Hot damn, I though I was cynical, but apparently the GOP has me beat by a freakin' country mile. The RNC last night was notable for many insane things, perhaps the most insane being the media's inability to not be wowed by shiny objects.
Let's start with our good friend Mittmentum, who gave in an awesome speech in some sort of alternative history novel in which Gore won the 2000 election and Washington was dominated by the liberals for the last 8 years. He serious railed against liberal tax and spend Washington, conveniently ignoring the fact the Washington has been in the hands of the GOP for the past two terms. Explicitly more hilarious was Romney attacking East Coast Elites. The head of Bain Capital, from Massachusetts, is attacking east coast elitism, I don't even begin to understand how he thought he could get away with this. The temerity of this speech was amazing, in line with all of the other speeches last night, as the GOP seemed under the impression that if they said it in prime time it would suddenly just become true. And they're right, it might, if the media refuses to challenge this utter nonsense.
Then cameth the Huck. Look, it's hard not to like Huck. He seems nice, he's funny, snarky and pretty smart. I hate the religious side of his politics, but I think in person I would get along with him real well. I appreciated the fact that he was the one person who took a single moment to be gracious to Obama about his accomplishments. That said, two huge quarrels with his speech. The first was all his talk about small government. Who are you fooling Huck? You love government! You want to have government's babies. I saw you and government out back canoodling under the old elm tree. All kidding aside, Huck really is an economic populist, it's why he's gained traction in areas the GOP hasn't, it's his unique strength and he should stick with it. If he wants to win in 2012 he's not going to out market downhome country boy, Mitt Romney. Seriously, I think the two of them, for a larf, switched speeches, Huck talking about small government, Mittmentum about the Eastern Elite. But then Huck made a Madonna joke, so it was definitely him. My other issue with Huckamonster was his flat out lie about Sarah Palin getting more votes for mayor of Wasilla than Biden got for POTUS. Let's assume we are comparing only this time around, not 1988. The most votes Palin ever got in Wasilla was 650, Biden got over 50,000 against a much tougher field of candidates. These are not even comparable, and in so far as they are this analysis of the comparison was a flat out lie.
Rudy! Rudy! Rudy! I don't have too much to say specifically about Rudy's speech. He's a buffoon, pure and simple. The man has jumped the shark so hard that it's comparable to when the Bundy's got that extra kid only to find out it had all been a dream. I would say his the political equivalent of The Golden Palace, but I would never insult the memory of Estelle Getty like that. He's basically the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers post-Kimberly. Anyway, my point is that I am going to take this time to focus on two things that were present throughout all the GOP talking points. The first is this batshit crazy notion that executive experience is the most important. Attempting to ban books in Wasilla, AK is waaaaaaay more important to being a President of the United States than being a Senator for 35 years, meeting with leaders of the world, ushering through critical legislation to protect women, managing critical Supreme Court confirmation hearings and being responsible to voters of your state. I love to strawman, but Rudy and the GOP loves decisionmaking so much that their logic easily extends to the idea that Peter Boyt, manager of the Barnstable, MA Kinko's, is more qualified to be president than Joe Biden. Well, I am sorry I forgot, Peter Boyt is probably a member of the East Coast establishment. Ugh, it's just so stupid and cynical to think that people would believe this, hells I think we are all aware that the other extension of this argument is that Palin is more qualified than McCain. Oh wait! McCain once led in the military. Sigh, I don't know what pisses me off more, the fact that the GOP has the cojones to make these arguments or that fact that they might work.
The second thing I just don't get is the derision that the Republicans seem to have for community organizing. It's amazing, they act like this is the only thing on Obama's resume, rather than the start to a notable and respectable career. I think it's awesome that Obama chose to work in his community helping people, rather than selling out. But here's the bigger reason the Republicans have such utter contempt for community organization, it's their job to tell the people what to think. Community organization is based on the principle of giving voice to the people, and having the bottom control the top. Republican principles are based on telling the people what to think and believe, letting market forces (read as, the will of those with the most money) determine how communities are shaped, and using wedge social issues to get people to vote and act against their local interest. They don't respect community organization because they don't want to see communities get organized. Yet another in a litany of reasons to believe that the Republicans are so insanely out of touch with the American people.
So finally we get to Palin, the "Real Housewife of Juneau County"*. I have never in my life disliked a politician more than I do her. I think putting herself in the spotlight while her daughter is dealing with her personal issues was reprehensible, but using a Down's Syndrome baby as a campaign prop? It's nearly abusive. I mean at one point Cindy McCain was holding the baby. It's flat out disgusting (and I really don't get disgusted by anything). She spoke well, she read off a teleprompter (one that had the word nuclear spelled phonetically "new-clear") and she got off some reasonable funny lines. What she didn't do is talk about policy or give any of us a single reason to believe that she is actually qualified to step in as President of the United States. There is not a single person in this country who cannot imagine any of the three other people in this race sitting in the Oval Office. They may not be your first choice, but Obama, Biden and McCain all make sense sitting behind that desk, but Palin? My God, the unknown of that is simply terrifying. There is no chalking this up to some sort of misogyny, I think Hillary would have been an amazing president (I'd have put her in there before anyone but Biden). No this is simply about the fact that Palin has no clue on national domestic issues or international affairs. She's also a flat out liar. She claims to have said "no thanks" on the "Bridge to Nowhere" when she was demonstrably in favor of it, she hired lobbying firms to get earmarks for her town, she's embroiled in several scandals and is all for small government except for intrusions in to your bedrooms and libraries.
She's mean-spirited and not ready, but with all the press applause for her speech delivery last night you wouldn't know it. This is woman who's voice dripped with derision for the press. And they ate it up. The media often talks about how they're the voice of the people, this is perhaps their biggest opportunity to show it's true. They must demand interviews with Palin now, with serious magazines, papers and shows. She can't get away with interviews with People and Hannity, she has be held accountable by the mainstream media, asked questions that demand knowledge and deep understanding. It's also on Biden, I love Joe, but he can't let the "play nice' attitude of the Obama campaign effect you too much. He has to get out there in the debate and simply womp her in to the ground. He needs to demands specifics and talking about intricate plans both domestically and abroad. The word Afghanistan was mentioned not once last night, the Dems need to talk about that more.
In the end we are left with this. The Republicans have squandered the last eight years, killing a surplus created by Bill Clinton. They have poorly fought wars, mismanaged the economy, eroded civil rights and generally made a mockery of ethical governance. Now they are simply pretend that it didn't happen. They are arguing two people who are political and have done little to create substantive reform (or in McCain's case moved away from the actual good things he has done) are the real standard bearers of change. If we can't win now, we will never win. Sighing about the politics of cynicism won't do it, it's simply not enough. We need to be specific, point out every lie, spin or misnomer they put out there. The American people deserve better than this, but we need to show them what there real choice is. If we can do that and they still opt for this disturbing brand of image-based, elitist domination on the part of the Republicans, well then my God maybe we do deserve McCain/Palin.
*Patent pending, Bravo reality TV coming to a White House near you.