Thursday, October 02, 2008

Soft bigotry & lowering expectations

In St. Louis, Washington University students stand in for Biden and Palin.

Governor Palin finally got something right.

Palin asserted on Sean Hannity’s radio show that she is eager to debate her views, because the press has been “censoring” her.

No doubt she was referring to the fact that CBS cut out a part of her interview with Katie Couric wherein she demonstrated that she could not name another Supreme Court case besides Roe v. Wade, and only aired the exchange after its existence was anonymously leaked. I would say that CBS’s actions most definitely fit the definition of censorship. It’s not the usual kind of censorship, wherein dangerous or unpopular ideas are prevented from being exposed to the public by government or corporate (I presume a distinction) entities. It’s the kind of censorship where…CBS couldn’t really plumb the bottomless depths of her ignorance without looking like a big meanie.

As an added bonus, the clip also reveals that Palin doesn’t understand the hook upon which Roe V. Wade hangs its hat, nor indeed even the basic premise of constitutionality:

COURIC (to Palin): Do you think there's an inherent right to privacy in the Constitution?

PALIN: I do. Yeah, I do.

COURIC: The cornerstone of Roe v Wade.

PALIN: I do. And I believe that --individual states can handle what the people within the different constituencies in the 50 states would like to see their will ushered in in an issue like that.

In other words, the states can’t write laws that defy the United States Constitution, except when they can. Sigh.

But (as I thank the universe for every morning) it’s not my job to make sense of the words that dart from Palin’s mouth and run in circles above her head like so many startled squirrels. That job, at least for tonight, falls tonight to Gwen Ifill, a PBS news anchor and correspondent who’s also in the process of writing a book about the history of black political candidates since the civil rights movement. To a reasonable person, that last bit might elicit a response such as “Wow. She sounds incredibly well-informed.” To the right-wing brain, however, it means SHE IS IN LOVE WITH OBAMA, and they want her out. McCain has taken a slightly less bloodthirsty tack than the likes of Michelle “I heart the Japanese internment camps” Malkin, saying “I think Gwen Ifill is a professional,” and “I think she will do a totally objective job because she is a highly respected professional,” and “I have confidence that Gwen Ifill will do a professional job.”

I hope that my source for those McCain quotes is using the quotation marks because it’s grammatically correct, and not because McCain was making those little air quotes with his hands while he was saying it.

McCain’s campaign for a grumpier America could not let the issue go by, however, without taking at least one stance worthy of their increasingly curmudgeonly candidate; mainly, that regarding the moderator of tonight’s debate, they wish a different choice had been made. One might argue that, 1) her book was public knowledge when she was suggested for the job – which I guess means that McCain’s not the only one in his campaign who doesn’t know how to work the internets, and 2) the debate’s number one sponsor is Anheuser Busch, source of the Cindy McCain fortune, and you don’t hear Obama whining about it, and 3) when the campaigns agreed, as McCain’s did, to the choice of moderator, the choice became their choice as well. It may sound like semantics, but perhaps the larger point is that it’s hardly the kind of niggling that becomes a man who wants people to think of him as “presidential,” as opposed to “Walter Matthau-esque.”

Which brings me to McCain’s latest “get off my lawn!” moment:

As [Obama & McCain] shared the Senate floor tonight for the first time since they won their party nominations, Obama stood chatting with Democrats on his side of the aisle, and McCain stood on the Republican side of the aisle.

So Obama crossed over into enemy territory.

He walked over to where McCain was chatting with Republican Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida and Independent Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut. And he stretched out his arm and offered his hand to McCain.

McCain shook it, but with a “go away” look that no one could miss. He tried his best not to even look at Obama.

Finally, with a tight smile, McCain managed a greeting: “Good to see you.”

Obama got the message. He shook hands with Martinez and Lieberman — both of whom greeted him more warmly — and quickly beat a retreat back to the Democratic side.

Hardly surprising, given McCain’s behavior toward Obama at the first debate, where he couldn't bear to even look him in the eye. Some people I’ve spoken to have suggested that McCain’s inability to be civil toward his opponent is because he’s…um…not exactly comfortable with people of color. To be fair, I think his ill-manners can be attributed to a more obvious character flaw: he’s a sore loser. Remember when he and Obama were merely senators, and he wrote that sarcastic smack-down letter to him, because he thought Obama showed up him up? And then he made the letter public?

But I understand how important the opportunity to lead your party’s effort to exploit this issue must seem to a freshman Senator, and I hold no hard feelings over your earlier disingenuousness. Again, I have been around long enough to appreciate that in politics the public interest isn’t always a priority for every one of us. Good luck to you, Senator.

Yes, good luck to Senator Obama. And to Senator Biden as well. Hell, I’ll even wish good luck tonight to Governor Palin , and remind all her detractors that the title “Governor” in front of one’s name does tend to raise expectations, perhaps unfairly. And if you don’t believe me, perhaps it would be wise to bear this former Governor in mind:


Dr Zibbs said...

This is going to be so great tonight I can't stand it.

Anonymous said...

Palin pwned by Couric. Too bad CBS had to be shamed into releasing that video by its anonymous leak.

Dad E said...

McCain has difficulty is multi-tasking. He has his game face on, and to be cordial takes him out of his mojo. At heart he is resentful and arrogant.

SkylersDad said...

McCain's camp is probably already drafting up the "Gwen was biased and Joe was mean to her" spin docs.

ERR said...

"McCain’s campaign for a grumpier America..."

This is great.

Some Guy said...

We turned it off after her overuse of "darn" and "betcha" started giving me seizures.

Oh yeah, and great post. Again.

dguzman said...

Great post. Once again, I'm baffled by the idea that anyone would willingly vote for McCain or Palin for any office, much less the White House.

GETkristiLOVE said...

I'm going to love it when Grumpier Old Man loses. Please, oh please, oh please.

Matt said...

I have almost that exact same sentence in my notebook for an upcoming post about privacy. I wrote, "Couric tried to engage Palin in an intellectual exercise regarding privacy but unfortunatley Palin is without intellect."