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Republicans Blow Fiery Rhetoric And Call It Change

3 September 2008

What’s wrong with the media?  Not so much today.

Last night McCain’s healing work-across-the-aisle message took a pounding as the speakers played to the right-wing crowd in St. Paul.  And a strange-but-familiar crowd it was.  As my wife and I watched – on C-Span so we could see everything without the talking heads interrupting – we noted that it was very white and very old.  We joked that if we were drinkers and wanted to play that game where you take a drink of beer every time you see a minority face in the crowd, you’d have never gotten a buzz.  It looked like an AARP State Convention in Utah.

So, let’s talk change.  McCain promises a bipartisan approach to government and indicates that he yearns to reach across the aisle and work with Democrats in Congress.  Well, that message was quickly obliterated by the strategically hidden President Bush who appeared by satellite link from the White House and who rallied the radical right delegates in St. Paul with a one liner about John McCain not being stopped in his agenda by “the angry left!”  The cheers were rousing as the “angry right” figuratively took out their pitchforks and shook them at their brothers and sisters on the left.

The media had been promised a healthy, or is that poisonous, dose of “red meat” when former Senator Fred Thompson took the podium.  He offered a heroic blow-by-blow account of John McCain’s prisoner of war experience, but then mysteriously added, “That doesn’t qualify you to be President of the United States.”  Strange!  But then the peppery red meat was served up as promised when Thompson retreated to the turf of the 1988 Republican convention where he accused those who don’t agree with him philosophically of being unpatriotic, baby-killing traitors.  The crowd roared its approval.  This is bipartisan civility?  I, as an honorably discharged veteran of the US Army, was once again reminded that the Republican party – who makes much of their “love” of the soldiers – only really loves soldiers who agree with their narrow views of what America should be.

Thompson attacked Barack Obama by saying that he refused to “defend” the unborn and newborn babies of America – a gross misquote of Obama’s position of allowing God to decide when life begins rather than speaking for God.  Gee, now who is it that has a messianic complex?  Could it be each member of the Religious Right who presumes to speak regularly for their Creator?  My question for Senator Thompson is this:  Who defends the newborn baby with financial assistance and medical care if needed?  NOT THE REPUBLICANS!  They’re against government “handouts.” Who defends the poor child who goes to bed hungry each night because his single mother is unable to support him?  NOT THE REPUBLICANS!  That horrible “welfare mother” should take care of her own child.  Who defends the child who depends on the public education system?  NOT THE REPUBLICANS!  They don’t want to pay taxes to public school districts.  They would rather get a voucher to retrieve their tax dollars and spend them in an all-white private school for the privileged. Who defends the child who needs a college education in order to get a good-paying job?  NOT THE REPUBLICANS!  They have cut funding to public colleges and universities as well as cut back the availability of student loans to those who need them.  The Republicans are NOT pro-life; they are anti-abortion.

That brings us to Senator Joe Lieberman, the Kool-Aid drinking Senator from Connecticut.  First, I want to thank the good people of Connecticut for sending him back to the Senate.  At the podium last night ‘Single-issue Joe” turned his back on all of us who are desperately hanging on by our fingernails against a right-wing social agenda that is intent on imposing its narrow religious view onto our government and thereby upon us.  His single-minded focus on the Iraq war and a long-standing personal friendship with John McCain have clouded his judgment so completely that he is ready to throw away everything else he believes in.  His message to social moderates and liberals?  “You’ll have your chance in four to eight more years.  Right now we have a foreign war to win.”  He knows full well that by the time four to eight more years pass, that McCain/Palin will have stacked the Supreme Court so full of hard-line conservatives that only the youngest among us may live long enough to breathe the fresh breath of freedom again.

Missing from this great hot fart of Republican rhetoric was any mention of the economy.  The message from the Republicans is clear:  Don’t worry about paying your mortgage or grocery bill.  Don’t worry about losing your job to the third world.  Don’t worry about health care. None of that’s important.  Instead, you should be worried about your neighbor’s reproductive system and evil liberals who are out to ruin your lives.  So knowing they have nothing to offer the American people in a time of great domestic strife, John McCain has trotted out Sarah Palin to champion the cause of the newly resurrected Cultural Wars of the 1980s.  Now, that’s the kind of CHANGE I’ve come to expect from the Republicans!

Now, those of you who are loyal readers probably wondered why I took a pass on criticizing the television news media today.  It’s because they almost uniformly recognized the hot air in the convention hall for what it was: political rhetoric with nothing to add to the national debate.  And just when Sarah Palin thought it was safe to go back into the water, the McCain campaign admitted that they had only done a quickie vetting of Governor Palin two days before her rollout.  McCain had only really met with her on the matter for two hours on Wednesday.

The savvy media quickly picked back up the story of Palin only minutes after the delegates exited the hall and a new narrative began.  Even Norah O’Donnell – and we all know I have had nothing good to say about her journalistic chops – expressed real exasperation and puzzlement and maybe even anger that McCain had so cavalierly made such a major decision.  And, of course, Rachel Maddow jumped all over it and with her always-sharp focus pointed out the real issue here.  It’s not about Palin, she asserted, it’s about the kind of decision maker that McCain is.  She rightly wondered out loud if this is an indication of the way he may make other decisions of importance that come up in his presidency.

Those concerns were echoed by Mr. “Morning Joe” Scarborough this morning as he asked Republican guest after Republican guest whether they would pick somebody they knew for such a short time to be their second in command.  The Kool-Aid Brigade tap danced gingerly around the issue and spouted the Republican Party talking points on the VP pick, but to his credit Joe asked each of them who their chiefs of staff were or Lt. Governors were and how long they had known them before they elevated them to such a high level of responsibility.  Uniformly, the Republican Pols on the show had to admit that they had known those they trusted with so much power for years.

Mike Barnicle put it in every-day terms when he pointed out to a Republican who was touting the experience level of Palin – and they are asserting that she has more “executive” experience that even McCain himself – that if you went back three years ago and had some business to transact with the then Mayor of Wasilla, it would be to purchase an ice fishing license.  The whole gang on camera erupted in laughter.  Good one, Mike!

I do have one bone to pick, and that is with Michelle Bernard who appeared on MSNBC last night.  She seems to be caught up in the “woman” aspect of Palin’s pick and has abandoned her seeming fascination with Obama.  She pointed out that Palin was an excellent pick for moderate and conservative women, and that women on the left side of the blogosphere were questioning whether a mother with Palin’s family should be Vice-President.  In fact, all of the criticism I have seen on the net asserting this point has come from the extreme right along with such comments as “a woman’s place is in the home, PERIOD.”  Let’s be clear, we on the left do not believe that and have fought hard to erase that long-used dodge to hold women down in the workplace.  So just in case Ms. Bernard’s assertions are correct that left-wing blogs are taking this stand, Left-Eyed Jack says: Knock it off!

At any rate, this morning’s Gallup Daily Tracking Poll shows our man Obama eight points ahead of McCain and pegging in at 50%.  If this is correct, it is great news.  I have always felt that once we get to 50% in the polls, we will have reached a threshold that greatly improves our chances.  It is altogether possible that McCain’s pick of the risky Palin may be blowing up in his face.  Let’s hope.

Keep fighting the good fight!

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