Friday, September 05, 2008

Palin the Prophet, Discerner of the Will of God

It turns out  Sarah Palin is also a prophet.

The Interfaith Alliance reports that Governor Palin addressed ministry students at her former church, Wasilla Assembly of God, this June. In her remarks she asserted that  our troops in Iraq are on a "task that is from God," and it is "God's will" to build a natural gas pipeline across Alaska. 

Sex and the Single Girl

My how times have changed. In my day a teenage girl who got pregnant without benefit of clergy was disgraced, sent away to a Crittenden Home or relatives to live until the illegitimus arrived to be cruelly known by all as a bastardus. Thankfully, we think more kindly today about the matter. Indeed, celebrities who have babies begotten in fornicatio are routine occurrences provoking no shame, just more fame. It happens all around us in all segments of society and scarcely raises an eyebrow anymore.

We know we live in a different age from that of my youth when the pre-maritally inseminated daughter of the vice-presidential candidate and her inseminater are enthusiastically greeted by the smiling Republican presidential candidate onstage before a cheering audience and millions of TV viewers.

It seems also that fornicatio, though not approved, is regarded lightly these days by evangelical Christians, even if the fruit of concupiscence results in a surprise pre-nuptial pregnancy, as long as the fetus is not aborted and the couple who had enjoyed pre-conjugal bliss avail themselves of appropriate legalizing rituals. Or so one would conclude from the ecstatic reception of the Governor of Alaska as McCain's running mate among conservatives and evangelical Christians.

I prefer these contemporary norms and habits to the stigmatizing practices of the past. Non-marital teenage pregnancy can happen in any family anywhere, and the Palins are dealing with it admirably.

But my how times have changed.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Palin Gives a Clue to Republican Strategy

My guess that the speeches of two days ago, especially Palin's, give us revealing clues about what we should expect from now on. This was confirmed by McCain's own address last night and by what their strategists are saying.

Smiling Sister Sarah is going to be the pit-bull hockey mom with lipstick, sometimes known as the attack dog -- the traditional role of the VP candidate. If Democrats fight back against her in the same pit bull tones, they will be accused of sexism and bullying the nice lady. If the Democrats point to her sarcasm and distortion of facts, they will be accused of making personal attacks, while at the same time impugning Obama of loving hismelf more than he loves the country. If the public criticism gets loud, it will be blamed on the media -- a standard Republican defense when they feel vulnerable and run out of sensible arguments.

There was no mention by Palin of W, not one. FDR and Truman were praised but not George Bush -- current Republican President of the United States. No mention either of Dick Cheney, the Vice-President she wants to succeed.

We will be hearing a lot about change and reform and little or nothing of continuing the great accomplishments of the current administration, e. g., prosperity at home, fiscal restraint, victory in Iraq, peace, and universal love for America abroad. We will not be hearing about her extremist views of abortion and some other issues.

We will hear much about a set of contrasts:

Rural, small-town virtue versus big city decadence

Wasilla versus San Francisco

Authentic Americans versus the elite

Decent ordinary Americans versus Washington

Average hockey mom versus intellectual Professor

They will deflect criticism of her inexperience by pointing to Obama's alleged lack of same in relation to McCain's, devalue what experience Obama has had -- community organizer versus small-town mayor -- and when she is compared to Biden will deride the Washington establishment in favor of a fresh, uncorrupted voice from the outside who can reform the wicked place. No matter that the Republican tactics are brimming full of logical fallacies, meanness, evasion, denial, and distortion of facts. The barrage will come so fast that before the truth squad can deconstruct them, there will be more in the ads and speeches. They will accuse Democrats of despicable tactics while playing the game by the Lee Atwater-Karl Rove slime book.

We will hear repeatedly of the condescending elitism of Obama about bitter small-town and working-class Americans who cling to guns and religion and develop xenophobic prejudices -- words spoken to an affluent crowd in California in private, he thought. (Obama's most stupid mistake, admittedly.)

We will hear much of change and reform, about McCain the maverick, and Palin the fresh voice from the uncorrupted frontier who will shake the foundations of Washington but little or nothing about continuity with the Bush-Cheney reign.

Apparently, they intend to play down issues and make the election about character. The means means that the Republican mean machine will be on a mission of character assasination to present Obama is an upatriotic American with devious aims of vainglory as well as an uppity elitist who demeans small town, working-class peoples and their values.

Will it work? I wish I were more confident that it won't. Obama, Biden, and the Clintons have to do all they can to make sure it doesn't.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Obama and the Palin Pregnancy

Obama said exactly the right thing. The candidate's personal life is off-limits. The family of the candidate is off-limits. This is also a warning to the McCain campaign to leave Michelle out of it.

Monday, September 01, 2008

How to Handle the Palin Candicacy

The choice of Palin as VP put the right-wing evangelicals into a state of ecstasy and reinvigorated the conservative base. Republicans are offering the most logic-defying, stupefying mental gymnastics, in producing the lamest defenses of her lack of experience, especially on foreign affairs, I have ever seen. It is breathtaking -- has more experience than Obama, Obama has less than McCain -- all totally avoiding the question about her own paper-thin resume. Is the only harm to Obama is that it may get more of them enthusiastically to the polls? Maybe, but I am a little nervous.

The Dems have to be careful how they respond to her. Biden cannot appear to be patronizing or condescending to this foreign policy novice.. If he treats her like a lady, that will prompt some women to criticize him for not considering her as an equal.

Neither can he be overly aggressive in going after her full force. If he treats her like an equal and attacks her like he would a man, he will be criticised for being a bully against this winsome, wholesome hockey mom -- thus provoking women to defend her and men to protect her. Sexism works both ways. Remember Hillary's complaints and those of her supporters.

Women will sympathize with her problems in being a working mom, and working-class moms will feel a kinship to this down to earth woman and want to identity with her.

Many men, especially the manly men of a type, may be swept into fantasizing about a beauty-queen wife who will go hunting, fishing, and riding into the wilderness with his and her guns in the pickup rack and say to hell with the fact that she has never read an article in Foreign Affairs or been in the same room with Sarkozy. She will just stand on the border of Alaska in her combat boots with her AK47 and yell over to Putin, "Don't make me come over there and show you why you better get your butt out of Georgia, and you better not burn Atlanta down." I can hear them saying, "By damn, she is the kind of real American we need to send to Washington to straighten things out."

Many of these men and women are in demographic groups in which Obama has not done well-- small town and rural America and in the blue-collar, old industrial regions -- land of the Reagan Democrats. Hillary Clinton and Bill did do well, and they must help out in these areas, along with Biden.

Women will need to take the lead in demolishing her on all fronts. Dangerous for a man if not done just right -- remember the Hillary women's complaint against Obama, the press, and the world. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida has set the example. She sliced the lady from Alaska into small pieces with a few well-chosen words.

At first I thought the best line of attack was to expose her as the right-wing extremist that she is -- out of the main stream.  But I have reconsidered. I think both campaigns will rightly play  down the culture wars because that is not where it's at this year. People -- with Democratic help if necessary-- will learn her social and cultural views and react accordingly, but this is not decisive this time around.

The question is whether her visceral, emotional appeal to a certain class of voters can be overcome by making people aware of what the McCain-Palin team will -- mostly won't -- do to help struggling Americans find jobs with decent wages and benefits, keep their houses, afford health care, secure child care when both parents work, and the like.

Is it possible to break through the spontaneous affection of those who have fallen in love with  this seductively charming woman to confront people with hard reality? Will image and a sense of identification with her trump competence on issues of national policy about which Republicans have little or nothing to offer ordinary hard-working, struggling Americans?

She is Annie Oakley who looks good in combat boots and June Allyson or Julie Andrews in high heels. She is fresh, charming, has a good story to tell, and represents a kind of wholesome, unassuming American type that many ordinary people in small towns and rural areas will find compelling -- the kind of real American we office.

She may self-destruct, other revelations may doom her, her early enthusiasts may become disillusioned. Reluctant Hillary supporters may be driven toward Obama. Moderates and independents may turn against her. Who knows?

McCain may come out looking like a political genius or an idiot. As my son-in-law says, "We live in interesting times."

Sunday, August 31, 2008

McCain's Adultery, Trophy Wife Problem

In his personal life John (Keating Five) McCain in his first marriage committed adultery, abandoned a badly-injured wife, and married a gorgeous, young filthy-rich blond.

Now he is doing the same thing politically. His first political marriage was to Dowdy Experience Maturity. Now he has abandoned this badly injured spouse, committed political adultery and hastily eloped in a shot-gun marriage of convenience with Purity Inexperience Reformer, a fresh, charming, young, church-going, gun-totin,' moose-huntin,' right-wing extremist. She supported a constitutional amendment in Alaska in 1998 banning same-sex marriage.

Implications for the campaign's future self-definition:
Goodbye George Bush, hello Annie Oakley.
Goodbye, experience, hello change.
Goodbye 90% Republican loyalist, hello maverick.
Goodbye moderates, hello far-right evangelicals.

Indisputably female, she is posing as a look alike to Hillary Clinton and giving her supporters a seductive come hither smile, promising to break the political ceiling that HRC only dented, although admittedly 18,000,000 times. Those mean old reactionary Democrats didn't want a woman on the ticket, but we barrier-breaking, diversity loving Republicans, always on the frontiers of liberation for oppressed minorities, first always to toot the horn of social justice for everybody so that people can be judged by the content of their character and not by the shape of their reproductive equipment -- yes we social pioneers welcome the opportunity to open the doors of opportunity to all who have been shut out (with the exception of homosexuals, of course, who are perverts). So join us in celebrating this historic breakthrough. The Democrats could only manage to nominate the first African American for president -- what slow-moving wimps.