The Politics of Resentment

There’s been criticism and applause (both justified) for the way in which Biden has hit on McCain and Palin’s convention performance. But I’m most fascinated by his attack in this video, from 2:11 to 2:44.

Biden: It was about how well placed — and boy she is good — how a left jab can be stuck pretty nice.  It’s about how Barack Obama is such a bad guy.

It’s about how in fact, how in fact, they got great quips.  Man, they’re like the kids you know when you went to school and you were very proud of the new belt or the shoes you had, and there was always one kid in the class who said, "oh, are they your brother’s?"

Crowd: Yeah.

Biden: Remember that kid?  That’s what this is reminding me of.  "Oh, I love your dress, was that your mother’s?"

You know what I’m talking about.

It was fairly tentative, but IMO, a really important attack on Palin especially, though it applies to McCain as well. With this response, Biden flips the structure of resentment the Republicans are trying to use to make Palin untouchable.

Digby has written about the addition of Palin as a reality show or as a Joan of Arc appealing to the resentment of Americans.

It’s very difficult to know how the Jerry Springer stuff is going to play out. It’s never a "good" thing for a politician to have the media drooling and licking their chops over their personal life, but they often not only survive but thrive as a result, depending on the transgression. Edwards betrayed his cancer stricken wife and that’s just too much for most people to bear. Clinton had a few furtive sexual encounters that were exploited by his political enemies which ended up gaining most people’s sympathies. You don’t know where these scandals will go, but you do know that they will distract from the normal coverage of issues and policy. (That, of course, would suit McCain just fine. The last thing he wants is for this campaign to be about issues.)

So, I still don’t know about the effect of Sarah Palin. A lot of this is untrod ground, with her being a female with young kids and a very conservative Christian to boot. Anybody who says they can completely predict the outcome of this "scandal" is fooling herself. This is new territory.

[snip]

Palin could become the winner of America’s Working Mom from all this — at least to those who don’t know enough about politics to realize that she wants her church and the government to be our "Dad." If you haven’t read Nixonland, you won’t understand it when I say that it’s possible that Palin could end up being the orthogonian Joan of Arc. That’s certainly what the Conservative Christians are gambling on.

And Jane warned against getting overconfident because of Palin’s Jerry Springer life.

I think Palin could work out to be any of a number of things: Digby’s Joan of Arc of resentment; a reality show contestant we like until her really nasty side comes out, at which point we turn on her, hard; or the fallen Christian conservative, someone like Mark Foley who is celebrated up until the second his foibles became too much to tolerate. 

But Palin’s speech reminded me, instantly, of what it felt like in sixth grade when Laura Paluska and her band put handcream on my locker handle, sat in the back of classrooms and mocked me because I didn’t have a closet full of Jordache jeans, and finally ambushed me as I walked out of the building, trying to pick a fight. And yes, they laughed at the book bag that I had sewn myself, talking about how ugly it was. To this day, I can viscerally recall how I hated Laura and her whole little band, for how ugly and intrusive and pointless their taunts were.

That’s the aspect of Sarah Palin Joe Biden was describing in his speech–and from the response of the crowd, I’m sure I’m not the only one who has a Laura Paluska or a Sarah Palin in my past.

And so, I would repeat Digby’s warning:

Anybody who says they can completely predict the outcome of this "scandal" is fooling herself. This is new territory.

Digby’s absolutely right that the Republicans are trying to use Palin as another Nixon, someone who mobilizes large numbers to reject the rationally best choice in favor of someone like them who has suffered from the same sleights from the popular kids.

But she’s not Nixon. She is the cool kid, the Heather who gathers her popularity by tearing down those around her.

And that might work. A lot of people don’t necessarily grow out of that sixth grade mindset, the urge to feel better about yourself by cruelly mocking others. But I suspect that there are actually more people who have a Laura Paluska in their life–and they don’t want one to be their Vice President. I suspect that if Joe Biden continues this line, he may remind all the people the Republicans are trying to attract with this ploy that Palin actually isn’t the one being attacked unfairly. She’s the archetypal attacker, the girl who, when we were all just forming our adult character, tried to rip that down. 

We don’t know how this is going to play out. But the politics of resentment can go both ways, and Sarah Palin is definitely vulnerable to attack as a Heather, the popular girl who no one much likes anymore after they graduate from high school and realize there are more important issues in life than who wears the coolest jeans or who dates the hottest guy. 

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  1. PJEvans says:

    I wonder if they’re going to teach her to keep her tongue behind her teeth when she’s being photographed. Yes, it does stick out, just a little bit, in a lot of photos. It’s almost like she’s saying ‘you can’t touch me’.

  2. RevDeb says:

    I think you’ve hit it. There is something very visceral about the reactions both to her and to the other red meat rethug. screeds. They aren’t nice people. They enjoy being vicious. The only way they can find any way to feel good about themselves is by tearing down someone else. They might as well call themselves the Scapegoat party—they claim to be that, but really they are always, ALWAYS looking for a scapegoat to blame for their own inadequacies.

    But as Digby notes so well, there’s no way to know how this is going to play out.

    • emptywheel says:

      Well, today Rasmussen came in the same as it did yesterday. And ABC reports that most people aren’t factoring the VP choices in their choice for POTUS.

      Which suggests several things: Palin worked to enthuse Republicans. She made a number of swing voters reconsider McCain–but they haven’t yet decided one way or another. But mostly, it’ll come down to the wrinkly white dude and the guy preaching change.

      • marksb says:

        Palin and Biden might be more important than we are thinking:
        How does the VP candidate reflect on the judgment of the presidential candidate?
        Palin is a great reality show star at the moment, and fun to watch for all of us, Left and Right. But her outsized character from some absurdist David Lynch film could very well turn off the “middle” voters looking for security and caution from their president in these scary times.
        Change from Obama means, as I get it, conservative, cautious change; change that works effectively and efficiently. Everything the Bush administration isn’t.
        McCain changes the atmosphere to one right out of the tabloids. The red-meat (moose?) Right is in love with her instant celebrity, but the rest of America, while tuning in the watch the show, is not going to vote her and her master into a position as their leader.
        ‘Course, I might be wrong. Often am. Anyway, cheers to you all from the foggy West (wet) coast!

    • maryb2004 says:

      RevDeb is right there is something visceral in everyone’s reactions. And in fact, the day after her speech I found myself asking people FOR their visceral reactions – which is very unusual for me. I usually try to get to people’s considered reactions. But my own visceral reaction to her was so negative after that speech that I wanted to find out what everyone else’s visceral reaction was.

      I agree that we’ve all had Laura Paluska’s in our lives. Interestingly the people in my work place who are the Laura Paluska’s of the workplace (whether male or female) had no negative visceral reaction to her.

  3. billybugs says:

    I’m sure Sarah will appeal to the NASCAR/Springer crowd ,but playing up her Redneck lifestyle won,t appeal to all
    Anyone who takes the time to research Palin will soon see how small minded she really is.
    There is a good reason the McSame campaign is keeping the press away from her,it woulldn,t take long for the public to see her as she really is,book banning science hating ,shill for the oil industry.
    We really don/t some one with this mindset to be a heart beat away from the oval office

    • RevDeb says:

      they need her to raise money and enthusiasm for the down ticket races. In that respect it was a very smart move. The whole equation of the election season has changed but it will take time to shake out.

      It’s going to be quite a roller coaster I think.

  4. WilliamOckham says:

    Over at Ta-Nehisi Coates’ place, he asked what the white man means when he says “Ghetto” (he really was looking for a definition of redneck/hick/trailer park trash). I made a comment defining the white equivalent of ghetto as the combination of rural poverty, the rejection of middle class mores and morality (simultaneously stricter and looser), and the defeatism that poverty breeds. I argued that Sarah ‘Barracuda’ fits the archetype of vicious social climber better than the poor white trash archetype. I guess Joe Biden agrees.

    When Sarah Palin stands next to Cindy McCain, she of the $300,000 outfit, John McCain risks being reduced to the not-so-bright jock who was an accessory for the mean girls. Not at a conscious or rational level, but at that ’some part of you never escapes your high school clique’ emotional level.

    As a charter member of the ‘Geeks and Freaks’, I’m ok with that.

      • iwonder says:

        Yes, her “pistol packing” mom comment in particular was atrocious. She seemed so proud of herself for saying that it was disgusting.

      • WilliamOckham says:

        Cindy McCain won’t really get a chance to make an impression with anything other than her clothes, which is a bit unfair, but her husband’s campaign chose to make this election about superficiality.

        I don’t know if that bit by Biden was an artful construction or his gut reaction or both, but he needs to keep it. At a rhetorical level it is as tight and effective as anything Obama has his reportoire.

        Biden starts out by referring to McCain as ‘John’, emphasizing Biden’s and the country’s familiarity with McCain, but referring to Palin indirectly as the Governor, their VP nominee, reinforcing her anonymity. He moves directly into an attack on the deafening silence of the Republican party, branding their ticket with that loser label, not as mavericks. He cleverly gives himself protection against ticky-tack factchecking bs by laying off the responsibility for the precise details on his staff, guaranteeing that a Republican pundit counterattack will be on the Democrats’ terms.

        He turns his litany of the issues they ignore into a crowd response line, transitioning from the rational to the emotional. Then, when he’s got the crowd into it, he brings out the central attack, not directly against ‘John’, but the campaign manager. The subtext here is that he’s undermining their POW paragon, Biden’s pal, by going after the underlings, one of the oldest and most effective ways of attacking a leader who commands personal respect. He reduces the Republican convention to nothing more than personal attacks, going after its strength. Also, notice how he brings Palin in to it by referring to ’she is good; how a left jab can be stuck pretty nice’. He doesn’t mention her by name and doesn’t quite accuse her of throwing low blows (doesn’t even directly accuse her of throwing the left jab), but the implication is pretty clear.

        All that puts the listener in the perfect frame of mind to be receptive to that very personal yet almost universal anecdote. In reality, even the folks who perpetrated those offenses will relate to that story because they had it done to them first (you learn that stuff from somebody) and humans tend to forget their own sins.

    • R.H. Green says:

      “I argued that Sara ‘Barracuda’ fits the archetype of vicious social climber better than the poor white trash archetype.” I’m not fond of the “archetype” concept. It seems to me that the situation is more fluid than your analysis permits. The poor white trash matter is a social context within which some people have to operate,; its their social niche. Within that there are those who strive to overcome it, but are faced with the problem of how to do it. If what you know is scratching and clawing (and insulting or hurting others), that’s what you do. There are always those who are wannabes; they make a good market for such things as Jordache jeans, custom ringtones, overprice athletic shoes, etc.

      • WilliamOckham says:

        Trust me, I know all that. Rural white Southern poverty was my cultural milieu growing up. My grandfather was fond of saying that the Depression was invisible where he lived, everybody he knew was already dirt poor. The War (by which he meant WWII), on the other hand, changed everything. The menfolk saw the world and killed half of it, the womenfolk got jobs, and everybody learned to work for money (much later I realized how true that last part was, North Central Texas and Southern Oklahoma really weren’t well-integrated into the currency-based economy until the ’40s).

        My mom always said you might be poor, but you weren’t trash until you gave up. I don’t think she really understood how poverty can grind down people who don’t have the support of social structures like the church and family that she had.

        I don’t judge people for their successes, failures, or their socioeconomic standing. I judge harshly those people who attain their wealth and power by exploiting other people and then pretend that is evidence of their own moral rectitude. The modern Republican party often seems to make that attitude their political position.

        • R.H. Green says:

          “…those people who attain their wealth and power by exploiting …”

          After thinking, I realized I should have said,”that analysis, rather than “your analsis”. I didn’t mean it personally. What I was getting at was the “archetype” metaphor as obscuring the fact that realtive wealth, or social position, or physical beauty, (you name the dimension), is a context within which people behave, well, or badly as they are taught. As you astutely point out within a context of poverty, there are a good ways, and less desirable ways of coping with it. Wanting better is reasonable, what matters is how that wanting is translated into action. For some, lashing out is all they know. For others, working or cheating is the way forward. I didn’t mean to imply that you didn’t have your facts right, but to suggest that white trash status and clawing are not best viewed as aternative archtypes, but as interactive concepts. (Whew.)

          • WilliamOckham says:

            I dropped something out of my argument. My original point over at Coates’ place was that Palin was posing as trailer trash in a cynical political ploy. When you put on a persona like that (especially when you’re a complete unknown), you become vulnerable to being recast as a different persona that’s less helpful to your political goals.

            Biden made an incredible start on that reframing. The Obama/Biden campaign needs to keep up the pressure on this. They need to gradually tie policy positions to the meanness. If they can get the press asking questions that relate policy to ‘caring’ and ‘getting it’, the Republicans are vulnerable. McCain is thin-skinned and hotheaded. He won’t be expecting the press to question his character (which is how he will understand questions like that) and will react badly. Palin has a reputation and on-going investigation in Alaska for vindictiveness. That undercuts her effectiveness as an attacker. That’s the real failure of McCain’s vetting.

  5. skdadl says:

    Great reading of a terrific performance, EW.

    (Forgive me for enjoying a bit of a great-minds moment, but I put that video up at our place too, although without anything like the analysis of the Heathers moment you’ve done here. I was seized at first by that line “Whaddya talk about when you cannot explain the last eight years of failure?” and then by the lightning-fast reaction right at the end to someone who calls out “Give ‘em hell, Joe.” I love this guy.)

    My Sarah was called Beryl, and it’s a testament to your thesis that I can remember her name from 1957, isn’t it?

  6. iwonder says:

    Interesting stuff. I did have a Dennis Polaski in my life. Sixth grade. He was my boyfriend until it came to our graduation dance. He chose to dance with my best girlfriend and they laughed at me because I was shocked and left in the lurch. I had to get paired up with geeky cute Richard Sloan, whom I would now adore I’m sure.

    Kind of fits peripherally where my mind is today in thinking about this week and what it all means about us, the human race. Last night my own sister who likes Obama and usually agrees with my positions reluctantly told me that she didn’t think McCain was all that bad, kinda liked his speech. Upset me a lot. She said as well that from all the reaction her daughter and others (mostly in the medical profession in a university city in FL) were giving her, she has the impression that Palin made a lot of conquests–to such an extent that the GOP would win the election.

    To me, the lies and attacks are disheartening because I no longer trust people to look for truth. They will not be logical or reasoned. That jives with what you’ve written here. How can you make progress when that’s the case?

    Suddenly it seems so complicated when personalities and popularities and those “values” things turn everything topsy-turvy. Makes me want to go bury my head in the sand until Nov. 5th, then pop up to find out what happened and leave the country if it turns out badly. Maybe it’s my depression kicking back in, don’t know.

    • marksb says:

      My bookkeeper voted for Bush twice. She’s been angry for a couple of years now about his conduct in the war and his horrible management of the economy. Yet now she has a bright shiny new pink “Women for McCain” sticker on her gas-guzzling truck. I think McCain is seen as “safe” for the inherently Republican amongst us. They think they can trust him, that he’s not a moron like the current president, he’s not going to spend us into the poorhouse, and he’s, well, he’s an Old Republican. They want a return to the Old-School Republicans: they’re safe. I think Nixon could get the core going if he came showed up at this point.
      But we must remind ourselves that the core 30% will make it a race, but they will not elect the next president by themselves.

    • emptywheel says:

      I had a similar feeling, trust me. I hate seeing how cynically these people ignore the truth.

      As for Palin’s impact, I think we really need to wait to see how her impact is in states that McCain needs to win–right now he’s far behind in the EC race.

      My gut feel is that she will help in FL (unless the Jewish groups mobilizing against her have any effect), and maybe in places like CO and NV. My gut instinct is that she’s not going to help a lot here in the Midwest. If McCain loses IA and OH and MI, this race is over.

      But that’s all gut instinct, not real numbers, so we need to wait and see.

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        I doubt that the GOP foresaw that their cynical selection of the unqualified Mrs Palin could end up boomeranging back on them by exposing their politics of resentment as fraudulent, controlling, dishonorable, and the root source of much of our trouble.

        This meanness has been simmering for years, and it’s time to call it out, expose it for what it is, and reveal it as a mean-spirited fraud that will lead to bad outcomes.

        Biden is brilliant here, IMHO. No matter how this election turns out, this speech is brilliant in large part because it is uncomfortably h-o-n-e-s-t.

        Biden’s breaking the taboo of Talking About The Things We Never Talk About. He’s calling bullshit on the GOP Rules of Engagement — I seriously doubt the GOP ever dreamed he’d turn their own resentments and grudges back upon them.

        Akido politics.
        Brilliant move.

        (Even Pooty Poot must surely admire this deflect-and-turn.)

        Or, to put it in TrashTalkese, ‘McCain threw a Hail Mary in the last minute of the third quarter; Biden intercepted and ran it all the way down the field for a touchdown.’

        Made. My. Day.

  7. Emily68 says:

    The Bush Administration has always remined me of the jr. high school Student Council. They think up all kinds of idiotic stuff to do. But in jr. high, the Student Council has no power. They just sit there and say goofy things and the teachers don’t let them do anything. The Bush Administration, however, does get to do all the idiotic/goofy stuff they talk about. That’s why we’re in so much trouble.

    The Heather factor is just one more similarity to jr. high

  8. MarieRoget says:

    Good job by Biden, all the way around- saw the whole speech on TiVo. And Gov. Palin’s speeches so far typify the “It’s not only important that I succeed, but that you fail so I can rub yr. face in it” mentality. Plus she’s done quite a bit of what Rachel Maddow had the stones to call both McCain & Palin on last night- LYING. Want our candidates to start using that more, instead of always the cute euphemisms. It’s crunch time, 60 days to tear down the facade they’re building.

    If the Dems feel they want to call Caribou Barbie (h/t TBogg) out @ all, make it on the attribute most strongly demonstrated in her speeches & behavior- vindictiveness. We need to hear more from the firees, those who suffered from her unprofessional vindictive firings. Put a human face on that.

    More than anything, though, I wish Biden (and HRC) would start hitting candidate McCain in the chops w/the failed Bush economy. Freddie & Fannie go into conservatorship this wknd, I’m betting, early next wk @ the latest. Silverado is far from alone, many more are teetering on the edge of failure. At last count in my smallish zip code there were 174 homes in foreclosure.

    Failing U.S. economy/basic kitchen table issues will win the election. Make it tightly focussed on change vs. more of the same Repub failure. Joe made a good start yesterday.

    Letting McCain/Palin identity politics continue to dictate msm coverage will lead to a nerve-wracking squeaker subject to Rovie-style manipulation imo. End of morning rant…

  9. GregB says:

    The new bright shiny face of Robertson-Falwell-Dobson Christianity introduced herself to America and the world with a mean spirited, invective laced, smarmy, presumptuous speech.

    They are proud of this. Any attacks on her are like attacking Jesus.

    McCain was brow beaten by this mob and he’ll forever cede his decisions to them.

    -G

    • MarkH says:

      McCain was brow beaten by this mob and he’ll forever cede his decisions to them.

      From the Dem perspective it looks like Mondale picking Ferraro, but from the Repub historical perspective it looks more like Reagan allowing people around him to push him into picking Bush (whom he didn’t like). That fateful pick let the Bush mafia into the tent and we’re still paying for it today. All to satisfy Reagan’s ego.

      Investigating Palin isn’t just to ‘get her’. It’s to know the Truth, so we can make a good decision. Seek the Truth and then let the chips fall where they may.

      I supported John Edwards for president. Someone looked into his affairs and discovered something untoward. I’m disappointed that my hopes were dashed, but he’d already dropped out of the race so I wasn’t hurt terribly. But, mostly I’m pleased to know the Truth. In the future it might be easier to suss out candidates during the primary. I only wish, as Hillary Clinton said, these things could be discovered in a timely fashion.

      That’s what we need with Palin — a timely discovery of the Truth.

      Wouldn’t many people be really shaken up if they elected McCain and discovered something awful about Palin in the days afterward? Truth is important.

      Off in another direction, since Palin appears, by my account, to be a neocon in the making, it makes me worry that if McCain wins he might be treated to a gunshot just the way Reagan was. Now, isn’t that something to worry about?

      Truth now or forever bear the consequences.

  10. JGabriel says:

    EW:

    With this response, Biden flips the structure of resentment the Republicans are trying to use to make Palin untouchable.

    Yes, I thought that was a nice outreach to the “Squares” or as Nixon pretentiously and manipulatively called them, to give them a shared veneer of intellectuality, the “Orthogonians”.

    There is, and should be, a deep well of resentment in this country against the well-off and elite who have – for decades now – demanded and received productivity gains from the working class, but have refused to share the income gains. Reminding people, as Biden did, that these people are mean is long overdue, and I’m happy to see the Democrats finally taking that tack.

    .

    • JGabriel says:

      There is, and should be, a deep well of resentment in this country against the well-off and elite who have – for decades now – demanded and received productivity gains from the working class, but have refused to share the income gains. Reminding people, as Biden did, that these people are mean is long overdue, and I’m happy to see the Democrats finally taking that tack.

      I just wanted to expand on this thought a little bit:

      We need to be redefining “elite” – not as the intellectual professor stereotype that’s become entrenched in popular thought through GOP repetition – but as the MBA who downsized your ass.

      I think Biden’s rhetoric was a good step in that direction.

      .

      • Hmmm says:

        If you mean to launch a ‘rank-and-file vs. management’ paradigm, with the R’s clearly drawn as the management, then 1) that might work, and 2) that would be a lovely refresh of the traditional D brand, at a time when the R’s are running away from their own brand as fast as they can.

  11. MarieRoget says:

    I probably shouldn’t admit this, but wth- When the mean girl in my Catholic school 8th grade class zeroed in on my best friend Mary Ann Kroetsch & made her miserable from her snotty taunting, I ended up getting a tooth knocked down my throat confronting her & her kid brother behind the trees @ the far end of the church parking lot. Mother Agnes suspended me, but you shoulda seen the other two, as they say.

    Bad, bad Marie. Long lectures, extra chores, & no allowance until you settle down.
    (I grew up w/four brothers btw).

    This way to stop bullying I don’t recommend to anyone & I paid a big price for defending my friend, but the taunting stopped.

    • emptywheel says:

      Yeah, Laura and her band actually stopped taunting me after the attempted ambush. I pushed back and scolded them for their transparent attempt to make me trip on Christine’s potato chips (isn’t it remarkable how vivid this all remains). They were never friends with me, but they moved onto taunting someone else.

    • TobyWollin says:

      Good on ya, Marie – you stood up for your best friend. Would I had had a friend like you when I was in school and got taunted for my home made clothes, my “girlscout’ oxford shoes and my glasses. Friends such as you were to your friend are treasures and don’t forget that. On the other hand, I had to do my own fighting in the 7th grade and knocked a girl bigger than I am through a gym locker door after she and her buddies had pushed me too far. Got a reputation from that and was basically left alone. Sometimes, standing up to the schoolyard bully is all you can do.

      • MarieRoget says:

        Sometimes it is all the recourse you have, or are made to think you have. The nuns seemed willing to look the other way while that little creep (her name was Terry) & her pals hurt so many. Here’s a vivid memory for you- standing in the principal’s office w/mom & listening to Mother Agnes say, ” I can’t understand why Marie would do this at all. Terry comes from one of the finest families in the parish.” Learned a lot about grownups & how they think that day.

        Glad you got out from under the bully- sorry it took that to do it.

        • TobyWollin says:

          It must run in the family. When my son was in the 6th grade, he saw someone who had bullied him beating up on a kid from the 5th grade in the schoolyard at lunch. He looked around for a teacher, saw none, ran over, picked the bully physically up off the little kid, threw him on the ground and sat on him while one of his friends ran for a teacher in the building. He got called in(he must have done a good job of pleading his case because we were never called about it); I think the victim’s black eye spoke for itself.

    • Hmmm says:

      In elementary school, I got into exactly two fights. In the first one, in second grade, I got picked on by a bully and wound up winning the fight. According to my memory, the bully’s exact quote was “You chipped my tooth!” The next day I was called into the office of the Principal and thanked. In the second fight, in fifth grade, a classmate had been mercilessly bullying the one Asian in our whole school, a guy named Tuan, and I stood up for him so Jeff challenged me to fight after school. That one was a draw, actually I think we had to stop on account of a passing adult.

      I’ve never ever had another physical fight in my life, and treasure that nonviolence, but man, I still hate bullies with a hot hating passion. Thank you, Principal Nick Barbieri, for the positive reinforcement.

  12. JGabriel says:

    EW, I’ve been thinking about that 38 million audience for McCain’s acceptance speech the other night, and coming to the conclusion that it’s not particularly good news for him.

    Huge numbers of people tuned in for Obama’s speech because they think he might be the next president, and want reassurances that he can be “presidential” – Obama’s supporters, even with their enthusiasm, weren’t enought to make up the entirety, or even the majority, of that audience by themselves.

    Nor were McCain’s supporters enough to make up the majority of his audience. That can only mean a lot of undecideds were tuning in to see… well, what exactly?

    My guess is that they were checking to see if McCain is too old for the job.

    .

  13. BayStateLibrul says:

    I, too, get so frustrated, emotional, and frustrated when my Repug friends don’t get, what is so painfully obvious to me. I worry too, and it makes my head blow up.
    For me to survive, I must just repeat the mantra that they will NEVER get it, no matter how hard we try.

    To Paraphase Isaiah,

    Democratic thoughts are not Repug thoughts, nor are Democatic ways, Repub ways,’ says the common folks.

    I’ll let you finish the statement… forgive me for being uppity.

  14. FrankProbst says:

    I agree with Digby that you can’t predict how this is going to play out, and with Jane that Palin is not to be underestimated. I think Joe Biden’s attack with the best one possible–he pointed out how condescending she was, and he did it in a gender-neutral way (i.e., he didn’t say, “Wow, what a bitch.”).

    With all those caveats in place, here’s my take: Her speech isn’t going to age well, and it IS going to age, because they’re going to keep her out of the spotlight as much as possible, so we’re going to see clips of it over and over again. A trash-talking ex-beauty-queen may seem hip at first, but it’s going to get really old really fast, especially when people hear Joe Biden reminding them that they all know a Sarah Palin in their lives, and the memories aren’t likely to be fond ones.

  15. FrankProbst says:

    You know who I really feel sorry for? Tina Fey. You know the producers of Saturday Night Live took one look and Sarah Palin’s speech and then called Tina up to say, “Your country needs you Tina. We’ve got to have you back on the show.” Now the poor woman is going to have to go back to SNL for two months.

  16. Minnesotachuck says:

    Some semi-random comments.

    First of all, it was not Laura Paluski, nor was it Beryl. It wasn’t even a she. It was Earl Johnson. Also, there was a Beryl and he was one of my best friends. So there!

    I thought Biden’s performance was awesome! A wickedly effective counter to the entire Kabuki performance that took place across the river. I hope he, and other Obama surrogates, repeat that performance across the country.

    As for Palin, I thought John Dean’s piece the other day nailed it: the best way to judge a VP candidate is to imagine how Congress would react if s/he were being appointed to the position via the 25th Amendment. You’d think that the thought of consciously placing her one heartbeat away from the Oval Office today would concentrate the minds of even some people on the GOP side of the aisles. But then again, given the descent of that party in recent years, perhaps not.

    I think someone on an EW thread linked to Dean’s piece previously, but it’s worth a repeat.

  17. PhilTBastid says:

    The one word that springs to mind when I hear her speak is sanctimonious. She thinks it’s OK for her to think she’s better than everyone else, because after all, she *is*, but it’s a no-no for anyone else because they’re not her.

    She falsely hides behind the good aspects of the small town lifestyle (e.g. genuine concern for your neighbers) when she really is a nasty person who will lie to your face if it suits her.

    She is the embodiment of “Oh, I used to have a dress like that. Then my dad got a job.”

    Biden is right to pound that theme. More surrogates should as well. If they keep her away from the press, the “holier than thou” label will become the new conventional wisdom. Force their hand and make her get in the game before she’s ready.

  18. PJEvans says:

    This mornign the LA Times has a story trying to make Palin’s sex-ed stand look better than it is, making it sound liek she and McSame have a big disagreement. They’re saying she wants kids taught about condoms. This doesn’t exactly fit with her known views (or with what’s come out about her family).

    The AP is also trying to push the ‘fully vetted’ meme, even though there are more and more people who are saying that they were never asked about her, including people high in the AK legislature and the GOP there. The worst part of the story I saw was the guy the quoted who said that campaigns need to do a better job checking relatively unknown candidates, is also quoted as saying that she’ll be okay, because she gave a heckuva speech.

    The GOP spin machine has to be working overtime these days.

  19. JGabriel says:

    BillyBugs:

    There is a good reason the McSame campaign is keeping the press away from her,it woulldn,t take long for the public to see her as she really is,book banning science hating ,shill for the oil industry.

    That’s not all. I suspect the GOP knows they’ll probably lose this election. Palin’s being kept in hiding for training, on top of all the other reasons.

    Like her or not, Palin’s attractive (cute), smiles while on the attack, gives off an “Aw, shucks” vibe to people for whome that kind of thing is appealing, and know how to competently deliver a speech. If the Pugs can figure out a way to extend her “likability” from the base to independents and moderates, that’ll give her a teflon coating to deal with her scandals and gaffes.

    In other words, they may be training her to be the next Reagan. That’s why Palin shouldn’t be underestimated.

    .

  20. kspena says:

    My initial reaction is that Biden landed on the soft spot to nail the likes of Palin, the sheer meanness of it all. One of the threads that runs through the crazy right is making a virtue of being ‘redneck’, or ‘white trash’. I heard Glenn Beck declare and defend himself as ‘white trash’ a couple of days ago. It seems to me that attacks on lower class, less education, ruralness, etc. is a winner for them. They rally around the insults and fight back. Striking at the meanness seems to me to thread the needle. Everyone recognizes and is repulsed by the unrelenting ‘brat’.

    • Hmmm says:

      Thankyou thankyou, “brat” is exactly the right idea. Promote the notion “Sarah Palin is a brat.” That should have legs.

  21. wavpeac says:

    We are addicted to money and power. People love the image.

    There is something in the American psych that loves the bully. We idolize the bully. We give the bully power.

    Now, the dems don’t have to be a bully, but they do have to learn the dialectic of power.

    There are postives and negatives. They need to learn the power in of “in your face”, “standing still” and “lunging toward”. And in each position is a power. The dems rhythym is often off on this one. As a therapist it’s like a mental jujitso. Knowing when to lunge, when to stand firm and when to back off.

    The republicans know this rhythym well.

    We need to learn

    I wish Obama had hit back a lot harder…lunged over community organizers. Loudly. It would have dissembled the power in that message. Instead he lunged a little, which is NO lunge at all. It wasn’t about Sarah Palin it was THE republican message.

    I wish Biden had stated less tentativly his desire to hold accountable the bush administration. Louder please. NO fear. Lunge.

    My bully story…ugh…it’s a little embarrassing. When I was in highschool I had two or three serious female bullies who hated me and would corner me in the bathroom. I hated war from before the time of 8 due to the vietname war. I have always felt that violence is over rated.

    Anyway I used this technique three times in my life. I see each of these as an emotional lunge…not a stepping back. A lunge, a holding firm and not backing off. In each case there was a crowd surrounding us. I was cornered. The last time it was a drunk woman at a bar who’s sister used to date the man I was trying to meet IN the bar. Anyway, this last situation was the scariest because she had a reputation for having broken the jaw of another girl. Here is what I did three times in my life. Right or wrong, good or bad it worked all three times. Wouldn’t necessarily apply to foreign affairs but I just refuse to be afraid of dying or pain.

    So I said to the girls in each case: “Go ahead, beat the crap out of me.I’ll go down, you can punch the hell out of me, break my face, scar me up good. I don’t care. I will not fight you. I don’t fear you. If you need to beat me up get it over with.” Well, maybe it’s just the old days or I knew whose bluff I was calling in each case but they all backed down even the drunk girl. I lunged. I had been sitting in the car for 20 minutes but she kept standing there calling me names. It took all I could do to walk up to her and prepare for the blow.

    It’s a strange combination of fighter, non fighter. But I think that’s the kind of dialectic we need. my brain is starting to go in circles.

    Aw crap…I am going outside to play volley ball with my daughter.

    • Hmmm says:

      Your antiviolence technique is brilliant. Bullies use violence only to create fear. By moving past your fear, you disarmed them. Bravo.

    • MarkH says:

      So I said to the girls in each case: “Go ahead, beat the crap out of me. I’ll go down, you can punch the hell out of me, break my face, scar me up good. I don’t care. I will not fight you. I don’t fear you. If you need to beat me up get it over with.”

      As a nation we’re in a situation something like that. With Bush planning to destroy Fannie & Freddy there can be no doubt they’re threatening to destroy the economy to get us to back down and leave them in control. It’s a bully’s tactic.

      We simply have to say that our sovereignty and Freedom is more important than the economy. It’s somewhat like that line from V for Vendetta where they decide Freedom is more important than a building. But, in our case we don’t need to use that kind of violence to make our point. We just need to continue the political fight where ever it takes us and never relent. We’ll achieve more than making the bullies go away.

  22. UrbanGorilla says:

    I’d like to place an order for one Wheeler book bag please. I would be honored to have my 5th grade daughter carry on in the tradition of a person smart enough and true enough to herself to stand up and speak out against foolishness and injustice. You are the sort of example I point to for my children. Thank you!

    And, more to the point, you’re point is exactly valid. There are far more people who have been bullied by a Heather personality than have been that personality (and, in fact, Heathers tend to compete with each other and are mutually exclusive, anyway). The problem is that many of those followers, those hangers on, are exactly as you have pointed out; still stuck in that 6th grade mentality.

    Those people will probably not be reached. That lemming process is too ingrained. I only hope that population of people is the same population that makes up Bush’s 23% approval rating. I think it is because I see the similarity in Palin and Bush that those poor folks are drawn too. The cult of personality, the idea that you too, can be kewl by association and the requisite deriding of anyone not in your clique.

    Perhaps it has always been the case that Politics (being local) was really never more advanced than a 6th grade mentality. That is a sad commentary, but it is looking more and more like you are right. I look forward to more of your commentary.

    Oh, and when is your next book? If I can’t get the book bag, I’ll settle for what goes in one!

  23. klynn says:

    I think what will help in this process is that her “skills” do not translate to an international arena as “effective” for building our economy and in working with our allies. How to walk “that” out without coming off as elitist will be a challenge.

    She has made it clear where she stands on climate change. The world markets are light years ahead of her thinking. Her “I’m right, you are wrong,” attitude about climate change will kill the US corporate base which really needs leadership in this area to compete globally; otherwise, our economy tanks to the lowest low we cannot even imagine right now. Thus, creating the largest security threat ever.

    The point: there are more important issues in life than who wears the coolest jeans…The Dems need to focus and act on the more important issues.

    THIS is the election to stay on issues–it’s a matter of the life of democracy.

    I think a good direction for Dems is to, stay on task while giving her enough rope…

  24. Ishmael says:

    Re Palin as “Heather” – GW Bush was never successfully framed in campaigns by Democrats, even Democrats as talented in campaign skills as Ann Richards as the bullying, nicknaming, hazing, cheerleading, frog-killing, pledge-torturing, legacy-enjoying frat boy that he always was and remains at heart. Somehow, despite all the evidence and the visceral reaction that he must have stirred in everyone that is similar to that Biden and the commenters in this thread have noted, he was the guy you wanted a beer with, or Prince Hal come into his destiny, or even Churchill to the personality cultists. It took more than 5 years for this facade to fall away for all but the 22%. The key will be to make the truth stick to Palin immediately and I dont know quite how to do that.

    • emptywheel says:

      Hate to say it. It’s a sexit world. The male heather–the jock–is more universally admired than the female Heather.

      That’s one of the reasons this is all so unpredictable. All the rules about what works don’t apply to Heathers who happen to have 5 kids.

  25. jdmckay says:

    EW: not sure if you’re applauding Biden or (after reading Digby) cautioning against this kind of stuff.

    Personally, I think his characterization hits the nail on the head and comes of as authentic (not contrived scripting). I still find myself wary of Biden from his bankruptcy bill vote (and surely R’s will hit him hard w/that one: “beholden to the CC companies), but everything I’ve seen and heard from him since the convention is bringing me to trust and applaud his instincts. Your linked video has him saying “The Empress has no clothes” in a very effective manner AFAIC… it communicates and focuses discussion of Palin on the relevant issues. Not to mention he’s got the facts (Palin’s own words) to back them up.

    I particularly liked/appreciated Biden’s comments on AIPAC the other day… long, long overdue (has anyone else on the big stage said this recently?) and very much on target. These guy’s (AIPAC) impact on disastrous (co-opted?) US policy is almost entirely out of avg. US voter’s view… almost heretical. The “we support Israel at any cost” mindset pervades, but the realities of where US tax $ end up in Israel do not. Not to mention Ledeen, Wolfowitz, Pearle, Feith…

    AIPAC is as good a place as any to start exposing this stuff. I applaud Biden for speaking the true poop to this particular sacred Cow. (and I hope Obama is paying attention, ’cause IMO he’s missed the mark on this one and it concerns me somewhat.)

    MarieRoget @ 11:

    More than anything, though, I wish Biden (and HRC) would start hitting candidate McCain in the chops w/the failed Bush economy. Freddie & Fannie go into conservatorship this wknd, I’m betting, early next wk @ the latest.

    Agree completely, and would further hope they’d plot the entire economic fundamentals and severe hazards therein, any one of which could plummet US economy over the edge. How we got here is Republican and all republican… smoke & mirrors defracting fed enabled & sanctioned fraud into various “patriotism” marketing slogans.

    I am continuously amazed here (Albuquerque)… we’ve been hit hard by ARM and associated fallout, but not to extent of Las Vegas/LA/Florida etc. I know a lot of real estate “profesionals” here who simply have no idea what these packaged ARM bonds are, where the fraud factored in, how they were distributed by wall street, and how they’ve affected US & world economy… they just don’t know. They’re still talking (since Feb) about ABQ housing recovery “right around the corner”.

    Same thing from large, local builders (the national ones: Poulty/US Homes etc. have mostly left the state).

    And practically nobody I talk to has a clue that the country is essentially… broke. Funny money has replaced real investment, we’ve lost near a generation of graduating engineers, and the lion’s share of meaningful new emerging technology is coming from elsewhere.

    • emptywheel says:

      I think the criticisms of him for reinforcing the “John as a nice guy” are spot on.

      You’ve said he’s nice. Now cream him.

      But this clip does that.

      So I’m hoping he gets on this message and away from what a nice guy John is (or rather, used to be).

  26. klynn says:

    I don’t judge people for their successes, failures, or their socioeconomic standing. I judge harshly those people who attain their wealth and power by exploiting other people and then pretend that is evidence of their own moral rectitude. The modern Republican party often seems to make that attitude their political position.

    Thank you, WO.

  27. JohnLopresti says:

    Either I was lucky, and the principal swaps out and next school year another status climber is in the corner office, or you discover family has put you in a regional competitive school where you learn to detect the visions of Johanna, while the bookbag’s weight seems more than if you had to work in the financial district as a teen. Cut to chase, the nearest city as a geoeconomic unit where I live is Wasilla size. Used to know one of every three people because of industrial and agrarian economic interties. One rancher got town council permission to subdivide, people who could afford expensive homes moved in, got fiber to the curb. I think a substantial proportion of their children school via commute, as the smalltown district makes good efforts to provide challenge, and to upgrade so those comfortable and bright progeny remain longer in the small city. Traditionally, a Republican part of the county but the town has voted Democratic for successive elections. I suppose I would memorialize the future, or this present, and forget the minutiae; something about the hastily penned words, While money doesn’t talk, it swears. Seems Barack Obama and JoeBiden are a fair offset in this campaign.

  28. rkilowatt says:

    Apropo persons who come out of High School or Prep School and are develop no further in character, as tho their solutions that worked for them as children would be forever fixed… I am trying to find the precision observation of this as quoted in a Geo Orwell [Eric Blair] essay.

      • skdadl says:

        There’s a wonderful Orwell essay called “Boys’ Weeklies …” that may be the source you want, but I’m embarrassed to tell you how many years it’s been since I read it, and without key words, I cannot do much with the Google.

    • rkilowatt says:

      THEORY OF PERMANENT ADOLESCENCE …”Were I to deduce anything from my feelings on leaving Eton, it might be called THE THEORY OF PERMANENT ADOLESCENCE. It is the theory that the experiences undergone by boys at the great public schools are so intense as to dominate their lives and to arrest their development.

      from Orwell’s 1940 essay Inside The Whale; he quotes another writer, Cyril Connelly’s Enemies Of Promise.

      • skdadl says:

        Small detail: Remember Palin’s claim in her speech to have sold the government jet on eBay, the reference to eBay presumably being a kind of soccer/hockey-mom touch? Marc Ambinder says that that depends on what the meaning of the word “sell” is — iow, she tried; she failed; she went to a private broker.

      • Hmmm says:

        A thought condensed in the sayings “Waterloo was won on the playing fields at Eton,” and “England was lost on the playing fields at Eton.”

  29. masaccio says:

    I think it can be very effective, but it has to be repeated. The crowd had to think before they began to see it, and their response was more drawn out, as if understanding were slowly dawning. The more Biden, Obama, and all our surrogates repeat the line, the more we draw the crowd into the memory, and the understanding of the repub tactic.

    The best part is that by making about belts and shoes, it resonates with everyone. For me, it was a winter coat, and maybe because of that, I would replace belts with coats. I think that would be more universal.

    Biden’s story is the opposite of the smart kid/low social skill paradigm that was much more of a problem for a lot of high achievers, WilliamOckham’s freaks and geeks. It focuses on that moment that made it crystal clear to every growing kid that everybody could be attacked regardless of their social or academic standing if they deviated from the social demands of the in-crowd. It opens people to looking directly at their social status today, and realizing that elites, at any level, stay there by disrespecting everybody else, and getting everybody else to accept that they deserve to be disrespected.

    More of that please. Democrats assume that if they say something once, it doesn’t have to be repeated. False. Every single democrat at every level should add that line or something like it to their speeches.

  30. Leen says:

    Biden “It’s not so much what I heard at the Republican convention as much as what I did not hear.” “The silence was deafening, deafening, on Jobs, Health care, the environment”. Biden is right about the Republicans “silence” on Jobs, health care, environment. But at the Democratic National Convention the Democrats “silence” was as deafening as the Republican’s “silence” has been based on ACCOUNTABILITY for the endless lies and false documents used to lie our nation into an unnecessary war. Which many of us know (but the MSM does not) has resulted in tens of thousands of dead, injured and millions of people displaced. The “SILENCE IS DEAFENING”!

    The very least, the very least our Representatives (both Republicans and Democrats” can do for those who have needlessly lost their lives or been permanently injured in this war “based on a pack of lies” is to hold those responsible ACCOUNTABLE. The very least.

    Americans are watching and so is the rest of the world. Break the Silence Biden. Break the Silence on the unneeded war, the outing of Valerie Plame, torture, politicization of the Dept of Justice, illegal wiretapping program etc etc. There are very solid reasons that only 9% of the American public have any faith in congress.

    George Galloway said it best a war “based on a pack of lies”
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_…..556113.stm

  31. Ishmael says:

    Two angles that I think could be exploited about Palin is that of polar bear hater and one who is hostile to children’s interests – she has denied man made global warming and despite her pledge to advocate for special needs children as VP cut funding for such children dramatically. Rick Perlstein has noted that Nixon often used sentimental references to babies and animals in his speeches, and I think this could be turned on Palin, and even more effectively because she is a woman. The GOP is as well aware as the World Wildlife Fund is of the powerful attraction of these polar bears, and as for the cuts to children, when Maragaret Thatcher as Sectetary of Education cut school milk programs in the early 70s, she was Thatcher the Milk Snatcher for years. Some kind of imagery of Palin in a helicopter firing away with high powered rifles at drowning polar bears could be a very effective caricature, which I think is the best way to attack a cartoon.

    • Leen says:

      I think the angle is to turn the Republican’s claims of Palin being a “reformer” willing to take on the “good ole boys in her own party” and throw those claims right back in her face. If she is willing to take a stand right now and say start being a “maverick” y demanding that Karl Rove testify, that the Bush administration should be held accountable for the creation and dissemination of false intelligence, torture etc etc. I would get right behind Sarah. Take those claims of being a “maverick” and stick them right back in her two faces

  32. wavpeac says:

    All we need is the montage: Bush-wmd, Cheney-wmd, condi-mushroom clouds,

    Then end with Mcsame-wmd, and Palin-moose hunter

    That are Bullies.

    The world can see through the insecurity of a bully. Were you a follower or a leader when they picked on you?

    BE THE CHANGE.

  33. rkilowatt says:

    Wouldn’t it be real politic for Obama and McCain to loudy ask the President Bush to immediately offer humanitarian aid to Haitians,Cubans and Dominicans in view of Hurricane Ike? Specifically food, med items, etc? This can be right done now in the interlude between Ike passing Cuba and prior to its next targets of devastation.

  34. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I think you’ve hit the fingernail on the head, and removed Ms. Palin’s from your face. Palin is the girl whose ambitions are the nightmares of every star high school athlete’s mother, the one thing that could keep sons and daughters from reaching their dreams. And she’d do it for spite, because her dreams are about trashing yours.

    Had she done pre-med, sharing a lab with her would doom your chances of becoming a doctor. Had she gone to law school, she’d be the first to read that all important case, then razor its pages from the text. Had she done theater, she would be the understudy from hell, the Eve that Bette Davis’s Margo should warn Aging John about, but won’t.

    Ms. Palin means everything she says, passionately, seductively, but only for about as long as it takes to say it, because we’re all furniture to her, useful only to show off, sit in, and discard when something newer comes along. She’s Eddie Haskel from Podunk High who thinks her zip code is 90210. She doesn’t know what yours is, except that it’s not 90210, and couldn’t care less.

    But this story is really about the choice between Obama and McCain, the top athletics coach versus the all-night crap shooter at Vegas. There’s a moving account in a novel by R.F. Delderfield, paraphrased, that illustrates the choice between them.

    Shortly before the Great War, an English headmaster is traveling on a train with two young students, sharing a stuffy compartment with a tired mother and baby. Heat and motion do their work, the baby throws up. One student, scion of a well-to-do banking family, ignores it all and hides his face in a book he isn’t reading. The other, a scholarship student, wipes baby and mum with his only handkerchief, opens the window, and reads aloud so that mum and baby can rest. The scion grew up to lead his bank, foreclose on the vulnerable and become richer still financing the government’s Great War. The scholarship student scraped through school, the war sent him to the Army instead of Oxford, and he died leading his men over the top. The headmaster retold this story at his retirement dinner, to tell his alums and his successor what he thought his school’s priorities should be, what kind of men they should be making. He left a handkerchief on the table when he’d finished.

    I think that’s McCain vs. Obama, Palin vs. her object of the moment, in a nutshell. If the Goopers want to make this election about character, because they lose on all the issues, let ‘em try it. Unless the Democrats are deaf, dumb and blind, Obama’s character ought to trump McCain’s ambition in a heartbeat.

    • antibanana says:

      “the Eve that Bette Davis’s Margo should warn Aging John about”

      That is pretty much a perfect comparison, in my opinion.

      My very first impression of Palin is that she was play-acting. The forceful, tough executive is just a pose. Has anyone else noted the odd facial expressions she makes?

  35. dcgaffer says:

    ew, I think Biden got it almost exactly right and you explained it.

    I’ve been trying to understand my immediate visceral contempt for Palin. Its certainly not the lies or the lack of substance; heck they have always done that. I now see it was the sneering holier than thou contempt exhibited by every “cool girl” crowd or “top jock” club. My spouse came out of her speech with a favorable impression. I now know how to turn her around in nanoseconds.

    As so often not, it can’t be about McCain & Palin, it has to be about issues. But if you flip their personality tactics on them, we win. Reverse Rove jujitsu.

    • emptywheel says:

      Let me know how it works. mr. emptywheel didn’t get why I was so disgusted by the speech, but then he’s always incredulous when I tell him how stressful teenage pressure can be in this country.

  36. Sara says:

    I think it important where Biden was speaking — Rural PA, one place where you would very likely find voters who are as yet not firmly committed, still in that 7-10% who could got to McCain, or since they are at an Obama/Biden event, stay with the Dem. Ticket.

    Without question there are gender patterned ways of being a bully, and Sarah is a classic. (Note — I am a Sara without an H). Somehow the question has to be driven home — what problems did the “Bully” ever solve that positively benefited you? It is going to take a lot of smart campaign design to get that question front and center, but all Bullies are Bulls in China Shops, they destroy and leave ruins behind in their wake. These can be their targets in Jr. High School who are emotionally vulnerable and never really recover. And it also includes institutions that they are more than willing to destroy for their own ends.

    A little OT — it seems that the National Inquirer has bought the story of the guy who says he had an affair with Sarah, that resulted in a divorce that destroyed his family. A gender flip on the Gennifer Flowers saga apparently, but in this case, a fairly ugly divorce. If so — the opportunity to re-direct toward the “wronged woman” — the victim of Sarah, just might present itself. He is apparently Todd Palin’s former business partner, and an elected Republican Council Member from Palmer Alaska, town next to Wasilla. Seems like a regular Peyton Place there in the North.

  37. JThomason says:

    What a great post and comments. The observation was made several months ago highlighting the underlying social elitism of the Republican party. The story of the social counteracting of the methods of social dominance is the story of progressive political evolution. There is high irony in the fact that the cultural foundation of Constitutionalism, the political foundation of this “Country,” arose of a reaction to religious oppression through the methods of reason and science and Palin’s politics surely play to the baser instinct toward dominance discounting science, shaming human rights and mocking efforts to limit the power of an executive in a Constitutional system. Sound familiar? Not so really far from Bush after all is it? Do you suppose we can be tricked into thinking that it is?

    Its all part and parcel of the movement toward a more and more coercive stratified society–not so far off from the adolescent social instinct now is it? Instructively the Economist reported earlier this Summer that 80% of Russian enlisted personnel had been abusively hazed by superiors in the Russian military. This kind of social organization is logical fruition of the politics of a mocking elitism. Note the the police action in New York and Minneapolis at Republican conventions the last two cycles. Consider this rhetorical proposition: would not the anti-Christ attempt to play this identity upon the other?

    I have not had the luxury of being able to tolerate the cynical scapegoating of Republican politics, always pointing at the other, always projecting the shadow of their own weaknesses cast upon the other. How is McCain in fact a war hero, captured and beaten in a war where American forces fled a foreign country in a conflict maintained by an oligarchy? Where is his strategic brilliance? The surge in a war based on false pretexts? This glory is not the glory of an enlightened Constitutional society. We are only left with the politics of legitimizing our own irrational brutality. The best McCain can do is attempt to control perception ignoring facts unable to distinguish a Hollywood prep school from a military hospital. He is not who he would have you believe he is. I do not begrudge him his dignity but exacting personal triumph in the face of our underlying flawed natures as humans and our attempts at reasonable lives is a high price to pay.

    Others of you understand the nuances of the issues better than I but the Republican trick bag is becoming tediously familiar. Or are we moving deeper into a cultural demonstration of a kind of Stockholm syndrome?

  38. KenMuldrew says:

    In 2002, Karen Hughes famously remarked, “we don’t see there being any penalty from the voters for ignoring the mainstream press.” By taking that course the Republicans basically eliminated the ordinary citizen’s interaction with the Federal Government save for elections.

    Now, with the tack of hermetically sealing off the VP candidate and distributing the message on their terms (and only on their terms!), the Republicans are going to see of there is any penalty for doing the same thing to elections.

    Good for Biden for not taking this kind of crap without a fight. Because, really, if the US loses citizen involvement in elections as well, what’s left?

  39. Middento says:

    She’s a “Heather”?

    Hee, you’re right — but, my goodness, you just referenced a movie! *cheers* I’m so proud…