The ‘Stop Making Sense’ Campaign Just Did
“Never mistake motion for action.”
– Ernest Hemingway
In one of the topsy-turvy, fun-house-mirror aspects of this election, the hypothetically conservative Palin-McCain bid for the White House is being run as the most post-rational, incoherent, chaotic, image-driven, short attention span, non-factual, theatrical, emotional, ‘truthiness’-spewing political campaign in our history, worthy of the amorphous meanderings of a liberal French deconstructionist or a parody of reactionary outrage by Stephen Colbert.
Sure, we know that the Bush neocons like to create their own reality and let the rest of us catch up but, eventually, as has happened to King Junior, reality does come thundering down — as it has in Iraq, in Katrina, in our economy — where it can’t be ignored anymore, but the wildly lurching Palin-McCain extravaganza has decided to tempt fate and test the limits of the public gag reflex one more time by resurrecting every sordid, dishonest battering of reason and civility that Atwater and Rove have ever dreamed up.
Like the TV show “Seinfeld,” it is really a campaign about nothing: McCain’s economic policies – cut taxes and wait for a miracle – are a sour joke that we are feeling the punch line to as BushCo asks for a $700 billion bailout for trying the same thing; McCain’s phony Surge – which was really mostly just bribing the warlords to keep quiet — has worked successfully to keep our combat forces tied down in Iraq with no end in sight; his health care proposals will actually cost middle-class families more money for health insurance, and on and on it goes. Slip the rug out from under the rubes and call it real conservatism while you soften the fall of your rich cronies with golden parachutes – McCain should more accurately use the campaign slogan, ‘Country Club First.’
That McCain, a man who once campaigned against the interference of religion in secular politics, signed on as his Veep pick a born-again Christian zealot who knows more about the Rapture than she does the world she lives in and wears her narrow-minded ignorance and screwball religious beliefs as a badge of pride, to cynically solidify his hold on what remains of the Republican base says more about the current corrupt state of his character than five years in a POW camp in North Vietnam thirty-five years ago.
So, this is the shell game McCain and Palin are running: It’s not about what he or she would do as president or vice president – that’s archaic thinking — but rather the two-word message and the photo-op – McCain putting ‘Country First’ by suspending his campaign, yet still airing ads and keeping his campaign offices open, and jetting to Washington to appear for the cameras as if he’s already president, supposedly to deal with our economic crisis that he helped create and still doesn’t fully understand. That he just sat on his hands with no real authority is a reality trumped by the man-in-motion image – or so his Rove-trained advisors hope. There’s Palin, now appearing in several interviews and displaying her keen memory for brief neocon clichés and homey aphorisms provided by her handlers, but little grasp of what she’s babbling about, culminating in the low spot of her performance thus far, appearing in frothy TV talk-show spots with Hamid Karzai, Bush’s installed president of Afghanistan; a bulbous and lethargic Henry Kissinger, and a bemused President Alvaro Uribe of Colombia, wondering if this insipid woman will help him get more foreign aid if he cooperates. She discussed babies with Karzai, emitted vacuous platitudes with Uribe, and flattered Kissinger’s obese ego in his blubbery senility. (Perhaps, for a fleeting moment, he thought he was dating Jill St. John again.) She increased her knowledge not one iota, but she ‘knows’ world leaders – see we have pictures!