Not to Worry

Friday, September 5, thing were supposed to settle down. The political conventions were finally over, capped by John McCain’s workmanlike speech – long on character (he has it, he says), and short on the issues. In fact the issues didn’t come up much at all – McCain politely nodded to them as they passed by. His audience didn’t care, and those not at the convention, watching on television, were not impressed.

 

Here, from Steve Benen, is a roundup:

 

Jeffrey Toobin on CNN: “I thought it was the worst speech by a nominee that I’ve heard since Jimmy Carter in 1980… I personally cannot remember a single policy proposal that he made because they had nothing connecting them. I found it shockingly bad.”

 

Former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson on MSNBC: “The policy in the speech was rather typical for a Republican. Pretty disappointing. It didn’t do a lot of outreach to moderates and independents on issues that they care about. It talked, about issues like drilling and school choice which was really speaking to the converted. I think that was a missed opportunity.”

 

David Gergen on CNN: “It was mostly a rerun, retread of a lot of old Republican ideas that have brought us to where we are now. I think the country is looking for fresh answers.”

 

Rachel Maddow on MSNBC: “Honestly it was sort of like a long term paper about Bush Republican economics… But people aren’t mad at Barack Obama about the economy people are mad at George Bush about the economy and he just proposed a lot of Bush’s economic ideas. I think he really missed that.”

 

Juan Williams on Fox News: “I don’t think it worked very well at all.”

 

The New York Times Liveblog: “Sleepy? Our colleague Patrick Healy reports from the floor: There is a delegate in the Utah section and a delegate in Puerto Rico who are both drooping, eyes closed – look asleep – both are men.”

 

Good for Benen – the rest of us didn’t watch the speech or the talking heads discuss it. There were other things to do that were more useful. One could clip one’s toenails. The summary and selected quotes in the morning paper – out here the Los Angeles Times – would do. Sip the hot black coffee, glance up at the sunrise now and then, and scan what he said. McCain wants to shake things up, as he’s a maverick and a reformer, but there was not one thing there with which anyone in the Bush administration would disagree in the slightest, not one.

 

That’s curious. Ah well – Friday is the extensive movie reviews out here, a local thing, and there were the comics and the day’s book review, that new book oddly channeling an imaginary Laura Bush.

 

The market news was burbling on in the background – the stock markets tanking, but they recovered at the close, sort of. Unemployment spiked to over six percent, the highest in five years, and it seems one out of ten homes in America is either in foreclosure, or folks are behind in the payments. That’s reasonably awful. McCain says times are tough – as he says, people are worried about their real estate holdings (an odd way to put it, but natural for him) – but the economy is basically sound. Perhaps his economy advisor, Phil Gramm, now back in his good graces, was right – we are just a nation of whiners. Lose your one house – most people only have one, actually – and lose your job, but know it’s all in your imagination. Could that be?

 

But of course, Fridays are deceptive. If you have bad news you release it late in the day on Friday – after the markets close, and the news cycles close for a weekend of sports on television, and, for most people, things to do around the home and a bit of relaxing. You chat with the neighbors. You play with the kids.

 

But late Friday, the other shoe dropped:

 

Senior officials from the Bush administration and the Federal Reserve on Friday informed top executives of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage-finance giants, that the government is preparing a plan to seize the two companies and place them in a conservatorship, officials and company executives briefed on the discussions said.

 

The plan, effectively a government bailout, was outlined in separate meetings that the chief executives were summoned to attend on Friday at the office of the companies’ new regulator. The executives were told that under the plan, they and their boards would be replaced, and their shareholders virtually wiped out, but that the companies would be able to continue functioning with the government generally standing behind their debt, people briefed on the discussions said.

 

It is not possible to calculate the cost of any government bailout, but the huge potential liabilities of the companies could cost taxpayers tens of billions of dollars and make any rescue among the largest in United States history.

 

Oh crap – these two finance most of the mortgages in America, and resell the debt worldwide. And this bailout is a thousand times bigger than the bailout earlier this year of Bear Stearns. But these two guarantee about five trillion dollars in mortgage-backed securities, held by central banks and investors around the world, so you cannot have them fail, and that’s what they were doing. And you can’t have them fail as John McCain is running for president.

 

But the markets will not be happy:

 

Under a conservatorship, most if not all of the remaining value of the common and preferred shares of Fannie and Freddie would be worth little or nothing, and any losses on mortgages they own or guarantee could be paid by taxpayers. A conservatorship would operate much like a pre-packaged bankruptcy, similar to what smaller companies use to clean up their books and then emerge with stronger balance sheets.

 

The officials said that the executives were told that the government had been planning to announce the decision as early as Sunday, before the Asian markets reopen.

 

Monday will be rough, as Friday night after-hours trading indicated:

 

After stock markets closed on Friday, the shares of Fannie and Freddie plummeted. Fannie was trading around $5.50, down from $70 a year ago. Freddie was trading at about $4, down from about $65 a year ago.

 

Come Monday – nothing to trade. Some folks will be wiped out, those who trusted the feds to buy shares to keep the prices up, as they had said they would do. They were just kidding, it seems. Or things were far worse than anyone knew.

 

So McCain said little if anything about the economy in his speech – which was wise. He said he really, really loves America. Good for him.

 

The Republicans have made their decision, the election will be, if they can manage it, about character, not issues. They said that, flat-out. They’re no longer going to claim to be the super managers and excellent businessmen who can manage things. They’ve gone in a different direction – and thrown their lot in with Sarah Palin.

 

In the New Yorker, George Packer, sees what they’ve become:

 

[McCain] gambled, all right, but it was in the direction of orthodoxy – for Palin is a creature and an icon of the Republicans’ evangelical base, which came into full possession of the Party this week and completed the GOP’s conversion to identity politics…

 

No wonder Pat Buchanan was so fired up on MSNBC, while Mike Huckabee wore the look of a man who missed his train because he was given the wrong departure time.

 

They are now the party of God, and True Americans, or something.

 

Michael Moore here issues a bit of a warning about thinking that this is silly:

 

But before everyone gets all smug and self-righteous about the Palin selection, remember where you live. You live in a nation of gun owners and hunters. You live in a country where one out of three girls gets pregnant before they are twenty. You live in a nation of C students. Knocking Bush for being a C student only endeared him to the nation of C students. Knock Palin for having kids, for having a kid who’s having a baby, for anything that is part of her normalness – a normalness that looks very familiar to so many millions of Americans – well, you do this at your own peril. Assuming she’s still on the ticket two weeks from now, she will be a much tougher opponent than anyone expects.

 

So don’t get all elitist and worry about the issues.

 

Note that here Andrew Sullivan argues that there are two kinds of elitism, good and bad:

 

The good is a society where genuine talent and expertise and education are valued, and regarded as virtues in a public official. Conservatives – until they turned into religious populists – believed it was a good thing that our leaders have advanced education, for example. This is a good elite, and we need it. The bad sort of elite is when the educated class starts looking down their noses at the wisdom and common sense of ordinary people, insulate themselves from where they came from and their families and have contempt for the mores of many less educated Americans.

 

So he wonders about all the conservatives hot for Sarah Palin, which he sees as an attack on the idea of a good elite. He cites this on her education:

 

Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin attended five colleges in six years before graduating from the University of Idaho in 1987.

 

She began college at Hawaii Pacific University, a private, nonsectarian school in Honolulu. She attended only as a freshman during the fall of 1982, school spokeswoman Crystale Lopez said. Then known as Sarah Louise Heath, she was in the business administration program as a full-time student, Lopez said. “We’re trying to track down someone who knew her,” Lopez added. From Hawaii Pacific, Palin transferred to North Idaho College, a two-year school in Coeur d’Alene, about 30 miles east of Spokane. She attended the college as a general studies major for two semesters, in spring 1983 and fall 1983, spokeswoman Stacy Hudson said.

 

From North Idaho College, Palin transferred 70 miles south to the University of Idaho, the state’s flagship institution. She majored in journalism with an emphasis in broadcast news. She attended Idaho, whose mascot is the Vandals, from fall 1984 to spring 1985. She then returned to Alaska to attend Matanuska-Susitna College in Palmer in fall 1985. Then she returned to Idaho, for spring 1986, fall 1986 and spring 1987, when she graduated.

 

Despite her journalism degree, she does not appear to have worked for the college newspaper or campus television station, school officials said. She worked briefly as a sportscaster for KTUU in Anchorage after she graduated college.

 

If McCain kicks the bucket, can she deal with stuff like the failure of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? The common touch is nice and all that, and actually valuable. But it is of limited value in some circumstances.

 

And who is this woman, the new face of the party? See Anne Kilkenny here, if you haven’t heard her on NPR:

 

I am a resident of Wasilla, Alaska. I have known Sarah since 1992. Everyone here knows Sarah, so it is nothing special to say we are on a first-name basis. Our children have attended the same schools. Her father was my child’s favorite substitute teacher. I also am on a first name basis with her parents and mother-in-law. I attended more City Council meetings during her administration than about 99% of the residents of the city.

 

What follows is long and detailed, an up-close-and-personal profile of a woman of driving ambition and quite limited talent, constantly shifting positions, and extraordinarily vengeful – she keeps enemies lists like Nixon did. So think Richard Nixon, but without the social awkwardness, and without the education and years of policy experience, or the intelligence. But she’s not mad and strange, like Nixon in the final days – she’s kind of cute, in a brutal and dangerous sort of way. She seems one nasty piece of work, with the nickname Barracuda.

 

But, in Time, see Jay Carney:

 

According to Nicole Wallace of the McCain campaign, the American people don’t care whether Sarah Palin can answer specific questions about foreign and domestic policy. According to Wallace – in an appearance I did with her this morning on Joe Scarborough’s show – the American people will learn all they need to know (and all they deserve to know) from Palin’s scripted speeches and choreographed appearances on the campaign trail and in campaign ads.

 

Sullivan:

 

They are headed over a very steep cliff – and they’re accelerating. That’s what these people do. They cannot acknowledge an error, even when it’s staring them in the face. So they up the ante. They have to whip up the most almighty cultural war to find a way through this. Will the press perform its constitutional duty? Or be cowed by the Rove bullies?

 

The press won’t have a chance. We’ve been told she’s a true American – a salt-of-the-earth hockey mom who likes to hunt and fish. She can give one hell of an in-your-face speech, but Ben Stein at Politico says we’ll be seeing a lot less of her:

 

Howard Fineman reported tonight (and I heard something similar) that Sarah Palin will, after a brief stretch on the trail, head back to Anchorage and away from the national media.

 

“They’re basically taking Palin back to Alaska,” said Fineman, citing a senior McCain campaign official.

 

Fineman’s source (and mine) said she’d spent much of the time between now and the middle of next week (when her son leaves for Iraq) straightening her affairs, tending to her official duties and packing her bags – having departed abruptly for the national stage. She also seems unlikely to do many major media interviews between now and then, and the campaign seems to feel no urgency about putting her on the Sunday shows.

 

The campaign will “also use the plane time and time on the ground to begin the education of Sarah Palin,” Fineman said. “They want to take that pause to train.”

 

NBC News’ Chuck Todd reported the same thing the previous day, saying Palin will “hole up in Alaska” and we “may not see her on the campaign trail for a little while.” It seems she needs to have the issues explained to her, as she cannot always say folks should lay off as she’s a hockey mom, even if McCain can say folks should lay off him because he was a prisoner of war almost forty years ago, or whenever it was. The campaign may still have some serious concerns about Palin’s ability to answer questions about her readiness for national office. It’s time for a cram session.

 

And there are other issues, as judging from his public statements shortly after he announced Sarah Palin as his running mate, McCain thought she had opposed that Bridge to Nowhere, but she hadn’t. And he thought she had sold the state’s executive jet on eBay and made a profit on it, and that’s not exactly so. And he thought she had cut taxes as both mayor and governor. Nope. And he seems to have thought she had fully explained her part in pressuring the state police chief to fire her ex-brother-in-law, but that doesn’t seem so. And he thought she was an enemy of earmarks and federal pork, but that seems not to have been her big thing. So it’s time for the media to get to work, as reporters, even if you tell them they shouldn’t, do ask questions, and you cannot always say that any an all questions are unfair and sexist. It just looks bad.

 

And they had better give her a crash course in economics, and on the mortgage and securities industries. McCain can sit in, as he has more than once said he doesn’t know much about such things.

 

As for her, Kevin Drum sees it this way:

 

The McCain campaign is scared to death. They knew nothing about Palin before they announced her, they relied on a cursory vetting process that has turned out to be shot full of holes, they realize now that she has no settled views on any issue of national importance and could blurt out anything at any time, and they’re terrified about what might crop up next. So they’re keeping her in the deep freeze.

 

Will it work? I guess it’s possible. If she does one or two friendly interviews it will prevent reporters from saying flatly that she “refuses to meet with the press,” and the slightly more complicated explanation may be just complicated enough to keep voters from noticing what’s going on.

 

In a way, it’s sort of a test of just how gullible the American public really is. Are they actually willing to vote for someone who’s afraid to meet with Foreign Affairs, the New York Times, and Meet the Press? Will they accept a tissue-thin excuse about what big meanies they all are?

 

We’re about to find out.

 

But Drum also says that the idea she will be under wraps is a trap:

 

These guys are being suckered with misinformation so that the McCain campaign will have yet another excuse to pretend that the media is bent on making up egregious lies about Palin. I don’t think she’s going to be talking to a horde of serious national journalists, but they’ll pick some spots and do a few remotes. Maybe Larry King, despite pulling out of his show a few days ago. One or more of the morning shows. Some simpatico outlets like Fox News or the New York Post or the Wall Street Journal edit page. That kind of thing.

 

But I’ll bet it won’t be radio silence.

 

After all, they have their own Obama, as Paul Mirengoff of the far-right Powerline states the obvious:

 

We conservatives have had a good time ridiculing the Obama phenomenon, especially its messianic feel – the willingness of its adherents to pour so much hope and belief into such an empty, or at least incomplete, vessel – and its elevation of “narrative” over substance.

 

It turns out that we were dying to have basically the same experience.

 

Andrew Sullivan – “The difference is that Obama earned it; Palin was given it.”

 

That may not matter. See this video of the woman, explained here by Andrew Sullivan:

 

After last night’s national debut, here’s another speech by Palin in the Assemblies of God church she grew up in. (Have we ever had a president from the Assemblies of God before?) She comes across as a charismatic, Pentecostalist charmer in favor of the Iraq war as part of God’s plan. Track has a Jesus tattoo on his calf, by the way. My favorite quote: “Y’all are a bunch of cool-looking Christians.”

 

Her pastor speaks after her of the “last days” when the lower 48 states may have to seek refuge in Alaska. This governor is on a path, by her own testimony, that is being guided by God. When you see this clip, you can see evangelical Christianism coming ever closer to the White House.

 

The more I learn about her, the more you realize that she is indeed the future of the Republican Party – evangelical Christianity is now the core philosophy of the GOP

 

And one of his readers adds this:

 

Good God! I watched that video of Palin at her church through twice. The Assemblies of God are Pentecostals, of course, the real “holy rollers” – ecstatic experience of the Godhead in your own body, rolling in the aisles, talking in tongues. When I got some exposure to them, they were extremely conservative and strict (no dancing, no lipstick, no short skirts) but Palin is evidence of how they’ve mainstreamed themselves.

 

I wonder if the average reader would hear the references she makes and understand them? Master’s commissions – this is a program they run to evangelize non-believers, in Alaska especially native Americans. Notice that our foreign and defense policy is simply God-given – not to be weighed, studied, deliberated, only to be implemented as we’re taught by our betters. And notice that her political program – build a sports complex, a pipeline, change a tax bill, all likewise simply becomes a matter of religion.

 

For twenty years the most hardcore Christianists have been held in the background. Now one of them is the vice presidential nominee next to a man who’s 72 and a repeated cancer survivor. This is mortifying. How could John McCain do this to our country!

 

How could he do that? Well, Dave Barry explains:

 

Critics continue to ask how much McCain really knew about Palin before he selected her as his running mate, especially in light of that fact that he keeps referring to her, in speeches, as “Whatshername.” But McCain’s staff insists that it conducted a thorough investigation of Palin, which included not only inspecting her driver’s license, but also, according to a campaign spokesperson, “reading almost her entire Wikipedia article.”

 

Ah, Barry is a humorist. Maybe that’s not appropriate. The financial world is imploding.

 

But she says she is a reformist who will shake things up. At the site Culture, James Poulos wrestles with that idea:

 

For Sarah Palin to come to terms with America, and for America to come to terms with Sarah Palin, she must make good on the promise of her lot in life. If she wishes to become a major figure in her part in a party on the ropes and depleted, with a world of rebuilding to do she must have the courage to begin explaining explicitly why Bush has failed and how she repudiates those failures as a public figure and a conservative Republican.

 

But that would need knowing the issues, and the details of how things work. Don’t expect that.

 

Even one of the most respected men on the right, and one of the mainstays of Fox News, the former psychiatrist Charles Krauthammer, is having none of it:

 

The gamble is enormous. In a stroke, McCain gratuitously forfeited his most powerful argument against Obama. And this was even before Palin’s inevitable liabilities began to pile up – inevitable because any previously unvetted neophyte has “issues.” The kid. The state trooper investigation. And worst, the paucity of any Palin record or expressed conviction on the major issues of our time.

 

Andrew Sullivan agrees:

 

A person who heard about the surge “on the news” and wanted an “exit plan” is simply not a credible vice-president for John McCain. It can’t be defended with any measure of intellectual honesty. It could be defended as a cynical electoral gambit. But it cannot be defended by anyone even faintly serious about national security. And so you see what people like Mark Levin and Mark Steyn and Jonah Goldberg truly are: fathomless cynics.

 

Watching the conservative intelligentsia divide into those who still have some grip on reality and principle and those who long ago took their leave of both is really fascinating. Charles has not lost his marbles, even if so many others have.

 

Reality is far away. See one of Sullivan’s readers on all this business about offshore oil drilling:

 

The Republican obsession with drilling seems so jarring because it’s a glaring example of either the modern GOP’s disconnect from reality, or its cynicism, or both. Either a lot of them believe (despite all available evidence to the contrary) that the energy crisis can be significantly ameliorated by offshore and ANWR drilling, simply because they’d like it to be so; or else they think that this is could be a nice wedge issue aimed at the pickup truck set (e.g., “Those guys care more about moose and polar bears than they do that you’re paying $4 a gallon for gas.”). Or both. Either way, it’s clearly a symptom of a party that has no interest in engaging seriously with reality.

 

And the idea this woman would win over all the disaffected supporters of Hillary Clinton? Even the solidly pro-McCain Associated Press ran this, about how most Clinton backers say Palin’s too far a stretch:

 

The Washington group EMILY’s List, which backs female candidates who support abortion rights, says its own polling shows that a majority of Clinton supporters – 55 percent – say Palin’s presence on the ticket makes them even less likely to vote McCain. Only 9 percent say it makes that more likely.

 

The rest is anecdotes, but the plan is not exactly working.

 

It is no wonder that the press will not be permitted to interview McCain’s running mate, unless certain pre-conditions are met. Don’t ask hard questions about issues, like anything about, say, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

 

Richard Einhorn has a few things to say about that:

 

It’s part and parcel of a campaign to terminate unscripted, uncontrolled situations. You can sneer all you want about the hypocrisy and cynicism of the McCain campaign, but the effect to the average American will be a contrast between smooth-talking, glib, in-control Republicans contrasted with sloppy, gaffe-prone Democrats.

 

And no, people, if properly done, not even sophisticated watchers of the media are likely to be immune from the effects of this kind of media control, let alone the average viewer. The Republicans will look in control, because they will be – marketing-wise – and that is a very, very powerful visual message.

 

Will the Democrats scream bloody murder about this outrageous attempt to run a presidential campaign without the opportunity actually to question one party’s candidates in a frank manner? We’ll see.

 

It’s a game. In the New York Times, Paul Krugman nails it:

 

Can the super-rich former governor of Massachusetts – the son of a Fortune 500 CEO who made a vast fortune in the leveraged-buyout business – really keep a straight face while denouncing “Eastern elites”?

 

Can the former mayor of New York City, a man who, as USA Today put it, “marched in gay pride parades, dressed up in drag and lived temporarily with a gay couple and their Shih Tzu” – that was between his second and third marriages – really get away with saying that Barack Obama doesn’t think small towns are sufficiently “cosmopolitan”?

 

Can the vice-presidential candidate of a party that has controlled the White House, Congress or both for 26 of the past 28 years, a party that, Borg-like, assimilated much of the DC lobbying industry into itself – until Congress changed hands, high-paying lobbying jobs were reserved for loyal Republicans – really portray herself as running against the “Washington elite”?

 

Yes, they can.

 

They’re doing it. They’re very angry:

 

Some of it, of course, is driven by cultural and religious conflict: fundamentalist Christians are sincerely dismayed by Roe v. Wade and evolution in the curriculum. What struck me as I watched the convention speeches, however, is how much of the anger on the right is based not on the claim that Democrats have done bad things, but on the perception – generally based on no evidence whatsoever – that Democrats look down their noses at regular people.

 

Thus Mr. Giuliani asserted that Wasilla, Alaska, isn’t “flashy enough” for Mr. Obama, who never said any such thing. And Ms. Palin asserted that Democrats “look down” on small-town mayors – again, without any evidence.

 

What the GOP is selling, in other words, is the pure politics of resentment; you’re supposed to vote Republican to stick it to an elite that thinks it’s better than you. Or to put it another way, the GOP is still the party of Nixon.

 

And he goes on to discuss the Rick Perlstein book Nixonland, cited here already. Nixon seems to come up a lot. Krugman knows:

 

Can Mr. McCain and Ms. Palin really ride Nixonian resentment into an upset election victory in what should be an overwhelmingly Democratic year? The answer is a definite maybe.

 

By selecting Barack Obama as their nominee, the Democrats may have given Republicans an opening: the very qualities that inspire many fervent Obama supporters – the candidate’s high-flown eloquence, his coolness factor – have also laid him open to a Nixonian backlash. Unlike many observers, I wasn’t surprised at the effectiveness of the McCain “celebrity” ad. It didn’t make much sense intellectually, but it skillfully exploited the resentment some voters feel toward Mr. Obama’s star quality.

 

That said, the experience of the years since 2000 – the memory of what happened to working Americans when faux-populist Republicans controlled the government – is still fairly fresh in voters’ minds. Furthermore, while Democrats’ supposed contempt for ordinary people is mainly a figment of Republican imagination, the GOP really is the Gramm Old Party – it really does believe that the economy is just fine, and the fact that most Americans disagree just shows that we’re a nation of whiners.

 

It may work:

 

Resentment, no matter how contrived, is a powerful force, and it’s one that Republicans are very, very good at exploiting.

 

And McCain is riding that faux-populist pony. See Mark Schmitt on John McCain:

 

The notable difference, not just in the speeches but in the entirety of the two conventions, was that it is McCain who stands alone. He is the one whose platform is his own personal melodrama, the moment of doubt and pain after which, “I was never the same again. I wasn’t my own man anymore. I was my country’s.” He’s the one whose introductory video declared that he “was chosen for this moment,” and “the stars are aligned” for his victory. Who’s the messiah, now?

 

Kevin Drum comments:

 

McCain likes to present his past as past and his time in a prison camp as a transformative experience, but the fact is that his experience as a POW transformed nothing. In fact, it amplified his fundamental belief in his own self-righteousness, something he’s used ever since as an unending justification for his worst impulses. He was 31 years old when he was captured by the North Vietnamese and 36 when he was released. When he was 43 he abandoned his injured wife for a younger woman and married into a fortune. When he was 51 he intervened with regulators on behalf of his pal Charles Keating and ended up enmeshed in the Keating Five scandal – a scandal he initially tried to blame on his wife when his role became public. When he was 61 he was amusing a partisan crowd with boorish jokes about Chelsea Clinton. When he was 64 he was pandering to Southern racism by refusing to condemn the confederate flag flying over South Carolina’s statehouse.

 

And then there’s the second part of this pattern: McCain’s famous remorse. As Dan Schnur put it, “He is the best apologizer in politics.” And so he is. His treatment of his first wife, he told Rick Warren a few weeks ago, was his “greatest moral failing.” Intervening for Charles Keating, he eventually admitted, was “the wrong thing to do.” His Chelsea joke was “stupid and cruel and insensitive.” His handling of the confederate flag controversy was a “sacrifice of principle for personal ambition.”

 

And now?

 

This year he’s 72 but things are no different. Instead of running a decent and honorable campaign, he and his surrogates are reigniting a culture war he doesn’t even believe in; relentlessly belittling and trivializing instead of addressing serious issues; repeatedly accusing his opponent of not caring about his country; stubbornly refusing to condemn even the vilest character assassinations; and finally choosing a manifestly unprepared and unvetted running mate in order to gain a momentary political advantage with a Christian right base that has never trusted him but that he needs to win the election. He does all this because, as his convention speech made clear, he believes he’s on a higher mission. His character is what this campaign is about – or rather his own image of his character – and it’s this belief in his own self-righteousness that allows him to justify his every action with a clear conscience. He has to win, you see, for the good of the country. He’s the only man who can do it.

 

And that’s the most dangerous attitude of all, because a person who believes that can talk himself into almost anything. And if it doesn’t work out? He’ll apologize later.

 

You know where this is going. The Courier of Cedar Valley, Iowa, reports here on a speech given by Congressman Steve King of Iowa:

 

King, who represents western Iowa and is known for making provocative statements, made a speech here asking the Iowa GOP delegation what part of Obama’s upbringing, relationships and education would be appropriate for someone who wanted to be president.

 

“There is no part of that that I would subject a child, a young man or woman to. I don’t think that there’s a nurture there that shows a thread of patriotism or a sense of appreciation of free market capitalism or the destiny of America or what has made this country great,” he said.

 

The issues, fixing the mess – domestic, international, economic – are not the issue. Not to worry.

 

Some of us worry – but we’re the elitists.

 

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About Alan

The editor is a former systems manager for a large California-based HMO, and a former senior systems manager for Northrop, Hughes-Raytheon, Computer Sciences Corporation, Perot Systems and other such organizations. One position was managing the financial and payroll systems for a large hospital chain. And somewhere in there was a two-year stint in Canada running the systems shop at a General Motors locomotive factory - in London, Ontario. That explains Canadian matters scattered through these pages. Otherwise, think large-scale HR, payroll, financial and manufacturing systems. A résumé is available if you wish. The editor has a graduate degree in Eighteenth-Century British Literature from Duke University where he was a National Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and taught English and music in upstate New York in the seventies, and then in the early eighties moved to California and left teaching. The editor currently resides in Hollywood California, a block north of the Sunset Strip.
This entry was posted in Church and State, Economic Issues, Economic Meltdown, Elitism, Exploiting Resentment, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Heartland Voters, McCain, McCain's Authenticity, McCain's Palin Gamble, McCain's Service, Nixonland, Obama as Messiah, Offshore Drilling, Palin Scandals, Palin Unqualified, Personality-Driven Politics, Political Pandering, Qualifications to be President, Religion and Politics, Sarah Palin, Style versus Substance, The Conservative-Liberal Divide, The Economy, The New Republican Party, The Power of Narrative, Values Voters. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Not to Worry

  1. Peter (the Other) says:

    There is no short cut out of this mess, no way without a hard period of work and financial sobriety. Myself, in my “wasted yuf”, when having caused enough wreckage that I had to be called onto the floor to account, understand the nihilistic urge as an option (Randy Newman’s Political Science, Let’s Drop The Big One Now) I learned my lesson and grew out of it, but every once and awhile a little voice inside goes “fu*k ’em”. It seems that this GOP ticket might have astrong appeal to this instinct.

    As to the “press”, even if any of them had the nerve, all the editors are corporate tools, the press is finished, and has been for a long time.

    Everyday that I don’t stand on a corner foaming at the mouth, screaming in outrage at the murderous actions my country is doing in my name, is another day of eternal shame. Oh well, I wonder what is on TV?

  2. Deb says:

    The democrats should pick up on Palin’s tax reform in Wasilla: taxing food usually makes for lively kitchen table talk.

  3. Rick (from Atlanta) says:

    Other Peter:

    “As to the ‘press,’ even if any of them had the nerve, all the editors are corporate tools, the press is finished, and has been for a long time. … Oh well, I wonder what is on TV?”

    Hey! Stay awake!

    My point is, just because the Republicans treat the American press the way the Kremlin has always treated the American press — discredit them, belittle them, make voters feel like if they believe what they hear from the press, they’re just being naive — doesn’t mean you have to buy that old used car.

    I’ve worked in plenty of newsrooms. Some editors personally subscribe to left-wing politics, some personally to right-wing politics (and many people would be amazed at how many of these there are), but I have never seen any of them give in to the ownership and management on how to slant a story. It doesn’t happen, and if anyone tells you it does, they’re trying to sell you their agenda.

    (Okay, I never worked for Fox News, but you can bet that any organization that makes as much a fuss about not being biased as that crowd does has to be engaged in some kind of deception project. But any outlet owned by Rupert Murdoch will necessarily be an exception to the rule.)

    By “what’s on TV,” I assume you mean something more real that this campaign? Sure, if you’re still ready to let the bad guys win, please do just go watch “Dancing with the Stars” or whatever on election day, instead of voting. It’ll keep you off the streets.

    Rick

  4. Peter (the Other) says:

    You doooo get around (hot damn)! The TV comment was just an expression of cynicism )perhaps a Swiftian trait). I don’t have kids, so I get to practice a goodly dose of cynicism when comparing today to the mid-twentieth century ideals I have installed as original equipment. I am too busy (picking up my dry cleaning) to worry about the ugliness, to do something. So the future, already appearing as a very different life tapestry then my sentimental old favorite (the one where there was too many fish in the sea), may be ugly to me, but the younger generations will own it and swim as naturally through the waters of it as I did in those of my youth.

    I am a pretty big consumer of news media, and I wish I could say I have seen evidence of the truth to power you credit it with (perhaps excepting John Humphries on the Beeb Radio 4). I am still amazed how little coverage the protests in St. Paul received in the mainstream media. Ah well, I am sure they all have some cleaning to pick up as well.

    If there is one thing ol’ Papa Bush got out of the CIA, it was the sense to make sure ones tracks are covered. I think he has taught Junior something about that (but to make sure he installed Cheney). McCain has kissed the ring, I am sure that whatever the press can dig up on the ream team will be turned into a positive by the end of the spin cycle.

    I don’t know from “good” guys and “bad” guys. I remember when the Dems were trying their hardest to send me to Vietnam to kill and maim as many as I could manage. Although I find Obama’s obvious intelligence and education a welcome change, he has now had to kiss so many rings, to get where he is, that his once shining oratory sickens me with the platitudes. Just another special interest piñata. I agree with Gore Vidal’s description, one party with two right wings. I will, as always vote, and now for the fourth presidential election in a row, I will make my small mark by voting for the one person running I believe is the best man (of the bunch) for the job (Ralph). After all, I live in Santa Monica and she is the patron of patience :-)

  5. Rick (from Atlanta) says:

    I was actually born in Santa Monica but I guess I lost patience with her early on, and have spent most my life since then back east.

    Those same Democrats aimed to send me to Vietnam, too, but they missed me, and then the Republicans took over the war, but by that time, it was too late — I was apparently too old to die for the cause, whatever the hell it was supposed to be back then.

    I swore Gore Vidal’s “Lincoln” was one of the best history books I ever read — or at least the most fun for a wannabe history major — but I just refuse to take any instruction from some old coot who works that hard at being a flake. He’s one of those who insists FDR knew about Pearl Harbor ahead of time but kept quiet about it. He may be right, but I don’t think he cares either way. He just enjoys being a world-famous flake-brain.

    I’m not one who is all that impressed with Obama’s oratory style. In fact, the older I get, the less able I am to sit through speeches given by anyone at all. When the time comes, I’ll be voting for him for other reasons.

    But if you’ve been voting for Ralph all these years, I can guess you’ve been living a fairly aimless life anyway. It’s not that it really does any harm, I guess. I don’t suppose you were ever going to be voting for Al Gore in the first place, so it’s not like your voting for Ralph had any real effect on giving us the guy we got, any more than staying home that day to sort your sock drawer would have.

    So yeah, what the hell, go for it. You might as well have some fun. I have a feeling you’re not the only one.

    God help America, we’re doing it again!

    (Not that I believe he’s paying attention to any of this or anything. I figure he’s probably up there, sorting his sock drawer. How else can any of this be explained?)

    Sorry if I sound nasty. I’m not really feeling nasty, I’m just a tad depressed.

    Rick

  6. Peter (the Other) says:

    “You might as well have some fun. I have a feeling you’re not the only one.”, yeah, and as the sun came up, this morning, over Santa Monica Blvd., the good citizens were doing their bit to conserve energy, by refraining from using their turn signals (I was a Bostonian until I was 24, long enough ago).

    Your edgy depression is probably healthier then my cynical yuk-fest. I find myself caught between my pacifism (which is deeply ingrained after decades of thinking about it) and the knowledge that I have never convinced one person with words, from Vietnam until now. As a) I am childless as far as I know, and 2) I refuse to spend the ten to twenty years of life remaining to me fuming, sputtering, ranting and raving, I try to keep my big concerns limited to those I actually have contact with and how I can be of service to them, and I vote for the future. Someday, after the country is truly bankrupt and left for dead by the corporations and rich, the stranglehold of the two parties will crumble and the idea of alternatives will arise.

    No, it is not glamorous, voting for a sure loser, but it is honest. I am not holding my nose, squinching up my eyes and trying to believe my candidate is going to make a big difference. I do not think that is aimless, rather the aim is based on a larger time scale (one in which I will not probably live to see).

    In any case, I am enjoying your news consolidation (saves me from having to search out all the different references) and I enjoy your analysis.

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