Rhetoric vs. Reality

I don’t know about you but I’m still spinning like a top after last night’s speech delivered by McCain, coupled with the previous night’s speeches from Guiliani and Palin. Truth be told, I actually fell asleep during the last bit of Palin’s speech, but last night I was so fired up and pissed off, even old geezer McCain couldn’t put me to sleep.

Unfortunately, I am very busy today, so I don’t have much time for my own editorializing but I will rely upon the sound words of a few others to help make my point.

Over the course of the last week, I wondered the following: what is it about the McCain-Palin ticket that actually represents change because I see nothing different. Same story, different faces. And what is it about people that compels them to believe they need to have someone “real” and “like them in office?” This is the highest office in the land, the most powerful position in the WORLD – frankly if there were someone “like me” in office, then I would be scared because I spend most of my time thinking about food, my daughter and celebrity gossip (not in that order). And further, didn’t the people just elect not once, but a horrifying and embarrassing TWO TIMES, a man who they viewed as just “like them” and what has it gotten us? A recession, record high energy prices, high unemployment, millions of uninsured children and oh – a war under false pretenses. So one might wonder, what will it take to learn the lesson of wanting someone “like us” in office? And finally, I have wondered why the republicans play the role of victim, so horribly abused by the “liberal” media because they DARE ask probing questions about the candidates families, meanwhile the candidates parade their children on stage and use them as propaganda and proof that they are just “like them” – at their own convenience. Do they want their cake and to eat it too?

So in review, here are the questions:

1. What about McCain-Palin represents change?

2. Why haven’t people learned that electing someone “like them” is just tom-foolery and political branding at its best? And is that really the smartest thing for our country? And what about McCain and his 7 houses and his wife’s $300K outfit on Monday night, makes them “like us?”

3. Why the double-standard? The media is awful and hateful for asking questions about the candidates families meanwhile the candidates can parade the children around like puppeteers to their own advantage?

So let’s learn a bit more about these questions, shall we?

With regard to the issue of “change,” an editorial in yesterday’s Washington Post points out that McCain has reversed many of the old positions he once held, the very things that earned him the identity of a “maverick” and now is towing the party line like the fairest Republican of them all. For example:

“As Continetti points out, it’s true that McCain worked with Ted Kennedy to reform America’s dysfunctional immigration policy. But during the primaries McCain disavowed the bill they coauthored, caving in to the GOP’s anti-immigration base. Continetti also notes that McCain worked with Tom Daschle on anti-tobacco legislation in the 1990s. But now McCain opposes cigarette tax increases (which he once favored) and won’t commit to supporting a bill giving the FDA the regulatory authority that he and Daschle sought years ago. Another example of McCain’s supposed post-partisanship is his vote with John Kerry against the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, but he now favors extending them and adding huge new regressive tax cuts to the mix. The idea that the Democrats McCain once worked with will remain loyal to him even as he abandons the positions that were the basis of their collaboration is bizarre……A conservative Republican found himself beaten in the 2000 primary by an establishment-backed candidate and then spent years thumbing his nose as the establishment that beat him. But once he realized that this wasn’t a path that led to the White House, he returned to his orthodox roots, literally embracing Bush and working hard to secure his re-election, and re-baptizing himself in the church of tax cuts. McCain’s even gone so far as to hire Tucker Eskew, the hack Republican operative who was in charge of smearing him back in the 2000 South Carolina primary.”

Here is the link to yesterday’s piece if you’d like to learn more:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/09/02/AR2008090201922.html

With regard to the issue of wanting someone in office who is “like them,” Judith Warner has a great blog on today’s NYT page, and among the many stellar points she makes, here is what she has to say about our second topic of the day:

“The “real” “authentic,” small-town “Everyday People,” of Hockey Moms and Blue Collar Dads whom even Rudolph Giuliani now invokes as an antidote to the cosmopolite Obamas and their backers in the liberal media. (Remind me please, once again, what was the name of the small town where Rudy grew up?)

Why does this woman – who to some of us seems as fake as they can come, with her delicate infant son hauled out night after night under the klieg lights and her pregnant teenage daughter shamelessly instrumentalized for political purposes — deserve, to a unique extent among political women, to rank as so “real”?

Because the Republicans, very clearly, believe that real people are idiots. This disdain for their smarts shows up in the whole way they’ve cast this race now, turning a contest over economic and foreign policy into a culture war of the Real vs. the Elites. It’s a smoke and mirrors game aimed at diverting attention from the fact that the party’s tax policies have helped create an elite that’s more distant from “the people” than ever before. And from the fact that the party’s dogged allegiance to up-by-your-bootstraps individualism — an individualism exemplified by Palin, the frontierswoman who somehow has managed to “balance” five children and her political career with no need for support — is leading to a culture-wide crack-up.

Real people, the kind of people who will like and identify with Palin, they clearly believe, are smart, but not too smart, and don’t talk too well, dropping their “g”s, for example, and putting tough concepts like “vice president” in quotation marks. ”

If you’d like to read all of Warner’s piece, here is the link: http://warner.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/09/04/the-mirrored-ceiling/?em

And finally, to the double-standard of using family members as puppets and then criticizing the media for being invasive, Ted Anthony had an AP story out yesterday which I will copy and paste below in its entirety:

Analysis: GOP contradicts self on Palin family

By TED ANTHONY
AP National Writer

Posted: Thursday, Sep. 04, 2008

ST. PAUL, Minn. People: Make up your minds.

For two days, the chorus from Republicans on TV news and in the halls of the convention has been resounding: Back off and let the Palin family be. “That’s out of bounds,” said Minnesota’s Republican governor, Tim Pawlenty. “There’s no need to be intrusive and pry into that.”

Yet Wednesday found the following scenes unfolding:

-Sarah Palin’s pregnant, unmarried 17-year-old daughter and probable future son-in-law stood in a nationally televised, politically packaged airport receiving line to meet and greet the Republican candidate for president.

-The extremely cute and bubbly Piper Palin, 7, made her debut on her mother’s behalf, appearing in a video on John McCain’s daughter’s blog. “Vote for my mommy and John McCain,” she said, giggling as Meghan McCain grinned.

-Bristol Palin and her 18-year-old boyfriend, Levi Johnston, sat and held hands as they watched the Alaska governor deliver an acceptance speech that, in its opening minutes, focused heavily on her family and children. Later, the family – including Johnston – ascended the stage, basked in an extended ovation and waved.

Huh? The Republican message about the Palin offspring comes across as contradictory: Hey, media, leave those kids alone – so we can use them as we see fit.

If you doubt this scenario, consider this: On Wednesday morning, a teenage boy from Alaska stood in a receiving line on an airport tarmac, being glad-handed by the potential next president of the United States – because he got his girlfriend pregnant. TV cameras were lined up in advance. The mind boggles.

“Either the children are out of bounds, and you don’t put them in the photo ops, or you don’t complain when somebody wants to talk about them. You can’t have it both ways,” said John Matviko, a professor at West Liberty State College in West Virginia and editor of “The American President in Popular Culture.”

“Right now, it looks like they’re being used by the campaign more than the media are using them,” he said.

Though candidates for national office, and those close to them, are under more intense scrutiny than ever before in the American information culture, there is more to this situation than simple celebrity chasing.

These are two young people trying to figure out what to do in a difficult personal situation. The global scrutiny of it is a teenager’s worst nightmare, and under normal circumstances they would be allowed to find their way unbothered.

But one big obstacle stands in their way: Sarah Palin the candidate.

Yes, she has asked the media to “respect our daughter and Levi’s privacy as has always been the tradition.” Yet Palin has packaged herself as a PTA member and “hockey mom” – culturally loaded terms calibrated to evoke appealing images of middle America, the middle class, exurbia and strong 21st-century family values.

“Our family has the same ups and downs as any other, the same challenges and the same joys,” she said, one of many general and specific references to her family in her speech.

Using one’s relatives as accessories in the political arena can have its pitfalls, despite McCain’s remark to ABC News on Wednesday that Palin has “got an incredible resume, including a beautiful family.” Candidates open themselves to charges of hypocrisy if they demand the ability to boast but reject the attention that can ensue when the road gets rougher.

McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds, however, takes issue with that conclusion. He says both positions are possible.

“There’s a long-standing precedent of children of the candidates being in the public eye as members of families involved in public service,” Bounds said Wednesday night. “There is also a long-standing precedent of candidates’ children being left out of the hardball politics of campaigning for higher office.”

Barack Obama said flatly that the Palin kids should be “off limits,” but he has engaged in the same thing – though to a lesser extent.

In July, he and his wife, Michelle, appeared on a four-part “Access Hollywood” interview with daughters Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7. Obama later expressed regret about his decision to put them forward, saying, “I don’t think it’s healthy, and it’s something that we’ll be avoiding in the future.”

Nevertheless, the Obama girls have made other appearances. They stepped on stage twice at the Democratic National Convention last week – once to talk to their father via video hookup after their mother’s speech, and again after Obama accepted the nomination during the convention’s climactic moment.

Let’s remember one thing, though: Behind all the political machines and maneuverings, these contenders for the country’s highest office are human beings and parents. And a parent is no more infallible than a candidate.

On her blog Monday, Meghan McCain expressed solidarity with the Palin kids, saying she understood the things they were grappling with. “It’s a rough go being the son or daughter of a politician,” she wrote. “You can’t fully understand it unless you have lived it.”

The road is bumpy for sure, and the media probably aren’t helping. Sadly, though, the candidates themselves aren’t doing much to make things better, either.”

Let’s see how brilliantly the Republicans can perpetuate this campaign of nonsense from now through election day. I, for one, am not fooled.

Good weekends, kittens.

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