More proof that Republicans think "irony" is a kind of golf club...

>> Friday, August 29, 2008

I really would rather not dignify Senator McCain's obvious (and mostly successful) attempt to distract the media from Senator Obama's excellent acceptance speech with an acknowledgement of Senator McCain's existence, but how do you pass this up? It seems the Senator has selected as his running-mate the Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, a state that is in the process of assigning much of its own legislature to the task of re-stamping Alaskan state license plates with the new motto What's A Little Graft Between Friends?

MSNBC quotes Governor Palin as saying:

"I've been blessed with the right timing here," Palin said before the election. "There's no doubt that Alaskans right now are dealing in an atmosphere of distrust of government and industry."

...which has to be one of the richest quotes I've seen in awhile. Aside from the fact that one of Alaska's Senators in Washington has recently been indicted, and that Governor Palin is herself under investigation for allegedly misusing her influence to get her ex-brother-in-law shitcanned from the Alaska Highway Patrol, there's also the fact that the very first thing that comes up when you Google "Alaska corruption" is a Wikipedia entry on that very topic. I mean, corrupt Alaskan politicians literally have their very own encyclopedia entry. (A similar Google search for my home state merely brings up the various news items you'd hope for--not a bleeding encyclopedia article on the subject. I am floored, to be honest, really floored by the result I got from the "Alaska corruption" Google search.)

Alaskans mistrust their government? No! Say it ain't so!

Shall we analyze what this choice says about McCain? Shall we?

(Oh, let's!)

Pundits are already saying that Senator McCain's choice is a deliberate pander to disgruntled Clinton supporters who are miffed that Senator Obama passed over Senator Clinton for the veep (after stealing the nomination from her, of course). But this is a fairly shallow analysis in light of Senator Clinton's gracious and graceful gestures at the Democratic National Convention, both in her speech and in her appearance on behalf of the New York delegation to move for Senator Obama's nomination by acclamation. (Yes, it was pure political theatre, but it was good political theatre.) By now, all of Clinton's real supporters have thrown their support behind Obama (however reluctantly) and any immature, whining, pathetic "supporters" who are so bitter and shallow they'd rather vote for the anti-reproductive rights, anti-equal opportunity candidate weren't voting for Obama, anyway. No, I have a better explanation--one that may not be true, but is certainly more fun; one that is as good for the Republican gander as it might be for the Democratic goose when the Republican pundits swing away.

I think the proper explanation is that McCain went for a nominee who would be a kindred soul.

See, as I'm sure all of you doubtlessly already know, one of Senator McCain's most famous lifelong achievements was being one of five men who heroically exerted improper influence on the federal regulators who were attempting to relentlessly pursue a fellow named Charles Keating after he merely robbed investors of quite a lot of money and mismanaged a savings-and-loan into the ground (actually, I think he set it on fire first and pissed on the embers, but whatever). Senator McCain wasn't reprimanded or censured, but he was criticized for poor judgment. (Mr. Keating, for his part, was provided with free room-and-board at the taxpayers' expense for four or five years.)

With that in mind, consider: out of all the states in the Union, three leap to mind when one thinks of corrupt business and politics. There's Louisiana, but the Republicans are no longer as welcome as they might have once been, post-Katrina. And there's Illinois--but surely Senator Obama will carry his home state! No, when one looks for a place where those of questionable ethics and judgment might feel most at home, one must think of Alaska, with its noble Bridge To Nowhere and Corrupt Bastards Club.

Yes, Senator McCain didn't choose Governor Palin because she's a woman--has the Senator ever shown himself to be especially concerned with or active in the advancement of women in America? Outside of entering his wife in a stripper contest, I mean?

Nor did Senator McCain choose Governor Palin because of the votes she'll bring him. Convicted felons can't vote.

No, Senator McCain chose his running mate because he likes the company.

UPDATE, FRIDAY EVENING: After writing this, I read a blog entry by an actual, bona fide Alaskan I respect (yes, it was Jim Wright, how did you know?), offering another take on things. Specifically, that the corruption charges against Governor Palin are horseshit and apparently she's a helluva good Governor.

Alright, I guess that's the kind of thing that happens when you pick a nationally unknown politician as your running mate--some asshole who's never heard of her writes a foamy piece full of cheap shots at her as a roundabout way of rattling old skeletons in your closet. What they call collateral damage.

I'm not going to retract this piece: it was too much fun to write, and I think I acknowledged at least twice (in the body of the post and in the tags for it) that I was going out of my way to be unfair. And I'll acknowledge here that I'm a bit hypocritical in doing unto the Republicans what they've so often done unto the Democrats. But I am encouraging you to go read Jim's post if you haven't already--here's the link again, if you're too lazy to click on the one in the first paragraph of this update.

Among the several reasons for reading it: this woman has a realistic shot at being the first female President Of The United States. McCain isn't young, and the Presidency tends to age men before their time. Just saying.

Now, go read Jim!


Janiece Murphy Friday, August 29, 2008 at 3:39:00 PM EDT  

So what do they do with their "woods?"


Nice snark.

Leanright,  Friday, August 29, 2008 at 3:41:00 PM EDT  

All due respect, Eric, I imagine you would be entirely displeased with anyone the GOP selected for a VP candidate. I do remember you being very disenchanted with Romney in the past, so I am quite sure that would not have been in your "strike zone" either. I do know you are not a fan of the party, and I respect that.

I like the selection myself, as Ms. Palin is truly an outsider in Washington politics, and encompasses many of the values I hold close. Obviously scrutiny is sure to arise from this, but it is in the mold of John McCain straying from the norm of the party.

We shall see if it works. In the end, I look forward to positive change, regardless of which side of the aisle it comes from.

Eric Friday, August 29, 2008 at 4:30:00 PM EDT  

Oh, from a certain point of view, I'm entirely pleased with Governor Palin. I cannot think of a more amusing choice right now. A Governor with no apparent national experience, no apparent foreign policy knowledge (it will be interesting seeing how she does against Senator Biden), from a state currently notorious for political corruption, apparently selected to cater to a bloc of voters who were likely to already vote for Senator McCain anyway. Well. It will be something to talk about, to be sure.

It's true I'm not a fan of the Republicans. And it's also true that certain choices would have been more offensive than others: had McCain picked Lieberman, for instance, I might have had a stroke. On the other hand, the worst thing I can think of to say about Giuliani is that he's Giuliani--he's not exactly a likable person by most stretches of the imagination, but he's not necessarily an offensive choice.

I also feel obliged to point out that what "disenchanted" me with Mitt Romney was his statement that the election of Obama or Clinton to the White House would be a "surrender to terror." Something which, to the best of my knowledge, Senator McCain has not even hinted at (and much to his credit, I might add). Flippant accusations of treason are, I think, sufficient to leave anyone "disenchanted." Furthermore, while I think the current President has committed impeachable offenses and the Vice President may well have committed impeachable and indictable offenses, I wouldn't be particularly inclined to call them traitors--nor would I accuse them of selling out to terrorists, notwithstanding that they've done more lasting harm to my country than a dozen-and-a-half hijackers apparently naive to think that my nation's strength is in its architecture.

Still, I agree with you that it would be nice to see positive change from either side of the aisle.

Jim Wright Friday, August 29, 2008 at 7:52:00 PM EDT  

Your late addendum to the post notwithstanding, Eric, I suspect that you've said in nutshell what the dem speechwriters are fleshing out right now. No, no, I don't mean that as a slam on you, exactly the opposite in fact, I suspect a significant fraction of the country is going to feel exactly the same way.

In fact, the free for all under Scalzi's VP post on the Whatever today validates your original snark to large extent - instead of discussing the actual candidate over there, the commenting has devolved (pun, intended) into a shit slinging monkey fest revolving around evolution - and Palin's assumed agenda thereof.

She's an unknown to most of the country. I happen to know her, because I live about ten miles from her here in Alaska, in the municipality she administrated as Mayor, and in the state she currently governs. I've been to a few lunches with her (me and a hundred other decorated combat vets, I don't actually get invited to dine with the governor on a one on one basis) - so it would follow that I know something about her. You, and most of the rest of the world, no, not so much. And why should you - frankly I know jack shit about your governor either. So I don't take exception to the post, even if I don't agree with what you said. I still found it, as usual here, entertaining and interesting.

But, one thing I would caution you about - she's not what you expect. And the charges against her are bullshit and mostly gone now - and they were brought at the behest of state Republicans who fucking hate her. I swear to God, Eric, when she was running for Governor - Ted Stevens and Frank Murkowski, and Frank in particular, ridiculed her on state television as "some little beauty queen from Wasilla." Honestly, man, he actually said "isn't it cute, that she thinks she can take my job? eh heh heh" It was the most condescending thing you ever saw, like something out of Leave it Beaver. She ate him alive, and the rest of the old bastards never forgot it. They've done everything they can to bring her down - and the charges against her now are just more of the same.

Again - I don't agree with her stance on abortion or what constitutes a valid marriage, but she's never tried to force her view down my throat. And she's done a great job here, I wish to hell the rest of the GOP was like her.

Random Michelle K Friday, August 29, 2008 at 10:23:00 PM EDT  

Hey Jim, if you want, I can fill you in on *all* the details about WV's governor!

Of course I can guarantee that NO one will be picking him for a VP.

Eric Friday, August 29, 2008 at 11:19:00 PM EDT  

Jim, what you say in your comment is pretty much why I added the addendum and linked to your post.

I'm not going to delete the entry itself because (at the risk of sounding full of myself) I think there are a few funny lines in there. Also, I'm lazy and I need a blog entry for this date and I don't feeel like writing. And anyway, I've mentioned the entry elsewhere and people have commented on it.

But I'm totally talking out of my ass with this entry. Governor Palin isn't just a governor in another state--she's a governor in a state that, when it makes the national news, usually doesn't make the national news in politics. What I mean, for those who don't get what I'm saying, is that Alaska certainly stays in the news in much the same way a kindergartener's school performance might be discussed at the dinner table as if the child isn't even at the table: the nation discusses Alaska's environment and oil production, but we hardly ever discuss Alaska's politicians unless they've been indicted.

There actually are states like California and New York and Massachusetts whose governors regularly make national news, and states like Illinois and Louisiana and Florida and Texas where they make frequent national news, and on occasion other governors make the national headlines. Former Minnesota governor Ventura is an unusual example for obvious reasons, but he's still an example.

But Alaska? We talk about your state, Jim, like it's not even in the country. What we're going to do with your wildlife refuge and what we'll do with your oil pipelines.

So we hear about your Governor being nominated for veep, and we scratch our heads. And we talk about why, and ironically it looks like some of our hypotheses are right even when they're wrong: i.e. if we underestimate Governor Palin and attribute cynical motives to the McCain campaign, it's in part because the McCain campaign underestimates her and has cynical motives.

Anyway, the upshot is that commentary like yours is educational. Took me a roundabout way to get to the point, but that's why I linked to your post. Because commentary like mine may be a harbinger of what's to come and typical of a certain take on events, but that doesn't mean it isn't malinformed.

So, in the interests of actual balance--as opposed to what passes for it in most politics these days--I'm happy to set your informed and knowledgeable opinion against me talking out my ass and trying to be funny. Or, in other words, consider me, for this moment in time, a pale shadow of P.J. O'Rourke to your William Greider, if you will.

And to everyone else--if (after all this) you still haven't read Jim's post, what the fuck? This woman could be the right-after-the-next President, you might as well know something about her. One has to wonder if conservative readers will still be quite as keen on her after reading Jim's post on the Governor.

As for myself, I should also add: there is no way I could vote for Governor Palin for Governor or President on the issues I'm aware of, and I hate to think what kind of people she might appoint to the Supreme Court if it ever passed into her power to do so. But I'm willing to accept Jim's word that she deserves some respect as a reformer who cleaned house in Alaska and a survivor who outlasted the attacks of condescending, corrupt pricks. Fair enough?

Jeri Friday, August 29, 2008 at 11:44:00 PM EDT  

Forget a debate between Biden and Palin - I want to see a debate between Eric and Jim. :)

Eric Saturday, August 30, 2008 at 1:26:00 AM EDT  

That would be fun, but on this subject it might be sorta useless--hence my Greider/O'Rourke comment.

Here's the root of that: William Greider and P.J. O'Rourke were writers and editors at Rolling Stone for a long time--they possibly still are, but who reads Rolling Stone these days? (Hell, even when Greider and O'Rourke were in their prime, who read Rolling Stone.) O'Rourke is, for those who don't know, a conservative humorist (and one of the relatively few people who don't make that phrase an oxymoron--O'Rourke is genuinely and consistently funny) and Greider is a liberal hard-nosed investigative journalist.

Inevitably, to boost counter sales, RS would periodically let O'Rourke and Greider debate politics and ideology. Except "debate" really isn't the right word. Because what would actually happen is O'Rourke would pretty obviously knock back a few before sitting down at his word processor to write some jokes, while Greider would compose these thoughtful, reflective, passionate mini-essays. This shouldn't be taken as any kind of comment on relative merits, or to suggest conservativism is intellectually bankrupt or liberalism superior (my own opinions on this are probably obvious, but they're irrelevant in this context). The real point is that the "debate" was sort of like a sporting event where one team shows up to play beer pong and the other shows up to play serious baseball. O'Rourke and Greider could have flipped political postures and their debates would have been just as meaningless.

I remember my Dad (hi, Dad!) picking up a Rolling Stone issue whose cover promised a rousing explanation and defense of competing ideologies, and getting kind of pissed that there was nothing of the kind. I tried to point out that O'Rourke was a former National Lampoon editor who'd written a book on etiquette in which the single best piece of advice was "It's considered rude to slip your dick into anybody's hand as you go down the receiving line, no matter how much you're tempted to do so," and that O'Rourke was quite probably stoned when he'd turned in his half of the debate barely in time for publication, but I think my Dad was understandably too irate that Jann Wenner had grifted another five bucks off of him to really appreciate that asking P.J. O'Rourke to offer an intellectual defense of conservative thought is a lot like getting Dave Berry to write a probing piece on Miami politics. At some point the irresistible urge to crack wise will derail the whole thing into snorts and giggles.

So, as far as Governor Palin as a vice-presidential pick is concerned: I suspect that on whatever points Jim and I disagree, Jim will be informed and sincere where I am lazy and think I'm funny. And the only winner will be Jann Wenner, who kinda seems to be a douche from what I can tell.

Eric Saturday, August 30, 2008 at 1:30:00 AM EDT  

Or asking Dave Barry to write about Miami politics... fucking A. What time is it? 1:30? I'm going to bed. G'night.

Bryan,  Saturday, August 30, 2008 at 11:16:00 PM EDT  

Uh, Eric, not to get off on a snark here, but when's the last time Joe Biden's Delaware made any sort of news, either, except as a place to register a corporation or commute from? Just wondering.

Eric Saturday, August 30, 2008 at 11:35:00 PM EDT  

Bryan: it's been awhile, which is probably why I have no idea who the Governor of Delaware is or whether I should care. Why, is somebody picking the Governor of Delaware as a running mate for something?

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