Wednesday, November 18, 2009
The Old Man and the C-Word
Kudos to Andrew Sullivan for keeping his eye on the ball during this week of non-stop Palin media ubiquity. He's placing the blame for our ongoing national nightmare squarely where it belongs: on John McCain.
Remember that if it weren't for McCain and his team's thoroughly cynical, irresponsible and, yeah, dangerous decision to open Pandora's Box (for those who've long since forgotten this or have simply psychologically repressed it, Sarah Palin was at one point frighteningly close to being one 72-year-old heartbeat away from the highest office in the world) none of us would even be familiar with the Palin Reality Show, let alone be subjected to its lunacy everywhere we fucking turn.
From Sullivan's column in the Atlantic yesterday:
"We knew that about a charlatan like Kristol and a nihilist like Rove. But what I didn't fully come to terms with, until the Palin farce, was the full extent of John McCain's recklessness and cynicism. This is worth keeping in mind through all this. The only reason we even know about Sarah Palin is John McCain.
He picked her so carelessly, and his thought process was so cynical, that he should stand in the dock of public opinion before Palin does. Her vanity led her to say yes to his crazy offer. But he gave her that chance. And in the end, she is his responsibility.
And that's why in fact the pushback has been almost milquetoast. How do Steve Schmidt and John McCain reveal the truth about Palin when that truth only further proves their fantastic incompetence, nihilism and unseriousness with respect to government? And what's truly telling about Washington is that a man like McCain, who perpetrated this nonsense and even now refuses to take an ounce of responsibility for it, is nonetheless invited on countless talk shows and treated like the hero he always was. And no one demands he account for this train-wreck outside his tested cant about Palin 'exciting the base.'
If he had any sense of responsibility, he would resign. And if the Washington media had any sense of responsibility, it would never invite him on TV again without demanding he take responsibility for what he nearly did to the national security of this country. No one who put this person near the nuclear button should have a future in public life."
As much as it pains me to mention Sarah Palin here yet again -- for the record, I searched the name "Palin" in the DXM archives and 188 entries came up -- I wanted to bring back one of the very first things I wrote in the wake of John McCain's introduction of what we know now is, to quote a very old Saturday Night Live sketch, "The Thing That Wouldn't Leave." At the time I was furious as hell about Palin; I still am, just for different reasons.
"McCain and Unable" (Originally Published, 8.29.09)
I should be glad John McCain picked Sarah Palin to be his running-mate.
I should be glad that in his first true test of leadership -- the one that inescapably sets the tone for what's to come and acts as a yardstick by which to measure his judgment -- he proved that he isn't fit to govern an Elks Lodge, much less the United States of America.
I should be glad that by choosing a self-proclaimed "hockey mom" -- a first-term governor of a state with an unimaginably low population density whose only former role in public service was as a city councilwoman and the mayor of a town of 8,000; a former beauty queen with no experience whatsoever in foreign affairs -- John McCain may have all but handed the election to Barack Obama.
I should be glad.
So why the hell am I so outraged?
Maybe it's because what John McCain just did -- the cynical gamble he's taken in a desperate effort to win the White House -- in fact gambles with the very future of this country. With the safety of its citizens and the lives of its soldiers. By attempting to pander to those Hillary Clinton supporters who may still feel snubbed and disillusioned by the outcome of the Democratic race, and by making a transparent grab for both the shock value that can only come from pure political theater and the chance to regain his "maverick" label, McCain has said something terrifying -- and telling.
He's said that he's perfectly willing to risk the United States -- a country that, as he's so fond of reminding us, has enemies that must be confronted; a country that's currently enmeshed in two wars -- to achieve his goal of getting elected.
Because don't think for a second that he truly believes Sarah Palin is ready to lead the free world should something render him unable to. No, what John McCain believes is that Sarah Palin can lead enough women to the polls to win him the presidency.
It's a thought that should make Americans sick to their stomachs: McCain is counting on Palin's charm and warmth, her somewhat sharp mind [Author's Note: How funny is that line now? I stand very, very corrected.] and fascinating backstory, to mesmerize voters and recast his campaign and his image in a bright new sheen of youth and vitality. He expects Sarah Palin to be the spark plug that fires up the media, who will surely have to admit that he's turning his back on the past and is ready to reshape and reclaim the Republican Party by making history. And yet at the end of the day, nothing changes the fact that this is actually more of the same from the GOP -- more political opportunism and clever gamesmanship for the sake of achieving the goal of power. Nor does anything change the fact that McCain wants to put someone without a shred of experience in foreign relations, worldwide diplomacy or global conflicts a heartbeat away from having to deal with all three -- with the security of the rest of us hanging in the balance.
As McCain himself has implied about his opponent, the White House is not the place for on-the-job training -- not during these uncertain times, when our country is facing turmoil abroad and unprecedented challenges at home.
Why am I outraged?
Because there's always the possibility that his shifty little parlor trick will actually work.
And then what?