Monday, September 15, 2008

My initial analysis of the Palin pick, from before her convention speech

NOTE: the following was written the day after McCain named Palin his running mate. I intended to go back and check on a bunch of the numbers, which were pulled from memory and probably inaccurate (e.g., the jump in Michelle Obama’s salary within a couple of months of her husband’s acquisition of power in the Chicago machine); and I intended to cut way down on the snark factor, out of respect for the many liberal Democrats in private life who I think far more worthy of said respect than are the parasitical, narcissistic likes of Obama and Biden. But events have moved rapidly, and I didn’t get it rewritten, and the truth is I keep these blogs primarily for as a journal for my own reference so that I can look back and see what I was thinking at various times in the past rather than as entertainment for my friends or persuasion for the masses…so it goes up. I assure my liberal friends that I am aware that the tone is uncharitable, unhelpful and inappropriate. I am, you perceive, something of a jerk; all I can say is that most of the time I try to keep myself on something of a tight leash.

I just want to point out my prescience on the comparison of small-town mayorial experience to experience as an Alinsky-esque community organizer; turns out Palin saw the same comparison and made it one of the most memorable moments of her speech, with the even more delightful result that Obama publicly soiled himself in apoplectic rage over the idea that somebody might denigrate the critical and noble job job of talking people into pestering the government to give them money community organizing – under the apparent impression that in so doing he was proving how much more than Palin he is in touch with ordinary Americans. You couldn’t make this stuff up.

Oh, and one other thing: because I genuinely am interested in understanding the people who disagree with me (it’s not just a pose, you know) I’ve been looking around, since writing this, to find out how exactly Democrats expect Obama to bring “reconciliation” -- as you will see from the text, they seem to be using the word "reconciliation" in some sense that at my most charitable I would have to call "idiosyncratic." When people who aren't stupid say something that seems stupid, it's usually worth your time to dig into it and figure out what it is they're really trying to say; so I've been trying to do that. I haven't found much other than sheer blind faith; about the only thing I have to work with is one common, but I think patently unseaworthy, theme: the idea that Obama will “inspire us” in some way, that he will “inspire” us to work together, that he will “inspire us” to make change happen,
etc. Um, not to be unkind, but this presupposes that most of us are lacking bullshitometers, and haven’t noticed the tremendous gap between the Obama rhetoric and the reality of his record (and even the reality of his own campaign’s more-or-less constantly verbally abusive, bad-faith behavior). And maybe, given that Americans don’t study rhetoric in high school any more, that’s a perfectly valid presupposition. I kinda doubt it, though. Furthermore, look at the way Obama's supporters have been savaging Palin and her kids. Where is the New Politics that Obama was supposed to inspire? As far as I can see, the politics of Obama's public supporters is savage to the point of insanity. Either Obama has no influence at all on people like, oh, say, the mainstream news media (in which case why are we electing him?) or else his influence is negative (in which case the sooner he is banished from the national political scene the better the Republic's chances of survival). So, um, I guess I ain't buyin' the inspiration thang.

Certain Democratic commentators are delighted with McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin, on the grounds that it destroys McCain’s argument that Obama is too inexperienced. We can return to that in a moment, but first let’s turn to something that seems blindingly obvious to me but apparently has not occurred to these commentators: Palin does far more damage to Obama’s twin mantras of change and reconciliation, than she does to McCain’s arguments to experience.

I think it’s hilarious that Democrats simultaneously (a) talk about Obama’s ability to “bring America together” and “unify America,” and also (b) compare Obama to Lincoln. Um…on the reconciliation thing there…y’all keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it is. Lincoln may have been one of our two greatest presidents, but nobody in the entire history of the world has so notoriously sucked at “bringing America together” than Lincoln. Um – does the phrase “American Civil War” mean anything to you people? Oh, wait, sorry, I forgot – you went to government-run American public high schools. My bad. Let me fill you in a bit: 620,000 dead Americans. (Which is, to say, about 150 times as many as in Evil Chimpy McHitler’s War.) Brother against brother, father against son. Bitterness that lasted more than a century and was still causing bad blood in state legislatures as recently as fifteen years ago.

Yeah, quite an architect of reconciliation, that Abe Lincoln. That is, if by “reconciliation” one means, “civil war.” And come to think of it, maybe that is what the Democrats mean by the “reconciliation” they expect the Obamessiah to bring to America – since that's pretty much exactly what he’s already brought to the Democratic Party.

In all seriousness, Obama is considered to be a “reconciler” only by liberal Democrats, for the simple reason that Democrats apparently do not think reconciliation involves compromise and good will and seeing the best even in those that disagree with you. Instead, so far as I can see, the Democrats that trust Obama to bring “reconciliation” think that “reconciliation” is brought about by shameless tokenism. Obama has spent his life in the company of domestic terrorists, of lunatic-fringe, paranoid, hate-filled black supremacists, and of the particular American subculture that is composed principally of folly-ridden, self-impressed soi-disant “geniuses” (“geniuses,” that is, in much the same sense as is Wile E. Coyote), a subculture populated by intellectuals who confuse intelligence with wisdom and can no more speak of “rednecks” and “fundamentalists” without sneering than they can fly. His politics are extreme as they can get, and he responds to any suggestion that his ideas might be mistaken or misguided by accusing those who disagree with him of racism, and asking the federal government to silence them by threat of legal action, and encouraging his cult members to drown them out by the raucous invocation of the mystical incantations known as “talking points.” No sane person could possibly think Mr. Keep-Infanticide-Safe-and-Legal a likely candidate for healing the divide between Left and Right; and therefore, if one wishes to think the best of those who disagree with one and therefore do not wish to question their sanity, one is forced to ask, “What in God’s name do the Left mean when they use that word?” And as far as I can tell the answer is simply: in the mind of those on the far Left, if we elect him as President, that will prove that we aren’t racist, and that will make all our racial problems go away.

And if that’s really what they think, then they have the approximate cumulative intelligence of a school of guppies. I presume that’s not really what they think, of course, but if you ask me by what reasoning process they have concluded that Obama will unify this nation in any meaningful sense, all I can say is: beats me like a stepchild, Sugarlips. Maybe some of my liberal friends will generously forgive the chain-yankingly obnoxious tone of this piece and enlighten us.

But Sarah Palin, on the other hand? Well, she’s got an approval rating of 75% -- among the Democrats in her state. After two years of governing them, which means that they’ve seen how she actually performs, and they still think she rocks.

What do you think Mr. Reconciliation’s approval rating is among Republicans in his district? For that matter, what do you think his approval rating is among Democrats nationally? – excluding black Democrats, of course, who would approve of a Labrador retriever as a Presidential candidate as long as it was a black one.

So if it’s reconciliation you want, and an appeal that crosses party lines, Sarah Palin has demonstrated that she has the goods. Obama? I think all you have to do to see how much of a “unifier” Barack is, is to look at the 2008 Democratic primary experience. As far as I can tell, by “unifying the American people,” Democrats presumably mean, “inspire the creation of an entire political movement that denotes itself by the acronym, ‘NUMA.’” Maybe he can get O-Zone to play “Dragostea din tei” at his next political convention. (You know: “NUMA, NUMA, yay! NUMA, NUMA, yay! NUMA, NUMA, NUMA yay!” Granted, I took a few spelling liberties with the original Rumanian there…)

Then there’s “change.” Here again, Obama talks about change. But if we look at deeds rather than words, what do we find? We find a man who has followed the tried and true methods of political advancement: got himself the right sponsors, got a spot in the Daly-family Chicago political machine, served as a loyal partisan soldier and was rewarded by the machine’s arranging for his opponent’s sealed divorce records to be opened once it became obvious that Obama was getting his butt kicked in the fair election, got a good old-fashioned cash infusion in the form of a plum job for the wife and rewarded his wife’s employer in the good old-fashioned way by steering more than a million dollars of taxpayer money into the coffers of said employer.

I can't remember the exact numbers so I made them up because I don't have time, what with the hurricane, to go hunt them up at the moment. You guys got that? The numbers are made up. If the Republicans were really going to go with this line of attack they would obviously have to go get the right numbers. I'm just illustrating the graphic I think they ought to generate. THE NUMBERS ARE MADE UP. We're clear on this, right? Made up. Okay.

If Obama’s such an agent of change, how about you guys show me some? Find me any point at which Obama bucked his party’s powers-that-be, up until the point at which political calculation told him he could leapfrog to the head of the line. Show me any change, even a tiny one, that Obama has brought, and compare it to what happened in Juneau when the Sarahcuda showd up. In the inspired words of I forget which pundit, “Obama loves the future, because that’s where all his accomplishments are.” It’s no wonder that Obama never invokes change without invoking hope as well – he certainly can’t invoke his past record. If you’re gambling on getting change from Obama, you’d bloody well better be good at hope. Let me guess: you also hope your alcoholic brother-in-law is sooner or later gonna pay back that money he owes you, right?

Again, one has to wonder, what can the Democrats possibly mean by the word “change” when they associate it with Barack Obama, whose career is pretty much a textbook, by-the-numbers example of the dirty, crony-machine-playing career politician? And here again, the only thing I can figure is that the “change” that Democrats have in mind is a change in which all the crooked, self-serving, career-parasite Republicans are kicked out and replaced instead with crooked, self-serving, career-parasite Democrats. I can understand that that’s a change Democrats can believe in. It’s also, if you go by Barack Obama’s past deeds rather than his promises, the only kind of change you could possibly think Obama likely to bring about.

But Sarah Palin, on the other hand?

Sarah Palin has brought an earthquake to the Republican Party machine in Alaska – that is, to her own party. When she first took office as mayor, her husband didn’t get a 180% raise – instead, she promptly gave herself a 60% pay cut. (Anyone want to look up the Obamessiah’s voting record on questions of pay and benefits for legislators?) Granted, when her husband’s company did show up to do business with the state, her husband got a nice fat…oh, no, actually, he resigned in order to avoid conflict of interest, just like the scrupulously ethical Michelle Obama resigned from her hospital job…um, oh, sorry, never mind. Um, nice weather we’re having…yes, how about we go back to Palin? Let’s see. Instead of playing ball with the powers-that-be in the local political machine, she took them on – and beat them; beat ‘em in elections, fired ‘em from their cushy boards, indicted ‘em in the courts. Those cushy little sweetheart deals the Big Three oil companies had negotiated with Palin’s predecessor? Cancelled, and new rules implemented to make sure Alaska’s citizens could be comfortable that no kickbacks were taking place, and oddly enough once kickbacks ceased to be feasible the big corporations that had been awarded the contract to begin with decided they didn’t want to play at all, and the pipeline winds up getting built by a company whose business is (gasp) building and maintaining gas pipelines. Odd, that.

See, when Sarah Palin shows up, change happens, baby. Been happenin’ her whole career, since back in the days when she was first Mayor of W-town. (Not impressed with that experience? Understandable. Then again, during that same time period Barack was a “community organizer;” I’m sure you’re impressed with that heavy burden of responsibility. [NOTE: I actually wrote this before Sarah made the same comparison in her convention speech; so I’m pretty proud of myself about that one.]) You understand what I’m saying? You want to hear fine-sounding speeches about change, then you want Barry; but if you actually want real live change that actually happens, then you want the Barracuda. If I may put it in the straightforward, vivid language of my fellow good ol’ boys: like most of the other intellectuals in the academic echo chamber the Democratic candidate has lived in all his life, Barack Obama is good at bullshittin’. Like most of her fellow blue-collar working men and women here in this great country, Sarah Palin is good at gettin’ shit done. If you need somebody to sit on a panel or stand at a podium and pontificate about change, why, sure, Obama can handle that. But if you want actual change to really happen, in real life? Um, not Obama’s department – or at least, never has been up to now. But the state of Alaska, and that state’s Republican Party machine (or the tattered remnants thereof), can testify that when Sarah Palin comes to town then you better grab hold of somethin’ that’s nailed down tight and hang on for dear life.

The strategy for the Republicans ought to be to run Sarah Palin against Barack Obama, not against Joe Biden. You got a black guy? Fine; we have a woman; only we like her because of what her past actions say about her character, not because of her genetic makeup (this, for the Democrats among you, is the difference between an affirmative action token and a candidate of demonstrated merit); plus if you criticize her she comes back and answers your arguments rather then curling up in a wounded little ball and accusing you of sexism. You want change? Palin brings it, hurricane force, everywhere she goes – always has, always will; Obama mellifluously congratulates himself on his ability to sound really good and look really sexy while orating about the kinds of changes he’s going to bring in the future even though he’s never brought anything remotely resembling such changes in the past. You want reconciliation? Obama has brought civil war to the Democratic Party; Palin has the entire state of Alaska together in her corner. The end of –isms, the reconciliation of the divided American public, change to the old ways of doing politics? On all three of those points, Sarah Palin can kick Barack Obama’s ass so hard that her foot can make contact in Alaska and he’ll land in Hawaii.

But Sarah Palin isn’t even the Republican candidate for President, ‘cause there’s somebody even better ahead of her on our ticket. And when your number one guy can’t even win a comparison with our number two guy, how bad does it get when he has to match up to the Big Guy at the top?

That is, at least, the way I think the Republicans should play it.

But in actual fact, I think that ironically the reason Sarah Palin is producing such raptures among Republicans, is the very strong suspicion among the rank and file that we’d be a lot happier after four years of a Palin presidency than we’re likely to be at the end of four years under McCain – in other words, I would imagine that there’s a great big chunk of the Republican base who, like yours truly (though probably for very different reasons, since a Huckabee selection would have made lots of that same base happy while ensuring that my vote was lost to McCain), thinks that it isn’t really true to say that “there’s somebody even better ahead of her on our ticket.” I wish to goodness that Sarah Palin was ready to step in and be President right now, but I don’t think she is. But fortunately I don’t have to vote her into the Presidency; I can vote her into the Vice Presidency. Give her four years in the Vice-Presidency, and I think she’ll be ready to be the first Presidential candidate I’ve ever been able to vote for with a smile on my face. I think the “heartbeat away from the Presidency” think is, at least from the standpoint of risk management, largely bogus, because any such consideration has to be probability-weighted, and the chances that McCain will go down within the first two years are quite slim. And with two years of the Vice-Presidency under her belt, Sarah Palin becomes, from my point of view, a Presidential candidate that I would rejoice to vote for. Even right this moment, today, I strongly suspect that I’d be happier with a Palin presidency than with a McCain one, and I haven’t the slightest doubt that she’d be a vastly better President than either the Obamessiah or the Mouth of the Senate. Four years of seasoning and as far as I’m concerned…ladies and gentleman, the first female President of the United States.

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