Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Clinton Redux?

Apparently some “critics” believe that President-elect Obama should not be choosing so many staffers with ties to the Clinton administration if he really is all about the “change” that was promised during his campaign. My response to that is (1) when the critic is that nasty, whining Republican “strategist” Leslie Sanchez, who I spent many a pre-election moment wishing would evaporate from my TV screen, I’m not inclined to give any credence to the criticism, and (2) how can he NOT pull in members of his new team from that era of administration? The world is not full of people with some experience in the business of running the country, and if the common campaign complaint against Obama was that he had no experience, then it only makes sense that he surrounds himself with people who do. Obama is the president, not anyone else, so if he wants governance not to be business as usual then that is the mandate he has to set with his team, and if they want to keep their jobs then they will follow it.

That said, I am not in love with the idea of Hillary Clinton as secretary of State, and there are media reports that she might not be, either. She is “agonizing” over the decision because she “likes to be her own boss.” I can understand that, particularly when her new boss would be the person who beat her out for the job. And of course there’s the little matter that it might be construed as tacky when she tries to steal her boss’ job away when she wants to run for president again in 2012 and will undoubtedly have to insult him and his policies again at that time. She is certainly qualified for the job, but why would Obama want to bring all that drama and her enormous ego (not to mention that of her once-great and now horrifying caricature of a husband) into his Cabinet? Would she even be able to restrain herself from putting forth her own policy positions to foreign leaders if she didn’t agree with Obama? She simply isn’t one to play second fiddle, and that’s fine. She shouldn’t take the job.

And why did Obama even offer her the position? Is it a case of “keep your enemies closer”? Or did he know she would balk at taking the position so he felt he could offer it to her and still look like the good guy when she turned it down? Did he think it would be a way to get the eternally slighted and angry Bill Clinton off his back? Or perhaps he genuinely thinks she’s the best person for the job, since she does have a good relationship and familiarity with so many foreign leaders. But I doubt it. Obama is as much of a politician as the rest of them, so there must be a motive in there somewhere.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


I’ve had an election hangover. Barely managing to scan the headlines each morning, I haven’t much cared what’s going on during this transition period. Even all my addictive partisan news shows have lost their luster. It’s hard to stay too engaged when all the same horrible problems continue to face the country today and for now we still have the worst president in American history. And how are we addressing our most immediate and largest problem – the ever downwardly-spiraling economy? With the incredible juggernaut that is “The Bailout.”

The Bailout, also euphemistically known for a brief period as the “rescue package” before reverting to its harsher but more accurate descriptor, is something to behold as it spreads like slime into every crevice of American business. I’m a liberal and all that, but is every last segment of the economy planning to take NO responsibility for getting itself into this predicament, and instead come to Uncle Sam, hat in hand? The argument is that the situation is now so dire that finger-pointing will not solve the crisis and something simply has to be done immediately to stanch the bleeding.

Yes. It was imperative that AIG receive a second influx of the taxpayers’ money when the first wasn’t enough to fund those corporate jaunts to plush resorts or the bonuses to which management believed it was still entitled, and it was imperative that the homeowners who didn’t read their own contracts or bother to check their figures adequately receive some kind of relief to stay in their homes to which they, as Americans, are entitled. And now it’s essential that an industry of companies that largely refused or failed to develop products that could compete on some level with foreign automakers receive a massive influx of cash so that they don’t close down and put thousands of “real Americans” out of work.

Perhaps my sympathy would have flown as freely as our government’s cash if the greedy financial companies hadn’t already sucked up all my goodwill. Frankly, a failing auto industry, even if that failure is somewhat of their own making, is a more compelling recipient of government funds than grossly overpaid financial types who twisted the system for their own staggering gain and now mewl about it while the rest of the country pays the price. But where does it all end, and where does this money come from?

What would happen if the Republicans’ prized market economy was allowed to experience the brunt of its own mistakes and excess? I guess the government would be paying for it one way or another.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Sarah Palin, We Hardly Knew Ye.

And boy, do I like it that way. Some may think she is destined to be the next big thing in the Republican Party, but I’m skeptical. It’s pretty clear that her mode of politics was resoundingly rejected by the American public, much to John McCain’s chagrin. After all, when he brought her on board to re-energize his base and bring over independents, she flat-out failed. Not at energizing his Christian conservative base; as a delightfully groomed embodiment of all they hold dear, she did that extremely well. But she alienated and even repulsed independents and moderate Democrats. Many were insulted by the notion put forward by the McCain campaign that she was ready for prime time. After a mandate such as the one given to Barack Obama, how is Governor Palin’s singular brand of divisiveness going to become more attractive 4 years from now?

A larger question is whether there will be redemption for John McCain. He followed up a horrible campaign with a moving, eloquent concession speech that reminded us of what was likeable about him in the first place. If only he had remained true to his old persona during his campaign, the one that had won him friends and grudging admirers on both sides of the aisle, who knows how the election would have turned out.

But he did not. McCain either allowed himself to be manipulated by his advisers or showed his own true colors – neither option being an appealing one. He is still the senior senator from Arizona, and there is no reason to believe that will change any time soon. He can still enjoy his power, even if he has to endure ribbing about his choice of VP, and maybe even anger that he did so much to help the Republicans lose. Or, as is more likely, the Republicans can write the loss off to a nation so dissatisfied with George Bush that they were only going to elect a Democrat this time no matter who the Republicans ran against them. And John McCain can resume his role of tetchy old troublemaker until he dies in office.

In the meantime, the Democrats have some serious fixin’ to do.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Hope - Triumph or Defeat.

I keep reading that America will make history today regardless of the candidate that we choose: we will either have our first African-American president, OR the delightful twofer of the oldest elected President and the first woman vice-president. Somehow, Option Two doesn’t sound like history to me, other than that by electing the Crypt Keeper and his batshit sidekick into office we would be writing America’s obituary into the history books.

Try as I might, which is not very hard, I can’t see the 10 week joyride that Sarah Palin will have taken into office as a great historical stride for women, nor do I see electing the oldest white guy ever into office to be of positive import. Who cares? All that election would say to me is we are a nation of fools, clinging to a loveless marriage with our idealization of a glorious past instead of opening our minds to the possibility of a glorious future.

Call me “defeatist” or “un-American,” but my feminist dream of electing a woman into the second highest executive office in the land didn’t include (1) the second highest office at all, or (2) some hard line Republican’s wet dream of a prettily packaged, cold-eyed power monger whose only hint of true compassion is for special needs children and fetuses. Rather, it included somebody exceedingly smart and capable, who worked hard herself for the prize, and didn’t have it handed to her purely as a cynical ploy by that oldest living white man in his own search for glory.

So I will settle for electing the first African-American man into office, and if I let go of my last lingering resentment that women ALWAYS come in second, then it’s not settling at all. It’s sheerly and powerfully wonderful. How incredible that the day has finally come where, if the polls are correct, a majority of Americans will elect someone into office who represents the very best of what America has to offer to the world: a person who is a true face of what America has become – an increasingly assimilated cultural melting pot - and what it needs to be – a country that values intelligence and thoughtfulness; that prizes education.

Black Americans get to experience something today that I can only imagine: seeing themselves represented as a candidate for the (until recently) most respected job in the world. To see what education and hard work can help you to accomplish – what incredible possibility for our children!

Please let today be the triumph of hope and possibility over:

Dirty politics
Outdated notions of what makes America great.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Countdown to Something.

Almost every poll and every pundit is calling the race for Obama. I will not believe it until I see it. After the last eight years, which to me and others represent such a giant slap in the face to democracy, I can’t help but wonder not if, but how, the darkest, battleship gray of the right wing is going to steal this election.

Has it already happened in a “democratic” way, meaning that McCain will win a majority of the electorate because he has sufficiently convinced the “real America” that Barack Obama consorts with, and obviously is himself, a Muslim Socialist Terrorist who Hates America? Or will Americans have rejected McCain’s divisive techniques to win power for himself? If that’s so, and the victory is actually clear, then what will the neo-cons do? Start a bigger war in the Middle East? Threaten Iran with a nuclear holocaust? Sorry, America, it’s just not safe to transition power to the new president right now! You’ll have to wait until we give you the green light… and don’t hold your breath.

Perhaps this sounds like an overreaction on my part, but recent history has been damaging. The actions of this administration and its shady, behind-the-scenes operatives are like a cement block around the feet of my trust with respect to believing they would follow the rule of law when it doesn’t suit them.

I just want this to be over with so I can know whether my faith in America (on many levels) should be restored, or whether I need to accept that the country is full of too many people who just don’t share the same priorities as I do.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Giving Us Something We Can Feel.

I had had my doubts about the Obama “infomercial” that was going to be broadcast on seven major stations last night. I didn’t trust Americans to be too happy about having their escapist sitcoms or the World Series pre-game show pre-empted by some black guy talking about his life. It had the potential to be so cloyingly self-serving, so presumptuous – it was risky.

And I still don’t know how your average American perceived it. I expect that it’s like much else; if you had already planned to vote for Obama, you still will, and if you didn’t, you still won’t. But if you had already been planning to vote for Obama – boy, can you feel really, really good about it.

Obama has a wonderful voice; perfectly suited to narration, and to conveying a sense of calm reassurance. “Hey,” it soothes, “I’ve got your back. Stick with me and everything is going to work out OK.” And it turns out that while the commercial had plenty of subtle reassurances that he is just like any other American – raised by a single mother with a strong work ethic who spent the last weeks of her life fighting with insurance companies over health care coverage – it was not at all heavy handed. In fact, the commercial was much more about letting people know that he understands the true dilemmas that are facing Americans.

Vignettes of four families were presented to make his point. In each case, because of some kind of all too typical circumstance, the families found themselves struggling to make ends meet and to hold on to what they had. An older couple in Ohio had owned their house outright, but had had to take out a mortgage on it when her medications became too expensive to afford with their retirement savings. The husband had to cut short his retirement and go back to work. The scene of him clipping his Wal-Mart badge onto his vest was poignant and, for me, thought-provoking.*

Each of these stories ripped at my heart, as they were surely designed to do, and their purpose was clear. The “left” is all too often painted by the Republicans as disconnected from the problems and the values of average Americans, which is, of course, ridiculous. The Republicans discovered the common man themselves only recently, and they’ve been trying to sell him a bill of goods ever since. These stories showed not only that Obama recognizes the average American and understands his or her problems, but that he has devoted real time to thinking about those problems and coming up with solutions. His goal was to show that he “gets” America – and he did.

*Thought-provoking because on one hand, to some Wal-Mart represents the worst example of a monolithic corporation that has insinuated itself into our communities and pushed out smaller businesses that can’t compete. On the other, it seems to have provided a lot of these post-retirement jobs for people who either need or want to keep working. But which came first? Is Wal-Mart a cause or a solution to the problem?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Biting the Hand that Feeds Her.

Apparently some members of the McCain campaign believe that Sarah Palin has become a “rogue” candidate, refusing to follow campaign instructions in favor of saying what she chooses, when she chooses. Her reason for such behavior, some staffers opine, is that she knows the McCain ship is sinking and she is positioning herself for her own run in 2012.

I say, go for it. Maybe she thinks she can portray herself in a more appealing light than she did under the campaign’s restrictions and tutelage, but I’m doubtful. Why? Because Sarah Palin is not that smart. Canny? Yes. Cunning? You betcha. Savvy? Getting there. But what a president truly needs, she is lacking in spades. She can make snotty comments about Katie Couric’s interview all she wants – about how she guesses she let her annoyance show when she thought the questions she was asked were stupid or irrelevant – but it’s only a diversion tactic. Her interview with Ms. Couric, as well as her earlier one with Charles Gibson, didn’t show her to be annoyed. It showed her to be ill-prepared, not particularly smart, decidedly “unready” for the role of vice president, and generally somewhat unlikable to all but the most devotedly knee-jerk Republican. You know, the ones who come to rallies either:

1. with their hair straight out of the blender, muttering about how Obama is a Muslim and a Socialist;

2. with their hair smoothed into a shiny helmet, vapid smiles hiding years of suppressed fury with their rich husbands who have treated them monstrously in exchange for allowing them to spend their overblown salaries;

3. with the bright light of Jesus in their eyes, looking fervent and slightly insane and confident their strict morality is the best thing for and about America; or

4. with their shirts off, beer guts hanging over their jeans as they proclaim how “hot” the vice-presidential candidate is.

So, you know, an illustrious group, and one made up of individuals I’m so pleased have the right to vote.

At Sarah Palin’s rally on Sunday, she was joined by the most exhausting and whiny Elizabeth Hasselbeck from the View. Ms. Palin and Ms. Hasselbeck, against the wishes of the McCain campaign, spent several minutes prattling on about how it was so very uninteresting that the Republican Party had spent $150,000 on clothes for Ms. Palin, and how it was a sexist double standard and nobody would waste a moment on the news that a man had spent that kind of money at Brooks Brothers. Ms. Palin asserted that she had returned most of the clothes and that she was back to her consignment duds from Wasilla, and indeed she was wearing a pink jacket that had seen better days. Ms. Hasselbeck, on the other hand, was wearing a lime green coat that was clearly a very expensive, designer garment. If the desired effect was to paint Governor Palin as her own woman, it failed. Instead, she spent far too much time on what was, just as she said, a trivial and petty issue. Worse, she undermined her own attempt to reassert her “commonness” by backing herself up with the insubstantial fashion plate Ms. Hasselbeck as her cheerleader.

Fortunately (or unfortunately) for the McCain campaign, Ms. Palin returned quickly to her themes of her empathy for “Tito the Builder,” “Joe the Plumber” and “Cindy the Citizen,” and to her mantra of “I’m not saying Obama’s a socialist, but it sure looks like it, doesn’t it?” But if Governor Palin really wants to distance herself from this campaign and position herself as a more appealing candidate in 2012, then she needs to recognize the obvious: this campaign has been a lesson for the history books in how not listening to what the people want can lose an election for you. In this case, the people wanted candidates to reject the divisive, nasty, partisan rhetoric that plagued the last several elections. McCain and Palin rather gleefully rejected that wish, and with luck that will prove fatal to their campaign.

To win over an electorate that by and large thinks she is woefully unqualified to hold a national office, Ms. Palin needs to spend the next four years refashioning herself as someone who wants to bridge divides rather than simply impose her harsh version of reality, prettied up as it is in a syrupy, home-spun cocoon of folksiness, on the world. And reading a few books on American history and politics wouldn’t hurt, either. She needs to at least school herself adequately to bluff her way through a few puff-piece interviews.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A dream or a nightmare.

If other Americans planning to vote for Barack Obama on November 4 feel the same way I do, then if he does not win because of (insert soul-destroying reason here: Republicans steal the election again, a Bradley effect, not enough people vote for him), there will be a massive wave of emotion to endure on November 5. If others share my sentiments, there will be:

1. Profound sadness
2. Blind terror at what the next decade holds for our country
3. An irrevocable loss of faith in the democratic process, and
4. An increase in job searches abroad.

There are so many reasons for this. The McCain campaign and its supporters can jeer about a campaign based on “hope” all they want, but the underlying premise of Obama’s campaign represents so much more than people who can’t see beyond the confines of their own four walls can imagine. Many of us believe that the last eight years have placed this country on the path to destruction, and to say as much doesn’t make us anti-American, or defeatists, or dirty liberals. It simply means we do not agree with the policies of a president whose supporters rigged an election for him, or with the way the country has been co-opted by religious fanatics who seek to legislate their version of morality for us all. It means we believe the country should be run by someone who is the opposite of who we have now: someone highly educated, analytical, calm, collaborative, and with a global world view; someone who possesses a long-term view for America.

Barack Obama holds out the promise of hope for this country. Hope that those of us who have felt disenfranchised can re-establish our voices, and not be made to feel we are un-American for daring to voice our opposition to the unprecedented, abusive amassment of power by this administration. Hope that we can renew a commitment to civil rights in this country that has been shamelessly chipped away by the current administration, and which doesn’t bode any better under a McCain/Palin stint on Pennsylvania Avenue. Hope that we can be a beacon for the world once again with national pride based not on some outdated notion that we are the biggest and strongest so that we may self-righteously impose ourselves on the rest of the world, but on our achievements as an advanced, educated, growth-oriented, post-racial and tolerant society that is blazing an enviable path into the future.

Barack Obama inspires us to dream that we can have a say in our own destinies and that with him at the helm this world is going to be a better place, and he backs up his vision with solid ideas about how to advance our nation past the loggerheads at which we find ourselves today. To imagine that this pure and hopeful dream could be destroyed by the conniving machinations of a pair of fools who clearly do not represent the majority in this country … it is simply devastating.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Apparently I'm Out.

According to Michele Bachmann, a congresswoman from Minnesota, she and the rest of America would just “love” to see the American media do an exposé on who is “pro-America” and who is “anti-America” in Congress. (Presumably any non-American media would be “anti-America,” so let’s not have them participate in this investigation.)

Even though Ms. Bachmann did not follow up her statement, which she made to Chris Matthews on MSNBC, with an explanation of what constitutes “pro-America” or anti-America,” I’m going to take a swing and posit that under her world view I am “anti-America,” and that so is any Democrat in Congress.

What is wrong with the Republican Party right now? Between Ms. Bachmann’s wacko suggestion and Sarah Palin trotting out the concept at her rallies that only small towns are “pro-America,” we are witnessing something very ugly: an attempt to drive a wedge between fellow Americans by painting those that do not subscribe to a conservative agenda as lacking patriotism; indeed, as traitors to the country. It’s an awfully cheap way to try to win an election, and it undermines our strength as a nation.

After more than a decade of rancorous partisanship in this country, it’s clear that many Americans are ready to move past it and want to work together for the future of the country. A large part of Senator Obama’s appeal is that he exhorts us to come together and find common ground, to remember that we are ALL Americans and have America’s best interests at heart. His calm, unruffled demeanor soothes us and lets us believe that mending the rent fabric of our country isn’t just a pie-in-the sky ideal. It’s that type of leadership that Americans want right now; not some two-bit throwback to McCarthyism that seems designed for nothing more than to fire up the tiny minority of voters who wouldn’t see the whole scheme as an insult to their intelligence.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A self-congratulatory weekend for the liberals, except maybe me.

Forgive me for being so blunt, but Sarah Palin’s appearance on SNL was as devoid of substance as the rest of her public appearances. Was it supposed to benefit her somehow? Let us know she can take a joke? Because standing there with a tight smile while other people make fun of you, rather than actually chiming in with a little self deprecation of your own, doesn’t make me think you’re up for the joke. It makes me think you’re suffering from a nasty lack of self awareness when you can’t laugh at your own persona.

Not that I think SNL did her any favors. Giving her the line “I won’t take any questions” when stepping up to the podium just vacated by Tina Fey only reminds viewers that Governor Palin avoids questions from anyone but the faithful like the plague, a fact of which I’m sure the writers were gleefully aware. Following that up with Alec Baldwin ceding lamely “You’re much hotter in person,” after giving his true opinion while reading his lines off a cue card in a most deliberately “I don’t want to be here” manner was also an unfortunately apt depiction of how many people see her.

On the other end of the TV spectrum this weekend, there was Colin Powell’s eloquent endorsement of Barack Obama on Meet the Press. Always diplomatic, he made clear that he was in no way denigrating John McCain or indicating that he thought he could not be president (although a few things he said belied that stated position), but simply that he had a long line of reasoning to support Obama. His list was an insightful expression of the numerous character traits that he believes Obama possesses that make him right for the job, culminating in a simple statement that the personality and type of leadership Obama offers is the right course for the time we are in right now.

It was also a pleasure for those of us hanging off the left hand side of the fence to hear General Powell castigate the Republican Party for its subtle and not-so-subtle attempts to portray Obama as a Muslim, and to ask, “so what if he were?” We have come to demonize Muslims in this country by casually equating being a Muslim with being a terrorist. As a person who dislikes religious dogma of all stripes, I know that I have sometimes been guilty of making unfounded leaps of logic like that myself – not that all Muslims are terrorists, but that people who practice a faith that I don’t understand, and which seems to allow some pretty bad behavior in God’s name, have an agenda I should be scared of.

For me, though, that’s everybody. I have come to distrust organized religion in general, whether the faith is Christian, Muslim, Jewish; whatever. I have allowed myself to think that the extremist views in each group represent the ideology of all in the group. The incredibly vocal nature of evangelical Christians in America, who seem to seek to impose their own narrow view of morality on the entire country through taking over the Republican Party rather than by pleasantly inviting like-minded people to join their mega-churches, has nurtured that in me. So just as my knee-jerk reaction is to believe that evangelical Christians all possess the desire to dictate the way I live my life, I also conclude without reflection that a religion that I perceive as being violent and fundamentally sexist because of the acts of a visible vanguard (and I’m referring to Islam, although it could just as easily be Christianity) seeks to do the same things – but believes that death and destruction are warranted to achieve that goal.

I’m embarrassed to admit what an appalling lack of analysis on my part it shows to continually allow the more strident members of a religion to infect what others assure us are the gentler virtues of the faith. I’m thankful that a sober-minded, intelligent man like Colin Powell has reminded me, and the leaders of an entire political party that should at least act as if it knows better, of the danger such a cavalier way of thinking poses to the democratic ideals on which this country is based.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Because children are starving in ... America.

Will this campaign never end? It lurches on from day to day, with speeches by both presidential candidates that could just as easily be given by playing the same tape over and over and continued divisive, offensive Palin rallies. I think America is reaching the end of its rope. Campbell Brown suggests in a column today that the candidates could give everyone a break and help America at the same time, by scrapping their negative advertising for the rest of the campaign and donating the combined $30,000,000 per week to food banks and other charities.

That’s astounding, don’t you think? Thirty million dollars a WEEK spent on ads that have been shown to be having the opposite effect of what’s desired, while homeless shelters and soup kitchens across America are stretched to their limit by the influx of the newly homeless. Just as more citizens need their services, these charities are feeling the crunch of lessened donations from Americans who are hoarding their money out of fear for their own livelihoods.

This is a scary state of affairs. The story Ms. Brown tells of a woman who has taken her three small children to the shelter for all three meals a day, every day since her husband lost his job and they lost their house, hits awfully close to home. So many of us are a few missed mortgage payments away from foreclosure, and in economic times when nobody feels secure about his job, it could be you and it could be me bundling our small children up against the cold to ask for help.

The candidates are not likely to accept the challenge to divert their advertising budgets to feed the hungry. Our tax dollars are lined up for the foreseeable future to “rescue” banks and pump money into the Iraqi economy, but people here need our help. If the thought of your fellow Americans already suffering today is not enough by itself to move you, think of it this way: the time may come that you, too, will need the services and the compassion offered by our nation’s charities. The possibility is a lot more real than it was a few months ago. Money, food or time that you donate to a charitable organization now is like an insurance policy for the future. The more people that give, the more likely these organizations will be there as more people need them, and the more we renew a culture where it is natural to help one another.

America prides itself on the idea that its citizens are incredibly resourceful, and able and willing to sacrifice in the face of great challenges, but most Americans haven’t been tested on that front in many years. The potential scope of the current economic crisis constitutes a great challenge, and there is no denying that we are all going to have to make sacrifices. Why not start now, by helping us all to help ourselves with a few dollars for a homeless shelter?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Debate No. 3 - Game Over?

I am encouraged. Even though McCain clearly did a better job in this debate than he had in the previous two, he didn’t do well enough. Polls that came out directly after the debate showed that Obama still “won” the debate, with a split of 58% to McCain’s 31%.

What could cause McCain still to score such low numbers when he really was more effective than he had been previously? Unfortunately for McCain, he just can’t escape his own personality. He has reached a point where the negativity he exudes simply overwhelms anything he says. He smirks, and sneers, and still visibly struggles to contain his disdain and even anger. Obama may have appeared flatter than he has in previous debates, but he never loses his cool. It’s such a marked contrast to McCain, and it appears to be what the majority of American voters are warming to in this time of serious crisis.

The other simple fact is that there are only 19 days left until the election. Are there really people out there who still have not made up their minds? John McCain has done himself a great disservice over the last month, starting with the selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate. While his choice has been marvelous for shoring up his base, it has been miserable for bringing any new converts his way and has probably lost him some independents who might have otherwise voted for him. He claims that she has inspired women voters, but outside of his very conservative base, the opposite is true. Many women have been insulted by his assertion that she represents great strides for women in this country – particularly as more information has come out about the various ways in which she has conducted her administrations as mayor and governor as her own private fiefdom. Some of us who might have been able to tolerate a McCain presidency in concept are now terrified by the prospect when it includes a vice president Annie Oakley who lacks the requisite brainpower and who has no qualms about drumming up a little racist hatred for the cause.

McCain has followed up his cynical and misguided pick of Sarah Palin with a month of chaos. He has had no clear message other than that Obama would be a scary choice for the “good and patriotic” people who attend his rallies. He has swung back and forth on the issues, particularly with respect to the economy. One day the fundamentals of the economy are strong, the next day it’s a crisis worthy of a pretend suspension of his campaign. He and Sarah Palin have followed the “I’m rubber, you’re glue” school of politics, in which they accuse their opponent of every lousy thing they themselves are guilty of in the hopes of muddying the waters for some of their less critically-minded potential supporters. They have spent their time sowing the seeds of doubt instead of hammering home an argument of how they will help the middle class. Hint: Neither espousing trickle-down economics nor telling voters you “know” how to solve each and every crisis but aren’t bothering to share the details before you’re elected is sealing the deal. In short, they’ve squandered their chance.

McCain performed better in tonight’s debate, but if he isn’t able to convince Americans between now and November 4 that there is a person who truly understands them hiding behind the anger and the naked power grab, he’s done.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Warren, I Know You're Listening.

With whom will the new president replace Hank Paulson, and can he maybe get started on it today? Really, if the stakes here were not so high we could say that Paulson is an embarrassment and leave it at that, but with our economy crumbling around us his ability to steer us out of this crisis, or lack thereof, needs addressing today. The administration now seems to be aiming the spotlight on an assistant Treasury secretary, Neel Kashkari, to describe how the US will also use the $700 billion “rescue” package to implement the same action so decisively taken by Britain and swiftly followed by the rest of Europe: equity injections. Perhaps that is because yet another change in direction, even if this may hopefully be the right one if delivered in concert with the EU, will not pack much of a punch coming from Paulson’s mouth.

As many economists have recommended from the outset of this financial crisis, the U.S. appears to finally be on board with the concept of injecting capital into banks and financial institutions in exchange for a proportional equity interest. Some conservatives have resisted this because it is an obvious slap in the face to their ideology – there is no room for government intervention in the free markets, and particularly not when it amounts to the “nationalization” of these entities. However, it has become clear in the last few weeks that all bets are off now with respect to what amount of government intervention is appropriate or necessary to salvage the American economy.

Isn’t it possible that allowing the government to take equity in the companies it bails out could ultimately cost the American taxpayers less money? Companies that were all too happy to take the handout of Uncle Sam Fed liberating them from their “toxic” assets might be more willing to search around for creative solutions when faced with the possibility that the government might have any say in the governance of their companies. When Sweden faced this problem in 1992, its decision to take equity positions in the companies to which it provided money caused SEB, Sweden’s largest bank at the time, to find it within itself to seek other sources of capital – and it turned a profit the next year.

Oh, so much potential disaster to think about if none of this “rescue” stops the mess from flowing through like lava into the economy. But the bright side if McCain and Palin win the election is that a Vice President Palin can teach us all how to skin our own animals – we’ll need that ability.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Things I Can't Stand Anymore.

1. Sarah Palin accusing Barack Obama of actions more aptly attributable to herself and/or to John McCain, such as:

(a) putting ambition over country
(b) consorting with freaky ministers
(c) lying
(d) deregulation of the markets resulting in the housing and financial crises
(e) using fear tactics

It’s transparent nonsense and it’s desperate and loathsome.

2. Sarah Palin. She ruins every day.

3. Each day, seeing on every news website one of the two variants of photos of traders on Wall Street experiencing another crappy day:

(a) holding their heads in their hands
(b) looking up expectantly at the ticker

4. Waiting for the markets to level off. The more this wackiness in the markets continues, the more the effect is that investors and banks are digging their heels in and causing a crisis for everybody else. Will the dollars I have today be enough to pay my mortgage next week, or to feed my family?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A Misleading Respite.

Yawn. There were no big surprises at the town hall debate, other than that the crypt keeper seemed marginally more coherent than he has in other venues lately. As usual, however, I was struck by the glaring differences in their demeanors: Obama is cool, languid, doesn’t get ruffled. His smile is broad and appealing and he flashes it regularly. McCain, on the other hand, is tightly wound. His demeanor is stiff and angry, even beyond the obvious physical limitations caused by his years as a POW. His smile is not much of a smile at all, but is instead a sardonic reflection of whatever condescending remark or exaggeration he’s making at the time.

And speaking of condescension: how about that eyebrow-raising moment when McCain suggested to the African-American man who had asked how the bailout would help people other than the bankers themselves that he probably hadn’t heard of Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac before all this? It was a throwaway remark that said an awful lot. This was a guy sitting in the audience of a political debate, asking a valid question about the economy. Why on earth would anyone assume he had not heard of Fannie and Freddie before the current economic crisis? How insulting, not to mention arguably you-know-what. But that would be in line with the McCain campaign’s current modus operandi, wouldn’t it.

Although the debates have not been exciting, they are a calm, welcome respite from the nastiness of the campaign trail. It’s a relief to hear the candidates discuss their actual ideas for the country without most of the appalling mudslinging that has sunk to unprecedented lows lately. Of course, I don’t see that as any kind of difference on the Obama side of the fence; he generally has proven that he prefers to stick to the issues and compare his views to John McCain’s, except when provoked. An increasingly desperate McCain, however, has latched his cold embrace around his inner snake. To see him behave himself reasonably respectably for 90 minutes, then, is both a relief and misleading. It is heartening to hear that he has some actual plans for the country, even if I don’t agree with 95% of them, and seduces me to hope that if he is elected he can drop the nonsensical behavior of the last few months and behave like an adult as he works for this country.

In reality, though, I know that hope is displaced; just a placebo my mind grasps for so as not to panic about the ramifications of a McCain-Palin administration. Because, really, how is someone who conducts himself in such a vile manner 23 hours of the day going to turn it off just because he finally won the ultimate prize: a higher rank than his father?

He can’t, because that is who he is. Other than surviving his years as a POW, his actions over the course of his life have not shown him to be an admirable person. He is a man who basks in the trappings of perceived power, who becomes angry and lashes out when anyone threatens his ambitions, and not much more. His lack of respect for women is notorious, a point that is only amplified by his cynical choice of Sarah Palin as his sidekick. When the cameras aren’t trained on him in the Oval Office, why would he be anyone but his true self?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Mud Wrestling.

Say it ain’t so, Caribou Barbie! Sarah Palin’s folksy schtick that pretends to put a soft candy shell on her poisonous, hard center is increasingly intolerable. The robotic pit bull announced at a rally on Saturday that “the high heels were on, and the gloves were off,” to a cheering crowd of apparent imbeciles. Yes, imbeciles. One would have to have the IQ of Double Bubble to buy into the toxic behavior, speech and character of Governor Palin.

During her speeches over the weekend, the dead-eyed striver insinuated to her adoring acolytes that Obama doesn’t like America the way “you and I” like America, and how he “pals around” with terrorists. Fortunately, that attack on Obama’s pretty much non-existent association with William Ayers, a radical from the Vietnam era (when Obama was a child), has been largely criticized. But what do you think she really meant by separating the “anti-America” Obama from good Americans like us? She wants to continue to try to paint him as “other,” something unfamiliar and undesirable, un-American: black. It’s a not-so-subtle way to remind anybody who might be on the fence that “hey, I bet you have some deep-seated prejudices you might be fighting against – let me give you a ‘reason’ not to fight them.”

Why can’t she and her senile grandpa stick to talking about the positive changes they see for this country? Because they don’t have anything to separate themselves from the Bush administration, so they are reduced to revolting character assassinations on their rival. And in that, McCain has found a willing mouthpiece. Palin will do anything to ensure that she and McCain make it to the White House, because it’s herself she envisions ruling the roost on Pennsylvania Avenue. So she parrots her attack lines and her 3 speaking points on energy, health care, and how Obama’s tax increases will ruin the economy, then gets on another plane to do it again.

It will be interesting to see how the “gloves off” declaration of the old man and the ingénue plays out in the next few polls. Right now, Obama appears to have a 100-point lead on the electoral vote map, but the Republicans have shown time and again that Americans seem to like to get down in the mud with their politicians. Hopefully, Obama can continue to temper it by sticking to how he can improve our country, but if he wants to throw in a well-timed “Keating 5” reference, well, that’s OK with me.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Sarah Six Pack.

It really happened; the rumors were true. When asked whether there were Supreme Court decisions she disagreed with other than Roe v. Wade, Sarah Palin was unable to come up with any. She hemmed and hawed in that slightly belligerent way of hers, but in the end her answer conveyed nothing other than “I don’t know.” How Katie Couric maintains her composure talking with this woman is beyond me:

Couric: Why, in your view, is Roe v. Wade a bad decision?

Sarah Palin: I think it should be a states' issue not a federal government-mandated, mandating yes or no on such an important issue. I'm, in that sense, a federalist, where I believe that states should have more say in the laws of their lands and individual areas. Now, foundationally, also, though, it's no secret that I'm pro-life, that I believe in a culture of life is very important for this country. Personally that's what I would like to see, um, further embraced by America.

Couric: Do you think there's an inherent right to privacy in the Constitution?

Palin: I do. Yeah, I do.

Couric: The cornerstone of Roe v. Wade.

Palin: I do. And I believe that individual states can best handle what the people within the different constituencies in the 50 states would like to see their will ushered in an issue like that.

Couric: What other Supreme Court decisions do you disagree with?

Palin: Well, let's see. There's, of course in the great history of America there have been rulings, that's never going to be absolute consensus by every American. And there are those issues, again, like Roe v. Wade, where I believe are best held on a state level and addressed there. So you know, going through the history of America, there would be others but … Couric: Can you think of any?

Palin: Well, I could think of … any again, that could be best dealt with on a more local level. Maybe I would take issue with. But, you know, as mayor, and then as governor and even as a vice president, if I'm so privileged to serve, wouldn't be in a position of changing those things but in supporting the law of the land as it reads today.

So there you have it. Far more interesting to me, though, was her answer to the question of whether she thinks there is an inherent right to privacy in the Constitution: she does. Yeah, she does. I guess someone forgot to explain to her exactly what the justices based their decision on in Roe v. Wade.

In an attempt to counteract the serious damage she is doing to the McCain campaign and to her own national political future, Governor Palin called in today to the talk radio show of conservative host Hugh Hewitt. When “asked” whether she was surprised that her campaign had ignited so much hostility on the left and in the media, Palin explained:

“Oh, I think they’re just not used to someone coming in from the outside saying you know what? It’s time that normal Joe six-pack American is finally represented in the position of vice presidency, and I think that that’s kind of taken some people off guard, and they’re out of sorts, and they’re ticked off about it, but it’s motivation for John McCain and I to work that much harder to make sure that our ticket is victorious, and we put government back on the side of the people of Joe six-pack like me…”

Hey! Governor! It most certainly is not time that “Joe Six-Pack” be represented in the position of the vice presidency. Not that you’d know it from the way McCain has treated it, but it’s kind of an important job, and not one that will benefit from being held by an intellectually incurious and rather petty, small-time politician. Plus, wasn’t George Bush supposed to be the guy people would want to have a beer with? Does wanting to have six of them with you mean you’ll do six times as much damage to the country as he did?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

October Surprise.

It’s October, which means it’s time for a surprise. We have the whole month to see what fresh hell John McCain can think up to inflict on the voters! My hope is that the electorate is tiring of his bizarrely-run campaign, with its increasingly silly twists and turns. Let’s recap his attempted “game-changers” over the last few weeks:

1. After noticing that his attempts to interest Americans in his campaign are having less than stellar results, and as a way to divert the conversation away from the very successful Democratic Convention, McCain chooses the delightfully spunky Sarah Palin as his running mate. What a maverick! Soon America will fall in love with her just as he did when he met her yesterday!

2. Hoping to capitalize on Hurricane Gustav barreling toward the Gulf Coast, McCain, in a move soon to become his trademark, suspends the first night of the Republican Convention to make it look like he cares. He flies somewhere or other, not the Gulf Coast, to talk about how he cares while his creepy wife and the creepier First Lady hold forth at the podium back in St. Paul about how we’re all Americans. Apparently the Republicans in St. Paul just started drinking and placing ads for discreet gay sex earlier than they would have if they’d had to listen to speeches.

3. Last week, seeing the polls heading inexorably down as America is exposed to more and more examples of Sarah Palin’s incurious brand of existence, McCain decides he needs to pull out all the stops. Hearing something about a major economic crisis despite the fundamentals of the economy being “strong,” he announces that he is suspending his campaign to fly back to Washington and butt in where he’s not wanted. Even though his campaign is “suspended,” his ads continue to run and his flunkies continue to shill for him on the news programs.

4. Unable to get his party to listen to what he has to say about the bailout bill, presumably because he doesn’t know what he is saying himself anymore, he fails to muster up enough votes from the House Republicans. He issues a statement that now is not the time for blame, then 15 minutes later another one blaming the Democrats. Hedging his bets, his campaign puts out two ads simultaneously: one blaming Barack Obama for the failure of the bill’s passage, and one for its success.

Despite his best efforts to shake things up with all his “maverick” actions, McCain’s poll numbers continue to drop. Here’s hoping his next wacky stunt will be to climb back into his coffin until the election is over.

Meanwhile, tomorrow night is the vice-presidential debate, and maybe its outcome will be a surprise. Certainly the scene has been set for us, the slack-jawed public, to be pleasantly surprised when she strings two sentences together in a comprehensible manner. In the last few days, the media has been telling us that our expectations have been set low enough that any performance by Ms. Palin that doesn’t cause us to cringe far back into our sofa cushions will be cause for the Republicans to crow their victory. I’m not quite on board with that one. My expectations are low because Sarah Palin is not smart, and there’s not much she can show me to exceed them. In fact, I’m smacking my lips in anticipation of having to watch the whole thing from behind my hands.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Pointing a Wizened Finger.

I didn’t think my distaste for the new incarnation of John McCain could get any more intense, but hey, guess what; it has. First, let me congratulate him on the success of his little trip back to Washington – boy, did he do a bang up job rallying those Republicans to pass the bailout bill. Great job. Even better, though, is how he now blames the failure of the plan to pass on Democrats: one of McCain’s limp campaign advisers said today that “This bill failed because Barack Obama and the Democrats put politics ahead of country.”

Honestly, how do these people sleep at night? Every slimy, underhanded thing they say is either a lie or a childish tactic that some people still seem to buy: “I know you are, but what am I?” Because who really put politics ahead of “country” in this scenario? As I see it, it was the candidate who pretended to suspend his campaign to make a grandiose political gesture of flying back to Washington, only to completely fail to bring his party to any consensus. It sure looks to me like more Democrats than Republicans supported the compromise bill, even though it was the shoddy Republican insistence on deregulation, firmly supported by John McCain, that squarely placed America into this mess in the first place. So to say that Democrats are putting politics first when they are voting to pass a bill to solve a problem created by Republicans, well – it’s just another example of how ridiculous McCain has become.

On another note, rumor has it that CBS has tape of two more answers from Katie Couric’s interview with Sarah Palin that show Ms. Palin in an even more embarrassing light. If that were even possible!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Grumpy Old Man.

So who “won” the debate? As a matter of substance, I’d say it was fairly even, and if you went into the debate supporting McCain you would continue to do so, and if your bumper stickers read “Obama ‘08” you won’t be peeling them off any time soon. It took a while for McCain to find a stride, and in fact I found many of his answers during the first half hour difficult to follow, and sometimes almost incomprehensible. He careened all over the place in single answers, and occasionally didn’t seem to answer Jim Lehrer’s questions (speaking of which, am I the only one who thought that both candidates answered Lehrer’s question about which programs they might have to cut or give less priority to because of the enormous bailout plan? He asked the question 3 times, yet I thought both had been pretty clear after no more than twice. I guess McCain wasn’t the only one having a senior moment).

But for all the relative even-handedness of the candidates’ command of their positions, their styles could not have been more different, and that is what will have swayed an undecided voter. John McCain was petty and condescending; he spoke to Obama as if he was a naïve child, uneducated in the ways of the world. He didn’t look at Obama once, even though the format was designed to be a discussion during the second half of each answer session. In contrast, Obama frequently addressed himself to McCain, looked over at him, and attempted several times to strike a bipartisan and conciliatory tone by agreeing with points about McCain’s answers before launching into how his position differed. In sum, Obama had the demeanor of someone I would want at the helm of my country, and McCain looked as if he belonged teaching a classroom of unruly, teenaged prep-schoolers, preferably not my own.

CNN and CBS polls that tracked viewers’ reactions during the debate showed a clear, positive response to Obama, which tells me I was not the only one put off by McCain’s acid style. I know I am tired of being condescended to; patronized as people I don’t agree with make decisions for my life and country that I find despicable. At least if very conservative Republicans have to endure what they see as taking their medicine for a few years, it will be handed to them by someone who actually thought about it before he made his decision, and gives it to them with a smile instead of the back of his hand. As McCain said himself, he’s not known as Miss Congeniality in the Senate. Unfortunately for him, one of his own campaign managers said that this race is essentially a popularity contest. If that’s the case, McCain will have earned the Grumpy Old Men vote, but that’s about it.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Double Down.

When David Letterman won’t let it go, you know it’s bad. John McCain canceled his appearance on the Late Show because he had to get back to “Warshington to save the economy.” And while he was at it, he announced he would suspend his campaign and postpone Friday night’s debate until bailout legislation was passed. David Letterman, who in an attempt to soften his criticism repeated again and again that McCain is a real live hero, stated that he was disappointed in McCain’s decision and wondered why he couldn’t do what a good quarterback should do – put in his second string quarterback to fill in for him. The he noted it was Sarah Palin, and that was why.

John McCain has become quite the gambler lately, and his odds aren’t looking good. This latest shenanigan is particularly ridiculous: an attempt to seem “presidential” by stating that he is going to sail back to Washington to help save the day, handily asserting as well that he doesn’t think it’s a good time for the scheduled debate. You know, the debate he doesn’t want to have because his scrappy, angry style might not play so well these days against the cool, measured demeanor of his opponent. Even better, he suggested that the postponed debate be rescheduled for the date of the vice presidential debate – and that that debate be postponed until… oh, sometime. Congress, particularly the head of the Banking Committee, Chris Dodd, doesn’t even want him there because they know it’s just a rank political ploy.

This is so poor on so many levels.

1. Isn’t this actually the perfect time for a debate? Why don’t the candidates agree to change the topic back to the economy and discuss their plans to deal with the mess at hand? America needs to hear from the people who aim to be its next president, and not allow the one who is sinking in the polls to avoid a debate.

2. McCain thinks he can scupper the vice presidential debate. I’d say this one is a no-brainer. McCain and his minions think they have found the perfect way to keep his clueless running mate away from the limelight until after the election. If this Friday’s presidential debate is postponed, look for constant excuses going forward about being unable to reschedule the vice presidential debate. Presumably they will just continue to limit her to planned interviews (that she still flubs) and meetings with foreign leaders who talk to her like she’s a juicy piece of meat.

3. Shouldn’t a president be able to handle more than one task at a time? I mean, really. The old man can’t shake it off and meet up to discuss the future of the free world for his desired constituents? Does he plan to pick and choose his duties as president, as well?

John McCain needs to stop this nonsense and either campaign like a normal person, preferably in the “civilized” manner he claimed that he would at the outset, or just admit he’s not the man for the job. Right now, he is in no way acting like someone who wants to run the country – and hey, maybe he has decided that he doesn’t. At this point, it’s not looking particularly desirable. Maybe he could do us all a favor and simply let that suspension of his campaign go on indefinitely, and head back to Arizona for a long winter’s nap.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Where Do We Live?

The more I read about Hank Paulson’s proposed bailout, the more I’m outraged by its audacity. I’m not denying that something needs to be done quickly to shore up our financial institutions: by most accounts it sounds like many are hanging on by a thread, now inadequately capitalized to sustain the losses caused by the greed and poor judgment of their management and investors. However, the call to ram through without question a bill that would vest sole authority in the Treasury Department to take and apply hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer money, with no oversight and no accountability, is shameless.

If Congress permits this administration to pass this latest excuse for an emergency measure without some major revisions, then to an extent we get what we deserve: an executive branch that, despite the clear separation of powers enumerated in our Constitution, will have amassed all power under its own roof. How would the Founding Fathers have felt about that? I’d like to think that even that serpentine proponent of originalism, Justice Scalia, would see a problem here. Where are the checks and balances? Why does Congress keep rolling over for this president, when almost all the citizens of this country are in agreement that he is stupid, feckless, rash, and ill equipped to make good decisions for this country? His track record is abysmal. Why would we let him change the entire face of American capitalism, and of American government, before he shambles out of office? The prospect is ridiculous.

Apparently Congress is at least grilling the money boys on their plan. However, they’ve asked questions of this administration before, only to capitulate, mewling pathetically, in the end. The stakes are too high, and the timing is too suspect, for Congress to let this happen again.

Monday, September 22, 2008

And Behind Door Number Three...

What parting gift does George Bush have for us now? Lest his successor not have enough destruction to clean up, now our president has given the American public the present of a $700 billion bailout to fund; thus ensuring the mortgaging of its children’s futures well into the foreseeable future. Today he urges Congress not to dilly-dally and fiddle with his Treasury Secretary’s plan that might undermine its “effectiveness”; instead it should presumably forge ahead without question, much as it was asked to do with regard to the invasion of Iraq and anything else the administration wanted, NOW. And of course, America has suffered the effects of his gun-slinging mentality.

Please let this be the last of this president’s helpfulness before he heads back into obscurity in Crawford. This nation cannot afford any more of his capricious actions. This latest proposal, authored and squired around town by his former Wall Street denizen Treasury Secretary, Hank Paulson, is decidedly free of stipulations that would require additional oversight of either the Treasury Department or of any of the financial institutions that these funds would bail out. Isn’t that how we found ourselves in this position in the first place? Is it really appropriate to reward the C.E.O.’s of these organizations with multi-million dollar payouts to walk away from their mismanagement of people’s life savings? And all this coming from the Republicans – using what they would label bad (read: lefty) economic policy if they were not doing it themselves.

Why should Congress allow this to happen on Bush’s terms, with no opportunity for discussion? As usual, the administration is preying on Americans’ fears to support rash action without taking the time to understand the consequences. First it threatened "Muslims who want to kill us" to justify unprecedented, Constitution-defying expansion of executive power, now the alarm is sounded that Wall Street will collapse, taking with it your home, your job and your savings – but not if you sign this blank check over to our Treasury Secretary! But this financial crisis didn’t turn up yesterday – weren’t there measures to have been taken months ago? Is the economy really going to collapse if Congress doesn’t pass this legislation immediately, without change?

It is criminal for George Bush to take such an enormous, partisan decision only 44 days before his successor is elected, when that action will have long-term, serious ramifications for Americans and across the globe. Americans should require their elected representatives in Congress to force a serious debate on and inquiry into the origins of this bill instead of just capitulating, once again, to the steamroller that is this wretched administration. Otherwise, it’s just one more thing our next President will have to waste precious time trying to untangle once he takes office.

Friday, September 19, 2008

More of the Same, and Then Some More.

It’s hardly a new argument that electing John McCain and Sarah Palin is electing “more of the same.” And to some extent, that would be true – with Sarah Palin playing the parts of both George Bush and Dick Cheney. I’m inclined to believe, however, that the overall effect of a McCain-Palin administration (or Palin-McCain, as Palin has now referred to it on the stump), will be much worse. Their brand of “maverick” will build nicely on the groundwork Bush and Cheney have laid over the last eight years; fleshing out the bones of the poisonous infrastructure the current administration has set about to construct.

As George Bush, Governor Palin babbles responses to questions, sometimes answering, sometimes not. When she does, her grasp of the subject matter is obviously weak. She doesn’t mangle words and phrases quite as badly as George Bush, but close. It’s clear she possesses neither a great intellect nor an inclination toward thoughtfulness: her words indicate she would be likely to act first, and not think about it later. Like George, she operates like a somewhat clueless medieval king surrounded by his sniveling, sneaky advisors. They may tell her what to do, but sometimes she has to remind them who’s boss by mishandling a matter or two on her own.

As Dick Cheney, Palin favors closed doors and secrecy, and doing whatever the hell she wants regardless of the “rules.” In that respect, she will take over Cheney’s Fourth Branch quite nicely. She may lack Cheney’s brainpower, but she appears to match up to his cunning steely eye for steely eye.

Where does McCain fit into this Palin-McCain administration? These days, if he isn’t standing uselessly off to the side of his protégé while she clubs slack-jawed crowds over the head with her repeated lies and contradictions, he is doddering around the stage like a senile old grandpa, muttering incoherently about the fish that swim around oil rigs and punctuating his rambles with cartoon-like “heh-heh-hehs.” As the British say, he appears to have lost the plot.

If McCain is elected, and manages to stave off the coup of a power-hungry Palin for a little while, it’s hard to predict now what that will mean for the country. Who can tell what he truly believes about anything anymore other than that he wants to be president at any cost? If he’s against government regulation, it’s Tuesday. If it’s Wednesday and it seems politically expedient, he’s for it. He would rather lie or adopt an absurd position anytime than admit a mistake (see, e.g., whether he would meet with prime minister Zapatero). He doesn’t seem to be his own man anymore, assuming he ever was.

But from watching Palin’s power-maneuvering, I don’t think it would be long before she would find a way to stick McCain in a closet somewhere and insert herself in the top spot. Cindy might have something to say about it, but I imagine VP Palin could make short work of her. It’s this scenario, with Palin at the top, that many of us really fear – as well we should. Look at who she is, everything we have learned about how she has operated in Alaska, her un-nuanced approach to foreign policy, her religious beliefs, her “mission-driven” approach to her role in Washington and how she talks about all of it. It’s a combination that to me spells “End Times.”

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sarah Palin Talks to Sean Hannity.

Somebody please send Sarah Palin back to Alaska for good. I mean YOU, American voters. If you haven’t decided on that course yet, in spite of her having lied repeatedly to your face about everything in the world for the last three weeks, then how about taking a look at her “interview” tonight with Sean Hannity? She’s got lots more lies and inanities to share with you, fellow Americans, so tune in. If you can’t face turning your teevee to Fox news, let me walk you through some highlights:

Governor Palin: On gridlock and getting their novel “reforms” through Congress:

“But John McCain has that streak of independence in him that I think is very, very important in America today in our leadership. I have that within me also. And that’s why John McCain tapped me to be a team of mavericks, of independents coming in there without the allegiances to that cronyism, to that good ole’ boy system. I’m certainly a Washington outsider and I’m proud of that because I think that that is what we need also.”

Me: NOT mavericks. Opportunists and good ol’ fashioned Republicans. And how can she continue to say with a straight face that she has no allegiances to cronyism, to that “good ole boy system”? Her mayoral and gubernatorial administrations have been documented as completely rife with favors, pressure and taking ludicrously large earmarks for her state.

GP: On if the political “attacks” by the Democrats will be effective:
“You can’t underestimate the wisdom of the people of America. They’re seeing through the rhetoric, and they’re seeing through a lot of the political cheap shots, also. And they’re getting down to the facts and the voting records that are going to show that stark contrast.”

Me: Let’s hope you’re right, lady, because that’s what’s going to have you riding the Straight Talk Express across some bridge you co-opted hundreds of millions of dollars to build, right on back to your delightful home in scenic Wasilla.

GP: On their solutions for the economy:

“Through reform, absolutely. Look at the oversight that has been lack, I believe, here at the 1930s type of regulatory regime overseeing some of these corporations. And we’ve got to get a more coordinated and a much more stringent oversight regime…government can play a very, very appropriate role in the oversight as people are trusting these companies with their life savings, with their investments, with their insurance policies, and construction bonds, and everything else.”

Me: Who ARE you? I think I hear the hinges of your jaw creaking. You’re parroting John McCain’s muddled, contradictory message about government oversight in this arena, and it sounds false and ridiculous. Yours is the party of deregulation, John McCain was a champion of the same until 2 days ago, and now you’re reaping what you’ve sown. This immediate flip-flop is absurd.

GP: On reaction to Obama’s attack on McCain for saying that the “fundamentals” of the economy are strong:

“Well, it was an unfair attack on the verbiage that Senator McCain chose to use because the fundamentals, as he was having to explain afterwards, he means our workforce, he means the ingenuity of the American people. And of course, that is strong and that is the foundation of our economy.”

Me: Did my head just explode? The hypocrisy of this pair is absolutely mind-bending.

It goes on, and it doesn’t get any better.

I genuinely do not understand how voters can overlook the shortcomings of these two and vote for them. They feed us a pack of lies or whatever they think we want to hear, daily, then each smile in their respective creepy styles and feed us some more. Why is anyone obstinate enough to think that people who campaign like this are going to govern in a more acceptable fashion?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Crisis on Main Street.

In case you hadn’t noticed, the economy has some issues. With the latest developments, thousands of white collar workers, some with the kind of salaries I have long scorned and envied because of the seeming lack of relation between their size and the amount of education/effort required to receive them, will lose their jobs. The government is stepping in again for an $85 billion bailout of AIG (where is that money supposed to come from? Maybe Iraq will lend it back to us), after saving the day for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac only a couple of weeks ago. The Republican love of deregulation is coming back to bite us.

The good news is, according to John McCain, that the fundamentals of the American economy are “strong.” Or, no, that’s not what he meant, he meant that the American workers are “strong.” Unlike Senator Obama, who McCain accused on “The View” of choosing his words carefully in respect to the “lipstick on a pig” distraction, McCain apparently does not give any thought to the meaning of the words he uses. But even if he really meant that American workers are “strong,” so what? What good is it to be “strong” when you’re losing a job that you won’t easily replace? Is strength going to save the day when Americans can’t afford to buy food for their children? When the bank forecloses on their homes? There’s been plenty of exaltation of the strength of the blue-collar American worker for the last seventy years, but for the last thirty of those it hasn’t meant much more than a way to pay lip service to the requirement that they adapt to the decline of the manufacturing era in the U.S.

If the typical blue-collar American worker has been labeled “strong,” it is not a word that applies readily to white-collar workers. Indeed, “weak” seems more fitting. Let’s face it, just like many blue-collar workers, many white-collar workers are ill-prepared without additional schooling or training to make a switch into a different industry, to apply a different skill set. And also like most other Americans, white-collar workers frequently do not have any kind of financial cushion to fall back on. That is a potentially devastating combination for anyone. The bottom can fall out quickly, and the latte crowd is arguably ill-equipped to deal with it, both financially and emotionally.

Today’s white-collared workers are a pampered bunch, rarely having known the experience of a job loss in an economy so weak that they could not quickly rebound. Many identify with their careers very strongly, and will struggle to redefine themselves as they are forced to adapt in order to continue to provide for their families. There is a pervasive attitude among many that their choice of careers elevates them above the people with the jobs they may find themselves doing in order to survive, and that elitist attitude will take a battering. The injection of such angst into the equation may seem pathetic to your average American, and to an extent it is. Nonetheless, it’s a reality, and an impediment to finding the “strength” of which John McCain speaks.

We’ll have to hope that what Senator McCain first said, what he didn’t really mean, is true after all: that the fundamentals of our economy are strong. If they are not, the relative strength or weakness of the American worker will mean nothing in the face of a downward slide that seems to be gathering momentum.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Another Day, Another Planet.

Every day brings a new round of mind-blowing episodes from the Twilight Zone that is now Republican America, usually touched off by one of McCain’s main mouthpieces, “Tucker” Bounds. Today, in response to a new Obama ad that challenges McCain’s gutter-trolling campaign tactics, the New York Times reports that Mr. Bounds said the advertisement was inappropriate “as Americans face economic uncertainty.”

Let’s see, does he mean inappropriate like McCain’s ad that shows Obama’s cadre of wolves racing through the woods looking for that innocent lamb Sarah Palin, presumably to rip her throat out before she shoots them from her airplane? Or the one that implies Obama advocates teaching a full sex ed course to 5 year olds? Was the economy so much more certain 5 days ago that disgusting ads like the ones McCain put out were acceptable then? Please let me out of this alternate universe, where Republican operatives talk out of both sides of their mouths, but do it with such fake, righteous indignation pasted across their faces that somehow an apparently large group of people somewhere in this country swallows it hook, line and sinker.

I can’t understand it. Article after article describes how Palin has created the most stereotypically dirty of small-time administrations, both as mayor of her little town and as governor of her state. She has fired people who disagree with her, and hired high school friends for positions only minimally related to their experience. She’s taken enormous earmarks for her state, as well as a nice little chunk of money from the taxpayers through the use of per diems for sleeping away from the governor’s mansion in Juneau at her own home back in Wasilla. She has sniffed around her local library inquiring about banning books. She and her staff have special email accounts that they use because they believe those records would be harder to subpoena. Still, she stands up in front of enormous groups of cheering people who don’t seem to find any disconnect between her claims of sweeping reform and her own actions that belie it.

How can it be? Do people not read the papers? Do they only watch Fox News? Or do they simply choose not to face the ever-increasing number of damaging facts simply because they want yet another “someone like them” in the White House? When is America going to learn what that gets us? Or, as is looking more likely, when is MY half of America going to learn that the majority sees that what we think of as a failing America as a success?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Sarah Palin is a Naive Reactionary.

Sarah, Sarah, Sarah. You tried pretty hard, didn’t you, our plucky little frontierswoman ice queen princess hockey mom extraordinaire, but … no. I know you were nervous, forced to answer questions about issues you’ve never considered or perhaps even heard of before three days ago, and I’m sure some folks out there found that endearing: the same folks who are already planning to vote for you because you’re just so darned spunky, and if you faltered at all, it’s only because the big, bad sexists were picking on you!

But I’m not sexist; I just don’t like your views (or your hair, or your voice, or the way some people tell me I look like you). Let’s take something as basic as your response to the question of whether you believe you are experienced enough to be president of the United States:

“I answered him yes, because I have the confidence in that readiness and knowing that you can’t blink. You have to be wired in a way of being so committed to the mission, the mission that we’re on, reform of this country and victory in the war.”

What kind of answer is that? First of all, do you or do you not have the necessary experience? Your answer tells me that you don’t think so, because you didn’t bother to address it, and that you don’t care. Governing this country isn’t a matter of “not blinking,” Governor Palin, and it’s not just a “mission.” Not all of your soon-to-be subjects in the Alaskan States think in terms of the constant militarism of the nation. But for the sake of discussion, we’ll take your indication that you don’t believe experience has anything to do with running the country. As you said:

“We’ve got to remember what the desire is in this nation at this time. It is for no more politics as usual and somebody’s big fat résumé that maybe shows decades and decades in that Washington establishment, where, yes, they’ve had opportunities to meet heads of state.”

While I’m sure you were intending to reference Joe Biden with those eloquent comments, you must realize you’ve also included that stiff old man who lurks behind you at your campaign rallies. Not only that, but you’ve undermined your party’s tired assertion that Obama is too inexperienced to assume the role of president. I suppose now we’ll start to hear that Obama isn’t “wired for the mission” the way you are.

Your naiveté isn’t refreshing, it’s frightening. You’re not campaigning for the head of the Wasilla Hockey Moms, you’re angling for a position that affects the lives of 300 million people. Show a little humility, would you? Frankly, I’d prefer to hear you admit that there are holes in your knowledge (how could there not be?) but that you’re working as hard as you can to understand the issues of the day so you can approach them with the even-minded analysis befitting their serious nature. Instead, you take an overly proud, defensive stance and hope that you can just skate through this. But Ms. Palin, glib assertions that show you have no understanding of the network of ramifications of your positions aren’t going to cut it.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Moment for Reflection.

It’s September 11th and it’s a day of unveiling memorials and of speeches and moments of silence. It’s also a day that either party can use to twist to its own political benefit, and each does even while pretending it doesn’t. The sole extent to which the events of September 11th, 2001 should be used for politics is to show the difference in the policy choices each presidential candidate would make to protect the citizens of this country, and hopefully of other countries, from further harm from terrorists. As a Democrat, I also think it is fair game to point out what we see as the deficiencies in the way the current administration has conducted its 7-year response to terrorism. What I don’t think is fair is to use what happened to thousands of innocent Americans as an instrument of terror in itself to frighten Americans into voting for the Republican presidential candidate.

In that, I’m clearly in agreement with Keith Olbermann, who on MSNBC last night gave the most blistering attack on the Republican Party’s co-opting of September 11th, with John McCain and Rudy Giuliani as its spokesmen, that I have ever seen. It was almost shocking to see someone voice so heatedly what many of us never have the chance to say in a public forum – and even if we had the chance might be too intimidated to do so - that the Republican Party wields the terror of September 11th like a bludgeon over Americans’ heads. Without notice, at their convention they trotted out horrifying footage of the burning World Trade Center towers that has long been accepted as inappropriate for television. The message was clear: vote for those weak, unpatriotic Democrats, and you’re voting for your own, fiery demise. Vote for us, and we’ll protect you from this ever happening again.

There is, of course, a logic lacking in that argument. We had a Republican president on September 11, 2001, and the attacks happened on his watch. I don’t blame Bush for the actions of terrorists, but I do find fault with his response insofar as it included taking us on a merry jaunt through Iraq. McCain is committed to “victory” in Iraq, whatever the hell that means, but I do know it comprises more American money, time, and dead soldiers than have already been spent making this world a more dangerous place. I haven’t seen much to make me feel safer from the threat of further terrorist attacks. If anything, it’s the opposite.

The Republican Party espouses a politics and a manner of rule that has repeated itself over and over again throughout history. An educated, power-hungry elite uses religion and fear to control the less critically-minded masses for which it has the utmost contempt. It was the hallmark of the Catholic Church for centuries, flowing through to the monarchies of Europe for their own expedient use. The founders of this country organized this nation in direct opposition to such principles, but there will always be those who see the efficacy of that mode of assembling power and will find ways to modernize it for their own gain.

Still, we live in a time and place where there ought to be enough of us regular folk with an education sufficient to have taught us how to think critically – to examine the statements and actions of those who would seek to have the utmost power over our lives, and understand their motives. It’s not enough to stare like sheep at giant images of death and horror and believe that there is only one problem, and only one solution. When we do that, not only do we do ourselves a great disservice, but we chip away at the bedrock principles on which America was founded - the freedoms that we supposedly hold so dear.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Lipstick on a Pig.

The Republicans aren’t going to give up their extremely effective method of securing presidential elections for themselves until the Democrats stand up to it, so it was a relief to hear Barack Obama finally call the McCain campaign’s “outrage” over Obama’s “lipstick on a pig” remark for what it is – phony. In case you hadn’t heard, yesterday at a rally Obama compared McCain’s policies to those of President Bush, and said, “You can put lipstick on a pig… it’s still a pig.” The McCain camp twisted Obama’s use of the well-known expression to its perceived advantage once again, putting out an ad accusing Obama of “smearing” Sarah Palin.

HEY! McCain! It’s not all about your VP pick, OK? There is still the very large issue out there about how you’re tied a little too closely to the policies of the widely-loathed George Bush. Even though your party wants to make everything about gender right now to avoid talking about your crummy policies that are no good for America, the Democrats don’t have to do that because they have a slightly less storied history of being such raging, sexist pigs (at least on the surface). So cut the crap that your party has suddenly found Jesus with respect to sexism and now sees it around every corner. Last I checked your party despised all the women who supposedly had that little habit themselves.

It’s particularly ludicrous to hear all this coming from John McCain’s camp – when John McCain himself is not exactly known for his strides in the advancement of women’s rights. Aside from his own abysmal record with respect to issues of concern to women, this is a charmer who allegedly called his own wife a “c___” in front of his campaign aide and a consultant when she dared to joke that his hair was thinning. And that’s just his current wife – don’t even get me started on his treatment of his first wife. Now that’s a guy I want having anything whatsoever to do with my life. Please, let him make some decisions about my future - I can tell he has my best interests at heart.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Hypocrisy and Lies.

John McCain looks so uncomfortable next to his running mate. At campaign events, while she speaks he stands off to the side and squints and half-smiles and shrugs, and generally looks as stiff and out of touch as he is. His vice presidential candidate has completely upstaged him, and I bet that’s OK with him. After all, as long as he continues to ride his crazy bump in the polls, supplied by the rallying masses of “you’re not better than me,” disaffected Americans who see the tantalizing possibility of someone as poorly qualified as themselves reaching higher office, who cares if he’s upstaged for now? After all, it’s going to make him President, at least until he keels over from general oldness and fatigue from keeping up all this incessant hypocrisy and lying.

You have noticed the hypocrisy and the lies, right? It would be hard to miss them when the McCain camp is meting them out hand over fist. There’s the “celebrity” argument, an advertisement for which has shown on local TV here in Denver at least twice tonight. In the ad, a voice asks what you have when you take away Obama’s “celebrity,” then answers that it’s nothing but “more of the same.” Couldn’t we just insert Sarah Palin’s name in place of Obama’s? And what about the “experience” argument? Same thing. Then there’s the newest ad in which McCain and Palin are presented one after the other in rapid succession, newspaper headlines across their proud countenances trumpeting all the big, fat lies of their “accomplishments” as a pair of pioneering mavericks who have bucked the system left and right. Hey - there’s Palin’s famed “thanks but no thanks” position again, which has been debunked as an untruth for several days now – yet the McCain crew has the audacity to stick it in an ad knowing that makes it as good as true as far as the American public is concerned.

Obama continues to refuse to get down into the mud with the Republican strategists and instead maintains that Americans want to discuss the issues. He won’t say anything negative about Sarah Palin, and while I applaud him for his restraint, I’ll admit that when something as important as the future of our country is at stake, it would be nice if for once the Democrats could just play the game as nastily as the Republicans and wipe the floor with them.

I’d love to think that the high road wins, but if you take a look at our society it doesn’t seem to be the case. America is made up of people who are generally more interested in watching their fellow citizens implode on reality TV than in the finer points of foreign affairs, and they seem to attribute an interest in such lofty concepts as the Constitution solely to the effete intellectual elite. The Republican strategists, who by and large are a part of the effete intellectual elite themselves, are banking on that as they fire the cannonball of Sarah Palin into our collective consciousness. They’re gambling, and it’s not really much of a gamble at all, that today’s unqualified Americans will fall all over themselves to see themselves reflected in the White House.

Monday, September 8, 2008

She Speaks (Not That I Can Stand Her Voice).

Apparently the McCain camp has let its little lady pit bull off her leash for a brief moment on Thursday and Friday of this week to chat with Charles Gibson of ABC. Until then, she will continue to campaign together with Old Man Irrelevance, so his campaign can keep a tight rein on her having to actually answer any questions about her experience that can’t be answered by listening to her re-spew her convention speech over and over (“I said thanks but no thanks!”). I can’t say I hold out a lot of hope for this being the interview that’s really going to give America an idea of what the hell Sarah Palin knows about, if anything. First, it’s back on her home turf of Alaska, which to me smacks of the kind of fluff piece where we hear even more from the back water citizens of Alaska about how great she is, even while she threatens to have their husbands or wives fired if they don’t say it with a smile. Second, the fact that it’s over two days makes me think she’s going to have plenty of time between questions to step into a back room with the 750 advisers McCain’s campaign will have had to assemble to tell her what to say. Not that I don’t think she could answer the questions herself, but they might not want America to hear her actual opinions:

Charles Gibson: “Governor Palin, John McCain is old – like, REALLY old. So there’s a real possibility that you’ll be asked to step into the role of president sooner rather than later. Can you describe why you think you are prepared to take over that role?”

Governor Palin: “Well, Charles, if you ask anyone on the street here in Alaska, you’ll know that I like things done my way. Alaska, I mean, America, is the strongest, most powerful country in the world, and we’re going to keep it that way. If some foreign leader thinks he can mess with me, he can think again.”

CG: “That doesn’t really tell Americans how you are prepared to deal with all the nuances of being a world leader.”

GP: “Nuance! That’s for sissies, Chuck. Listen. I’ve had Russia staring at me across the Bering Strait for 18 months now, and have they tried anything? No. Why? Because they know what’s good for them. It won’t be different when I’m president. None of this negotiating, “diplomacy” nonsense. Who has time for that?”

CG: “Okay. Governor Palin, arguably because of our involvement in Iraq, we have rapidly declining enrollment in our armed forces. The troops we do have are stretched thin as they complete their third, fourth, even fifth tours of duty. Do you believe we have the ability to maintain the military might for which America has traditionally been known?

GP: “No problem, Chuck. For one thing, when I get the Supreme Court where I really want it – get those doddering old liberals off the bench and replace them with more people who think like me – then there are going to me a lot more babies in this world. I’m thinking we just start an army filled with the little fellas; soon there will be plenty to send wherever we need to protect our oil interests! Certainly while I’m still president!”

CG: “You can only be president for eight years, Governor Palin.”

GP: “Oh, Chuck. Don't make the mistake of underestimating me.”

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Sarah Palin Cows the Media, but Not Me.

I don’t even know where to begin. Sarah Palin’s speech was divisive, belligerent, smug, and at the same time totally lightweight. So why is the media fawning all over it like it was the best thing since sliced bread? I can see how it was effective for all the people who are already inclined to vote Republican, but I found her completely repellent. After everything I had read about how engaging she is, how personable, how charming, I was expecting to be greeted by someone that I might have a tough time resisting on a personal level, disagreeable though I might find her views. Instead, she seemed dead set on whipping up a nasty partisan frenzy; punctuated repeatedly by her pursed schoolmarm smirk. By the end of her tirade, I loathed her and her “I represent the little people” B.S. with every last boiling blood cell in my veins.

Let’s review:

1. She came out and spent a good 10 minutes introducing her hillbilly family, as if we haven’t read enough about their sluttish and/or unethical escapades (oh, sorry, that’s the escapades of “real families, just like yours”) in the news the last few days. I thought it was particularly charming that the pregnant teenaged daughter’s boyfriend was trotted out on the stage in his Sunday best after the speech, chewing gum like the child that he is. What a nice touch to validate the pre-marital sex that she deplores in order to show what a loving mother she is.

2. Her first “political” statement was to tell America she would be there as a voice for special needs parents in government. While that is certainly a laudable sentiment, positioning it at the top of her speech seemed designed to show what an understanding, sensitive mother she is. Again – fabulous – but perhaps not the most important issue on the country’s agenda this year. And arguably not on hers, either, as the entire Republican Party seemed to take a pass at babysitting poor little Trig during her speech. He was trotted out on the stage at the end, too – couldn’t one of her precious family members have stayed in the hotel room and made sure he was safely tucked into bed, where he should have been at that hour, instead of surrounded by the bright lights and screaming crowd in the arena?

3. Finally, Sarah started the mud-slinging. She compared her own experience to Obama’s, belittling his work as a community organizer and championing her own extensive qualifications as the mayor of a small town as the sine qua non of executive experience. She followed that up with a contemptuous dose of “I don’t trust the liberal elite,” and there you have the substance of her speech.

4. Oh, wait, she did talk a lot about drilling in Alaska as her way to address our energy crisis, so that was pretty useful.

5. Oh, yeah, and then told some lies: namely, that she didn’t support taking federal money to build the “Bridge to Nowhere,” and that Barack Obama never authored a law in Congress.

Ugh, that’s enough. She was nasty, and her speech (along with everything else I’ve heard coming out of the Republican Convention) sought to perpetuate the partisan divide in this country. Contrast that with Obama’s convention speech, in which he enumerated several issues on which the parties traditionally disagree, but on which he believes we can surely find common ground. He spoke about rebuilding a nation that is sorely divided; Sarah Palin sought to drive that stake even further into the ground. The Republican Party seeks to wrap that up even tighter in a soft blanket of sexism – simultaneously sporting their buttons that say “Hottest VP from the Coolest State” while accusing the Demorcats of sexism at every turn for daring to challenge Palin’s qualifications.

And speaking once again of qualifications, if I ever thought there wasn’t a danger she would actually find herself in the highest office in the land, seeing the tiny, waxen figure of John McCain come shuffling out at the end of the speech disabused me of that notion. I think he might already be dead. So watch out, lucky world.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Fun 'n Games in Minneapolis.

For the most part I can leave the charming Sarah Palin alone for the day, since there will surely be plenty to say tomorrow after she makes what amounts to her debut to the American public tonight. It’s only a debut because even though her candidacy was announced several days ago, the McCain campaign thinks it is appropriate to keep her from having to actually sit for an interview where she would have to answer a few questions about herself. Why? Because the “hostile media” clearly has it in for her, so they will bring her out “when the time is right.” I’m sorry, what? John McCain thinks this woman is capable of running our country, yet she can’t handle a few pointed questions from journalists? Of all the paternalistic crap I can imagine from the Barefoot-and-Pregnant Party, this takes the cake. Not to mention, for all the disagreements I have with Sarah Palin on the issues, she strikes me as a woman who could more than handle herself in an interview. So cut the nonsense and require her to give one. Jesus.

While I’m throwing a bone to the ladies here, rather than at their heads, I’ll toss another one to Cindy McCain. I feel kind of bad for her. She is clearly a perfectly lovely woman, as long as I don’t get into any kind of political discussion with her, and she never looks like she wants to be anywhere near this mess of national politics. She hangs in the background, looking reasonably chic in her throwback sort of way, and smiles when she needs to. I don’t know if it’s shyness or sadness, though, but there is something about her that seems pretty self-protective and closed in on herself. So, I might say some not-so-nice things here that I extrapolate from her Republicanism, but the truth is I don’t have much of a bone to pick with her other than I don’t want her anywhere near the White House.

Speaking of which, guess who will never be anywhere near the White House, or even Capitol Hill ever again, unless McCain picks him for a Cabinet post? That’s right; Joe “Stick a Fork in Me” Lieberman. Wow – that man is going to be the biggest pariah in town when he gets back to D.C. I can’t believe he had the nerve to stand up there and exhort Democrats to “think” about the choice they have to make here. Sorry, buddy, some of us have already thought about this in pretty great depth, and we decided that this wasn’t much of a decision at all. We aspire for a little bit more than the world your candidate promises to leave us with. And Lieberman’s poor wife, Hadassah, sitting out there in the audience next to Cindy McCain: you can’t tell me she wasn’t sitting there wondering what planet she was on. Did she really sign up for this, too? Maybe she could have taken a page from the Todd Palin book of political spouse behavior and kept her membership in her previous party. Of course, in his case that would be the Alaskan Independence Party, of which he was apparently a member until 2002.

This should be quite an administration.