The great Republican culture war rages…

(Copyright 2008)

The WALTHER REPORT

By Tony Walther

There is a culture war going on inside the Republican Party between those who are not only educated, but took their education seriously, and those who are not educated or who did not take their education seriously.

A growing list of educated Republicans have abandoned John McCain, primarily over his choice of Sarah Palin for vice president. Palin, although educated, likes to play the part of a simple down-home rustic and she does it quite well – a little too well.

Palin gives off the impression that if you talk in complete sentences and actually say something that makes sense about issues, especially foreign policy, besides “support the troops”, you are just being an elitist and don’t understand Main Street America values.

I think Sarah’s famous doppelganger Tina Fey put it best when she said: “I think she is at least as smart as I am, but that is not going to cut it…”

Palin does read a script with polish, though, and when everything is written out for her she shows great poise in front of the camera (so did Ronald Reagan). But she is not particularly good at quick thinking and the ad lib and spews out sentences that wander all over the place, seemingly missing a subject or predicate, when caught off guard – you know, with one of those silly “gotcha” questions, such as: What are the duties of the vice president?  How does the fact that one can see Russia from some part of Alaska somehow give you insight into foreign policy?

At any rate, this culture war I think may be one of the major reasons John McCain seems headed for defeat (if he wins, certainly it will be one of the biggest upsets in history – a real Truman proudly holding up the erroneous headline “Dewey Defeats Truman” moment).

While I have had about as much of Sarah Palin as I can take and while I don’t agree with her politics, I do have some possibly misplaced sympathy for her now that she is accused by the McCain campaign of going off the reservation and making statements on her own. I say “good for Sarah”, it’s about time! And that’s even if I still don’t agree with her.

On one televised occasion she – gasp – actually talked to reporters and wouldn’t stop even though one of her handlers kept trying to end the impromptu interview. And over the weekend she fought back over the flap about her expensive wardrobe, $150,000 paid by the Republican National Committee ( not to mention the thousands of dollars of makeup). She said that her expensive Nieman Markus or whatever duds were mere props or equipment such as the lighting, which she would give back to the party after the campaign is over. I imagine if that is true it is more likely the result of the bad publicity for the self-proclaimed small-town “hockey mom” than an original plan.

On the other hand, do we ask how much Barack Obama’s suits cost or how much Michelle Obama’s wardrobe costs? Of course those two, even though championing the middle class, of which by net worth ( in the millions thanks to good jobs and more importantly book sales) they are not part, they do not go around playing the part of Joe the Plumber themselves. In fact, Obama takes the tack that he has done quite well, thank you, and that like Bill Clinton, and even Billionaire Warren Buffet, he could afford to pay higher taxes and should. Republicans seldom if ever say such things.

Really, the only reason Sarah’s clothes are an issue is the fact that so many people are having to cut back and are losing their jobs and that the whole economy is falling apart and that she portrays herself as just a simple down-home girl who would be more comfortable shopping at Walmart than Saks Fifth Avenue. But again, even a Palin basher such as I cannot see much there except a laugh or two. I get more worked up watching the snippy Cindy McCain in her ultra expensive wardrobe so transparently looking down at all of us who are not fortunate enough to have a daddy who made it big in the beer distributing business. Four years of John McCain in the White House, well, who knows? It could be alright, or not. Four years of super snotty Cindy McCain, unbearable. I’d almost rather listen to George W – almost.

And just one more thing. Why do candidates have to have handlers? If the handlers have all the answers, why don’t we elect them? Why do we have to watch puppets on a string perform before us?

P.s.  John McCain as far as I can see is neither an elitist nor an anti-elitist. I know he was near the bottom in his West Point class, but he does not wear ignorance as a badge of honor (and I know he is not ignorant), and he does not play the part of a rube ought on the stump. Because he is a more or less middle-of-the-road Republican he gets hit from both sides and his biggest enemies may not be among the Democrats but in his own Republican fold. I don’t think a McCain victory is going to happen, but I wonder what a free McCain, not having to appease the ignorant and intolerant, would be like. We probably won’t find out.

P.s. P.s. Just thought of this: remember what happened in the Great Cultural Revolution in China when formal education was attacked and elitists were persecuted? It took decades for that nation to recover.

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