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.

Two-fisted BlackBerry toten woman…

September 3, 2008

(Copyright 2008)


By Tony Walther

So John McCain it seems decided what his campaign needed was a little northern exposure.

Certainly the Republican presidential candidate surprised everyone with his selection for the number two spot on the ticket of a woman who got her start in local politics in a small Alaska town and eventually became governor, now serving her first term. And so is her teenage daughter, but in a different way.

Mrs. Palin is a card carrying member of the NRA and once belonged to an Alaska secessionist movement and says she believes strongly in God, country, and marriage as something solely between a man and a woman (no farm animals or polar bears). She can handle a rifle, baby stroller, frying pan, snow mobile, and is you might say a two-fisted BlackBerry toter (reportedly she carries one of those modern communication devices in each hand as she marches down the hallways of state government), and she was a runner-up for Miss Alaska.

But don’t let her good looks fool you. By all accounts, she’s a tough administrator. She’d just as soon fire your ass as look at you.

Character that she is, characters that her family may be, her nomination has energized some of the Republican crowd. She talks the evangelical hard right wing talk: yes my daughter did have a baby out of wedlock – she forgot to just say no. We don’t know if Sarah had to grab shot gun, although by all accounts she’s quite capable, but the father is supposedly going to marry her wayward daughter.

Let’s see, Sarah has five kids of her own and her daughter has one on the way – they may have to expand the vice presidential quarters – and where does the vice president live anyway? And just what does the vice president do anyway, Palin was reported to have asked. You’d think an NRA member would know the answer to that question: he shoots people.

Mrs. Palin calls her husband, an oil field worker, the “First Dude.” Washington D.C. is one heck of a long ways from the Alaska oil fields. Maybe he’ll have to stay back in Alaska. The nights are going to get a little colder for the “First Dude.”

Even though with just over a half million folks, Alaska is not one of your bigger population centers, Mrs. Palin it is claimed has quite a bit of international relations knowledge from the fact that Alaska is just over the Bering Strait from Russia – heck if the water freezes over she could skate over to visit Putin (that’s the leader of Russia I’m writing about, not something one does in private).

Also her state has relations with several other foreign countries, it is reported, and her daughter had relations with a high school hockey player.

For now, Barack Obama and Joe Biden are taking it easy on her.

In fact, Biden said: “hell, she’s not bad for a red neck woman. Just like I said about Barack, she’s really ‘clean and articulate.’”

McCain master stroke,woman VP, but the voice

August 29, 2008

(Copyright 2008)


By Tony Walther

I’m adding a new lead to this blog now that I’ve listened to the acceptance speech of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to be John McCain’s vice presidential running mate:

Oooh! that voice, kind of shrill. Maybe if she keeps her remarks brief out on the campaign trail. Lots of jingoism during the speech with chants of “USA, USA, USA” and her remarks that a son is going to serve in Iraq and her praise for McCain as the only one, as a brave war hero, who can defend America and keep Iran from getting the bomb.

And now back to the original blog:

You snooze you lose – I just got the news that John McCain has selected a woman, Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin, to be his vice presidential running mate.

And a bold and clever stroke that was, choosing a woman, on the heels of the Democrats selecting the first black (a man) to run for president.

I really think this could be a winner for McCain because if there really are still die-hard Hillary fans out there who really will live up to their threats to vote for McCain, then this gives them more incentive to vote the Republican ticket. I say this even though it would seem that a Democrat, man or woman, voting Republican these days is surly voting against her or his own interests.

Now I know almost nothing about Ms. Palin. To paraphrase Will Rogers, I only know what I read on the internet. To be honest, I never heard of her until I turned on my computer this morning. I do know that she is a first-term governor and had been involved in local politics and she has one mini-scandal – a staffer made a phone call and tried to get her former brother-in-law fired from the highway patrol – something about a custody battle. But she said that was wrong of the staffer and she did not know anything about it (hardly believable, but probably not a major scandal, really).

More importantly, I also read that she is all for drilling in the Alaska wilderness reserve for oil – currently off limits. That will surly play well among many in the lower 48 (and Hawaii) who simply say, as McCain, drill, drill, drill, no matter where it is (who cares about the environment? We need oil and cheaper gasoline). We’ll destroy our home (planet Earth) to save our way of life. Huh?

I had suggested early on that McCain might choose Condoleezza Rice (I was going on something from another blog). So he did choose a woman after all.

Later, when I can digest more of this and learn more about Ms. Palin, I’ll write more.

But in closing for now, I have to say, McCain has delivered a master stroke (barring the skeletons and scandal).

I think McCain is smart enough to tone down some of his warlike and country club Republican stuff and go with the proud soldier, public servant, and reasonable leader thing that won’t let another Katrina failure happen (he has said as much on Katrina — although the one threatening now will still be on Bush’s watch) and that coupled with choosing a woman could really give him the boost that he needs.

It’s going to be tight folks. Both sides will need to exhort their followers to vote early and vote often.