Tuesday, October 28, 2008

All the King's Horses and All the King's Men

"People want leadership, Mr. President, and in the absence of genuine leadership, they'll listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They want leadership. They're so thirsty for it they'll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there's no water, they'll drink the sand."

-- from "An American President," screenplay by Aaron Sorkin

Pretty smart guy, that Aaron Sorkin. Knows his way around American politics. That paragraph, written thirteen years ago, in the midst of a Clinton term, was written about an incumbent Presidential candidate who loses himself in his efforts to stay in office. He'll make any compromise, break any promise, throw anyone under the bus to make sure that he isn't a one-term president. And in the end, doing so means that he nearly sacrifices who he is as a human being, down to his absolute core beliefs, to do it. (I'm not telling you how it comes out. Rent the movie and find out.)

With the chances of a McCain presidency growing dimmer by the day, the Republican party is starting to fall back. Or maybe, fall apart. Humpty's in pieces, and the Republican leadership is starting to get the word out that the party is in some trouble and, win or lose come the 4th, a new plan of action (and possibly attack, knowing the GOP) might be in order. Mitt Romney was quoted today as referring to a "very real chance of an Obama presidency." Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, who was said to be on the short list for potential VP picks, said today that Obama "has a pretty good advantage in Minnesota right now."

According to Politico's Jonathan Martin, the annual GOP governors' conference, set to start the day after the election, will most likely be the place that the future leadership and direction of the party will get hammered out. Martin asserts that Sarah Palin will be on one of the primary focuses of party leadership during these talks.

Ya think, Jonathan? I don't think so, for three reasons.

Number one, most mainstream Republicans hate her guts. No. Seriously, they do. I have it on fairly good inside authority that the Republican party in Alaska came to loathe her because she got elected and immediately set about turning on the oil companies that helped get her elected and taxing them, in direct opposition to the GOP's allegiances. You won't hear much about that from Alaskans, mostly because it's a pretty closed shop up there. They don't believe in airing their dirty linen to the lower 48. But in Alaska, as in Washington, you don't develop a reputation as a turncoat without paying the price.

Number two, while Palin inarguably lit a fire under the conservative and evangelical base of the party, she was an unmitigated disaster among independents and women voters, whom the GOP hoped to attracted after Senator Hilary Clinton lost the nomination. What makes Republicans thinks that Sarah Palin will be any more capable of given concise, educated intelligent answers in 2012 than she did in 2008? She was a joke by mid-October, even before her pitiful performance in her debate against Biden. (Yes, you heard me. I said, "pitiful." She was a walking, breathing talking points memo. If an original idea had entered her head, it would surely have died of loneliness.) No present or future presidential election will be won on party base alone. The way to the White House is paved by independent voters. No matter how a candidate can woo the voters who probably would have voted for her anyway (it's why they call them the "base"), if she can't light a fire under the indies, she's useless to the party.

Number three, she is, quite simply, an utter and complete plankhead. Though not stupid, she has an innate distrust of education and learning, including the "self" kind, and an appalling lack of intellectual curiosity that is a little too close to George W. Bush for my comfort. She has said she believes that man and dinosaur walked the Earth at the same time. Her reading material, as we know, is sparse at best (there was a reason Katie Couric asked her that question, by the way, and it wasn't just to be bitchy).

Her speech last week on what she has taken on as her policy issue, funding for children with disabilities proved that, even on topics she purports to care about, she has little desire for "book larnin'," and will smoothly disseminate false information with alacrity and ease, if it suits her purpose. Falling heavily on her old speech stand-by of "earmarks," Palin had this to say about autism research funding:
"You’ve heard about some of these pet projects they really don’t make a whole lot of sense and sometimes these dollars go to projects that have little or nothing to do with the public good. Things like fruit fly research in Paris, France. I kid you not."
She kids us not. And why would she? Humor actually requires a quick wit and a developed intellect, and Sarah Palin has neither. If she had, she might have learned that that fruit fly research she's threatening to defund yielded a landfall result in 2007, when researchers at the University of North Carolina (which is surprisingly not in Paris, France, but rather, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina -- hence the name) used Drosophila to isolate a protein called neurexin, which seems to inhibit synaptic brain function in ways similar to that of autism. Furthermore, the fruit fly study isolated a genetic marker that produced this protein, that also seems to be fairly common in autistic children. Now, I'm no doctor, but I'm guessing this discovery could be fairly important to parents of children with autism. And Sarah Palin stood in front of a bank of microphones and a field of cameras and and all but threatened to defund the research because she didn't think it was important.

I kid you not.

So I'm supposed to believe now that the Republicans who have called her a "cancer" and an "embarrassment" are now going to embrace her and lift her to the highest pedestal in the Republican party? I don't believe the GOP will stand for it. She'll be so shut out when McCain loses and the Democrats have huge majorities in both houses of Congress, she'll be more able to run for President of Russia than the United States.

Sarah Palin the future of the Republican party? Please. There's not enough Ferragamo in the world.


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