Thursday, September 04, 2008

Beyond the Pale

Sarah Palin, now the official Republican Vice Presidential nominee, certainly hit it out of the park last night. It was a brilliant speech. For those concerned about whether or not the governor of Alaska would fold under the pressure, she certainly alleviated those fears in quick order. She was an authentic, white, working-class voice, and an effective messenger for Republican ideals. There is no way John McCain will be able to do better tonight.

Too bad there was little substance to anything she said. But then, as McCain recently stated, this election is about personalities not issues. And there is no bigger personality right now than Sarah Palin. Republicans fell all over themselves last night, declaring her a luminous superstar, saying she inspired all who fell beneath her spell, that she quickened the blood and made them feel good about themselves again. This is, ironically, exactly the sort of criticism leveled at Barack Obama’s supposed showmanship and lack of substance. Very interesting.

The speech, written by a veteran Bush scribe, wisely steered her away from her more extremist views — global warming, creationism, pork, etc. All polarizing views except abortion that is. Abortion is front and center once again. Abortion is the new abortion. And it seems to have electrified the base. If there are moderate voices in the party, they are not getting airtime this week.

Still, I am not sure that her snarky sarcasm, bitchy mockery and outright condescension was the right tone. Oh sure, the hall and the base loved her combativeness, but will it appeal to the critical independents and swing voters? She’s shown that so far she is adept at playing the V.P. role — attack dog — but the manner in which she did it may come back to haunt her. What plays one way in the heartland can play very differently in the brainland.

Is it really all that wise to attack community organizers as do-nothings, people whose job is specifically to speak up for underrepresented, the poor, the disenfranchised and those who cannot speak up for themselves. Only a Republican could get away with that. Only a Republican would dare. Only a Republican wouldn’t see anything wrong in it.

In a night in which the millionaire former governor of Massachusetts decried rich, East coast elites, Palin also saw no irony in vilifying “the permanent political establishment in Washington,” despite the fact that her new boss has been a United States Senator for nearly three decades. But then again, she jabbed at Obama’s decided lack of executive experience when the aforementioned McCain also lacks a single day of said executive practice.

It seems that the experience debate is not off the table after all. I’d have thought it an argument neither side wanted to dwell on. But it seems the Republican are more than happy to put their new standard bearer forward as a perfect example of Republicanism for the 21st century. Too bad that, while Palin and her people complain about media bias, her own party’s cheerleaders, including former speechwriter and Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan and Republican consultant Mike Murphy were caught on a hot mike yesterday ridiculing McCain’s choice of Palin — going so far as to call it “bullshit” — belittling her lack of experience, and stating emphatically, “It’s over!”

The choice of Gov. Palin is either the most brilliant or most absurd thing John McCain has ever done. She will either conjure magic or be regarded as a colossal misstep. It remains to be seen which way the pendulum will swing. It is far too early to tell. Despite a blistering introduction last night, the real race is just beginning.

P.S. In a tangential aside, I sent NBC’s political director, Chuck Todd, an e-mail last night. He responded, via his Blackberry, within moments, from the convention floor, between commentary spots. Amazing.


Blogger CNEIL said...

Unless John McCain did something radical, he was sure to lose. Bush barely won his last two elections and most of his thin margin now regrets their decision to vote Republican.

I agree with you. McCain's VP pick is part desperation and part innovation.

11:56 AM  
Anonymous Chris said...

Brandon’s comment on Palin’s speech;
“Too bad there was little substance to anything she said.”

Brandon’s comment on Obama’s speech;
“It had the perfect balance of soaring rhetoric and nitty gritty details.”

This proves that you have now become delirious on the Obama Kool Aid.

“Still, I am not sure that her snarky sarcasm, bitchy mockery and outright condescension was the right tone… What plays one way in the heartland can play very differently in the brainland.”

The fact that you and the media and the conservative base cannot stop talking about Palin proves McCain’s decision was a wise one. The fact that you media and you can only attack her personally shows you have argument. Any argument against her experience makes Obama look even more inexperienced. I will warn you again, the more you attack Palin, the more resolute the republicans, evangelicals and conservatives will become. As Palin reminded us last night about the people who don’t live in brainland; “They are the ones who do some of the hardest work in America ... who grow our food, run our factories, and fight our wars.” We also do a lot of voting when we are motivated by a conservative on the ticket.

2:00 PM  
Blogger Brandon said...

When you have no substance, personality is all you can attack!

2:05 PM  
Blogger Grinth said...

From the mouth of Republican favorite Karl Rove. Palin was "not a governing decision but a campaign decision".

6:40 PM  
Blogger Jon C. Fibbs said...

One of the benefits of not maintaining any party affiliation is that it allows you to see the hypocrisy that lies within both parties and their followers. Followers. A truer word was never spoken. Utterly incapable of independent thought they respond in Pavlovian fashion to every stimulus they are subjected too.

When I was a die hard Republican (and believe me - I died hard) I would respond to every “attack” by liberals with instant condemnation and unassailable rhetoric. Ding ding. Drool. There is a strong psychological function at work although I cannot name it. When I turned my back on the Republican party in disgust and set off on my own I never the less found my hackles rise every time I heard a liberally minded person criticize some conservative personality or idea. I felt a need to rise to the defense of the conservative standpoint even though intellectually I loathed it and in some cases I agreed with the liberal standpoint. This reflex lasted for over a year.

So it is somewhat humorous to me (but mostly disheartening) when I see people take up their arms and assume their positions on the battle front every time theres an election. Their candidate can do no wrong, whilst the oppositions candidate can do no right. There can be no compromise and it is always the other side that is responsible for the lack of any bipartisan progress and for all the ills that face the nation at any given time.

People often complain about the extreme left or the extreme right being in charge of the parties agenda and that there needs to be more centrists in power but when I sometimes ask people what they would change about their parties platform or what issue they disagreed with the party on and the reply is almost always depressingly the same: they're not liberal enough/their not conservative enough. With all the issues that the political arena encompasses (a beast that is continually swallowing ever more territory) they cannot think of one area in which they have a fundamentally different view points or beliefs.

It all very disheartening because if I were to ask somebody what their favorite band/food/car/artist/movie/etc was and why I would get a million different answers from a million different people. But for some reason there are only two different options possible on how best to organize society. Most disheartening of all is just how truly rare it is to find somebody who doesn't think society needs organizing at all. At least not from on 'high'

So take up your battle lines. Take your orders and execute your enemy without quarter. But maybe, just maybe when your sitting quietly in your trench waiting for your next rush, ask yourself, what would I change about my party and why? Is it appropriate that I can find no fault with my party and can find no good in the other?

9:39 PM  
Anonymous POD said...

I hereby annoint you a "Chuckolyte."

3:27 AM  
Blogger Brandon said...

Wise as always my brother!

10:07 AM  
Anonymous Chris said...

Jon I miss you buddy. Don’t know if Brandon relayed the information to you, but I was just in Japan for about two weeks. I agree with your post. I would challenge anyone to say I am sold out to the republican party based on my comments on this blog. I have no disillusions that my party or any of its members can usher in a utopia if they could just get elected, nor is my view of politics as dark as yours. The fact is, who ever is in office will affect my life in one way or the other. I tend to vote republican because the affects they have on my life tend to positive ones. As far as compromise goes I don’t believe in it, the person I vote for should play to win. I like Margret Thatcher’s definition of compromise, “it is something everybody agrees to and nobody believes in.” Why should I compromise on the death of innocent life in my country? Why should I compromise on larger government? Why should I comprise on the defense of this nation? Why should I compromise on wasteful spending? With that said let us test your theory.

Three issues where McCain is dead wrong:
1. Stem Cell Research
2. Global Warming
3. Immigration

Brandon the gauntlet has just been thrown down.

1:30 PM  
Anonymous Chris said...

Brandon, throughout the Obama blogs my theme has been trying to understand why someone as intelligent as yourself can blindly support Obama. I don’t for an instant believe you follow lock step with the democratic party. You have demonstrated your ability to be a free thinker regarding party lines. But when it comes to Obama, he can do no wrong in your eyes.

1:59 PM  
Blogger Brandon said...

Blame it on the pendulum. Once I was a frothing-at-the-mouth right winger. Then I became a fire-breathing liberal. Then I became balanced.

I'm probably far more balanced than I let on here. After all, provocateur and devil's advocate are two roles I love to play!

3:15 PM  
Anonymous Chris said...


You still haven't named a complaint against Obama.

9:56 PM  
Blogger Brandon said...

Abortion. While I still feel that his holistic policies are the best, long term, to lower abortion rates, I still cannot agree with his specifics on abortion.

3:34 PM  
Anonymous Chris said...

One is the best you can do. How about his acceptance of private money.

1:04 PM  

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