Thursday, September 04, 2008

Those wacky Republicans

Every once in a while a perfect storm of hypocrisy comes about where both sides switch their positions just because it is expedient in such a way that it is obvious and undeniable (unless you are a partisan). The vilification of Sarah Palin by liberals and her nomination for sainthood by the conservatives, are equally weak.

It actually reminds me of when we were kids playing baseball. Everybody on your team was absolutely positive you were safe and everyone on the other team just as positive you were out.

Here’s the problem. Neither party really cares if a candidate is qualified or experienced, although it is definitely true that Democrats are more likely to nominate candidates who they believe are smart. What both parties care about is winning. The two sides would nominate a pig and goat, and fight about which had more ecological experience, if it suited their purposes.

So, while Obama supporters can nominate a freshman Senator with no executive experience and cry racism when the Republicans criticize him for his shortcomings, their criticism doesn’t dissuade the Republicans from nominating a freshman governor who has no federal experience and then cry misogyny when she is criticized for her shortcomings. No partisan in either party seems to care if their relative experiences are fairly equal, and both, fairly low.

As I’ve said earlier in these pages, their specific experience shouldn’t matter much as long as they have related experience. President’s have tons of people to rely on for advice and information. As long as they have good judgment, whether they are governors or senators, congressman or business people, it doesn’t matter a hoot. Put Abe Lincoln at or near the bottom of the experience rankings for presidents. It didn’t matter.

Although I like Sarah Palin from what I’ve seen, I have to admit I’ve seen almost nothing. For all I know, she is a wicked witch of a mother and a bully of an executive. I don’t care about the first, but care a lot about the second.

Some arguments the Republicans make regarding their vp candidate make little sense. Apparently wanting to win the absurd argument of which of the two inexperienced candidates is the more experienced, the Republicans argue that she has commander-in-chief experience as the head of the Alaskan National Guard. Now that is just ridiculous.

However, when a spokesman for the McCain campaign was asked on a television program to name an order she gave to the Guard which shows her capabilities, he couldn’t, of course. Now, if he was better at his job, he would have just said I don’t know, but it stands to reason she did something (not really, of course, but he could have said it anyway).

In anger at the questions, McCain cancelled an appearance on the channel (CNN). I can only hope it was not his personal decision, because it was petty and foolish. The questions were fair enough in the kooky world of politics where only perception matters and his spokesman, Tucker Bounds, is not up to his job.

The truth is, despite her official status, those Alaskan troops serving overseas are under the command of the commander-in-chief of the United States of America, George Bush. (it says so in the constitution, that’s why). And I guarantee you, he has no idea where the Alaskan guard are stationed.

The Republicans claim that McCain vetted Palin well. It may be true but it certainly doesn’t look like it. My favorite tv host, Joe Scarborough, a Republican himself, asked each Republican on the show a few mornings ago who their chief of staff was and how well he or she knew them before they were put in place. None could give an answer to compare with how little effort McCain spent getting to know Palin.

Of course, to be perfectly honest, president’s very often don’t know their running mate well. Although that may result in disaster (McGovern/Eagleton - 1972), it rarely does. What I think doesn’t matter. One bad story that catches on or one candid video and it is all over for a politician.

Although Palin was already vetted, I don’t think McCain was that interested until during the Democratic convention, when it became clear how much resentment some women had due to Hillary Clinton not becoming the Democratic candidate.

I’ve watched the first three big speeches, Thompson, Lieberman and Bush, although not while they were being made. They were ok. Not great, not bad. I’ll skip Bush’s because it was totally unremarkable.

Fred Thompson, with his deep stentorian voice was charged with exciting the crowd about McCain’s history. As moved as I have been about McCain’s story and as much as like his character in general, I cringe every time I hear about it again. The Thompson speech was the first time we should have been hearing it. Perhaps that is impossible in this hyper-technological environment.

Still, the old guy (he seems much older than McCain, although considerably younger) actually spoke in a more fluent and interesting way than he did when running for president himself. Perhaps he likes this candidate better.

Joe Lieberman’s speech tickled me. Talk about awkward. He’s a Democrat who claims he is for McCain because he is putting the country over party. I don’t doubt it, but the fact that his own party didn’t re-nominate him for Senator and he had to win as an independent, makes you wonder.

Other than praising Palin and McCain, Lieberman sang the virtues of non-partisanship and got cheers. If Rush Limbaugh was speaking, he would say the opposite and get more cheers. McCain isn’t about to invite him though for a convention with which he clearly wants to attract independents (although Rush has now crowned him with the moniker “John McBrilliant” for choosing Palin). But, Lieberman, who still calls himself a Democrat and usually votes with them on issues other than national security, wants us all to be friends. Ok. I like that. Don’t believe it will happen, but I like it.

I noticed the Republican crowd was unusually quiet while he spoke of McCain’s role in the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law (which Republicans hate), or fighting global warming (which Republicans don’t believe in) or his forming the gang of fourteen to work out judicial appointments without Dick Cheney lowering the boom on the Democrats (which Republicans wanted to happen). Then he even praised Bill Clinton and the crowd actually lightly applauded. That’s weird for anyone who remembers the 90s and how the Republicans beat up the president during both his terms, but there is a new enemy and Clinton, no longer dangerous to them, seems not so bad.

It was condescending and unnecessary for Lieberman to refer to Obama as a young man. Obama is 44. I’m 49. I’m no young man. Neither is Obama (although the bastard is in much better shape than I am).

I am writing these paragraphs while waiting for Sarah Palin to speak. In an odd sense, it seems more like her convention than John McCain’s. Certainly, there is more excitement at her speech than his. In fact, I look forward to hearing what the ratings were for both of them. In the meantime, three former candidates, a Republican who’s who, Giuliani, Huckabee and Romney, the last on the short list for the VP slot himself all speak.

Romney came first of the three. I have to say, I’ve never gotten him. It may not be fair but he strikes me as untrustworthy. Unlike a lot of people, I don’t believe that Romney was lying during the primaries when he claimed to be against gay marriage and pro-life. I think he was lying when he told Massachusetts he was pro-gay and pro-choice when he was running for governor. His speech was red meat and unremarkable. He thanked God a lot. Personally, I thank the holy manitou he wasn’t nominated. That would have been a disaster, but more so if he won.

Huckabee always goes down sweeter for me, although I’m not sure there are a lot of policy differences. I’ve liked him since I saw him campaign in New Hampshire (thanks to C-Span, as always) back in 2006 when maybe 1/10th of 1% people in the country had heard of him. He stated here, not to rousing cheers I note, that America is better for Obama’s nomination in showing an indifference to his color. But, of course, he is a Republican and then mocked Obama’s “excellent adventure in Europe”. But, it wasn’t a red meat speech like Romney’s.

It was full of Republican values but light and funny, even when cutting up the opposition. It pays to be a former preacher some times. I’d like to say nothing harsh or snarky to say about him. Except, he praised McCain for not sparing his pain by agreeing to condemn America when he was in captivity. Actually, he did. At one point he gave in to spare himself more pain. Not that you can blame him – who wouldn’t eventually give in, most of us a lot faster, but still, it was an error for Huckabee to say it. If you are relying on someone’s story to win, get the story right.

Unfortunately, he finished up by telling a really awful story about school desks and veterans that I just can’t understand. I’m sure he left something out or told it wrong. The crowd was nice about it, but, it made him seem a little coo coo, coo coo.

It has always come easily for me to be critical of Giuliani ever since he was the mayor in NYC (not my mayor, but pretty close), although, of all the candidates, his policies are probably closest to mine of all the candidates on either side. Too liberal for conservatives, too conservative for liberals. He always struck me as tyrannical by nature, although people do change. For those who truly dislike him, see my 2/21/07 post written when he was still a threat to get the Republican nomination.

Truth be told, he is a pretty good speaker, although not in the traditional orator mode. Except for the time when he took out his cell phone to speak with his wife while talking to . . . was it the NRA, he is not boring? He usually does a fair enough job in his conversational style. He is completely comfortable and therefore so is his audience. Then again, when he started on the McCain POW story I just wanted to cry - “Oh, no, please don’t tell the same story POW story over again . . . Nooooooooooo!”

I can’t go over his whole speech because it was really long, twice as long as expected, and he was all over the place. But, I loved how he said near the end how dare the Democrats challenge Palin’s right to be VP and spend time with . . . . Oh My God . . . hold on.

Ooo ooo ooo! Here comes Palin. The hell with Giuliani. She’s waiving to the crowd (much like a beauty contestant would I might say) and giving the requisite thank yous while everyone quiets down. Shhhh. This is what we have all been waiting for. Will she appear tough and feminine at the same time? Will she kick ass on Obama?

You know, I hate to say this to you Obama-ites. She gives a pretty good speech. Not great in my book, of course, but pretty good. When she said – “As the mother of one of those troops, that is exactly the man I want as commander-in-chief”. And it feels real. Until the end that is, and she says, let me guess – God bless, America. Oh, I nailed it. How did I ever get that right?

I’ve got nothing nasty to say about her. She’s not only the cutest nominee we’ve ever had, but she comes across like Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Serve the people, leave the country better than it found it, govern with integrity, yada, yada, yada, blah, blah, blah. Oh, except it was just too friggin’ long. I nearly fell asleep. I know, he’s wonderful, but shut up already. Shut up and smile, get your family on and off quickly please. By the way, her little daughter is delightful, but what drugs do they give that baby so that he never cries?

And, of course, John McCain has to come on stage with them and the crowd goes wild. Please. Is this yet another so called unscripted surprise we will have to go through every single convention, Republican or Democrat. And, of course again, it is interminable and they never leave the stage. So it seems.

I just hope the two of them believe their own rhetoric. I’ve been let down too often before. Haven’t you?

Notwithstanding the new “it” girl (Sarah), did you notice all of those empty seats in that tiny arena? I’m not sure she is enough to overcome the media darlingness of Obama. I can see some independents being swayed by her, but I expect no more for than a few points.

Tonight (Thursday) is McCain’s big day. I don’t want to hear from him about his POW days and don’t think I will. I don’t want to hear about Obama or Biden (except nice things). I want to hear more about how he is going to stomp on greedy special interests, do everything in his power to get us more cheap energy and find and kill terrorists. That’s what I’m talking about.

I'm going to be glad when these conventions are over. I never wanted this blog to be all politics. It is just hard not to indulge in it in a presidential election year. Next week though, back to normal.

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I started this blog in September, 2006. Mostly, it is where I can talk about things that interest me, which I otherwise don't get to do all that much, about some remarkable people who should not be forgotten, philosophy and theories (like Don Foster's on who wrote A Visit From St. Nicholas and my own on whether Santa is mostly derived from a Norse god) and analysis of issues that concern me. Often it is about books. I try to quote accurately and to say when I am paraphrasing (more and more). Sometimes I blow the first name of even very famous people, often entertainers. I'm much better at history, but once in a while I see I have written something I later learned was not true. Sometimes I fix them, sometimes not. My worst mistake was writing that Beethoven went blind, when he actually went deaf. Feel free to point out an error. I either leave in the mistake, or, if I clean it up, the comment pointing it out. From time to time I do clean up grammar in old posts as, over time I have become more conventional in my grammar, and I very often write these when I am falling asleep and just make dumb mistakes. It be nice to have an editor, but . . . .