Saturday, September 06, 2008

Stars and swipes

By J. Kingston Pierce

Republican’t U.S. Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma isn’t exactly renowned for his logical statements. After the media reported in 2004 on the abuse of inmates at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison, kicking up a storm of protest and charges that the Bush administration had sacrificed U.S. credibility on the anti-torture front, the ultra-conservative Inhofe said with a straight face that he was “more outraged by the outrage than ... by the treatment” of those prisoners. This same out-of-touch right-winger has criticized the Red Cross for being “a bleeding heart” and declared that he was “really proud to say that in the recorded history of our family, we’ve never had a divorce or any kind of homosexual relationship.”

Now this great sage of nonsense is attacking Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama as someone who doesn’t love his country. He tells the Tulsa World:

Regardless of what polls show, Inhofe said, voters will have to ask themselves a question once they get behind the curtain in the voting booth on Election Day.

“Do you really want to have a guy as commander in chief of this country when you can question whether or not he really loves his country?” he asked.

“That’s the big question.”

Shannon Gilson, spokeswoman for Obama, said Friday that he has a plan to strengthen the economy and offer immediate relief to working families, while Republican nominee John McCain and his Washington friends such as Inhofe are offering four more years of President Bush's failed economic policies.

“Sen. Obama won’t let anyone question his love of this country,” Gilson said.

“Challenging your opponent’s patriotism to win an election is the type of cynical partisan politics Americans are tired of--and won’t bring the change we need in Washington,” Gilson said.

After he was asked for an explanation on why voters should question Obama’s love for his country, Inhofe issued a written statement on Friday to clarify his earlier comments.

“Let me be clear,” he said.

“I am not questioning Sen. Obama’s patriotism, but you have to question why at times he seems so obviously opposed to public displays of patriotism and national pride, like wearing an American flag lapel pin.”

Inhofe’s statements are stupid, on their face. And there’s of course a great deal more to consider in choosing a president than whether or not that person demonstrates rabid patriotism. Furthermore, Obama has demonstrated no less honest patriotism than George W. Bush disciple John “100 Years War” McCain.

And if Inhofe really believes that failing to wear a tiny American flag pin on one’s lapel demonstrates significant lack of patriotism, then he can be expected to vote for somebody other than McCain in November. In case Inhofe didn’t notice, the cranky 72-year-old Washington insider wasn’t wearing a flag pin when he accepted the Republican’t Party’s nomination for president on Thursday.

Proof is in the photo at the top of this post.

(Cross-posted at Limbo.)

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Troopergate: Palin stonewalling, McCain thwarting justice

By Michael J.W. Stickings

McCain, his campaign, and his allies aren't just using stall tactics to prevent the release of the Troopergate report in October, a bipartisan effort of the Legislature, they're actively trying to thwart justice:

Key Alaska allies of John McCain are trying to derail a politically charged investigation into Gov. Sarah Palin's firing of her public safety commissioner in order to prevent a so-called "October surprise" that would produce embarrassing information about the vice presidential candidate on the eve of the election.

In a move endorsed by the McCain campaign Friday, John Coghill, the GOP chairman of the state House Rules Committee, wrote a letter seeking a meeting of Alaska's bipartisan Legislative Council in order to remove the Democratic state senator in charge of the so-called "troopergate" investigation.

The claim is that Hollis French, the senator in question, has "politicized" the investigation, but, of course, that is just an excuse. It wasn't so long ago, after all, that Palin and the Republicans were fully behind the investigation, or so they said publicly.

Steve Benen: "Republicans in Anchorage and at McCain campaign headquarters seem desperate to suppress a legitimate investigation. This, shortly after Palin decided she's no longer willing to cooperate, and seven of her aides decide they're no longer prepared to give depositions, after having given their word that they would be happy to answer any and all questions."

The last thing McCain, Palin, and the Republicans want is for the truth to come out.


And the Anchorage Daily News weighs in decisively:

BOTTOM LINE: Gov. Palin is stonewalling on Troopergate; the Legislature should issue subpoenas.

Read the whole piece.

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"So Sambo beat the bitch!"

By Michael J.W. Stickings

This is, allegedly, how Sarah Palin described Obama's victory over Hillary. The allegation, made anonymously, is included in a wide-ranging investigative piece on Palin at LA Progressive.

Take it for what you will. The right, wagons circled, continues to defend Palin, but you know there's a lot of truth to it all.


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By Michael J.W. Stickings


This decision is not worthy of a great power. Whatever skills Palin may turn out to have, however fabulous a person she may turn out to be, even if she becomes the Eva Peron of Christianism, McCain had no idea when he picked her.

He winged this. That's the critical, unavoidable, devastating point.

John McCain has demonstrated with this insane decision that he is unfit to be president of the United States. This was an act of near-criminal negligence. If he can behave this recklessly and impulsively with this decision, the idea of allowing him to become president of the United States is only a smidgen less terrifying than thinking of Palin in that position.

Whatever few doubts I may once have still had about this election, they are resolved now.

Obama has to win. The alternative is unthinkable.

Agreed. (Although I never had any doubts whatsoever. And the alternative, alas, is all-too-thinkable.)

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Oprah and Sarah

By Michael J.W. Stickings

"Is Oprah biased?" asks ABC News. "Host won't interview Palin."

This came up yesterday, with a report at Drudge that Palin wasn't welcome on Oprah, followed by a response from Oprah that Palin may be welcome sometime, just not now:

The item in today's "Drudge Report" is categorically untrue. There has been absolutely no discussion about having Sarah Palin on my show... I agree that Sarah Palin would be a fantastic interview, and I would love to have her on after the campaign is over.

So is Oprah biased? Is she afraid?

It is safe to say, I think, that Oprah is hardly afraid of a dimwitted lightweight like Palin. And bias is not the right word for it. It's Oprah's show. She can have on whomever she likes. And, obviously, she much prefers Obama. I'm rarely one to stick up for Oprah, but what's wrong with that?

Besides, might it not be in part that Palin, simply put, is an arrogant twit and ideological extremist? As significant a figure as she is in American culture, it's not Oprah's responsibility to provide a platform for the Sarah Palins of the world, and certainly not while they're running for office.

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My dinner with Fox

By Capt. Fogg

O most pernicious woman!
O villain, villain, smiling, damnèd villain!
My tables—meet it is I set it down
That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain

-- Hamlet


I had dinner with some boating friends Thursday evening. All retired engineers with advanced degrees who have had important careers. It's probably safe to guess that they are intelligent. All couldn't resist telling me how terrible it was the way the media were treating Poor Little Sarah and wasn't it unforgivable that the liberals were sending planeloads of people to Alaska to dig up "dirt" on Poor Little Sarah. Wasn't the courage and poise of Poor Little Sarah just remarkable? Didn't she tell the liberals off?

I managed to mumble something about the dozen papers I read every day gushing nearly as much as the stadium full of drunken delegates did and that the only thing she really told was a pack of lies. Isn't a convincing liar more dangerous than a bumbler? I don't know how much more I can take. Of course to cite any source, verifiable or otherwise other than Fox is to provoke the hands over the ears Liberaliberaliberal chant. It reminds me very much of the films I used to watch as a psychology student before I decided dealing with the insane wasn't for me.

Of course, and AP have shown in detail that virtually every word from this campaign has been a lie, whether it's been to praise their own wonderfulness or to decry the perfidy of the Democrats.
has a summary of what John has been slinging, and I earlier referenced an AP summary of Poor Little Sarah's flim-flam, but at this point perhaps there's no point in bothering. If it's coming from the Republicans, it's a lie, and, besides, all the proof in the world will not affect the programming of the possessed and the demented voters. It might as well be true anyway.

It's not so much the whoppers I worry about, it's the little things, the little embellishments and half truths that cement the whole into one huge concrete crock. Take McCain's swooning praise for the governor who put the executive jet up for sale on eBay and made a profit. Yes, that's the same Poor Little Sarah who left Wasilla with a $3000 per capita debt when she slithered into the governorship. But you have to admit it sounds great even though it isn't true. It
failed to sell on eBay and was sold through a broker at a loss.

There is a difference between a profit and loss. A president should know what the difference is.

Of course ,there's a difference between the truth and "truthiness," as Colbert would call the plausible but untrue little statements. The would-be president probably knows it and apparently doesn't care.

Watch that smile!

(Cross-posted from Human Voices.)

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Friday, September 05, 2008

AP article debunks GOP attacks and assertions

By LindaBeth

I'm a little late noticing this, but it's quite nice to see this article by the AP addressing exaggerations and untrue assertions made by various speakers (including the candidates) at the GOP convention. Check it out for yourself here. It makes a nice accompaniment to the fine debunking done here at The Reaction already.

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Fight fire with water

By Carl

From the October 2008 issue of
Psychology Today, p. 22.

Click to enlarge. Feel free to download and pass along.

I urge you to read this. Understand the enemy and he is yours. Note in particular how right-wing Christians are not made in God's image but make God in their own image. This is important stuff in winning the soul of America back.

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Nationalist kitsch and the GOP

By Michael J.W. Stickings

kitsch (n.) -- something of tawdry design, appearance, or content created to appeal to popular or undiscriminating taste. (

"[P]olitical movements rest not so much on rational attitudes as on the fantasies, images, words, and archetypes that come together to make up this or that political kitsch... Kitsch is the stopover between being and oblivion."

-- Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Watching the RNC this week, what came to mind was the phrase "nationalist kitsch," the authoritarian kitsch of the right. From the hyper-patriotic chants of "USA! USA!" to the hyper-patriotic symbolism and iconography to the hero-worship and mythologization of McCain and the military to the gaudiness and tackiness of the clothing and sets to the self-sacrificial message "Country First," the event's major slogan and theme, to the speeches and spin, what dominated this past week in St. Paul and in the GOP generally was unironic and unabashed kitsch.

It was the usual political theater, but worse, a largely substance-free affair rooted in vitriol and lies. We expect this sort of thing from Republicans, but, with the country mostly against them on the issues, all they had left was McCain's personal story, abridged for hero-worship, the excitement generated among the faithful by Palin, and the usual fictions they spin regarding the Democrats, the country, and the world beyond. Even on that last point, they weren't able to present their worldview at all effectively. It was a pathetic display, a failed attempt to reach out both to independents and to the base, as when McCain, last night, cynically presented himself as an agent of change with nothing more than Bush-style conservative policy proposals.

And, of course, they had the kitsch, the fantasies and images, words and archetypes, the package into which all of this went, the frame around which all of it is being sold.

There was anger and bitterness on display this week in St. Paul, as well as sarcasm and arrogance, bigotry and intolerance. But it all amounted to nothing but an excited base, with Palin overshadowing McCain and the party still uncertain of itself and its future. It was all quite revolting, really, spirit-draining and soul-crushing, a kitschy show that seemed as amateurish and incapable as Palin herself.

And yet, nationalism and hero-worship have worked before and may yet work again. And if they do, if McCain and Palin and the Republicans somehow pull this off, the next stop will indeed be oblivion.

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From the mouths of babes

By Capt. Fogg

I got a list of Sarah Palin "quotes" by e-mail today and spent a lot of time looking for some source, because it would make for some great laughs at the expense of Johnnie's Little Angel. At this point, however, I'm positive that it's another hoax and while it would be gratifying to see the Republicans suffer from the same tactics they've been using on the Democrats, I do have a conscience. I have to admit I fell for some falsified palin images and pulled them when I found out.

The quotes were supposed to come from the Anchorage Daily News. They didn't, but others, namely
Editor & Publisher, turned up some interesting insights in Alaskan newspaper archives. The trade publication for -- you guessed it -- editors and publishers has a list of items from Alaska about the Palin girl, some of which seem to show a trend of personal embellishment. Apparently she exaggerated her work experience when she ran for mayor of Wasilla and the local papers weren't amused. There was talk of recalling her when it was found that the lodge she claimed to have acquired her "management experience" in had no license and had payed no taxes and may never have had any customers or employees. [Frontiersman (Wasilla's newspaper), 1/22/97, 2/5/97]

Wasilla hasn't always been so proud of her as she lets on that they were:

"Wasilla residents have been subjected to attempts to unlawfully appoint council members, statements that have been shown to be patently untrue, unrepentant backpedaling, and incessant whining that her only enemies are the press and a few disgruntled supporters of former Mayor John Stein."

[Frontiersman editorial, 2/7/97]

"Mayor Palin fails to have a firm grasp of something very simple: the truth."

[Frontiersman editorial, 2/7/97]

There is
more at Editor & Publisher, of course. Perhaps you'll enjoy the part about using state property to conduct her campaign. The GOP gets very irate about Democrats doing that.

Of course, none of this seems very large when compared to the tuned up, repainted 2008-model Palinmobile, complete with plastic wing and funny tires. Presenting herself as having opposed federal pork when she campaigned on support for it and solicited it in Washington, and when Alaska is the largest per capita recipient of federal largesse is a bigger evasion. Neglecting to mention that her inauguration party was sponsored by BP is sleazier. None of it is quite as funny, however, as her furniture salesman brother describing himself as an "office environment consultant" when trying to get a date.

But, as we all know, facts don't matter and the contest isn't about reality. As long as we have the Republican Machine and the corporate media to PUMP UP THE BULLSHIT, PUMP UP THE BULLSHIT, we'll keep dancing to their tune.

(Cross-posted from
Human Voices.)

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Manufacturing Sarah Palin

By Michael J.W. Stickings

There is no denying that Sarah Palin is popular. However, she is popular largely because she remains an unknown to most Americans. At most, most Americans have heard that she gave a good speech other other night, and may even have seen a few soundbite-friendly clips here and there. (Although the ratings were Obama-like impressive, no doubt a result of her instant celebrity status, emerging from blanket media coverage and effective Republican spin.) They very likely do not know that the "goodness" of her speech is best understood relative to media-driven expectations, which were extremely low.

Her popularity is also partisan. The theocrats see her as one of their own, the base fell in love (and lust) with her almost immediately, and, with the Republicans circling the wagons in her defence, her candidacy has been turned into an "us" and "them" dynamic, with "them" being both the Democrats and the media.

Palin spoke of accountability and leadership the other night, but she and the McCain campaign are ensuring that she won't be held accountable and won't be required to defend her leadership during the campaign. She will not be on the Sunday morning talk shows this week, unlike the other three, Obama, Biden, and McCain. Obviously, the strategy is to keep her out of the spotlight, to avoid putting her on the spot, to keep her away from the media, to limit her appearances to structured, controlled, partisan events. In fact, it is being reported that she is going to "hole up in Alaska for a little," so "we may not see her on the campaign trail for a little while." (This from NBC's Chuck Todd.) She no doubt has some gubernatorial duties to attend to, and her son is shortly off to Iraq, but it is nonetheless revealing that she is following up the RNC, and her introduction to national politics, not by hitting the campaign trail but by going home.

This is from Alaska blog Mudflats, which has become essential reading: "Nobody even knows who she is. She read one prepared statement twice in a row, and then gave a speech written by Bush's speechwriter. Unless you're on the internet searching compulsively for YouTube videos of obscure Palin moments in churches and assembly meetings, or diving head first in to the blogosphere, you haven't got a clue."

That's right, most people don't have a clue and won't be getting one anytime soon. There is a concerted effort underway to keep McCain away from the media, given his long history of embarrassing himself, and that effort is now extending to Palin. There are questions than need answering, and points that need clarifying, but Palin has no intention of answering or clarifying anything. Best for her to remain a paradoxical celebrity unknown than to open herself up to further scrutiny. The base already loves her, after all, and the Republican Party is motivated in a way it hadn't been before her selection. Having her answer or clarify would only expose her for the extremist she is, an extremist who is deeply ignorant of the world around her and supremely unqualified for national politics, let alone the vice presidency.

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Obama-Biden is the ticket

By Carol Gee

Three great Democrats responded to John McCain's acceptance speech on CNN's Thursday night post convention Larry King Live (transcript). The Nation's editor Katrina Vanden Heuvel, former New York governor Mario Cuomo, and Arianna Huffington of The Huffington Post, were all very effective at keeping on message. Subtly and skillfully their comments reinforced the reality of the convention, as it was characterized by The Raw Story (9/4/08): "Attacks, praise stretch truth# at GOP convention." The Republican drama, all the huffing and puffing, Rove's name-calling of Biden,* the attacks on the media for so-called bias, are well-crafted tactics to keep the real story of the Republicans' 8-year history buried.

Seriously! But not every journalist is actually taking the bait.'s Roger Simon appeared to be properly chastened when he offered this: "Why the media should apologize" (9/4/08). To quote:

On behalf of the media, I would like to say we are sorry.

On behalf of the elite media, I would like to say we are very sorry.

We have asked questions this week that we should never have asked.

We have asked pathetic questions like: Who is Sarah Palin? What is her record? Where does she stand on the issues? And is she is qualified to be a heartbeat away from the presidency?

We have asked mean questions like: How well did John McCain know her before he selected her? How well did his campaign vet her? And was she his first choice?

Bad questions. Bad media. Bad.

Arianna Huffington made a very good point. She reminded Democrats that focusing on the Sara Palin story is a distraction we should avoid. To quote:

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, CO-FOUNDER AND EDITOR, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM: That is a little bit like the same sarcasm that we had last night from Sarah Palin about Obama.

But it was also a speech -- I feel her contradictions. Although he had these things to say against Obama, the speech was primarily against George Bush. He actually said we need to change almost everything. He said we need to restore the pride and the principals of our party. He talked about bringing back transparency and accountability. He talked about responding to disasters differently and protecting our security differently. These are all attacks on George Bush. So even though his speech started with his gratitude towards the president, there is no question this was his effort to distance himself from Bush, which of course started...

KING: Isn't that smart?

HUFFINGTON: Of course, he has to do that. But can he really convince the American people that this man, who has basically voted with George Bush 90 percent of the time, who has changed his positions on taxes, on torture, on immigration, is actually going to bring change to Washington? It really demands a huge suspension of this belief. And I don't think the American people will go there unless they're seriously distracted by the soap opera of Sarah Palin. That's why Democrats need to be very careful not to focus on Sarah Palin. This is not what this election needs to be about.

If you just cannot abstain, however, Ed Kilgore offers these Palin premises for reference: "A TDS Strategy Memo: Six Highly-Targeted Democratic Messages responding to the V.P. Selection of Sarah Palin," from The Democratic Strategist of 9/2/08. Kilgore begins with four facts:

1. That McCain rejected Mitt Romney in order to pick Palin
2. That Rush Limbaugh energetically promoted Palin’s candidacy and Ralph Reed, James Dobson and Richard Viguerie all consider her one of their own. A number of articles suggest that the desire to satisfy this group played a very significant role in McCain’s decision to choose her.
3. That Palin has extremely limited experience.
4. That Palin has a history of pressuring and firing political opponents. This is not just in relation to a single case regarding a particular State Trooper, but in other cases as well when she was mayor of her small town.

Regarding Obama/Biden -- Getting back to the real candidates about which we all should be talking, "makes sense to me," says "betmo." The blogger's point (on 9/1/08), focused on the subject of all the Republican "venting*" about the candidates' executive qualities. To quote:

Would someone somewhere on television repeat, over and over, that, for the last 18 months, Senator Obama been the chief executive in charge of the insanely successful 'Obama for America' campaign and has raised more money, received more primary votes and registered more voters than any political campaign in American history?

I agree with Arianna Huffington. Republicans have no program to offer. They are offering two personalities - two Heroes For the 21st Century. According to the Republican plan, we voters need to just get over the first 8 years of the 21st century and move on in to the Era of Heroes.

My conclusion -- These morning-after thoughts are from my dear roommate, "Seven-of-Eight":

When choosing a President for the United States each voter has a responsibility that extends far beyond their immediate surroundings and circumstances.

With our system of government, it is highly unlikely that either of the current candidates, or those in the future can bring about all the changes they promise. There are, however, serious consequences from action that a president may take on his own, with or without the approval of the American people. The Bush administration is proof that information can be manipulated to justify whatever a president may decide to do.

We simply cannot afford to have someone in the oval office that is unstable, prone to temper-fits, and an agenda that is military in nature. John McCain is a good person, no doubt. Our country owes him for his service. We don't owe him the presidency and can't afford to make that mistake when we vote.


Hat Tip to regular contributors (#Jon) and (*"betmo") for their links.

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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Exploiting the dead

By Creature

Like Jed, I was watching football last night and did not see the GOP, once again, exploit the raw emotion of 9/11 for political gain. I'd say I'm shocked, but really I'm not. Fear and negativity is all they've got.

Here's Keith's sober reaction:

(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)

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Thursday, September 04, 2008

McCain's speech

By Creature

If I were a GOP donor I'd be asking for my money back right about now.

(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)

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A night for senility, sarcasm, and stupid smirks (at the RNC)

By Michael J.W. Stickings

That would be tonight, with McCain set to go on sometime after the NFL season opener (maybe).

The RNC has been a spirit-draining, soul-crushing affair, and we've already put up 11 posts today, plus this one, starting with my late-night review of Palin's speech. (Scroll down, or go to the home page and then scroll down, to check them out. Seriously, they're great.) I can't speak for my fantastic co-bloggers, but I'm pretty exhausted.

But stay tuned. We'll have much more reaction to come. Despite my exhaustion, I may just have a few comments in response to what is sure to be McCain's inadvertently hilarious and substantively appalling speech. And the co-bloggers are sure to have some, too, tonight or tomorrow.

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Cindy McCain, fashion elitist (to the extreme)

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Vanity Fair estimates the price of Cindy McCain's Tuesday evening RNC outfit at about $300,000.

Yes, that's three hundred thousand.

Compared to about $4,000 for Laura Bush.

Cindy's outfit included her watch and jewelry, specifically three-carat diamond earrings valued at $280,000. Of course, the earrings could be fakes, just like the Wasilla-focused populism on display this week.

McCain has never been a man of the people, including Palin's mythical people -- and he has the heiress trophy wife to prove it.

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Palin speech boosts Obama fundraising

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Politico: "Obama's coffers have been filling since Sarah Palin attacked him repeatedly in St. Paul last night. An Obama aide confirms Drudge's report that Obama has raised about $8 million from more than 130,000 donors and is on pace to raise $10 million by the time McCain reaches the stage tonight."


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In praise of -- gasp! -- Joe Klein (and community organizers)

By Michael J.W. Stickings

I used to like Joe Klein. Sort of. Then I started disliking him. Then disliking him a lot. And then I went into near-loathing mode, not least because of his GOP-friendly "centrism."

But... you know what? Sometimes he's right on. Like today.

Read his latest Swampland post in full. Here's how it starts:

Slowly, slowly, I am recovering from the extremely effective bilge festival staged by the Republicans last night. And while there is much to discuss, there was one item, in particular, that has to be considered infuriating: the attack on Barack Obama's service as a community organizer by the odious Rudy Giuliani -- he's come to look like a villain in a Frank Capra movie, hasn't he? -- and Sarah Palin.

That was one of the more reprehensible parts of Palin's speech, her attack on community organizers as part of her larger smear campaign against Obama. (As Creature mentioned this morning.)

For more, I also recommend Ezra Klein's post on community organizers at The American Prospect: "[L]et's call a spade a spade: When Giuliani sneered about community organizers on the 'South side' of Chicago, it's pretty clear what he was saying: Barack Obama spent his time rabble-rousing among black people... Obama organized poor black people. Helped channel their anger and grievances and anxieties. That's change you can fear."

And exploit.

And, if you're Sarah Palin, something you can be disgustingly sarcastic about to the wild applause of your nasty, brutish, and ignorant party.

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Because sometimes "fake news" coverage is better than the actual news coverage

By LindaBeth

Everything I want to say about the hypocrisy around the rhetoric about Palin, and especially the Republicans' vomit-inducing use of gender rhetoric can be summed up by this brilliant analysis by "fake news" reporter Jon Stewart on the September 3, 2008 Daily Show:

In Canada, watch it on clip 2 here.

And in more The Daily Show-induced commentary....typically, I take the position that families and spouses/ partners are "off-limits" with regards to politics. But Stewart, in his interview with Newt Gingrich, makes an excellent point, which I think can help us forge a distinction between personal attacks on Palin's daughter (i.e., "what an irresponsible slut!") and dissonances between individual actions and beliefs and political positions. After all, "The personal is political."

(Here in Canada.)

Isn't it sad when politicians and pundits seem to get called on their bullshit more often by "fake news" shows than the "real" ones?

(Cross-posted to Smart Like Me.)

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Sarah Palin's Utopia of Wasilla

By Michael J.W. Stickings

"Wasilla: The Meth Capital Of Alaska." That's the title of a post by Andrew Sullivan, who quotes an article from the Juneau Empire.

Now, it this fair game? Is it an issue for the presidential race?


Obama is from Chicago (if not originally), and Chicago obviously has its problems, but he hasn't romanticized or mythologized Chicago the way Palin has her hometown. Indeed, Obama has spent much of his life, including as a community organizer, working to solve those problems.

In contrast, Palin emphasizes her small-town origins and values, praising them as if Wasilla were the very essence of America. "I had the privilege of living most of my life in a small town," she said last night. "I grew up with those people. They're the ones who do some of the hardest work in America, who grow our food, and run our factories, and fight our wars. They love their country in good times and bad, and they're always proud of America." (Presumably, if you aren't from a small town, you don't work hard, don't love your country, and aren't proud of America. That was the implicit message, the last part a dig at Michelle Obama.)

This is, of course, calculated self-promotion. In romanticizing and mythologizing Wasilla and its inhabitants, Palin romanticizes and mythologizes herself. John Mellencamp wrote a great song about small-town America, but that was a statement of personal preference, one with a certain irony to it. What Palin is doing is using Wasilla for her own political purposes, turning a small town in Alaska into a Norman Rockwell utopia. And, as with all utopias, her Wasilla literally doesn't exist. It's a Wasilla of the mind, a Wasilla of her own fictitious storytelling. She wants to be seen as an ordinary hockey mom from a town with "real" people and "real" values, that is, she wants to be seen as "authentic," but there is nothing real or authentic in what she says. In actual fact, the real Wasilla, the one of which she was mayor, is hardly the utopia she makes it out to be.

Does she deserve any of the blame for the fact that Wasilla is the meth capital of Alaska? Maybe, maybe not. I'll let others delve further into her hometown's seedy underbelly.

However, she does deserve to have her romanticizing and mythologizing of Wasilla -- as well as of its inhabitants and values, and of herself and her values -- called into question and exposed for what it is: a convenient narrative to bolster her alleged "authenticity" and an implicit (and sometimes quite explicit) attack on everyone not from her little utopia (and mainly Obama).

The real Wasilla, you see, has a serious drug problem, and no doubt other such serious problems as well. In that sense, it's actually a very real place dealing with the very real problems facing communities all around the country, from the largest cities to the tiny hamlets. I suppose I would respect Palin if she were honest about her hometown and its inhabitants and values, if she showed that she recognized and understood the problems and had spent her time in public service, like Obama, working to solve them. Instead, she concocts fiction and uses it to sell herself, attack her opponents, and reopen the culture wars of the past.

Like the rest of her party, she is a divider, not a uniter -- and, last night, she drove in the wedge.

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Poor little Palin

By Capt. Fogg

The Republicans have so far been successful with several of their propaganda gambits. and it seems to show in the polls. The foremost of these relies on the decades-old myth of the Liberal Press. Although the press has all but ignored Palin's "misstatements" and has continued to put her inexperience in good light and has stayed away from discussing her extremist religious views, any suggestion that the "liberal press" is picking on her finds instant acceptance. I saw it myself during a luncheon yesterday; hearing people complaining about how sad it was that "people" were harping on her daughter's plight - an idea they got all gift-wrapped in red paper from the media, of course.

There's a germ of truth there, but it had largely blown over already, and to say Sarah Palin is a victim of malicious press seems as woefully far from the truth as her assertion that the Pledge of Allegiance in it's 1954 edition was "good enough for the Founding Fathers." None the less, they have managed to draw attention away from the legitimate and serious concerns by stressing a non-issue about her daughter and dressing her up as a victim. It works.

The results of a Rasmussen poll were released today, showing that half of US voters "think reporters are trying to hurt Sarah Palin with their news coverage." Of those, 24% say it will influence them to vote for the McCain/Palin ticket. We have to remember that half the country has an IQ in the two digit range and the few that actually do read respectable news sources don't remember what they read by the following day, if they had the reading comprehension to understand it in the first place. They will remember what Wolf and Sean and all the other twinkle-toed cheerleaders tell them they remember. They will forget that the job of the press is to investigate and not to flatter.

Obama, on the other hand, has suffered from the other edge of that rusty sword. By inventing the "Fact" that his supporters think he's a victim of racism, his status as a candidate who can transcend racialist nonsense is diminished.

I'm sure however, that we can expect the press and the media whores in general to keep telling us what a good mother she is, how she represents what's good in America, how charismatic and fresh and exciting she is as a "game changing" choice and a bold move by the wise Saint John McCain -- even while we believe they aren't saying it. Rasmussen itself mentioned "her highly successful debut" last night and how people were likely to agree about her superior experience.

Obviously un-intimidated by either the savage onslaught to which the left-leaning media had subjected her, or the incredible challenge she faced — and oozing with confidence — she strode defiantly to the podium and proved she was everything and even more than John McCain told us,

says Michael Reagan, who tells us she is the reincarnation of his father. What savage assault? Why, the one they set up, stuffed with straw so they could make the dogs bark and the idiots howl. It works.

How can there be any hope for sanity, much less for democracy when we're in a world where every fact immediately generates an equal and opposite anti-fact which usually is more fun to believe?

(Cross-posted from Human Voices.)

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Riffing on The Reaction

By Carol Gee

Liberalism waxed unbound regarding Republicans yesterday at The Reaction. Our little writers' group did not lack for opinions about party prospects for victory in November, the party convention, and about evening's featured speaker, its nominee for vice president, Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska. While I, too was preoccupied with Palin, my mind persisted in visualizing what was going on outside of the convention in the Minneapolis streets. That led to visualizing what a Palin presidency might look like. Today my post riffs off of what my co-bloggers contributed during yesterday's big bountiful liberal dialogue, carrying each idea to possibilities presented for the future with Sarah Palin as the POTUS.

Foresee a a fear mongering administration that politicizes, lies and obfuscates, covers up its ineptitude, coddles cronies, punishes domestic enemies, and breaks the law, all in the name of protecting America. Libby Spencer correctly predicted yesterday that, to quote:

Sarah Palin will give a great speech. She will lie her face off.

The GOP base will go wild and proclaim that this proves she is a true reformer who is ready to lead.

They will not see the irony in that they have been accusing Obama of being a candidate who only makes great speeches but is too inexperienced to lead.

The punderati will declare this brilliant stroke a gamechanger.

. . . Somewhere, in an undisclosed location, Karl Rove will be chortling and popping a bottle of champagne.

It is not beyond the realm of possibility to visualize that a Vice-President Palin could be called upon to become the U.S. President. One in three Vice-Presidents have done so in the past. Palin's aggressive personality, Right Wing reactionary beliefs, unstable leadership style, and thin knowledge base would almost certainly guarantee permanent crisis mode for the country. To some it might feel like "the end times." Think about it. The Reaction's editor, Michael J.W. Stickings, revisiting Palin tonight after the speech -- and the predictable pundit commentary -- asked:

Seriously, this person -- I'd say "woman," but the Republicans are so quick to throw around the sexism charge -- is on a national ticket and could be the next vice president? Are you kidding me?

The Supreme Court could decide in a close election, as they did in 2000. Theoretically, in a free and fair election, each vote cast counts just one. The Electoral College will decide the outcome of the election, however, based on which party's nominees win each state. But an election could be stolen, with voter intimidation, electronic voting problems, or unfair campaign advertising. Under certain circumstances Palin is not that far from the presidency. Neither daily tracking polls nor national popularity polls can predict with certainty that Obama and Biden will prevail. My co-blogger Carl did an excellent electoral vote analysis about "How McCain could win," ending it with cautious optimism, however. To quote:

If McCain can hold onto the states currently at least leaning his way, and recapture Iowa, then the election will basically come down to Virginia. I suspect Nevada is less in play than pollsters think (again, that "guns" thing comes into play). Obama does well in the urban and college towns, but if you look at the primary map, the counties that Clinton took west of the Shenandoah are largely Republican.

This is not good news for Obama. Again, guns and religion. Working class folks. Obama will have to make the case over the next months that he's not the scary liberal black man that the Republicans will paint him as, that he's an average American, at least as average as Sarah Palin, with an interesting life story and a rugged upbringing. He has to show he learned something, some common sense.

If he can do that, he will win the election, but it will not be the landslide many are predicting.

The United States of America is on the verge of becoming a theocracy. The current Bush administration is the model upon which the Republican base is building its case. Ever since the terrorist attacks of 9/11/01, Republicans have governed using the naturally resulting fears of citizens. And Governor Sarah Palin was chosen in order to solidify the continuation of right wing evangelical government, for the on-going benefit of the rich and powerful. Is it not hard to image "Commander in Chief" Palin, upon becoming President, developing the strategies for leading the mighty U.S. military and maintaining successful foreign relations around the world? Just look at this nominee and look at the last 8 years of our current president. You have all the information necessary. Nothing would change because Palin would be the next Bush. Capt. Fogg posted "Thy will be done" at The Reaction yesterday. To quote the opening and closing graphs:

Thou shalt not take the name of YHWH thy God in Vain.

"I think God's will has to be done," said Sarah Palin.

...We quibble about her experience. We pretend she's intelligent and honest and moral. We pretend the press which never asks embarrassing questions or investigates any claim is giving her a hard time -- because they're liberal.

I no longer ask how insane things have to get before anybody notices. I no longer ask how a democracy gives its consent to tyranny. I know the answer, we're living the answer.

Based on her past limited record, visualizing a Palin administration that deeply respects the Constitution, routinely protects civil liberties and adheres to the rule of law is difficult. Palin is currently being investigated for ethics violations, if the probe is allowed to go forward, which is doubtful. Palin's police were, allegedly, seen by her as tools to be used for personal purposes. And I venture to guess that a President Palin would view the Bible as trumping the Constitution in a close call. Quoting my own post at The Reaction yesterday, "Reflections On an Emerging Election Process":

Regarding protest and the police state in Minnesota, the news about the health of the U.S. Constitution is not good. Professor Marjorie Cohn, President of the National Lawyers Guild, posted this full analysis today at Dandelion Salad: "Police State Methods: Preemptive Strikes Against Protest at the Republican National Convention." It is not clear that the Constitution is even on life support, according to Glenn Greenwald's full and updated expose of the government's involvement at Pam's House Blend (9/2/08) reported "Donna Brazile pepper sprayed,"* and Greg Palast (on 9/1/08) headlined "Amy Goodman arrested."* Lindsay Beyerstein reported today at firedoglake/CampaignSilo that, "Police Gas Docile Crowd Outside the RNC." The ACLU reports, "More from the RNC."

Visualizing Governor Sarah Palin as the President of the United States is important to a rational and realistic election process. One's imagination does not need to be stretched very much because the current events can yield good clues. My co-bloggers contributions reinforce the vision I have tried to present in the light of today: Think about ranks of police in riot gear, arresting journalists for conspiracy to riot. Think about the gap between rich and poor widening. Believe that drilling for oil in Alaska will bring down gasoline prices. Give up your belief in evolution. Be willing to let go of your woman's right to choose what happens to your own body. Understand that "reform" would be a cruel illusion. And be very aware that most voters cast their presidential votes using gut instinct. Obama, Biden, McCain and Palin should be vetted by visualizing voters. The four candidates have just two months to vie for the leadership of the free world. The outcome will be either a continuation of the current corporatocracy or a true change of direction.

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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First impressions on Palin's speech

By Libby Spencer

I think my prediction was pretty well right on. Palin lied her face off, as all the speakers did. Palin gave a good speech, meaning she delivered her lines well but she still came across like a PTA president pitching for a new playground, not the next in line for POTUS. Not even close to Obama's speech(es). I think maybe she looked better than she really was in contrast to the 'phone it in' quality of the previous speakers. Rudy was the only one with any fire and they were all awful in terms of content.

The whole sorry evening was one big hate on lib'ruls fest. Sharp contrast to the DNC. The Democrats offered a vision for a new America. The GOP offered up a call to arms for the same old wedge politics culture war that most of the electorate is nigh well sick of at this point. There was a lot of raw red meat for the fundie base, who as I predicted, loved it. But it says something when the crowd is chanting USA instead of your candidate's name.

I'd call it a loser for McCain. She didn't win over any Hillary voters tonight and I'm betting they lost independents and moderates. It's clear the GOP has decided to go all in and roll the dice on the religious right, hoping they get energized enough to GOTV. But it's a shrinking base.

As I predicted, the media gushed and some declared a game changing moment. The word authentic was the popular superlative. She did project a genuine small town quality, but she came off more catty than tough from my perspective. I was reminded of church groups I've belonged to where the good Christian women tear apart some hapless missing member behind her back and then pretend that saying "God bless her" somehow mitigates the petty meaness behind the snide gossip.

Bottom line, she didn't really prove anything tonight. She didn't come across as knowledgeable or spontaneous. Anybody with her background can memorize a speech. The real question is, how's she going to do without a script? She doesn't look ready for MTP to me and if she doesn't do some interviews soon, the inevitable question will arise, if she's not tough enough to face the press, how is she going to be tough enough for the job? But she'll dominate the news cycle for the next few days. And the funny part is, she upstaged her partner. McCain now has to live up to her performance and I don't think he can do it, my friends.

I think the rest of my prediction will come true in the next couple of days. Tomorrow the media, new and old, will begin dissecting the boatload of lies the GOPers tossed out to the crowd tonight, like bait fish to the sharks, and the accusations will start to fly.

On a final note, the highlight of the evening came for me before the festivities started when Pat Buchanan, who I swear was half in the bag, asked Tweety if he would get a thrill up his leg if Palin's speech was good. The look on Tweety's face was priceless.

(Cross-posted at The Impolitic.)

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Community organizers

By Creature

I really don't get a political party that enjoys mocking community organizers. I know they want to belittle Obama in any way possible, but to hit him (and, in turn, a whole host of caring people) for doing good is despicable. Not very Jesus of them.

If the GOP did anything last night, they showed their true colors. They don't care about people, they care about power.

Here's CNN's Roland Martin on the mocking of community.

I've had enough. How about you?

(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)

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If it's not all over, it's all over

By Capt. Fogg

I'm keeping a plastic bucket under my coffee table. One too many McCain ads right after dinner is sure to bring it all up before long. Have you seen the one that was running last night: the one where they're saying that electingObama will bring wasteful spending and soaring debt? If that doesn't make you hurl, you've got the stomach to work on a Bering Sea crab boat.

Of course you don't need an investigative reporter to remind you that bloated bureaucracy, record debt, and a level of spending that surpasseth all understanding have been the hallmarks of the last three Republican presidents; each outdoing the previous one. It's the one that inexplicably flashes a picture of Chick Schumer looking like Fagan the Jew as it tells you how the Democrats will borrow. No one lies like a Republican. No one believes like a Republican.

Of course these days you need to watch comedy shows if you're looking for anyone to check the facts, compare the contradictory claims or do any investigative reporting at all, so it's a bit of a surprise to see AP doing even this mild form of keeping it real. Stretching the truth may be an understatement the BBC would be proud of. Damned lies is the epithet that occurs to this American.

All in all there were more whoppers told last night than in Burger King's fondest dreams. Will exposing the lies change any Republicans minds? Perhaps it's better to ask how many Republicans have such things, but my opinion is that there won't be enough of them to matter. The the incessant chant ofLiberaliberaliberalibral, throbbing like drums in the jungle night will continue and the faithful will continue to dance around the fire

Some Republicans however are more pessimistic. Peggy Noonan it seems, was overheard telling Mike Murphy that it's all over." I hope she's right, because if it isn't all over, it's all over.

(Cross-posted from Human Voices.)

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Palin Tonight (revisited)

By Michael J.W. Stickings

(See my pre-speech post here.)

Seriously, this is a joke, right? That's pretty much what I was asking myself and anyone who would listen during pretty much the entirety of Palin's speech.

What a joke.

But, let's give credit where credit is due, Libby nailed it: "Sarah Palin will give a great speech. She will lie her face off." Check and check. Though the "greatness" of the speech needs to be considered relative to the expectations, which were disturbingly low. She gave a great speech from the perspective of the base, the party faithful at whom it was directed, as well as of the theocratic ideologues behind her candidacy.

And she gave a great speech according to the media, or at least according to the anchors and analysts who make up the celebrity TV commentariat. "A star is born," gushed Wolf Blitzer -- and similar sentiments were offered up by the likes of Chris Matthews, David Gregory, and David Gergen, and pretty much everyone else, so swept up were they in the moment, so taken with Palin, so eager to praise her "authenticity," one of the words of the night. Someone else -- it might also have been Blitzer -- concluded that she's hit a home run. Presumably the wind was blowing out, the fences had been moved in, and Palin was hitting off a tee with an aluminum bat.

Seriously, this person -- I'd say "woman," but the Republicans are so quick to throw around the sexism charge -- is on a national ticket and could be the next vice president? Are you kidding me?

I don't care about her "authenticity". What does that even mean? That she's "real"? But shouldn't we expect more of our democratic leaders? Was George Washington a great president because he was "authentic"? It may be the bias of advanced democracies that we expect our leaders to be just like us, but, again, what does that mean? All I saw tonight was a woman who is clearly not prepared for the national and world stage. She and her surrogates, like Giuliani, whose speech just before hers was appallingly awful, are talking up her executive experience, which already separates her from the rest of us, but she came across not as a leader but as the "hockey mom" she wants us to believe she still is. But, seriously, do Americans want a "hockey mom" anywhere near the Oval Office?

And, yes, she lied, and lied, and lied. About herself, about McCain, about Obama. For example, she claimed she was against the "bridge to nowhere" even though she was for it until public opinion turned against it. And, yes, she attacked Obama, digging and digging, making light of his experiences and accomplishments, and it was disgusting. Who is she to attack Obama and Biden? She is a pathetic little tool next to either one of them.

And yet, as expected, the media loved it, and wanted to make sure we knew they loved it. Maybe because they themselves wanted to seem more "authentic," more in touch with "real" Americans. Maybe because she criticized them and they wanted to make amends. Maybe because of those low expectations. Maybe because they wanted to seem "fair" and "balanced." Maybe because many of them are gullible fools. "The war has started," according to Andrea Mitchell, or something like that, yet more idiocy from the fawning media establishment.

What a joke.

I admit, it was not an awful speech, and Palin did not give an awful performance, but neither the speech nor the performance were anywhere near what the media is claiming they were. All she did was deliver without serious blunders a carefully crafted address to over-enthusiastic party loyalists pre-programmed to leap up and applaud, an address that combined her hokey personal story with lies, smears, and McCain worship.

And it was a speech largely without substance. What did she utter in terms of the issues, and in terms of policy, other than shallow regurgitations of Republican talking points? Her main policy focus was on energy, but, even there, all she said was that drilling for more domestic oil is the way to go. She alleged that Obama is against any such drilling, accusing him therefore of being against ending America's dependence on foreign oil, but she made no mention of alternative energy, nor of Obama's substantive energy plan. And what of national security. All we got was the standard lines about 9/11 and al Qaeda, along with the dubious claim that the Iraq War is about to be won. And there was almost nothing on domestic policy -- where she is, if anything, an extremist.

Sure, she reached out to "real" Americans, but she did so not with substantive policy proposals but with her own personal story, a story that, of course, has been thoroughly cleaned up for public consumption.

What a joke.


Her speech is getting a warm reception over at TNR, but I think Stump contributor Eve Fairbanks has the best assessment there:

-- "People have questioned her experience and her background; nobody really questioned whether she could give a good speech, especially after her successful rollout address last Friday. Tonight, diminished expectations combined with Palin's known-to-be-remarkable charisma made for the speech-making equivalent of putting a champ bowler two feet in front of a set of plastic duckpins."

-- "That's the problem with the positive case Palin made for herself, with its emphasis on all that small-town stuff: It convinced me that she makes a good PTA mom, that she may make a fine mayor, that she hasn't totally bombed as the essentially brand-new governor of the third-least-populous state in the Union, even that I might like to have a beer with her, or a glass of fermented whale milk or whatever one drinks with mooseburgers. But just because we're a nation of a hundred thousand Wasillas doesn't mean all those hundred thousand mayors ought to be in the White House. Tonight, she sounded for all the world like an unusually sharp version of those 'regular people' they drag onstage at conventions to tell their stories in the off-primetime hours."

-- "She was likeable enough, to borrow a line of Obama's. Maybe even lovable. But I don't think she neutered the argument that she's not ready, that her reformist record isn't what she claims it is, that she was a cynical pick, or that she -- as a poll released today found that a big majority of likely women voters believe -- undermines McCain's claim to 'experience.' I don’t think she did much more than anybody thought she would do."

(Noam Scheiber's assessment is pretty good, too: "[S]he came off as sort of perky, which is refreshing on some level, but not necessarily vice-presidential. And maybe you don't want to be so lacerating your first time out. Still, she far exceeded expectations, at least if by expectations you mean the cartoonish image conservatives accused the media of creating.")

I didn't find her either likeable or lovable. Instead, I found her clueless yet presumptuous.

And, if you haven't figured it out by now, I think she's a complete and utter joke.

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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Worst piece of flare at the RNC

By LindaBeth

Just saw this on someone’s blazer during Palin’s speech tonight (still in progress).

How fucked up is this? Democrat or Republican, whatever and whoever, a woman’s (or man’s, for that matter) appearance is completely irrelevant to her political capabilities or qualifications.

Politics is not the Maxim “Hot 100.”

(Cross-posted to Smart Like Me.)

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Palin Tonight

By Michael J.W. Stickings

So here we are... almost.

Sarah Palin -- the supremely unqualified one -- is set to make her long-awaited and much-ballyhooed prime-time appearance at the Republican Convention in about an hour. Stay tuned for our coverage.

For now, a few pre-speech comments. (Update: NRO's The Corner has excerpts from her speech. It is pretty much as expected, though, as CNN is reporting, she will be taking a few despicable snipes at Obama.)


I'm not as pessimistic as Libby, who predicts, among other things, that "Palin will give a great speech," that "[t]he GOP base will go wild," and that the punditocracy will call her pick "a gamechanger," but I do think she has a lot going for her tonight:

Expectations are so incredibly low, given everything that has come out over the past several days, that all she has to do to exceed them is to speak coherently and come across like she has a clue -- and, if possible, tell her story with conviction, eliciting compassion, and connect with hockey moms and soccer dads around the country, those mythical "real" Americans whose support is seemingly so essential in the lowest-common-denominator world of American politics.

Furthermore, the party has already circled the wagons in her defence.

What this means is that she already enjoys the goodwill of much, if not most, of her party. She is the candidate of choice for the theocratic right, celebrated by the likes of James Dobson, and the rest of the party has come to see this as a battle between their party and the entire media establishment. Republicans thrive on self-victimization, on narrative of their own manufacturing that pit the world against them, and, if nothing else, the Palin pick has fed into that narrative and energized the party, or at least its base and extremist ideologues.

So my predication is that she will easily exceed expectations, which Republicans like to keep low (think GWB), though more in style than in substance, the latter of which will be the usual combination of nationalist, theocratic, and libertarian platitudes. She will give a good speech, that is, much to the delight and overeager applause of the assembled. She will look good, sound good, and say what the party wants to hear. I am less certain that the media will lap it up -- they may be an outlet for Republican talking points, but they also like to do that "gotcha" investigative work, and, to them, Palin is the gift that keeps on giving -- but Republicans will, and the media will report on how energized the party is going into McCain's speech tomorrow night.

Now, as to saying what she needs to say, the key for her will be to tell her story, to define herself, and to inject some gravitas into her candidacy. She won't be able to do to Obama what Biden did to McCain, given her own supreme unqualifications, but she will be able to come across as, in her own way, a historic and courageous pick, at least to her party. Again, there is a limit to what she will be able to accomplish. She won't be able to wipe the slate clean, nor will she be able to pretend to be what she is not -- i.e., qualified -- but this pick was more about energizing the base and securing the support of the theocrats than anything else. In that sense -- and I can't quite believe I'm saying this -- it has already proven to be quite a success. (In the larger sense, with electoral success as the measure, I think it's an abject failure -- for McCain.)

So get ready. It's Palin Time. And we'll be back later with more.

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