Tuesday, September 16, 2008


For the last forty years, at least, the Republican Party has appealed to its base by making the disingenuous claim that its leaders are outsiders, disrespected, and marginalized in the political process. You see, Republicans are martyrs, sacrificed on the altar of political correctness by the liberals who still dominate our media, our universities, and our political establishment, who still somehow maintain their imperial power despite four decades of withering Republican challenges. Although the GOP has built a formidable infrastructure of lobbyists, think tanks, politicized churches, and grassroots party operations, they are still position themselves as a counterestablishment. The theme has been so oft-repeated that it has become a truth, part of the taken-for-granted of national politics: Republicans are the victims of a biased liberal media, they are the victims of raving leftist professors on campuses and sneering, condescending elitists.

The latest version of Republican martyr comes in the form of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Poor Governor Palin, so poised in face of an onslaught of difficult qustions about her record, so brave and unstinting in the face of criticism that she has serially lied about her position on the "Bridge to Nowhere." Poor Palin who has looked across the Bering Straits to Russia and yet gets lambasted for her lack of foreign policy experience. Poor Palin, the victim of bully Barack who put lipstick on her porcine visage. And above all, holy Saint Sarah, she who opposes reproductive freedom, sex education, equal pay for equal work, increasing the minimum wage, and tough anti-sex discrimination laws, is the victim of sexism.

Here is the latest, by McCain corporate flack Carly Fiorina on the hilarious depiction of Palin by Tina Fey on SNL. "I think that continues the line of argument that is disrespectful in the extreme and yes, I would say, sexist, in the sense that just because Sarah Palin has different views than Hillary Clinton does not mean that she lacks substance." The only people who aren't sexist, it seems, are those who hail Palin's meager executive record as something of substance, who buy her dubious rhetoric of reform, who believe that cutting taxes on the wealthy and corporations will solve our country's economic woes, who want to force incest victims to carry their babies to term, and who want teach our children that T-Rex dwelled with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden 4000 years ago.

Saint Sarah joins the litany of Republican martyrs, along with St. Barry (the patron saint of extremists), Sts. Carswell and Haynsworth (patron saints of the South and of mediocrity), St. Phyllis (the patron saint of subservient women), St. Bork (the patron saint of original intent), St. Rumsfeld (the patron saint of waterboarding), and St. Alberto (the patron saint of patronage). Oh ye victims of liberal torture, ye who suffered and died to keep the faith of our wingnut Fathers, welcome into your ranks the exalted St. Sarah who bravely suffers the slings and arrows of the Godless. Pray for us. Amen.


David said...

I'm not disagreeing, but I would like to see a ceiling set for analysis of Sarah Palin (also comedic barbs - SNL was funny, but Joe Biden can be made fun of too). I'd say for every three attacks on Sarah Palin, one has to write about Joe Biden/Barack Obama/John McCain once.

The silence on Biden has been deafening. He has skeletons in his closet every bit as scary as Palin and he has been all but invisible. Yeah I know he has been around awhile, but only political junkies have any sense of how much he is implicated in the rise of the credit card economy.

Tom S said...

David, you're totally right that Palin has monopolized media attention and that, as a result, Biden has been forgotten. But it's also the result of two very different VP strategies. Obama chose Biden because he was solid and experienced and Catholic and foreign-policy credentialed but not flashy. McCain chose Palin as a gambit to attract media attention and inject some energy into his tired campaign. The McCainites have succeeded beyond their wildest expectations. Sarah Palin went from being a minor political figure to a cult figure in three days and in the process rejuvenated McCain. It's true that Palin has taken hits, but she's also been the subject of a lot of fawning media attention that met the goal that McCain's operatives had set, namely to take the spotlight off Obama. If McCain had picked Tim Pawlenty or Mitt Romney, there would have been a lot of yawns or groans from the MSM that the "maverick" had followed a predictable, conventional path.

It's inevitable that when you launch an unknown into national politics that he or she is going to monopolize media attention. And it's inevitable that when the media has to construct a narrative about a candidate from scratch that the negatives are going to get a lot of attention. They should.

So the result is that Biden has been forgotten--no one other than junkies like you and me care about his accomplishments and his liabilities. In a just world, we would see equal column inches and TV time for both Palin and Biden so that the public could weigh the merits of their candidacies on the issues, not on their personalities. Unfortunately, that is not the case this year. Our democracy is all the poorer. Palin's selection is a case study in national politics as American Idol or Survivor. The fluff about her family and her personality and lipsticked pigs and faux cries of sexism distracts us from the grave, momentous decision that is before us in November. But ultimately, that's a decision that McCain's war room made. And we have to live with the consequences, but should complain loudly in the meantime.

One last point, the credit card economy issue is really important and I'm going to think about something to post on it. Thanks again for your comments.

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