"Snide efficiency" is how Illinois Senator Barack Obama's campaign adviser David Axelrod described Sarah Palin's well-rehearsed teleprompted performance last night. That's about right. I haven't heard such a boring litany of Kulturkampf platitudes since I cancelled my subscription to Jerry Falwell's weekly political newsletter.
Predictably, local Palin apologists are hailing her tedious, Holy Ghostwritten sermon to the already safely converted "a masterwork." Yes, you read that correctly: "a masterwork." The work of a master. It's right up there with the Mass in B Minor, King Lear, and (most appropriately) Botticelli's Adoration of the Magi, don't you know.
Sean Hannity called it one of the greatest speeches "in history," as Karl Rove nodded sagely in agreement. That would be the same Karl Rove who derided Virginia governor and former mayor of the city of Richmond Tim Kaine's lack of executive experience while Kaine was under consideration as Barack Obama's running mate.
Now the less-than-half-a-term Alaska governor and former mayor of the village of Wasilla Sarah Palin's considerably less impressive executive experience is suddenly an embarrassment of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, and she just delivered one of the greatest orations "in history."
"In history." Thucydides, meet Hannity.
The "masterwork" characterization, incidentally, issues from the same observer who just got finished wagging a righteously indignant finger at those who might mention Sarah Palin's daughter (in the course of mentioning Sarah Palin's daughter by name ten times across nine mercifully brief paragraphs — doubtless a Google-hit bonanza) but more recently gushes that "the youngest daughter is an adorable little ham."
No mention of the infant son passed off from hand to hand like a ham for Republican teevee cameras, however. Those children are off limits. Right. Except by way of praising the masterworks of a squadron of partisan masterworkers, apparently.
Oh, just let Sarah Palin be a proud mother and soon-to-be grandmother, so we are told, and I'm all for that. She's a creationist, you'd expect her to be creating, and creating to be expecting.
But don't tell me they're "off limits" at the same instant you're parading them around a national political convention on full saturation national network teevee in the hopes of soliciting votes by means of that parading. Not that I'm planning on taking any cheap slapshots, but don't say you aren't practically begging for them, hockey moms for Sarah, hottest governor from the coolest State.
Besides, didn't John McCain's own campaign manager just inform us that this presidential election isn't about the issues?
There were few raised last night in St. Paul. If there were, they were buried too subtly amongst the petty sniping, and the resounding on-cue ovations for same from the "family values" crowd (and a less-than-capacity one, at that — that was some clever camouflaging of the rows upon rows of empty seats).
As for whatever substance Sarah Palin did have to offer — and there was little that wasn't either fake or false — James Rowen correctly points to her condescending mockery of community organizers.
Everybody knows you can pretty much write your own ticket with a Harvard law degree. But Obama took his and went back to Chicago's South Side to work with the unemployed and other folks down on their luck. And for this he's scourged by the so-called Christian conservatives? That would be Christian as in Jesus who, if I recall correctly, was something of a community organizer himself.
Speaking of Jesus, how about that guest speaker at Sarah Palin's Assembly of God church last month who blames terrorist attacks in Israel on the Jewish victims' failure to convert to Christianity?
That's part of God's judgment, said the preacher. Another of God's judgments was awarding a $30 billion gas pipeline to a Calgary, Alberta company, according to Sarah Palin. Mysterious ways, etc.
Are these bizarre views off limits too? No more than is Obama's experience as a community organizer, I reckon. After all, Jeremiah Wright opened that door, did he not? And Michael Pfleger, another community organizer and Catholic priest who adopted three African American kids but who local gibbering primate and even more ridiculous Palin apologist Charlie Sykes famously called a "racist"?
And talk about elitism. What did warm-up act Rudolph Giuliani, an extremely wealthy man, do with his NYU law degree? Roll up his sleeves and head down to Bed-Stuy? No, he used it to, among other things, obtain a deferment from the Vietnam draft. Of course these days he's shouting up and down over John McCain's Vietnam service. He didn't have to be jealous; he needed that law degree, after all.
Never mind Mitt Romney, another of last night's featured Obama-bashers, whose personal net worth is approaching 10% of the entire Alaska State budget. They don't come any more elite.
Speaking of Alaska, don't they have community organizers up there? Maybe they aren't needed, because guess which State of the Union receives more per capita federal transfer payments than any other? You guessed right. Damn that pork, and damn those earmarks, eh?
Residents of Illinois, on the other hand, get about 45% of the federally transferred dollars their Alaskan counterparts do. And things are just a bit rougher on Chicago's South Side than they are in the village of Wasilla, AK. Albeit, fewer rampaging caribou, maybe.
And freshly minted GOP superstar Sarah Palin? As governor, she once did the official honor of auctioning off an airplane on eBay.* So take heart, America. While only some doctors believe a president John McCain's mortal coil might well stubbornly resist shuffling off for another four years, this week's featured seller, sarah_barracuda44, has 94.3% positive feedback.
Among hardcore Christian conservative Republicans, that is. Last night's televised festival of self-congratulation and typical Republican political mockery and divisiveness will convince few others, if any.
* Er, not quite.