08 September 2008

Gobsmacked

Palin, Palin, Palin.

News – mostly conjecture, since the Lady's Keepers will not allow interviews – about Sarah Palin, Republican presidential nominee John McCain's gobsmacking vice presidential pick – tops the news pile everywhere you look. MSM websites, blogs both right and left, TV cable news and networks. Like a bad cold, she's everywhere.

If you've been hiding under your bed since she accepted her nomination for vice president last Wednesday night, I don't blame you. I've had to force myself from doing the same. The urge to just crawl under with the friendly, silent dust-bunnies, stick my thumb in my mouth and whimper "Gimme back the 90s, gimme back the 90s" has been almost overwhelming.

A personal aside – forgive me, please, cuz after this I'm dropping the subject for the foreseeable future: One of the strangest summers of my life is stuttering to a close. Having been mostly healthy since the day I was born, I've spent the entire season in shock while dealing with a breast lump that ended up being benign (after four months of various tests and appointments and ups and downs). In addition, I've been fighting a soul-deadening malaise and deep fatigue, both induced by a "gold-standard" rheumatoid arthritis drug I was prescribed by my doctor. I've stopped taking the med now, but the symptoms remain as it takes several weeks for the stuff to work out of my body's gobsmacked system.

I like that word, "gobsmacked," don't you?

Anyway, even though the summer passed me by, my mind has been active even if the rest of me felt like a car engine trying to run on watered gasoline. I followed along with great interest as Obama found his footing and his voice after winning the primaries. Yay, our side! I thought. What an inspiring candidate he is! Yes We Can! Obama seems to be the bright, charismatic and honest (OK, he's a pol, so shoot me) leader America has desperately hoped for during the last, nearly eight years. The future looks a little less dark and dire with the image of a President Obama in charge.

Yet McCain's bumbling campaign managed, somehow, to keep the two candidates running mostly neck-and-neck in the polls all summer long, even though McCain is offering Americans nothing less than four more years of catastrophic and failed Bush policies. As a lifelong Democrat from both ideology and temperament, it just gobsmacks me that there could be so many people in this great country willing to give Bush & Co another four years so they can finish the job of destroying America.

Is it really true that half of American voters like our current situation? They like that Bush lied them into supporting a vanity war of choice that has, to date, killed more than 4,000 American soldiers, maimed tens of thousands more, and killed or maimed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians and forced millions more out of their homes and laid waste to the culture, history and infrastructure of their ancient civilization and country?

The crowd at the Republican convention sure cheered and hollered when the Iraq War came up. They gave it standing ovations. Can that be true? They're proud we started and carried out and are continuing to fight an unnecessary war?

Are they OK with the fact that Osama bin Laden is still at large somewhere in the mountainous border between Pakistan and Afghanistan? And that we've left Afghanistan to rot while we pumped millions into Paktistan's Musharraf presidency, believing his assurances that he was trying hard to route out the Taliban and find bin Laden while he did the opposite? And that we did this while pumping further trillions into the war we started in Iraq, which had no purpose but to make Bush's dick hard and maybe, if we were lucky, take over Iraq's oil fields?

Alllrighty, then. I suppose there are people out there who continue to delude themselves that this was all about revenge for Sept. 11 in spite of everything we've learned since May, 2003 and "Mission Accomplished." They've closed their eyes, stopped their ears and shut down their brains. Heh.

But what about Guantanamo Bay? Are they proud that we're holding hundreds of Middle Eastern and Muslim prisoners there under appalling conditions? That the vast majority of those prisoners are not terrorists? That they have no rights? No hope for a fair trial? That BushCo never thought further than imprisoning them and has no idea what to do with them now?

What about Abu Ghraib? What about torture? What about the destruction of habius corpus?

You mean to tell me there are Americans who support those things? Who are proud of what we've done?

Well, so say the polls. As I wrote this, a new one came out. According to a USAToday/Gallup poll, McCain is ahead of Obama by ten points – 58 percent to 48 percent among registered voters. Now, the poll likely reflects McCain's expected "convention bounce," and it may be an outlier. By the end of the week, Obama may pull even or move ahead again. We can hope.

Regardless of this most recent poll, though, all of the polls taken over the several years have consistently shown America divided neatly in half. Blue states. Red states. Democrats and Republicans. Pro-choice, anti-abortion (forgive me, but I will NOT call their views pro-life). It seems that half of us are appalled by the Bush administration's devastating, ongoing program of making war, hauling in huge profits for the rich and powerful, trampling and undermining the Constitution and effectively destroying the economy and turning America into a banana republic.

The other half seems to think this is all just fine and dandy. U-S-A! U-S-A!

And then… and then, there's Sarah Palin.

I commented earlier this morning over at one of my favorite blogs, Revision99, that John McCain's selection of a running mate, his vice president, left me speechless. And it has. I've started and discarded several posts regarding Palin and the conventions over the last week. But I found myself so gobsmacked that I could barely figure out where to start writing. Once I did, I lost my way, my thoughts dissolving into … speechlessness. I just couldn't find the right words.

And these might not be the right words, either. I may be rambling and meandering and incoherent. But I'm posting this one anyway.

It's like the Republicans have finally developed a top-secret Dumb Ray that they switched on the moment Sarah Palin walked onto the stage in St. Paul. It radiated out of TV sets and computers and iPhones and Blackberries, and it contaminated the very air we breathe. As she started speaking, those of us who knew better found our thoughts muddled, our tongues cleaving to the roofs of our mouths and our typing fingers twisting into knots.

And the other half of the country had their minds turned off entirely. They think she's hunky-dory.

Well, fortunately, the Dumb Ray seems to be wearing off. Must be – here I am typing like mad, capturing the words before they turn to mush and slip down my internal garbage disposal, never to be seen again.

Palin herself is probably just about right as governor of Alaska. Folks who live there mostly want to be left alone to do as they like while collecting their annual surplus check from the state. I never knew there were so many fundamentalist, tongues-spouting Christians up there, though, but hey. Andrew Sullivan calls Alaska "Arkansas with penguins." Heehee. But I say live and learn.

Live and let live.

The trouble is Sarah Palin doesn't share my gentle views, and John McCain didn't vet her. Or if he did, he hired the guys from Dumb and Dumberer do it. He didn't vet her, and he barely knew her. He'd met her twice. She was an impulse pick, an "I'll show you!" pick after his party bosses wouldn't let him have Joe Lieberman for his vice. Since the vice presidential pick is the first real glimpse we get of a candidate's future style in office, should he be elected, Palin's pick does not reflect well on McCain.

In fact, it's terrifying.

Aside from the fact that really, REALLY, we don't want four more years of Bush with another name, John McCain is 72 years old, he's a four-time cancer survivor and he carries within him the physical and mental scars of five-and-a-half years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. He's known to be volatile and impulsive. He has a bad temper. He gets … overexcited. "We are all Georgians", anyone?

That's not enough for you? How about this? He could die at any moment from January 19, 2009 forward.

And America would enter the President Sarah Palin Era.

Personally, I don't want my country led by a Pentecostal fundamentalist Christian who told her first raft of lies during her vice presidential acceptance speech and who, after the speech, was sequestered so she could cram crash courses in World History and Current Events, Economics 101, 102, 103, 104, and 105, International and Foreign Relations, What the Vice President of the United States of America Does, and incidentally, How to Be President of the USA.

I don't want a president who believes the Iraq war is God's will.

I don't want a president who approves of shooting wolves from aircraft, doesn't give a hot damn about polar bears, thinks God wants us to get right on with warming up the world with pollution so He can bring the End Days on us and uses her power to stomp on people she doesn't like or who disagree with her.

I don't want a president who, while allowing herself the right to choose whether she would bear a Down's Syndrome child, would deny every other American woman that very choice once she's in office. I don't want a president who would, allegedly, "allow" her unmarried teenage daughter to "choose" to carry, give birth to and raise her baby while denying the rest of us that freedom of choice.

Sarah Palin is rabidly anti-abortion. She doesn't believe in choice, unless it for herself and her own family.

Of course, there are other reasons she's a walking, talking disaster. There's the ethics investigation going on in her home state against her. I think another one has started, too, though I can't find the link for that one now. And there's the fact that while she was mayor of her hometown, Wasilla, AK, she took the tiny town of 7,000 souls from having no long-term debt to $19 million in long-term debt over a period of six years. She saddled Wasilla with a hugely expensive sports center that is bound up in litigation. As governor, she supported corrupt good-ol-boy pols while claiming she was an anti-corruption reformer. And that Bridge to Nowhere she says she said "no" to? She lied. She ran for governor supporting it until it got embarrassing, then dropped it like a hot potato. But she kept the $23 million in pork-barrel funding that came to the state anyway. Update: Did I say $23 million? Au contraire! It's $223 million. Pardon my booboo.

Sadly, the list goes on. You can look here, here and here for more and more of it, if you have the stomach for such punishment.

What also gobsmacks me about all this is that everything we know about Sarah Palin has come out since John McCain named her as his running mate. And it didn't come from the mainstream media. It came from the efforts of hundreds, even thousands, of bloggers and citizen reporters who started Googling her and turning up fact after fact and lie after lie.

McCain had her thoroughly vetted? My ass.

So, I've finally broken my mental constipation to the tune of roughly 1900 words. It feels good, I'm telling you. But I have one more thing to say:

If you haven't registered to vote yet, don't put it off another day. Deadlines are coming up fast all over the country. So register. And then vote. Just vote. America and everything she stands for is depending on you, on all of us.

Note: Illustration kudos to College OTR.

8 comments:

blue girl said...

Oh, Blue Wren, I do know how you feel. I've been beside myself today!

I've been over here twisted in knots all day because I have a *bad* feeling.

I was just commenting over at Lucy's that the new McCain/Palin TV spot is scaring me. I'm worried their strategy is going to work. Them being perceived as the "tough couple." And we'll *never* see McCain now without Palin at his side.

Chris Matthews had a good point tonight. That their strategy was to change the conversation from "What do you want?" to "Who do you want?" And all the talk about "community organizer" was just a dog whistle, meaning...."Who do you want? An urban, out of touch African American couple from Chicago? Or *us*, regular white folks just like you?"

Will it work? I can't even handle the thought to think McCain might win -- for all the reasons you listed in your great post.

Boy, I'm really counting on Biden to come out swinging. Where is he? I think I'm going to write him a letter. These guys better get their act together and not let this country down!

Ok, I'm getting all worked up. lol. Sorry.

blue girl said...

BW, here's the spot I was talking about:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVIaqCjvLpU

It's *total* BS. Will it work? It's all lies, but very forceful.

I would like to wring McCain's neck....

Larry Jones said...

Glad you made it through the summer. Remember this as we slide into Fall: The national daily tracking polls are useless. There is no consistency from day to day. The swings are radical. But if you track the leaders on a weekly or ten-day basis, the polls even out, and you see that Obama has been leading the whole time. Also, even with that latest poll showing a 10-point lead for McCain, remember it's a state-by-state electoral college tally that matters. Obama is currently enjoying a nice lead there, which is where it counts.

I saw him on Olberman this evening, though, and he was going all John Kerry on us, with the dependent clauses and the nuanced answers. I would like to see him be a LOT more direct. Things like "Why would you elect another Republican if you want change?" or "They're lying, period."

Wren said...

BG: Far as I'm concerned, getting worked up is FAR more useful than just ignoring the whole runup to the election, which is what so many Americans do. When we vote, we'll be voting with our heads.

Larry: Thanks for the great advice about the polls. I knew that, but its hard to internalize when the "bumps" for the other guy are all over the news while Obama plays cool, quiet and efficient. Patience is the key, you're right.

Blowing Shit Up With Gas said...

Yeah, I'm absolutely flummoxed by his choosing Palin, as evidenced by my own comedic tirade against her last week). But, seriously, this is no joke. God, what a disaster it would be if he won & then dropped dead... I join you in the sheer shock that he didn't select someone more moderate and qualified.

Bill Stankus said...

I'm guessing that if registered as Republican then that is how you will vote.

The irony of this mind-set is this: There are many business people who are R - and while they will vote for McCain and Palin - probably few (if any) would hire Palin for their own businesses - if she is measured by her education, skills and temperment.

Lucy said...

Wren, Great stuff, here. I read an essay a couple of years ago that said that the internet would be the "great equalizer" re: news. I'm glad the bloggers are going crazy, but I have to say that my psyche is just not prepared to consider the possibility of that horrible, horrible woman anywhere near the White House.

The sequestering, post RNC, is so obvious that I, like you, cannot understand (regardless of party affiliation) how anyone could see her as a reasonable choice.

Yikes!

Anyway, thanks for writing the post that I couldn't emotionally and psychologically write.

Nicole said...

Im just visiting from John bakers blog, and I have to pass on my relief that you & your supporters are awake enough to see that "the emperor has no clothes on" as the fairy story goes. I also noted your body being gobsmacked - yes a common phrase even in New Zealand, stunned mullet is another goodie, but I would say you need some real quiet time, while the lump was benign the worry and waiting would have taken its toll - on a lighter note - if I lived in a country with whats going on over there, and was exposed to the scale of troubles USA is facing, I think I would be exhausted too. Cheer up, like the great 'King' and now Obama, I feel your country is in for a good change. Love the picture of your wren too - almost as cute as our Kiwi and pukeko (birds). Kia kaha Wren (maori language for "keep/stay/be strong".