Thursday, September 04, 2008

Choose Wisely

So this is how it's going to be.

If you believe the chest-thumping coming from the McCain camp and its cadre of surrogates this morning, Sarah Palin hit it out of the park -- or at the very least, the Xcel Center -- last night in St. Paul. They're saying she killed when she mocked, in contemptuous fashion, Barack Obama's community service roots; they claim she silenced her critics by expressing solidarity with the nation's concerned and angry mothers, portraying herself as a "pit bull in lipstick" who could take any kind of heat; at the risk of mixing sports metaphors, they're smugly insisting that she put the Republican Party back in the game by throwing open the playbook from races past and pulling out an oldie-but-goodie that's never failed to bring the crowd to its feet and the base to the ballot box.

Call it the "Us vs. Them" end run.

Last night Sarah Palin -- and for that matter, most of the other Republican heavies who took the podium -- dropped all pretense of making the 2008 race for the White House about issues, choosing instead to do what the GOP does best: pander to the absolute lowest common denominator. Palin cast this election as nothing less than a "battle for survival," telling the frenzied crowd that "defeat means death." She dug out of the ground and whipped the corpse of the Republican base's oldest and most tired nemesis: the "liberal media," which the McCain campaign insists have unfairly savaged Palin and her family, but which, ironically, gave John McCain a free ride for so long. But best of all, and maybe most importantly when it comes to winning elections, Palin audaciously held her party up as underdogs battling valiantly against subjugation at the hands of -- you guessed it -- the "elite."

"In small towns, we don't quite know what to make of a candidate who lavishes praise on working people when they are listening, and then talks about how bitterly they cling to their religion and guns when those people aren't listening. We tend to prefer candidates who don't talk about us one way in Scranton and another way in San Francisco," she sarcastically seethed at one point, emphasizing those divisive buzzwords -- "small towns," "San Francisco" -- that act as a subliminal trigger to NASCAR America that its simple way of life is under attack from overeducated outsiders.

And if you don't think this kind of crass misdirection works -- this brand of ridiculous, over-the-top fear-mongering aimed at keeping the culture war alive and well -- just look at the last eight years.

Here's the thing though, and this needs to be said: from what we witnessed last night, this election isn't about red and blue, black and white or small town and big city. Despite the subtle innuendoes and outright cries of Palin and the Republicans, none of these things is in competition during this race.

More than ever -- really, ever -- the race for the office of President of the United States is about smart and dumb.

Sarah Palin may have scored a barnburner last night, preaching to the converted by heaping scorn upon the fact that Barack Obama has authored two books -- which only to the Stuckey's night managers that make up so much of the Republican shock troops would seem like a liability. But it doesn't change the fact that she still has no business being anywhere near the White House; she simply isn't qualified, and her I'm-just-a-hockey-mom routine last night only proved it further. Honestly, it would take an idiot to want someone who spoke as if she were running for PTA chairwoman to be placed in the second highest office in the free world, directly under a 72-year-old cancer survivor. Unfortunately though, that's exactly the voting bloc the Republicans are counting on to give them another four years in the White House after these disastrous eight: Idiots. John McCain and Sarah Palin have nothing new, no groundbreaking or landmark ideas to bring to the table, so they're falling back on standard operating procedure: rile up the ignorant; complain about the dangers of people who actually think -- the "elite"; bitch about mistreatment at the hands of the right's most necessary boogeyman -- the so-called liberal media; complain, accuse, repeat. It's bullshit political theater, with the average American used as a stage prop to keep the oligarchic fat-cats of the GOP firmly in power.

As for those who say that Sarah Palin has more "executive experience" than a Barack Obama or a Joe Biden -- that claim reinforces the need for clearer, better thinking this time around. The reality is that Palin is trying to portray "small town" chutzpah as a substitute for education, intellectual curiosity and basic, well, smarts. Obama is quite possibly the most thoughtful, erudite and analytical political candidate I've seen in my lifetime; call him "elite" -- which the last time I checked was a compliment -- all you want, he's smart. He gets it. The same can be said about Joe Biden.

As for McCain and Palin?

The former is a very bright man who -- and I'm not kidding here -- may be showing major signs of cognitive deterioration as he pushes into his 70s; the latter believes the world is 6,000 years old. (And for the record, I don't care whether you believe in a hereafter or a benevolent supreme being -- if you seriously think that the world is 6,000 years old, standing in defiance of a truth that's been proven over and over again, you're a moron and I don't want you having any sort of say in my life beyond how quickly I get my Chicken McNuggets.)

And this is what it's come down to. They've drawn the battle lines and all that's left now is for the rest of us to choose which side we're on -- because they've seen to it that there is no middle-ground.

You're with us or you're with the idiots.

You're smart or stupid.

You either want your leaders to use their brains or you align yourself with the ones who would play the role of the dumb jocks mocking those who dare to think as being a bunch of effete wimps who can't be trusted.

You vote for great minds or for people who don't just devalue great minds but demonize them.

Sarah Palin was right about one thing last night: This is a battle for survival, but defeat doesn't mean death -- it means dumb.

I don't know about you, but I don't want the two most powerful people in the free world to be a couple of folks I'd just like to sit down and have a beer with; I want them to be fucking super heroes -- sharper, stronger and wiser than I could ever hope to be. They have the weight of the world on their shoulders; I want to never have to worry that they won't be able to carry it.

But that's my choice.

Now it's your turn.

Where do you stand?


hollygirl78 said...

This is an exceptionally astute summary of what's really going on, minus one crucial point: they're not just dumb, they believe that Gawd wants them to help Him bring about the Rapture. That means they will be, in between tongues-praying sessions, studying the book of Revelation (a story written by John on the Isle of Patmos, an isolated man busily snacking on the local mushrooms) for guidance in how and when to go to WAR. Caribou Barbie is the Jesus Camp candidate. No, she's not at the top of the ticket, but McCain is approaching normal life expectancy for an American male (and does anyone believe his POW experience *lengthened* his life expectancy?) besides a history of cancer. We HAVE to consider it VERY likely that she'll become President. 5 times in the last century, the VP stepped up. Google the image of LBJ being sworn in on Air Force One. Think long and hard, America. PLEASE.

Mr. Controversy said...

To paraphrase the great Mel Brooks: "Don't be stupid, be a smartie! Come and join Obama's party!"

I, for one, choose to side with the smart. Fuck petty politics, fuck name calling and character attacking, and fuck ducking the issues with stupid soccer mom talk.

Obama/Biden - For the Win, For the World.

Anonymous said...

Chez, you inadvertently forgot the requisite attribution to Garth.

elizabeth said...

I stand right here: on your coat-tails, in awe of the talent you possess to get right to the meat of it.

Thanks, Chez. Really.

Anonymous said...

Why why why aren't the democrats pounding the idea that the last governor with such lofty executive experience shoved down our throats was George W. Bush? Your evil twin was dead on about her.

Anonymous said...

Again, I was utterly appalled by her words last night. I had to turn it off to keep my head from exploding. She actually said "Ivy League" as if it was a negative thing. Jesus H. Christ. I can't stand this nonsense. At least the "liberal media" is spreading the AP report about all the lies and 'stretched truth'.

aaron said...

Holy cow, not to denigrate your previous work but you have a history of rising to the situation, bringing your A game to the big issues, and just absolutely killing it. This is why I don't blog - you say it so much better than I ever could. I still haven't seen Idiocracy but it sounds like the basic plotline isn't that farfetched. Maybe there's a way to scare the dumb voters away from the booth on election day?

And now I'm craving Chicken McNuggets, thank you so much!

Ike said...

Just by way of a little fact-checking here...

Palin's use of "San Francisco" was not a code word. Obama was in San Francisco at a fundraiser where he made a comment about how bitter Pennsylvanians from blue-collar towns can cling to their guns and their religion.

Scranton certainly fits the bill. San Fran was an actual location. Methinks you are reading too much subtext where it doesn't necessarily exist.

Chez said...

I was aware of where he said it and what he was talking about, but I have no doubt that the perfect subtext was in fact still there.

Chez said...

I adjusted for clarity.

dick_gozinia said...

Biden said the Democratic campaign was not criticizing Palin over her family.

"It is off limits to talk about her family," the Delaware senator said in an interview with "Fox and Friends" on Fox News Channel. "Every family has difficulty as they're raising their children. I think the way she's handled it has been absolutely exemplary."

There's a quote from Biden about Palin's baby-mama drama and how its now "off-limits".

Pardon my french, but bull-fucking-shit.

Stop being pussies and call this hick out for what she is...a goddamn hypocrite. If you want to legislate morality through gay-marriage bans, abortion repeals, and other personal issues then you've opened your personal life up to massive scrutiny. No hold barred.

Kurgan said...

She has managed to breath life into what was a dead campaign, with the door opened by Obama by not selecting Hillary.

But in the end, historical perspective tells me something about both the Dems and the GOP: same circus, different clowns.

Anonymous said...

This is a good post but, of course, an oversimplification. It's not just the stupid they're courting, but people who are genuinely afraid of the Enlightenment project. It's not (merely) that they can't grasp the scientific or logical concepts, it's that they don't want to. There are lots of very intelligent people shilling for and shaping the Republican party (Newt Gingrich has many faults but stupidity isn't one of them) and while some of them are cynical money/powerseekers who will say anything, many are true believers who are terrified of the implications of a world without God (which is a logical end point of the Enlightenment) and one where all men are created equal etc...etc...

Fear of reality is a huge factor here, and there are lots of people, including smart people, who want to live in the world Sarah Palin lives in. It's a world where everything happens for a reason, the good guys can do no wrong, and there's a big dude in the sky looking out for you and me. Nice place. Not real, but nice.

hollygirl78 said...

P.S. to the Republican assholes trolling this blog: Jesus Christ was a community organizer, and Pontius Pilate was a governor.

firedmyass said...

Over the past few months, with my increasing admiration of Obama and relief that this election cycle seemed to be about actual ISSUES for once, I allowed myself a measure of optimism sorely missing over the last 8 years.

My differences with McCain aside, I truly believed that he would not completely jettison his integrity and dignity by continuing the breathtaking hypocrisy and manipulative cynicism the current administration has exhibited so effectively.

goddammit. We're headed right back to the same fucking shit, and I'm sick of being outnumbered.

No, the grapes aren't sour - this is just the face I make whenever I get fucked.

Steve said...

If the Dems want to bridge the gap which you so eleoquently described, they need to use two words in their message, free of elitism or insults:

"Common Sense".

Maybe that'll work.

El Hablador said...

I think you are absolutely correct on this. I reminds me the movie Armageddon when the Billy Bob Thornton says something like:"this is so important you do not want the person who got a C in astrophysics making decisions".

Chez said...

That's actually one of my favorite recent movie quotes. It comes from Jason Isaacs:

"At this point in time, you really don't don't want to take advice from a man who got a C-minus in astrophysics."

I've found myself saying that over and over the past eight years.

Matt said...

Thanks, Chez.

The advantage that the French Revolution had over today in America is the mercy of the guillotine.

TK said...

One of the best political pieces you've written. We watched her speech in a silent fury last night, until I could take no more.

The conceit that someone who is eloquent and intelligent and well-written is somehow a detriment... that someone who has been a civil rights lawyer and activist, a constitutional law professor and, for fuck's sake, a UNITED STATES SENATOR is somehow unqualified. And that a woman who for LESS THAN TWO YEARS has governed a state with a population smaller than Providence, and with little to no infrastructure, who has been out of the country TWICE is more qualified than a man with a lifetime of political experience... it boggles and infuriates.

(deep breath)

Excuse me, I have to go have an aneurysm.

Mavericks my fucking ass.

Rockycat said...

This post is brilliant. I linked to you on my blog - I hope that's okay.

The Wamplers said...

Thank you so much for saying that. I had this exact conversation today with a co-worker and the other night with my husband. I would actually prefer for the best man or woman to win, thanks. Ya know, the smartest one, the one with constitutional knowledge, actual public service experience beyond the PTA, one whose family actually upholds the family values they preach about. Ya know, not some hick from Alaska that went to some unknown college and got a journalism degree (Um, I did, too, can I be VP?). Someone who, when elected to a position, got more than say, 900 votes TOTAL?

I know these morons that will vote for McPalin. I live near them. I am related to them. I get emails from them that still swear Obama is a Muslim (really? still?). They are real and there are a lot of them.


And that's exactly how they've won 7 of the last 10 presidential elections. It's the same panderous strategy over and over again, it gets their people into the voting booths, while the left is only left to despair that it actually works. Yes, Obama lovers, there are enough inbred, redneck assholes out there to put McCain into office. And yes, these elections are bloated popularity contests that just make us feel dirty all over while we endure them. But when it comes down to it, the end justifies the means. We need more organization and a better, more consistent strategy to put our candidates in office. I hear comments all the time from 18-28yr olds that either embody or lean to the left who say they don't believe in the process and they have no intention of voting. As much as I'd like to chastise them for this, I'd rather take the time to convince them it's worth the effort to spend two hours on a weekday in November, at least every four years, to act on how they feel. We need them....

Ryan said...

Another great post Chex.

What I saw unfold last night made me sick to my stomach. I can't imagine how a significant number of moderate republicans weren't sickened by it either.

What struck me this time was the pure, unadulterated HATE being spouted by Romney, Huckabee, Guiliani & ultimately Palin herself.

Past elections have been contentious, underhanded tactics have been used and there's been clear dislike. But last night moved it to a whole new level I've never seen before.

The feeling has stuck with me the entire day today - an incredibly terrifying feeling of just how screwed everyone is if McCain/Palin win this thing. I"ve never had quite this reaction to politics before, especially when it's an election I can't participate in (Canadian :/).

I only hope the young & open minded show up in droves to tell these idiots "Enough." in no uncertain terms.

- Ryan

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm definitely siding with the smart people. And after we win we should make sure to enact some Jim Crow type laws so these idiots can never do this again. And then we should establish some separate schools where they can get some decent education without being discouraged by trying to keep up with the smart ones. And we should protect against too much mixing between them and the smart ones - else we may have more and more of the retard type babies they produce.

And once we purify them . . . we'll invade Poland!

Anonymous said...

I'll take credit for that "pander to the lowest common denominator" line, but otherwise, this is exactly what I was getting at in the comment I left you after you posted "Hokey Mom." Well done.

If anything, I think the possibility of a "redder" ticket that Bush/Cheney could help sway independents to the blue side, because even they realize this woman thinks she is the sword of God.

I am young (24), and trying to make sure my peers understand what the hell is going on, and that everything out of this party's mouth is an outright lie. Your blog only helps that.

I refuse to have this woman any where near the White House.

Anonymous said...

I am siding with community activists, pull yourself from the bootstraps, taking responsibility, the Harvard educated (on his own merits), over, the dark ages anyday.

Awaiting a competent Democratic campaign to expose her venom.....

Adrienne Saia said...

I would say that, after reading this, I love you but that would be dumb so I am going with "I love your writing and will be voting for Obama."

Vermillion said...

Well, since so many folks want to be all serious in their posts, I supposed it is up to me.

I side with...*attempts best Donald Gibb impression*


Seriously, this election is sounding more and more like a bad '80s teen comedy.

And this just occurred to me: isn't the whole talking point about Palin supposedly having more "executive experience" than the others run counter to the idea that smarts and knowledge are bad things?

Not saying it is a revolutionary thought, mind you, just that it just came to me.

Mark Scarbrough said...

I couldn't watch it last night. I was chicken. A chicken who couldn't watch the chicken littles, all screaming about judgment and the sky falling and the rest. Because I underestimated Bush eight and then four years ago.

But oh, Lord, is the Harriet Miers of all VP choices a strange duck. I was reared with these people, these evangelicals, the thumpers. My atheist partner is always trying to tell me that everyone's got good in them, but he hasn't looked in the eyes of the godly and seen the snarl of Satanic hatred.

I don't think they're dumb. They're scared--and power-hungry: a damning combination that's fucked the world more than once. Plus, they're right. (Well, they think they are.) So add up the three and you have snarl.

I don't think Obama is the be-all-and-end-all. But I no longer believe in the long-term life of these United States. I just want to make sure I'm in the right (aka, left) half when it breaks apart.

Tina in Texas said...

Run don't walk to rent Idiocracy. Clip of opening:

Anonymous said...

'Ridiculous, over the top fear-mongering?' A very ironic phrase, but one I doubt that the choir you are preaching to will pick up on.

Chez said...

Well you're not part of the choir, now are you?

Anonymous said...

Please, frightened people (and I'm one of you!) visit the website

The electoral college is a tricky bastard... we can lose this thing-- smart, dumb or just dumbstruck. We forget the lessons of the 2000 election at our own peril.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post, chez.

Mari said...

This was an amazing piece, Chez.

kc said...

When I first heard that McCain had chosen a woman as a running mate, I thought to myself "Wow. That’s smart."
And I suppose, in a way, it was a smart decision, but like some many other decisions made by the republican party, it was for the wrong reasons. That is what stood out most to me in Palin's speech.

Jesus Christ on the fucking cross, what a fucking mess we would have if those two won. I'm scared. Really.

I enjoyed your post.

Richard said...

After the speech last night I thought they were going to start crowd surfing the baby as a celebration of pro-life, when what it really was a CHOICE. I agree, its the peak of the dumbing of America that has gone for too long. In the last 2 elections they have appealed to the lowest common denominator, with no desire in raising the bar. This has got to end.

Ike said...

Chez, thanks for the clarification.

If you let your anger burn to bright, the heat turns eyes away from the light.

Give the other side a way to discredit an inch, and they'll ride it for a mile.

Anonymous said...

It's fun to see you like this.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone considered trying to drum up another Crusade? This could be the perfect way to thin the herd of overly religious, "dumb and proud of it" nut jobs. They get their Armageddon/Rapture they're so fond of waiting for and their Allah worshiping counterparts get to take out their insanity on an equally irrational invading force and can get their hands on those 72 virgins that much quicker. Everybody wins!

Aaron X said...

Cindy McCain's $300,000 Outfit

And where did Cindy McCain get the money to buy that dress, and all those hundreds of millions her family made, that's right folks distributing the drug of alcohol throughout America. Every dime that John and Cindy McCain have right now, was made through selling drugs, legal drugs perhaps, but drugs nonetheless. They are drug dealers who prey upon the poorest people of America in order to get their Black Centurion American Express cards and private jets, and multimillion dollar homes, whose numbers they're not completely sure about.

Do we really want to put drug pushers in the White House, I imagine if they were Black and wore hip-hop clothes and sold crack, all the so-called conservatives would be condemning them for the parasites that they are.

But a vote for John McCain is a vote for drug dealing predators who have done more damage to the our communities throughout US history, then all the illicit drugs and drug dealers combined. For as you all know, alcohol is the Devils lubricant.

And now, low and behold, Sarah Palin hails from a drug infested community, apparently her hometown of Wasilla being a hotbed of methamphetamine production.

Troopers dub Mat-Su area the meth capital of Alaska

[The Matanuska-Susitna area is the methamphetamine capital of Alaska, according to Alaska State Troopers.

In 2003, authorities uncovered nine meth labs in the area. Last year, the number increased to 42, said Kyle Young, an investigator with the troopers who works with the Mat-Su narcotics team.]

You know what they say about birds of a feather. Now we know what John McCain and Sarah Palin have in mind for America, a REDNECK REVOLUTION, with a case of BUSH in every refrigerator and a hit of meth in every pipe.

Down with the backwoods redneck drug pushers ticket!

PS Pat and Bay Buchanan love the redneck revolution. :-)

namron said...

Sarah Palin watches "The Flintstones" and sees a History Channel documentary.

Anonymous said...

Chez: A+ blog today well said. Keep the fire lit the next 60 days! We need this win at all costs.

Anonymous said...

aaron x-
This is one of the lamest things I have read. Drug pushers? Then I guess that the shots of Democrats Hillary and Barack imbibing spirits during the Dems primary is them pushing a drug agenda? As far as implying that Sarah Palin is for meth, because of her community, I wonder what the drug use was like in Barack Obama's neighborhood in Chicago? Perhaps we should then conclude that gangs and crack will be part of an Obama White House. This is ridiculous. I thought we were about elevating things, and not being stupid.

Michael said...

As far as the experience she has (Or actually doesn't) I don't really care, I don't want anyone in the white house who believes the end of the world is something that should be looked forward too with wide eyed anticipation. I don't believe in god, and I don't think his armies will come down from heaven to take all the believers home. However if you have a position of power and your working for the end of the world, I think that's something that should be up for discussion.

RK said...

I still can't get over the line,

"She's George W. Bush with tits"

Fucking perfect!

em said...

I know I'm biased anyway because I'm an Obama/Biden fan, but this was one of the most intelligent things I've read all day. (I should really stop reading comments on certain webpages, especially right around now). Thanks for getting exactly what I am thinking out of my head and onto this site...

Pants said...

Spot on! It is exactly what has always bothered me about political elections turned popularity contests. But I am afraid that it is not going to be enough. The fact that the smarter minority will see straight through this dog and pony show does not undo the effect on the numerous mouth breathers who eat this stuff up with a spoon. All the people who peaked in high school (when being a moron equaled being cool) and who don't care about what actually goes on outside their tiny little world views as long as the guy (or girl) in charge doesn't use to many big words. You are grossly outnumbered and I'm very afraid we'll see the the guy taking the high road biting the dust for the third time in a row...

Stephen said...

I kept waiting for her to scream,

we're so fucked...I can't even stand it.

Anonymous said...

** The Handmaid’s Tale could come true **

Lieberman, McCain and Palin are small human beings, intellectually and morally. But like G. W. Bush, they are all the more dangerous for their dull wits and lack of humane values.

McCain's calculated cynicism in selecting ultra-right Palin reveals his lack of judgment and his frivolous nature. He’s no “maverick”. He's mentally unstable.

Palin’s religious delusions are ideological madness. Her fundie xianity is a toxic ersatz for policy, domestic and foreign. She is but one aspect of McCain's death wish for America. As minister for suppression of homeland deviance, Palin becomes dictator of morals and values, while McCain plays dictator of external affairs -- without perpetual war the empire will collapse.

McCain capitulated to the death impulse of dominionists who now control his party. They want to destroy the Constitution and create a theocratic state. They aim to speed a supposed vengeful return of a mythological being by inciting a nuclear Armageddon in the Middle East as a welcome-home party.

That's the Lieberman connection. He's not a mere flack; he's vital to a new holocaust. As "good will" ambassador to Israel’s ultra-conservatives, he’ll do his damnedest to direct God's holy sword of Israel towards a preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Bush-McCain’s nuclear war by proxy is already set at its "fail-safe" points on US aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf.

Now, the choice is stark. Keep McCain’s finger off the nuclear trigger. Keep Lieberman from inflaming Israel’s right-wing. Keep Palin from becoming a domionist rising star.

Obama offers more than hope. He may be able to save the Republic and the peace of the world. And, you thought Margaret Atwood wrote fiction.


Cycho Librarian said...

While I agree in principle with everything you said, I think the biggest mistake we can make is to write that bloc off as "idiots." That will just make them want to vote against us all the more. And in truth, they're not idiots. They are very smart about an entirely different world view than we espouse. The best thing we can do is learn to speak their language and persuade them of their errors in reasoning from within that world view. There are ways to interpret scripture that completely turn the "evangelical" view on its head, and if we can get their ear we can persuade them that almost all of the conservative political agenda is not in their interest. But if we keep writing them off as idiots, they'll never listen to us. And as we saw in 2004, there's enough of them that not getting them to listen to us will cost us.