Thursday, September 4, 2008

Mania in Minneapolis

"You're going to do right by this little girl. Understood? And you're gonna help me become Commander in Chief, right? RIGHT?"
"Please, you're hurting me."
"I can't hear you!"
"Sir! You're hurting me! Sir!"

I just caught some of McCain's speech at the convention. It's fairly rousing. Maybe too much so. At the "what I'm fighting for" part, he called out members of the audience and recited some of their recent tragedies, while the cameras sought out these people who were largely either teary or stone-faced. The crowd of delegates applauded and cried out "whoooo!" These weren't really "whoooo" moments.

McCain's pick for #2, Sarah Palin, has been... Well, suffice it to say you've probably heard of her now even if you're not a political junkie. One question is whether she'll attract more women--and specifically Hil Clinton supporters--to vote for the Republican ticket. I can honestly say that there's no simple answer to that. Earlier this week I was marinating in coffee and sugar at Dunkin' Donuts and I overheard some normal-looking older women talking about her. They were not hostile towards her, but at least a couple of members of this group seemed less than starry-eyed about her balancing the presidential race with caring for a Down's syndrome baby. There's no uniform woman bloc, obviously.

Then there comes Palin's not-always-winning personal style, per Barry Crimmins.

How much Palin's primetime sneer appealed to the evangelical community is another question. There was nothing blessed or meek in her remarks and her only real mentions of religion were used to kneecap her opponents. What has Governor Palin's faith done for her other than elevate her to a place where she can walk on the stage at a political convention and say, "Blessed are the power elite!" She didn't discuss the beauty and majesty of Alaska, she belittled the places where tens of millions of Americans live. She ran a town that was bolstered by almost $30 million in pork barrel graft from Sleazy Ted Stevens but she disparaged the people who reside in places where fundraisers have to be done to buy rudimentary items like textbooks. And she's going to ride into office by dissing the people who organize the underprivileged? Well maybe.

Palin was also supposed to win over a lot of women who supported Hillary Clinton. Many of these people are mothers. Mothers say things like, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." This would have limited Palin to discussing her own family and John McCain's shoulders (Jesus, do they have a sign in the wings at that convention that reminds every speaker to mention McCain's shoulders, or what?)

Of course, mean is at least part of what she's supposed to bring to the table. The question is how well her particular brand sells this year. It's gotten some traction in Alaska, and this anecdote from her mayoral race in Wasilla is a cute illustration. (NYT article via Tom Hilton)

The traditional turning points that had decided municipal elections in this town of less than 7,000 people — Should we pave the dirt roads? Put in sewers? Which candidate is your hunting buddy? — seemed all but obsolete the year Ms. Palin, then 32, challenged the three-term incumbent, John C. Stein.

Anti-abortion fliers circulated. Ms. Palin played up her church work and her membership in the National Rifle Association. The state Republican Party, never involved before because city elections are nonpartisan, ran advertisements on Ms. Palin’s behalf.

Two years after Representative Newt Gingrich helped draft the Contract With America to advance Republican positions, Ms. Palin and her passion for Republican ideology and religious faith overtook a town known for a wide libertarian streak and for helping start the Iditarod sled dog race.

“Sarah comes in with all this ideological stuff, and I was like, ‘Whoa,’ ” said Mr. Stein, who lost the election. “But that got her elected: abortion, gun rights, term limits and the religious born-again thing. I’m not a churchgoing guy, and that was another issue: ‘We will have our first Christian mayor.’ ”

“I thought: ‘Holy cow, what’s happening here? Does that mean she thinks I’m Jewish or Islamic?’ ” recalled Mr. Stein, who was raised Lutheran, and later went to work as the administrator for the city of Sitka in southeast Alaska. “The point was that she was a born-again Christian.”

You read that right. The good Gov Palin won her first race through the Ashkenazic sound of her opponents name and the suggestion that he and his values might be *ahem* foreign to those of other Wasillans.

So Senator Lieberman, how do you like your new friends?


susan said...

The photo and caption is ingenious.

Ben said...

Thank you both. (I'm assuming you and crow are unanimous in this.)