law she couldn't fire, aka the only person she couldn't fire.
Talking about her environmental record makes my head hurt. She wants to drill in the Arctic, and refuses to believe the universally acknowledged scientific fact that human activities are the cause of global warming. She shoots wolves from airplanes. She doesn't want to put the polar bear to be on the Endangered Species List because it's inconvenient for oil companies?! I can't analyze and respond to her environmental policy because it's insane and based on a myth. Seriously, can we just disqualify her right now for being irreparably stupid?
This is the best McCain could find for his second in command. I
wouldn't even want her as a next door neighbor, never mind in the White
House. So that tells us something about McCain's judgment, too.
Terrible Accountability Just the Skip of a Heartbeat Away
To be President, you either need enough experience to handle every kind of situation, or the ability to imagine the edges of possible so you are poised to deal with the whole gamut of emergencies.
Palin has neither.
As President, you represent the entire country, so you must be fair enough to consider information from diverse sources, even if you don't personally agree with, or like the provenance.
Palin has a drastic us-or-them mentality.
Our leaders set the tone and example for the rest of the country.
Palin is consistently nasty, negative and personal.
The moniker "Leader of the Free World" has been diminished by the current administration, but the President of the U.S.A. is still a position of respect and staggering responsibility.
We want to put our best and brightest in that position, not a petty,
small-minded person, who has zero track record of working for the
greater good, and is willing throw anyone under the bus in her scramble for power.
And by the way, yes, we do need to hold Palin to this standard because the job of a Vice President is to be ready to step in
for the President in case he is indisposed or dies.
It will be a tragedy for this country if she and McCain are elected.
Let's End With A Positive Action Item
God, that sounds so awful! But we don't have to give her, or McCain,
the job. This is still a great country, and we deserve the best leaders
in the world.
Barack Obama and Joe Biden pledged to help us do the hard work that will propel our country back into greatness. We just have to elect them.
Visit the Action Center on the Elect Barack Obama website and find out what you can do to put the smart, caring, qualified team in the White House.