The great Republican culture war rages…

October 27, 2008

(Copyright 2008)


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.

Republican rule: wake me when it’s over…

October 4, 2008

(Copyright 2008) 


By Tony Walther

Maybe it has taken the economic nightmare we are in now for the American electorate to wake up and smell the coffee and realize that eight years of Republican administration is not working.

John McCain has not lost yet, but his campaign is said to be on the defensive, despite the energy of Sarah Palin. A first class actress she is. Is she or more importantly at this time McCain a reformer? I have not seen the proof of that.

In a hard to explain and hard to sell, I would think, twist McCain and Palin claim to be not only running against the Democrats, but the Republican establishment as well (gee why aren’t they running as third party candidates then?).

McCain is more tied to the traditional Republicans, maverick moves on isolated issues aside. And he is the presidential candidate, not Palin, although it is hard to remember. There is so much interest in Palin, as a novelty if nothing else, that the vice presidential debate Thursday evening drew many more viewers than what I consider the presidential candidate borefest last week.

Unlike the veteran, and I still say more traditional, McCain, Palin comes across as some kind of populist folk hero out of the right side of the political spectrum. But one gets the impression her noise is more of a side show to distract from the usual Republican plans to provide for those who don’t need providing for.

Of course she would have you believe she is concerned for “Joe Six Pack.” Well first of all, I doubt it. And second of all, would you want to be identified as “Joe Six Pack?” He sounds like the kind of working class fool who will spend too much out of his pay check for a six pack of beer each night, while smarter and more enterprising folks such as Sarah and Todd Palin put their efforts elsewhere (and I have no idea how much or what kind of refreshment the Palins go in for).

But just as fat cat Republicans sucker not so fat cat wannabes to go along with them, so do the enterprising Palins, both on the grounds that the other side is just a bunch of lazy loafers who want to depend upon government and in turn your hard-earned money.

Then there are the “soccer” or “hockey” moms Palin refers to. I guess those are moms who run their kids to games and have the usual concerns of parents everywhere. Well let’s see, for the last 40 years for some reason the Republicans have been the party of war – they are always itching to show American’s military muscle. Are those moms concerned that their own children might one day soon be sacrificed in war? Palin sees it as a sacred duty, because if America goes to war it has to be fighting for freedom (she perhaps has not kept up all that well on current events and did not take many history classes).

And now that I come to think of it, let’s get this straight – Palin has no ability when it comes to original or independent thinking. If she did she would not stick to that nauseatingly simple and repetitious line of trash she spews out daily. I know politicians tend to do this, but with her there seems to be no illusion that she is doing anything other than performing an act, albeit with great gusto.

That said, if these were normal times, her act might work. These are not normal times. I’m starting to see that the public is more discerning than I would have given it credit for.

Whatever, the noise does not seem to be resonating as much as it did.

I started to go over a debate transcript of the Biden-Pail thing, but I got tired. It’s really all silliness. Fact check articles on the web show that both Sarah Palin and Joe Biden were guilty of inaccuracies in their assertions and counter assertions.

And even though I blogged in my initial reaction that Palin basically won by sheer energy, I think it was a hollow victory (and most news reports called it a tie at best) because she won only because she bowled over Biden, who had been cautioned to take it easy on her as not to upset her sensibilities or those of her admirers, in an onslaught of Republican talking point nonsense that made her appear as an automaton. It was as if someone had reached up just before the debate and pulled a chord out from the back of her neck. She delivered more of a monologue than answers to questions in what passes for a debate these days.

I also noticed that Palin has the same annoying and probably nervous habit of John McCain in that when the opponent is making a point or leveling a criticism, she gives off a smirky smile.

And that loving hockey mom Palin claims to be can be as cold as ice. At one point when Biden was making some personal point concerning his family and teared up and even choked up a little, Palin was busy scribbling notes (getting more of those coached talking points ready). She didn’t look up, but she did give off that smirky smile.

I called my mom to get her reaction to the debate. She did not read my blog (failing eyesight and no computer) and I did not tell her, but she immediately noted what I had already in a previous blog. Palin in Reaganesque. She is an actress. I would not for a minute under estimate her. It worked for Ronald Reagan.

One commentator on my previous debate reaction blog noted that Palin uses “red neck” speech. The commentator said that if Obama used Ebonics (the official name for black ghetto speech, I guess), he would be called the N word by his detractors. I do hear him talk about “shout outs” occasionally, although, strangely enough, Palin used that term too. But I associate the term with modern jive talk.

I suppose Palin feels she sounds more populist, a person of the common folk, by using slang, like ending words with an n instead of ing. I’m not extremely fussy in the finer points of speech, but I think someone at that level or someone wanting to be at that level (vice presidency or presidency) needs a little more decorum. At any rate, a little slang goes a long ways. She pours it on a little too thick.

I was going to go over the debate point by point, but it is not worth it. Republicans are for top down and Democrats for bottom up. It’s really is as simple as that (yes there are variations on both sides, but the basics still remain true).

But here is something that scares me: if Palin is as incapable of forming her own words as she seems to be, then perhaps she lacks critical thinking skills. If she were to become president she would be led around by folks behind the scenes. George W. Bush, even with his Yale education, has proven to be something near an imbecile. He has been led by the nose by the forces of evil, represented by the dark and devious Dick Cheney.

Now with that last part, I have probably discredited myself in the eyes of many as being nothing more than a Bush basher. Well I am a Bush basher. It’s hard for a thinking person not to be (his handling of the war, Katrina, economic policy, his speaking abilities or lack thereof, his admission that he does not read news accounts – he just decides).

We have a choice in this election: go with the reactionaries, disguised as architects of reform, represented by the Republicans, or go with the more progressive and thoughtful element represented by the Democrats.

P.s. Even if the Republicans lose, I would not be surprised to see Sarah Palin re-emerge on the national stage. Like her or not, she is the modern version of Ronald Reagan, albeit a little rougher around the edges, and female, of course.