Thursday, September 04, 2008

looney tunes

What was the saying about a little man in need of a balcony? Rudy Giuliani, a sniveling would-be generalissimo, brings to mind that quote. What a wretched little critter.

Prior to RNC, this election has been rather painful to sit through, for someone of my sensibilities anyway. Obama is a deft counterpuncher, but he doesn't have a zest for blood and guts, still a source of immense personal frustration. Likewise, it's a bit discomfiting watching John McCain prostrate himself before the wingnut base. McCain's the true Shakespearean (or Lucasian) character this election cycle, a formerly noble man who sold his soul to the miscreants and degenerates populating what's left of the GOP base, the same folks who tormented him and took away what was his. As hungry as I've been for a piece of McCain's flesh these days, it's a little sad to see a politician I once admired live out the Anakin Skywalker story in real time.

Seeing the likes of Mittens and Noun-Verb-9/11 on stage, it's easy to imagine a far more entertaining election cycle. More blood! More explosions! Suppose Hillary went up against Rudy. Wouldn't it be just delightful to see HRC shred that loathsome cretin into mincemeat while Clintonites feed the media wolves the latest oppo research. Or if gasbag Biden went nuclear against Mittens, phony blow-dried politician extraordinaire. Alas.

After tonight, my blood is boiling again. Sarah Palin is obviously an engaging performer and cleared the 4-inch high bar the media set for her. It helps that, like all successful Republicans, she's a fabulously convincing liar. (When there's a photo of you holding up a "nowhere" t-shirt, I think it's time to cut your losses on the lies about opposing the "bridge to nowhere.") But the effusive praise is a bit daft. Is the media overcompensating? This is another instance of a tactically sound McCain move that will lead to no long-term gain. The big miscalculation is the biting, sarcastic tone. Rudy already delivered the red meat to the right-wing lunatics. What Palin needed to do was to cut an image of competence while telling her winning story. Instead, she came off as defensive and smug, throwing bon mots to the whiny ass titty babies in the audience (oh noes! another media hobgoblin will eat us! Oh noes!), and mocking "community organizers" in trying to rekindle the culture wars. This plays well with dittoheads, but with independents and suburban women (typically more focused on pocketbook issues than other voters)? (EDIT: early word is NO!)

Palin would have been a much more effective running mate had she presented a positive story initially. It would've been difficult for the Democrats to hit her hard, and she'd probably come off better to independents. She can clearly turn on the charm. Surely the base needs to get stoked, but Palin's gonna be an issue from now til November 4th. And the more hay the news media makes about Palin (and McCain's judgment and age), the less oxygen for negative Obama stories. Doubling down on the base-feeding is likely a mistake, even if McCain moves hard to the center tomorrow. (Nate Silver makes a very smart case about how an unknown like Palin has very little standing to attack a known quantity like Obama in the manner she did. I'd further add that Palin's attacks largely consisted of sneering allusions to campaign gaffes and memes that made sense mainly to those who've followed it closely, but probably lost on casual election-watchers.) Palin's swallowed the entire newsworld whole this week, and will likely to be a very visible story until election time, as the media hounds continue to sniff around Alaska, looking to break the big scandal. If the idea was to send Palin to the Dick Cheney circuit (interviews with media loyalists only, fundraisers, small rallies with true believers in deep red areas), that's not a reality now. Palin is as much a part of the GOP ticket as McCain -- and that bodes ill in the final calculus.

Truly, Palin reminds me no one so much as a female Dubya, a smug, dumb wingnut who is very adept at pushing Christianist identity buttons. A talent no doubt, but still an eminently definable enemy. And this culture war thing inflames both sides. You can bet Obama raised some serious dough tonight -- I chipped in another Benjy. All the money will be well worth it when they show shots of these fucks on the convention floor ("drill now! burn the Constitution! smart people suck!") weeping in their diapers on November 5th.

Can't say I'm terribly worried as of yet, though it wouldn't kill me if this National Enquirer story pans out.