Palin speaking

Palin speaks

| Well, Sarah Palin finally came out of hiding last night and showed she can shoot from the lip with the best of them. Her performance rocked the house in St Paul, and made me sick to my stomach in Palm Springs.

Until last Friday, most of the people in the hall probably wouldn't have known Sarah Palin from Sara Lee, but that didn't stop them from acting like they were witnessing the Second Coming. After accusing Barack Obama of being a celebrity, the Republicans turned McCain's VP choice into one. There were appropriate cheers every time John McCain's name was mentioned, and when he appeared on the stage at the end of Palin's speech he was given a rousing reception, but I could not help wondering if the same fervor would have been displayed if McCain had named any of the people supposedly on his "short list" of VP candidates. I'm guessing the convention would be a lot more tepid if that were the case. For a while last night it seemed as if Palin was the one running for president. No doubt that she has "energized the base," but if that's the only reason for this sudden excitement among Republicans at the convention, what does that say about the top of the ticket?

It's easy to see how compatible she is with John McCain, who subscribes to the "shoot first ask questions later" philosophy, and it's easy to see her appeal to a certain segment of American society. Just don't think too much about the meaning of what she says!

There was no doubt last night that Republicans believe in creating their own reality. How else to account for some of the preposterous things said in the speeches leading up to Palin?

Palin fan
A Palin fan — Had she ever heard of her before last week? Probably not.
Mike Huckabee's big lie: "She [Palin] got more votes running for mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, than Joe Biden got running for president of the United States"

Palin, in fact, won her first race for Wasilla mayor against 3-term incumbent John Stein by 616 votes to 413 (Anchorage Daily News). Biden won a total of 79,030 votes in the Democratic primaries and caucuses (USA Today). The line may be true if you count only the votes Biden won in Alaska, but that's hardly what Huckabee implied.

The Bush administration — Republican — wiretaps without warrants, monitors our email, shreds our civil rights, searches grandmothers and infants when they want to get on a plane, keeps a no-fly list that even includes a commercial airline pilot, ignores the Constitution, and we're supposed to think the Democrats are the party of Big Brother? This followed a litany of rhetorical questions asserting that Washington, Congress, and the Supreme Court are liberal. Romney must have had a lobotomy to erase his memory of most of the last eight years! The man really is from a different planet!

Romney speaking from Alice's rabbit hole: "It's time for the party of big ideas, not the party of Big Brother"
Giuliani
Rudy Giuliani — Ooga-booga 9/11: "They [other politicians, not McCain] would have acted in their self-interest, and they would have changed their position in order to win an election. How many times have we seen Barack Obama do this? Barack Obama has never led anything, nothing, nada."

Let's see: in 2000, McCain called the right-wing preachers "agents of intolerance", but today they're John McCain's base and he picks someone as his VP who is so far right she makes McCain look liberal; McCain was against Bush's wiretapping program, but now he's for it; McCain was against offshore drilling until the price of gas went up, but now he wants to drill, drill, drill. The tally on John McCain policy reversals ("flip-flops") is now up to 75 and still growing (The Carpetbagger Report). As my mama used to say, "People who live in glass houses...."

Hey, Rudy! How about having run a campaign that raised over $51 million in the month of July alone, and started August with $65.8 million cash on hand? How about having engineered a campaign that vanquished the vaunted Clinton machine, deposing the candidate everyone, especially Hillary, thought should get the nomination as her birthright? By comparison, Rudy, you raised only $65.9 million in your whole campaign! How about picking a vice-presidential running mate that inspired confidence, not suspicion and controversy?

The speech

Palin calls herself a hockey mom, and it's clear she's got sharp elbows. She's mastered the art of being snide and condescending with a smile on her face. She took numerous swipes at Barack Obama ("I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer, except that you have actual responsibilities"), Barack's wife Michelle (in contrast to Michelle, Palin's friends and neighbors "love their country, in good times and bad, and they're always proud of America"), and the media ("here's a little news flash for all those reporters and commentators: I'm not going to Washington to seek their good opinion").

And, she can get off some pretty good one-liners. "The difference between a hockey mom and a pitbull," she said, is "lipstick."

But here's a news flash for Ms Palin — the Republican party is not pro-environment, no matter how much lipstick you try to put on that pig. Palin, in fact, sued the Bush administration for putting polar bears on the endangered species list, fearing it would interfer with more drilling.

What was missing from the speech, however, was any reference to all her positions and beliefs that make her the instant idol of the far right.

What also was missing was mention of McCain-Palin solutions for any of the real issues facing Americans today: a faltering economy; skyrocketing costs of food, energy, health care; how to get out of the deep hole the Bush administration has dug.

I was amused to see a wide assortment of signs on display during the convention, all at the same time. I had previously been impressed by the Democrats' seemingly flawless ability to swap signs in and out of the hall, depending on who was speaking and on what topic.

The family

Palin family
(L-R) Track, Bristol, Levi Johnston, Willow, Piper, Todd, with infant Trig, John McCain smooching Sarah Palin

After days of seeing infant Trig always in the arms of Bristol Palin, I was pleased to see during the speech that Todd Palin at least occasionally knows how to hold the kid. There hasn't been any evidence that he considers himself a co-equal parent; rather it looks like he believes child care is girl's work. Or is Bristol practicing for her own baby?

McCain without a lapel pin
John McCain with no flag lapel pin

Noting that Track and Levi are wearing their lapel pins on the right lapel instead of the left, do you suppose they could be trying to send a message?

And who else noticed that John "Mr Country First" McCain wasn't wearing a flag pin in his lapel at all? Not very long ago Obama was being flayed for not having one.

Country first

The Republicans seem bent on imprinting in our minds the idea that John McCain always puts the interests of the country above his own — and by implication the rest of us should too. First of all, I don't think it's true that John McCain does (Else why has he changed so many of his positions in order to get elected?), and the idea of putting the common good first is oddly discordant with American individualism and the emphasis on entrepreneurship and the Republican prescription to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps.

"Country first" seems almost the opposite of "of the people, by the people, for the people." To my way of thinking, what we need is "people first."

But then, as Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds."

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Last updated on Sep 8, 2016

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