Sunday, August 31, 2008

Grandpa And The Beauty Queen

Watching John McCain hug Sarah Palin – who has an uncanny resemblance to SNL’s Tina Fey – yesterday was almost creepy: It was like seeing an old man copping a feel off a woman roughly half his age. Eerily, it all happened on the day after McCain turned 72 and the day before Michael Jackson turned 50.

Alright, that’s out of my system.

While McCain’s choice for vice president may energise the Republican Party’s shrinking base and shore up his credentials with the one issue evangelicals and creationists who drive the party’s platform, his Hail Mary pass is the best indication yet that John McCain will do and say anything to win the election. (Of course, in a way it’s not surprising since many of his fellow Hanoi Hilton residents still insist he did and said anything to get better treatment as a POW.) So much for McCain’s remaining shards of integrity.

As Gail Collins points out in today’s New York Times, McCain’s blatant pandering to women is an insult to their intelligence. Yet Janice Shaw Crouse of the far right group Concerned Women for America insists, "How refreshing that now we have a woman who reflects the values of mainstream American women.''

Oh, really? How mainstream can Palin be when polling reveals her positions are the exact opposite of “mainstream American women?”

The vast majority of American women want the freedom of choice over what happens to their bodies.

Mainstream American women are deeply concerned about the environment, which Palin – like McCain – doesn’t believe is under any serious threat as she urges intense ANWAR drilling, claims climate change is a fiction and doesn’t think the shrinking population of Polar Bears need protecting.

Mainstream women want the troops – their sons and daughters – out of Iraq, right now.

Mainstream women are concerned about gun violence.

Mainstream women want their children taught science, not flights of fancy about “creationism.”

Mainstream women want to be paid the same as men and have the same opportunities, something Palin has never said she supports.

Mainstream women are terrified that Social Security won’t be there at retirement because, the way things are going, IRA’s and 401(k) plans will be completely devalued and private pensions washed away in a tide of corporate bankruptcies while Palin has never uttered a word about the economic insecurity choking the country.

Mainstream women want the federal government to spend money on health care and schools while Palin supported spending hundreds of millions on the “Bridge to Nowhere” before she opposed it.

No wonder McCain picked Palin: She’s able to alter positions on a dime, depending on which way the political winds are blowing. Would that the Exxon-Valdize been that maneuverable.

Mainstream American women don’t want a vice president whose experience is 20 years as a self-described hockey mom, a few years as a semi-full time mayor of a tiny Alaskan wilderness town and not quite 18 months as governor of a state whose population is less than that of many Congressional districts in the “lower 48.” And a marginal, hot-headed governor at that, according to the Anchorage Daily News.

The risk Democrats face with Palin is three-fold: Underestimating her (which isn’t hard to do), dismissing her as a Dan Quayle joke (which she is) or thinking that simply exposing negatives about her (of which there are plenty) and her lack of depth, experience, knowledge or understanding of the world will influence the way people vote. Democrats can’t forget that people vote on emotion as much as on facts.

What can be of use is that she’s made plenty of trouble for herself back in Alaska. In a state rife with Republican corruption, she brushes against it. And she has a short fuse with a stubborn streak straight out of the Bush mould. For example, in August Alaska's largest newspaper wrote that Palin “revealed her ugly side” during the Troopergate scandal, adding “… Sarah Palin is not handling pressure well.”

The paper notes that she reacted to sharp criticism of her attempt to get a state trooper, a former sort-of relative, fired, by “Portray(ing) the brave men and women of the Alaska State Troopers as weak because they are afraid of losing their jobs and their ability to feed their families. What's wrong with these guys?”

Sound familiar? We’ve heard the same insults from the Bush-Cheney White House and Republicans in Congress for years.

Meanwhile, a bi-partisan committee of the Alaska legislature is spending $100,000 for an independent counsel to investigate the many charges of improper conduct that have been levelled against her by both Democrats and Republicans.

Contrary to what talking heads on the right say, Sarah Palin is not a “fresh face.” She’s simply another version of the same old same old the GOP and Bush White House has given us for eight years.

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