Palin McCain

September 9, 2008
y Terry Michael

Onward Christianist Soldiers. USA!
Good news may be bad for the GOP.

The good news for Republicans now safely back in their homes away from the sinful temptations of St. Paul, Minnesota may be some really bad news for a great national political party. The scene at the Xcel Energy Center may have revealed to the broad center of the electorate that a once mighty conservative fusion has been reduced to a few brigades of Christianist Soldiers, backed by a Greek chorus of College Republicans bleating "USA!"

It takes nothing from the surface appeal of Gov. Sarah Palin (Pittbull-Alaska) to acknowledge the internal warfare plaguing Republicans. But not since anti-war Sen. Abraham Ribicoff blasted pro-authoritarian Mayor Richard Daley's police riot at the 1968 Democratic Convention has the nation seen so much self-loathing shouted from the podium of a quadrennial gathering.

The Republican nominee fumbled his septuagenarian way through a god-awful acceptance speech, asserting he'll clean up the mess made by...Republicans. It was fitting that the poster boy for wretched GOP excess, Jack Abramoff, was sentenced to four years on the last day of the party's meeting in Minnesota.

A party with four split personalities needs to be worried about what it revealed to the independents among those record-breaking 40 million viewers of the moose-a-palooza in St. Paul, Alaska.

Career Military Heroes and Unborn Life Lovers were certainly pumped for John McCain and his Brangelina bride, Cindy--who apparently wants to adopt the world. Witnessing her ethereal glow while cradling the Palin baby, those of us not awaiting the Rapture could only wonder, “Which of the 12 steps was that?” Indeed, VFW hats and evangelical bonnets bobbed in delight at the war-and-life-at-any-cost blather from speakers dwarfed before the JumboTronic-by-Sony American flag waving in the pixelated breeze.

But the third wing on the elephant, Goldwater libertarians, have got to be scared outa' their friggin' minds. They were pushed aside by the self-indulgent, authoritarian, Greater Purpose Than Thou Senator John Sidney McCain and his band of prime-enablers: the "compassionate conservatives," who comprise the fourth twig of the Republican Party. These Neo-Cons are the 21st Century version of the 19th Century "we'll run your life for you" Progressives, who came out of the Republican Party and later joined the Democrats--clueless that party founders Jefferson and Madison prized individual liberty and responsibility, not "social justice" distributed by elite experts.

Ms. Palin may have given libertarian Repubs some hope they can believe in, with her pistol-packin' homage to the Second Amendment and anti-tax bromides. But could they really warm to the no abortion, even with rape or incest, mantra? To her proud card-carrying United Steel Workers husband? Or populist attacks on Big Oil that could be voiced by Michael Moore? And what were non-interventionist libertarians to make of the infatuation of 1984's Miss Wasilla with The Bush-McCain War, to which she said she’d proudly send her son Track on September 11 (incredible timing there, Track.)

Of course, big problems face the Democrats in the next two months. Sen. Obama needs serious attitude adjustment in mannerisms that give many the impression he is more elite than street. That is undeserved for a son of a single working mother, but it's what voters seem to intuit more than they see race. A few appearances with some NBA all-stars (phone Michael, Oprah), and maybe a benefit concert by Willie Nelson might yield Barack a little more cred.

And Obama's running-mate, Sen. Joe Biden, could be an even worse choice than some of us imagined. Ms. Palin may serve the pompous windbag from Delaware his comeupance in debate, deflecting the likely condescension of Washington’s favorite “foreign policy expert” with a Reagan-esque, "There you go again, Joe."

However, November 4 is unlikely to be about the vice presidential nominees. The contest for the party faithful is going to turn not on hope or change or experience, but on the near dissolution of the GOP conservative coalition and a powerful desire for victory by the Democratic base, which, with no discernible informing ideology for several decades, has been glued together with personality politics.

No matter how much Republicans try to make the election about Obama, even cognitive dissonance among the undecided can’t submerge all the bad news: the economy, the war, the 8-year disaster at 1600 Pennsylvania.

For the swing voters, who'll ultimately decide the outcome, it will turn on three letters. Not U-S-A, but A-G-E. The final sprint for the undecided 10 percent favors Obama, because the Republican candidate lost his edge, as well as his mythical Maverick way, a very long time ago.

Director of the non-partisan Washington Center for Politics & Journalism and former press secretary for the Democratic National Committee, Terry Michael writes at his "libertarian Democrat" blog,


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