Republican National Convention ’08

Aquarian Weekly 9/10/08 REALITY CHECK


Sarah PalinA political acceptance speech viewed by thirty-eight million Americans is enough to send even the most staunch campaign minds into meltdown. Barack Obama’s August 28 appearance in front of eighty thousand delegates receiving Super Bowl/American Idol television numbers apparently scared the living shit out of John McCain. Less than 24 hours later he proved it by choosing for his ticket a completely unknown 20-month governor of Alaska, who also happens to be in her mid-forties, ultra-right wing, and most conveniently, a woman. In one fell swoop the McCain camp galvanized a flaccid base, challenged the gender/generational voting gap, and put some historical wow into a comatose candidate fronting a damaged brand.

But make no mistake; this was an intimidated and reactive move that reeks of desperation.

Ignoring the foundation of his campaign (experience), and against his better judgment, personal feelings, and fast-fading maverick pedigree, the Republican nominee for president of the United States panicked. Why he did so considering his opponent being an off the charts liberal, black junior senator is up for discussion. But what will ultimately be open for debate and an endless juicy line of factoids is its effect on this race, which according to the Grand Old Party’s top dog was in jeopardy of being something far worse than doomed. He had become irrelevant.

Say one thing for the Sarah Palin choice; it reflects a healthy chunk of acquired wisdom.

In 2000, McCain made serious inroads as a “reformer”, but before long he was ushered aside by half-assed Reformer Bush bullshit. So he knows first hand how one can usurp a decent idea to victory. And let’s face it; Hillary Clinton spent months combating the Obama surge with the weakly received “ready to serve from day one” crap which was roundly defeated.

Clinton failed to grasp the Change zeitgeist and grossly miscalculated the generational wave and was eventually dismissed as a tired has-been, a mantle that had been passed to John McCain. That is until Friday, August 29, when fighting the newbie with tough talk of being a sound and safe choice was trash-canned in favor of Two Can Play At This Game.

Love her, hate her, or be mostly confused by the whole mess, you must admit by Palin’s very existence, this 44 year-old woman who’d made a reputation on ripping and tearing at the foundation of her state’s “business as usual” ethics, puts McCain’s hopes, if not aboard the Change Train, at least hanging onto its caboose.

Of course it also puts the myth about the candidate being anything but a party suck-up and political panderer to bed. This was as calculated and fabricated a political move than could be made, which, of course, is fine, but not in the usual McCain idiom. By all reports the candidate wanted a trusted and close advisor like Independent/Democrat Joe Lieberman, a choice that he had stated time and again would help him “lead” rather than “gain him political traction”.

But somewhere along the line, whether his inability to crack the national 45 percent ceiling or his tepid numbers in the Southeast and Midwest or the kickass showcase the Democrats unleashed the week before, the once pushed-aside conservative party voices began to squawk, and McCain caved. This is the only explanation to why there was little to no vetting of Palin, who was never even mentioned on the shortlist, whom McCain had only met once, and who mockingly stated a few weeks ago she didn’t know what a vice president did.

The most important aspect of the past week for Republicans was to somehow some way distance themselves from themselves, and by attacking the media as misrepresenting the horrible results of the present government, which was perpetuated gleefully for the past eight years by their very own candidate, then they can say, “Shit, everything is fine, it’s the depiction of it that’s the problem.”

But Palin makes sense in a few crucial ways. First and foremost she is a woman who can seduce the disaffected Clinton supporters who have spent months whining about “gender bias” and cracking “glass ceilings”. Now that history is on both tickets, let’s see where these PUMA (Party Unity My Ass) gals go. And for those craving the young and untested Washington outsider, Palin has it in spades. You get no farther away from Washington DC than Alaska. You get no further from the mainstream than you do with a moose-gorging, gun-toting, baby machine. And best of all, she finally puts a corny goober into this race.

Then there is the unexpectedly advantageous offshoot that Palin is damaged goods — Evangelical hardliner with a knocked up teenaged daughter embroiled in an ongoing investigation on the firing of an in-law and weird connections to the Alaskan Independence party which continuously proposes the secession of the state. These among other baubles ignited a media feeding frenzy that has been used by the McCain people to great lengths as an implication of Leftist backlash, always gangbusters with the Republican base.

The last prominent perk of the Palin move is a magnificent marketing spin to what was sure to be a less than spectacular convention. In its wake the tainted Republican image was reborn in swaths of America First and calls for Anti-Establishment Central, not unlike peddling cheap furniture polish in a fancy can or selling crappy beer with a multi-colored label.

The most important aspect of the past week for Republicans was to somehow some way distance themselves from themselves, and by attacking the media as misrepresenting the horrible results of the present government, which was perpetuated gleefully for the past eight years by their very own candidate, then they can say, “Shit, everything is fine, it’s the depiction of it that’s the problem.”

It was classic fare and brilliant in its idiocy. It never fails. Anyone with any scope of fairness and even the slightest sense of political theater salutes it.

This intricate magic show was never more on display than in the almost Through The Looking Glass quality of a convention replete with a line-up of speakers who were pummeled in the party’s primary by a far less conservative candidate. Huckabee, Thompson, Romney and Giuliani shamelessly trumped up McCain’s Right Wing credentials with insane gibberish like the hammering of eastern-establishment elitists from a billionaire former governor of Massachusetts and the open derision towards a media that anointed the King of Mayors frontrunner status when he was accruing less votes than Ron Paul.

And by the way, how come Paul was left at the altar while a sad-sack windbag like Fred Thompson gets to wax poetic? I guess the only true conservative left who doesn’t exploit God and the flag for every morsel has been officially shut out of the Republican Party for good.

Paul, a true reforming libertarian, is on the outs while a losing Democratic vice presidential candidate was allowed 40 uninterrupted minutes of droning prattle. But it’s just as well, the man who eight years ago cried, “A vote for Al Gore is a vote for God” and then whimpered about being ripped off by Republicans when he was beaten in 2000 fit right in during what turned into the Victimization Revue.

But nothing compared to what the party did to its superheroes George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, two-time victors in the most polarized elections in generations, who were treated like rancid street trash: The president, pushed from primetime via satellite, meekly offered burps of feint praise and the vice president wasn’t even allowed on American soil during the festivities.

So it was no surprise that when McCain finally took the stage he spent close to an hour critically deconstructing the entire Bush legacy as a series of sad mistakes, a strange close to the incumbent party’s convention.

And as the music played and the balloons descended to the floor I thought for the first time a white, military veteran, Republican might actually blow this.

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music


Social tagging:

Leave a Reply