Friday, October 10, 2008

The Other America of Sarah Palin

While watching the October 2 2008 Vice Presidential Debate, I found myself thinking about Michael Harrington and his landmark book "The Other America." For Mr. Harrington, 1960's America was in danger of dividing in two: a nation of rich, and a nation of poor. Nearly fifty years later, America is dividing again, but along different lines: one nation is concerned about the future, while the other is proud to be a flock of morons. Welcome to Sarah Palin's America.

Michael Harrington. In some ways, it's just as well he is dead, because if he had lived to see what's happening now, it'd have killed him.

The one moment that told you everything you needed to know about this "debate" was when Senator Joe Biden briefly took Governor Palin to task for wholly ignoring moderator and interlocutor Gwen Ifill's question. Governor Palin then responded to Ms. Ifill's next question by saying that she was not going to answer questions in a way that Senator Biden or even the moderator may want, 'because she didn't have to.' And Sarah was right. For anyone troubled in anyway by the banal, nonsensical, and pretty much wholly unresponsive nature of her answers—frankly, the Governor couldn't care less. She wasn't talking to you.

For Governor Palin's America, 'it doesn't matter if human activity causes climate change—we just need to fight it.' That's also the America where Governor Palin can spend an entire debate talking about 1) drilling for oil to make America 'energy independent,' 2) increasing government regulation to punish 'predatory lenders' who created the current crisis on Wall Street, and 3) getting government 'out of the way' so private industry can grow—regardless of what question she is asked, or noticing any contradiction between points two and three, or how nonsensical point one is.

'Say it ain't so, Joe. There you go again, looking backwards,' Governor Palin said, apropos of nothing. But that's Sarah Palin: She looks FORWARD, not BACK. Why? Because looking forward means never having to say you're sorry. Sadly, it also means you won't be responsible for anything either.

'Shoeless' Joe Jackson. Not even Mr. Jackson could say THAT wasn't so.

When the New York Times points out the inconsistencies and (frankly) the lies from the McCain-Palin Campaign, the Forward Looking McCain apparachniki can simply dismiss any criticism by claiming that the Times is 'in the tank' for Senator Obama. Anyone who actually READS the Times may be outraged—but who cares? The people in Governor Palin's America (having never read the paper) know the Times is part of the Unrepresentative Liberal Eastern Elitist Media Establishment ie in the tank for Obama.

What really matters is Governor Palin's sharp ability to read a teleprompter (making her Charlie McCarthy to the teleprompter's Edgar Bergan), coupled with a willingness to promise her people they not only can have it all, they DESERVE to have it all. If Sarah Palin talks in meaningless and vacuous platitudes that lack the depth and substance of an average soda pop commercial—so much the better.

Sarah Palin (left) with teleprompter.

So what if I explode with rage to the point of a brain aneurysm. Who cares? I see Governor Palin as the least qualified vice presidential candidate in the history, who prides herself in leaping at the chance to be Number Two without giving the matter any consideration ie 'blinking.' I'm not going to like her, regardless of what she says. But the Other America, they see someone who is just like them: charming, unaffected, not contaminated by the corruption of Washington. Someone who is 'real.' So what if she can't tell Ms. Courric the name of any newspaper or magazine she reads, or explain why Alaska's geographic location gives her 'foreign policy experience'? Lots of people have trouble answering questions off the cuff, as Ms. Palin's defenders will defend. And the fact that Governor Palin refuses to face any real press interviews, that doesn't make her unqualified to be President. Look at the horrible attacks from the press on her poor pregnant daughter! What matters is that Governor Palin is going to bring some of that good ol' fashioned Wasilla Main Street common sense to Washington—whatever that means.

Humpty Dumpty, in Lewis Carroll's 'Through the Looking Glass,' insisted that he could make any word mean what he wanted the word to mean, because it was 'a question of who was master—that's all.' Humpty may have been the master of all things linguistic, but it took the Grand Old Party to master history. For example, Senator McCain says that the next President is not going to have to worry about how we got into Iraq; the President is going to have to worry about how we're going to get out, while preserving peace with honour (to coin a phrase). John McCain doesn't bother dismissing the past as yesterday's news. Why should he, when making up his own reality—just by Looking Forward--is so much easier?

Which America do you belong to? Here's a hint: if you think the debacle that is the American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan can come to any kind of resolution wholly independent of how they started, then you're one of the flock of morons. Sorry.

Karl Rove and Harriet Miers, trying to decide who's master--that's all.

Never looking backward also allows Sarah Palin, a conservative Republican, denounce Washington 'partisan bickering' with a clear conscience. The fact her political party used Ms. Paula Jones in a wholly frivolous civil lawsuit as a political attack on the sitting President, and later impeached the President for the first time in the history of our nation (over nothing) is irrelevant. (Quick: what were the charges for President Clinton's impeachment? If you guessed it was because of his relationship with Ms. Monica Lewinsky, you're wrong). For Governor Palin, though, it's like it never happened.

What else never happened? Within days of President Bush officially taking office, the air waves were filled on how the outgoing Clinton team had sabotaged the White House, extensively damaging the wiring and physical structure of the building. The stories of misconduct were so severe, an outraged Congressman Bob Barr (R-Ga) demanded an investigation, with criminal indictments of the miscreants—until an embarrassed Congressman Barr discovered none of the stories were true.

Congressman Bob Barr, one of the first to introduce the expression "D'OH!" to political parlance.

Or there's the fiasco of Bill Frist's Senate, with the unprecedented exclusion of Democrats. For example, the GOP majority scheduled hearings, refusing to tell Democrats the times and location. That was the same GOP Congress notorious for its unwillingness to deal with any issues of substance, and yet brought the government to a halt over the Terri Schavio fiasco.

Then there's the party of Senator Orin Hatch (Hypocrite--UT), who spent the entire Clinton administration trying to prevent the appointment of any federal judges. During the Bush II administration, Senator Hatch became furious if a Senator raised an objection to some of the unqualified partisan hacks President Bush nominated to the federal bench. And guess which political party destroyed the Department of Justice, to the point that Ms. Monica Goodling (armed with a grant of immunity) testified how it was her job to break the law ensuring 'non-political' hirees were political enough. The entire upper echelon of the Department of Justice, from Alberto Gonzales on down, has resigned in disgrace, all for illegal partisan political activity. So much for McCain-Palin being the "party of change."

Senator Orin Hatch. "Remember kids-- Don't do as I say OR do!"

Come on now: how can you be the 'Party of change,' when you've held the Presidency twenty of the last twenty-eight years, and at least one (if not both) branches of Congress eighteen out of the last twenty years? Here's a hint: saying "Say it ain't so Joe and there you go again looking backwards," that's not going to cut it.

You say toe-may-to, I say ta-mat-o as the song goes: isn't one person's 'inexperience' really just another person's 'breath of fresh air.' In the end, isn't this just all a difference of opinion? Can't we all just get along? In a word: no.

Of course, I am Chicken Little, kvetching about how the sky is falling. But don't tell me that the Democrats in general and Bill Clinton is particular have 'done the same thing.' No one, at least not since President Andrew Jackson, has bled the nation the way George W. Bush's party has in the name of partisanship. What we're seeing now is qualitatively different, and not just in the halls of government.

Mr. Harrington's concern about the division of American society has come true with a vengeance. Mr. Bill Bishop has carefully documented in his book, 'The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded Americans is Tearing Us Apart" (Houghton Mifflin 2008), how our mobile society has replicated our political divisions as geographic divisions. Neighborhoods, formerly divided by race and class, are now further subdivided by background, education, political inclination, and social outlook: self described liberals live with liberals; conservatives with conservatives. And never the twain need meet.

The division of America has led to America's electoral college system embracing the philosophy of Mr. Al Davis, owner of the Oakland Raiders American football club: Just win, baby.

Mr. Al Davis. "Just win Florida, Virgina, Ohio, Indiana, Missouri . . . Oh, you know what I mean, baby!"

By way of illustration: on the Monday following the Friday where the US Congress pledged a $700 billion USD line of credit to prop up a failing Wall Street, the American stock market at one point plunges 800 points, then rallies, but still the Dow Jones Industrial Average closes under the 10,000 point mark—for the first time in over four years. Senator McCain and Sarah Palin respond by insisting Senator Obama has too many 'character issues' to be President. Why? Because Moron America can understand 'character' easier than the collapse of the economy. After all, 'good character' doesn't cost anything, as opposed to the $700 billion USD bailout that may not even be enough.

The stakes, both nationally and internationally, are simply too high to dick around pandering to the shallow and stupid (to coin another phrase).

Here's what I mean. President Ronald Reagan entered the Presidency a federal debt that was already so large that just thinking about it made conservative economists bleed freely from every orifice. Eight years later, President Reagan left a debt greater than that of all his predecessors combined. But Reagan's record didn't last long. President George H.W. Bush in four years left a federal debt greater than all of HIS predecessors combined. Under President Clinton, the debt briefly leveled off, with the occasional balancing of the budget. Now, President George W. Bush has shattered all previous debt records, coupled with an 'off budget' $560 billion USD (and counting) Iraq war, a worsening war in Afghanistan, and now a $700 billion USD bail out to Wall Street.

Any political candidate who says the words 'tax cut' (unless it's preceded by 'forget about any'), that candidate is dangerously irresponsible. The bigger the promise of less taxes, the greater the level of dishonesty.

And that's still not the worst. Because of man-made climate change, the planet is facing the sixth global extinction, with 50% percent of the life forms on earth extinct by the end of the 21sr century. Chanting 'Drill, Baby Drill!'—that's not helping Governor Palin's America does have within its grasp the ability to turn our planet as barren and uninhabitable as Mars.

Last Presidential candidate of DoDo Party. "Drill Baby Drill!" was their campaign slogan.

Senator Biden, Gwen Ifill, and the America's willfully ignorant will not hold Governor Palin accountable. They won't even make her answer the questions. It's high time the Other Other America, the America that is not Sarah Palin's, starts not only demanding answers, but the right answers. As President Bush so eloquently warned us: "Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me again, won't get fooled again."

Ida Lupino. She has nothing to do with this article, but I was feeling depressed.


PARADISE said...

Or there's the fiasco of Bill Frist's Senate, with the unprecedented exclusion of Democrats. For example, the GOP majority scheduled hearings, refusing to tell Democrats the times and location. That was the same GOP Congress notorious for its unwillingness to deal with any issues of substance, and yet brought the government to a halt over the Terri Schavio fiasco.

try telling the truth. of course the democrats always knew when hearings were scheduled. If they didn't they had incompetent ranking members of every committee and incompetent staffs. If you want to talk about fiascos in the Senate look at Harry Reid - now he is a genuine joke.

Bill Abendroth said...

OH MY GOD! I more thrilled than you could ever imagine, that you actually took the time to leave me a comment! I'm so happy, I don't even mind that you're implying I'm a lying pig faced sack of shit.

My source for the different subcommittees in Bill Frist's GOP Senate scheduling hearings and/or work sessions, without informing their Democratic colleagues are a few mentions from NPR, and a specific program from Ira Glass's 'This American Life.' If that's too (cough cough) vague, I can try & do better.

As for Harry Reid, no doubt you will be less than amazed that I am a Harry Reid apologist. While nominally the Democrats have a majority in the senate, being that they are 'Democrats,' getting the caucus to vote on anything as a block is impossible--frankly (IMHO) to their shame. For example, Joe Lieberman votes with the Republicans on everything Iraq related, which in the best of times creates a 50-50 tie. How Dick Cheney will then vote is not one of the Senate's great suspense stories. And don't get me started on the "Blue Dogs."

If there's something specific that you dislike about Senator Reid, let me know....I'd have gone on in greater detail on how Frist-era congress pissed me off, but I felt I was already running too far afield from the central premise: Sarah Palin and the Appeal to Idiocy.

I am so excited--I can hardly breathe.

But I do have to say I am not currently, nor ever have been, a pig faced lying sack of shit (We're drawing a veil over whether I'm an INCOMPETENT pig faced sack of shit).

Bill Abendroth

PARADISE said...

Bill, I don't think I ever called you a pig, nor would I ever do so. I am a conservative republican who believes that debate and discussion is good for our country. My many liberal friends and I have many, many discussions, but always civil. I suggest to you that you are wrong about Senator Frist. One of the things that Conservative republicans disliked about him was that he did not play by the hate rules that both parties seem to love today. I don't think you will ever find anyone who will support your contentions. As for Senator Reid, I guess what I find objectionable about him is that he is now complaining about the same things that he used to do. I don't mind that he filibustered every chance he got, because that is how the Senate works, but I don't like to hear either side complain. I am old fashioned enough to respect our President no matter who they are. I know people say they respect the office but not the person. Well, in my mind you can't separate the two. I genuinely believed that Bill Clinton was a good president. In fact, I voted for him twice. I don't exactly know what NPR is, but I suspect it is left leaning. Am I right. I also have never heard of Ira Glass's this American Life, but I am a student of the Senate and I do know that they are wrong. Get me more information if you can. btw, Harry Reid likes to resort to name calling. I guess that is why I think he is a joke. That's the strongest name calling I get into.