Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Un-Conventional Impressions

I PROMISED MYSELF I was not gonna watch a second of the Republican Convention this week, but there I was last night, soaking up the entire asylum, er, assembly of Rich White Simpletons shouting "USA! USA!" If you spotted a black face and it wasn't attached to a security guard, your eyes are much better than mine. There was a Jon Voight sighting, however.

The reason a political junkie like yours truly thought long and hard about skipping the festivities was purely medical: my blood pressure and stress rising to apoplectic levels was a very real threat that I gave into at the last second. To try to prevent all my pent-up disgust from exploding all at once, my strategy consisted of screaming obscenities loudly and giving the middle finger often to the television screen. Like most adult males of my particular demographic and psychological profile, this kind of behavior is ordinarily confined to your big sporting events.

One of the reasons it would have been wise for me to skip the Tuesday night lineup was because it featured two of the more revolting politicians our broken democracy can lay claim to: Fred Thompson and Joe Lieberman. Now, these two phony lying hucksters would have been abhorrent human beings no matter what profession they chose; but it was as attack dogs for the corrupt Republican platform that they were there speaking last night, back to back.
Fred Thompson has obviously polished his "Aw Shucks" corn-poke act over the decades, most notoriously employing his hayseed hypocrisy to great effect as the leading force in the Senate driving the Clinton impeachment back in '97-98. Last night he got great applause for his usual stump speech, which mostly bravely defends America, apple pie and motherhood against a degenerate Hollywood and media elite bent on handing the dangerously liberal Obama the election before a single vote is cast.

Choice Thompson: "Sarah Palin is the only nominee in the history of either party who knows how to field-dress a moose!" Call off the election now! It's over!

Joe Lieberman has an undeniably morbid bearing, and last night at the podium he looked at times like a mortician at a Sweet Sixteen party. He mumbled and stumbled through a singularly uninspiring speech -- his own creepy sotto voce laughter disturbingly, frequently audible over the humming of the less-than-fully aroused convention crowd.

Lieberman's appeal to disaffected Dems and independents was not only exceedingly superficial and disingenuous but also totally unlikely to have any effect on the election. After 8 years of the most deliberately polarizing president in at least a generation, lapdog Lieberman is appealing to voters to put Country First -- incidentally the convention motto, which took on unabashedly bizarre and proto-Fascistic overtones considering the militaristic stamp of the night.

Tonight it's Rudy Giuliani's turn, one of the very few modern day pols who, to me, rivals the above two for sheer soul-sucking malignancy. Then it's America's chance to get to know Sarah Palin, the cartoonish-sounding, self-described "hockey mom" a desperate John McCain tapped as his running mate.

My first reaction to the Palin nomination was, Great move for the Republicans. Cynical, desperate and almost wholly marketing-driven, yet potentially brilliant politically. But over the course of less than a week, the lack of vetting (has that word ever been used with more frequency than this past week?) by the McCain camp is startlingly obvious, and that's leaving aside for the moment the tabloid frenzy over her unmarried teenage daughter's pregnancy.

There is already enough politically exploitable baggage attached to her that Louis Vuitton will be opening an Alaskan outpost should the McCain-Palin ticket be cashiered in November. The Democrats would be wise to lay low until the debates and press conferences thrust Palin further into the spotlight. Obama-Biden operatives would be wise to use her own words to show that her brand of frontier conservatism is out of touch with the voting mainstream.

As far as I can tell, Palin supports creationism being taught in schools to the exclusion of evolution; abstinence education in lieu of sex education; is rabidly pro life and anti-abortion; and in a more comical vein exhorts fellow Alaskans to pray for a natural gas pipeline and for oil drilling in her state: "God's will has to be done in unifying people and companies to get that gas line built, so pray for that," she said. This kind of stuff makes her a hit with the evangelical crowd and will ensure a higher turnout among those lunatics than if, say, Lieberman or Tom Ridge were the VP choice, not uncoincidentally reported to be McCain's original selections. But does it garner her enough support among moderate women and environmentally minded voters, not to mention the coveted youth vote that has gone overwhelmingly Democratic the last two elections.

Even after 8 years of the Bush nightmare, most progressives and mainstream Dems just can't work themselves into a frenzy of personal hatred over John McCain, given his back story of overcoming overwhelming suffering during those years in a Vietnamese POW camp. Any other candidate would not be getting the near-free ride he's enjoyed so far, rightly or wrongly, judged solely on the merits of his uneven political career and constant shifting of opinions. In an earlier, simpler time, such unsure waffling would be branded as the dreaded "flip-flopping" -- a labeling that ringingly resonated with the double-digit IQ crowd that the Republicans almost exclusively set out appealing to in their every campaign move.

What makes the Rovian strategy so effective is that it simultaneously appeals not only to the grossly uninformed and blissfully ignorant among the electorate, but also to the reptilian part of the brain that often drives gut reactions and first impressions. Those are the emotions that cut deepest and last longest, and thus the more considered and thoughtful sections of our mind are often at a loss to parry them, no matter the ultimate consequences.

George Orwell wrote that Mankind at this stage of its development was ill-equipped, perhaps even fatally unprepared, to meet the challenges and demands that history was making of it, and thus we keep electing dysfunctional politicians and getting the resultant unresponsive governments we deserve. As good an explanation as any for the rotten state of our nation since right about the time the highly coordinated firing of assassins' bullets cut short a certain young president's life back in 1963, and thus our last best hope in the process, after but a thousand short days.


jimithegreek said...

damn good n funny! i could not bring myself to watch. thompson is a joke, lieberman is just lame and rudy is just slimey. we have 2 months of thsi to go.....oye!

Wardens World said...

I had to listen to Rudy's speech last night rather than watch, such is the effect that unctuous phony has on me.

Anonymous said...

The Republicans want to clean up Washington all of a sudden. Am I crazy or has Bush/Cheney been in charge over the last eight yrs. You simply cannot be a Republican without being a massive hypocrite on a daily basis.