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Friday, August 29, 2008


sarah palin

i've previously bemoaned the decline in standards of political vetting by highlighting the curiously low pragmatic hurdle presented barack obama on his way to becoming the democratic nominee for the presidency.

but next to this, obama is a political methuselah.

Before her meteoric rise to political success as governor, just two short years ago Sarah Palin was the mayor of Wasilla. I had a good chuckle at’s claim that she had been the mayor of “Wasilla City”. It is not a city. Just Wasilla. Wasilla is the heart of the Alaska “Bible belt” and Sarah was raised amongst the tribe that believes creationism should be taught in our public schools, homosexuality is a sin, and life begins at conception. She’s a gun-toting, hang ‘em high conservative. Remember… this is where her approval ratings come from. There is no doubt that McCain again is making a strategic choice to appeal to a particular demographic - fundamentalist right-wing gun-owning Christians.

And Republican bloggers are already gushing about how she has ‘more executive experience’ than Obama does! Above is a picture of lovely downtown Wasilla, for those of you unfamiliar with the area. Behind the Mug-Shot Saloon (the first bar I visited when I moved to Alaska long ago) is a little strip mall. There are street signs in Wasilla with bullet holes in them. Wasilla has a population of about 5500 people, and 1979 occupied housing units. This is where your potential Vice President was two short years ago. Can you imagine her negotiating a nuclear non-proliferation treaty? Discussing foreign policy? Understanding non-Alaskan issues? Frankly, I don’t even know if she’s ever been out of the country. She may ‘get’ Alaska, but there are only a half a million people here. Don’t get me wrong… . I love Alaska with all my heart. I’m just saying.

this is a joke, isn't it? and she's corrupt to boot, currently under a state ethics investigation for a clumsy abuse of power and a yet more clumsy political coverup! please someone tell me that self-serving short-term demographic calculation of what must be the most diluted and abstract kind hasn't so thoroughly infected the american political system that THIS has become possible.

oh, but it has -- and worse.

the democratic party has taken an immense gamble on obama, ignoring the intrinsic weakness of their appeal as a cosmopolitan party in the rust belt, south and mountain west. hillary clinton was hardly an ideal candidate, but nominating obama has put swing states in play by making the defection of conservative democrats to the mccain ticket far more probable. there are foreseeable reasons that -- in spite of widespread frustration, antipathy and even outrage directed at republican political practice nationally -- the presidential race is essentially a dead heat. while her elected political experience is itself rather wanting, clinton is at least as thoroughly vetted as national political figures can be. obama, still wet behind the political ears, is not. democracies, particularly old democracies, frequently excel at making stupid choices. the democratic party, however, has helped the idiocy of the electorate along by rejecting thoroughgoing policy competence in favor of what i am compelled to call entertainment value.

the republican selection of sarah palin, however, scotches any idea that the decline in the standards of elected politicians is a democratic phenomena. indeed this is probably the most ridiculous selection for a vice president since the 19th century, when the office was perfunctory.

UPDATE: by the monday following it has become clear, in spite of campaign protestations to the contrary, that palin hadn't really even been thoroughly vetted.

Shortly after Palin was named to the ticket, McCain's campaign dispatched a team of a dozen communications operatives and lawyers to Alaska. That fueled speculation that a comprehensive examination of Palin's record and past was incomplete and being done only after she was placed on the ticket.

UPDATE: it's very rare that caligula merits a mention in the washington post, much less incitatus. and that itself pales in comparison to this incisive paragraph from richard cohen:

Probably the most depressing thing about Palin is not her selection but the defense of it. It has produced a parade of GOP spokesmen intent on spiking the needle on a polygraph. Looking right into the camera, they offer statement after statement that they hope the voters will swallow but that history will forget. The sum effect on the diligent news consumer is a feeling of consummate contempt for the intelligence of the American people -- a contempt that will be justified should Palin be the factor that makes McCain a winner in November.

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Is Dan Quayle still available?

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The race for the position of "imperial" president of this country has become little more than an entertaining distraction. The members of congress have much to gain from the public's puffy indignation over executive abuses of power as it distracts that same public from too carefully scrutinizing the other branches profound incompetance. If there's any merit to David Walker's crusade, bickering over who will preside over the eventual insolvency of this, apparently, failed experiment is an exercise in futility.

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