Monday, September 08, 2008

Temper, Temper

I didn't cover much of the RNC convention mainly because, honestly, I couldn't bring myself to watch much of it (other than Palin's acceptance speech and the parts of McCain's speech that I was able to stay awake for). Anyway, it was covered everywhere in the media and on the blogs, so there wasn't much for me to add.

For my favorite take on the convention, Jon Stewart rules. I've included videos on Sarah Palin and John McCain below.

Now that we're post-convention, Frank Rich's column, Palin and McCain’s Shotgun Marriage, provides the best review of the state of the GOP ticket. Of McCain, he notes:

McCain’s address, though largely a repetitive slew of stump-speech lines and worn G.O.P. orthodoxy, reminded us of what we once liked about the guy: his aspirations to bipartisanship, his heroic service in Vietnam, his twinkle. He took his (often inaccurate) swipes at Obama, but, in winning contrast to Palin and Rudy Giuliani, he wasn’t smug or nasty.

The only problem, of course, is that the entire thing was a sham.

As is nakedly evident, the speech’s central argument, that the 72-year-old McCain will magically morph into a powerful change agent as president, is a non sequitur. In his 26 years in Washington, most of it with a Republican in the White House and roughly half of it with Republicans in charge of Congress, he was better at lecturing his party about reform than leading a reform movement. G.O.P. corruption and governmental dysfunction only grew. So did his cynical flip-flops on the most destructive policies of the president who remained nameless Thursday night. (In the G.O.P., Bush love is now the second most popular love that dare not speak its name.)

And then there's Sarah Palin:

We still don’t know a lot about Palin except that she’s better at delivering a speech than McCain and that she defends her own pregnant daughter’s right to privacy even as she would have the government intrude to police the reproductive choices of all other women. Most of the rest of the biography supplied by her and the McCain camp is fiction.

She didn’t say “no thanks” to the “Bridge to Nowhere” until after Congress had already abandoned it but given Alaska a blank check for $223 million in taxpayers’ money anyway. Far from rejecting federal pork, she hired lobbyists to secure her town a disproportionate share of earmarks ($1,000 per resident in 2002, 20 times the per capita average in other states). Though McCain claimed “she has had national security as one of her primary responsibilities,” she has never issued a single command as head of the Alaska National Guard. As for her “executive experience” as mayor, she told her hometown paper in Wasilla, Alaska, in 1996, the year of her election: “It’s not rocket science. It’s $6 million and 53 employees.” Her much-advertised crusade against officials abusing their office is now compromised by a bipartisan ethics investigation into charges that she did the same.

How long before we learn she never shot a moose?

Given the actuarial odds that could make Palin our 45th president, it would be helpful to know who this mystery woman actually is. Meanwhile, two eternal axioms of our politics remain in place. Americans vote for the top of the ticket, not the bottom. And in judging the top of the ticket, voters look first at the candidates’ maiden executive decision, their selection of running mates. Whatever we do and don’t know about Palin’s character at this point, there is no ambiguity in what her ascent tells us about McCain’s character and potential presidency.
Clearly, their positions on the issues trouble me greatly, but even more worrisome for me is the "character issue." Because their true positions (as is the case with the GOP generally) are diametrically opposed to the public's pulse at the moment (re: the war, the economy, etc), the Republican's are trying to deflect any focus on the issues by looking at "character" issues.

I must really be out of the main stream of political thought, because I shudder to think that on character, the McCain/Palin team would be considered anything but exceedingly scary. In another of a series of mythical Cassandra-like warnings that the press occasionally provides on McCain's temper, the McClatchy News raises the latest alarm, in McCain's history of hot temper raises concerns. It's an issue that I've covered before, see, e.g., History Repeats Itself. For more, see, McClatchy, WaPo and Romney Warn About McCain’s Out of Control Temper.

As I've observed McCain during the course of this contest, I've had glimmers of him that make me wonder if he's actually gotten worse. I don't know if it's the rigors of the campaign, age or illness, but McCain sometimes seems to have gone beyond temperamental and instead has become unstable.

Then, of course, there's the choice of his soul mate, Sarah Palin. Now that we've gotten beyond the "family" stuff related to her, we can concentrate on her pertaining to her stand on the issues. Or we could if we're ever given any positions she's ever taken on any national issue. I've written about her before, see Valley Girls, and I can certainly see that she and McCain can be the nasty twins, if nothing else. If that's what he meant by "soul mate," I'd have to agree. And for a hysterical version of McCain's 3 PM call to Palin offering the VP spot, don't miss the video at Gort42.

Andrew Sullivan writes of Palin in A Wasillan On Sarah Palin, quoting a Wasillan native who remarked that her high school classmates "call[ed] her “Sarah Barracuda” because of her unbridled ambition and predatory ruthlessness." Sound like any presidential candidate you know?

And in conclusion, I turn to the true voice of politics today --


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