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Thursday, September 04, 2008

Lies, Contradiction, and the Danger of Pornography in Schools

If the first night of the Republican Convention was almost entirely about the past, last night's coming out party for Sarah Palin was about incoherence and cognitive dissonance. It was an example of just how logically inconsistent Republican messaging has become and just how crazy some Republican talking points are. When you just grab random bits of propaganda and throw them at the wall, you wind up with a hopeless mishmash of fear, hatred, and self-contradiction.

Mitt Romney started the night off with a speech blaming every problem America faces on liberals. He even accused the Supreme Court of liberalism -- a laughable charge after decades of Republican court stacking. "Listening to Mitt Romney address the Republican National Convention, you'd hardly know that Republicans have held the White House 28 of the last 40 years, nominated seven of the nine Supreme Court justices and held Congress for 12 of the last 14 years," writes Carl Leubsdorf for the Dallas Morning News. That was the gist of Mittens' speech; that liberals have been in charge in Washington for years and years and years and Republicans represent change. It was insane.

And when he wasn't living in opposite world, he was trying to get people to worry about problems that don't exist. "Opportunity rises when children are raised in homes and schools that are free from pornography, promiscuity and drugs," Mitt said, "in homes that are blessed with family values and the presence of a father and a mother."

Pornography in schools? This is a problem? Where?

Mitt was followed by Mike Huckabee, who told a rambling, crazy-assed story about how veterans fought and died in wars so that kids would have desks in schools. No one wonders why Mike wasn't the nominee.

Next up was Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle, who argued that John McCain was clearly unqualified to be president.

I think being a mayor, whether in Hawaii or Alaska or anywhere else, is outstanding preparation for higher office.

I find it especially amusing that the other party says Governor Palin lacks experience when their own candidates for president and vice president...have NO executive experience ... ZERO! Neither Senator Obama nor Senator Biden has ever managed a multi- billion dollar budget, or been a chief executive of any city... or state, of any size... or of anything for that matter.

As President Lyndon Johnson said, "When the burdens of the presidency seem unusually heavy, I always remind myself it could be worse. I could be a MAYOR."

All that executive experience that's so damned crucial? Yeah, John McCain doesn't have any of that either. Let me put on my swami turban and predict the future; somewhere down the line, some right wing hack is going to claim that Sarah Palin is going to teach John McCain how to run things.

Having thoroughly discredited John McCain's argument of being the more experienced candidate, Lingle gave up the stage to Rudy Giuliani. It didn't take long for Rudy to stop making sense. His fifth paragraph:

The American people realize this election represents a turning point. It’s the decision to follow one path or the other. We, the people, the citizens of the United States, get to decide our next president, not the left-wing media, not Hollywood celebrities, not anyone else but the people of America.

Hey Rudy, bad news. The "left wing media" and Hollywood celebrities are citizens of the United States. Maybe you missed Fred Thompson the night before. He's both a radio host and a Hollywood celebrity -- ask him to introduce you to Ice-T sometime.

Giuliani also wasted no time dragging out a straw man. "One final point. And how — how dare they question whether Sarah Palin has enough time to spend with her children and be vice president. How dare they do that," Rudy asked in outrage. "When do they ever ask a man that question? When?"

Who the hell are "they?" If he means the Obama campaign -- and clearly he does -- then good luck finding an instance of it. There's enough wrong with Palin that you really don't need to resort to weak-ass talking points worthy of the GOP. Isn't it wonderful how Republicans, after decades of sexist policies and antifeminist rhetoric, are finally worried about sexism? I'd say it was progress, if only it weren't so transparent and obvious and opportunistic. Now, all we need to do is get them a minority candidate and they'll finally start giving a damn about racism.

But it was the big star who really took the night. Sarah Palin, looking and sounding even more like a Sunday school teacher from Sheboygan than she ever has, managed to deliver a speech without walking off the edge of the stage or getting her head stuck in the podium. And, let's face it, that's all she really had to do to please a crowd already sold on her.

She gave a red meat speech riddled with lies -- Barack Obama has authored legislation, for example. His first bill was signed by the president in '06. In fact, he's authored 152 bills. Sarah Palin ought to fit right in with the McCain campaign -- she's a shameless liar.

In all of these contradictory, lying, accusing, and illogical speeches there was no mention of Afghanistan. There wasn't the first night either. In right wing world, Iraq is the only war we're fighting. Afghanistan, almost completely ignored by the current administration, is being ignored by those who want to be the next administration. Iraq, a pointless, stupid, and wasteful war of choice, is the most important war we've ever fought. The war we actually launched in response to 9/11? Not nearly as important as the problem of pornography in schools. Schools where children have no desks because not enough people have died in Iraq yet.

What all of this tells me -- all this logical inconsistency, focus on trivia, lying, and divisiveness -- that the McCain campaign is done with the debating portion of this contest. They've lost that battle and they're closing ranks. Palin's selection wasn't about poaching Hillary voters, it was about shoring up the base. It's Republican voters who are afflicted with cognitive dissonance -- the condition of believing contradictory things. It's Republican voters who cheer a Hollywood celebrity one night, then cheer some idiot railing against Hollywood celebrities the next. It's Republican voters who agree with the argument that a candidate has to have executive experience and ignore the fact that their candidate has none. Republican voters aren't just chumps. They're willing chumps. Buying this crap takes a conscious effort. The base wants to be fooled, because the only thing that they really believe is that liberals are evil. It's Republican voters who'll buy that liberals have been in charge of Washington for the past eight years.

If you want proof of that, if you need me to demonstrate that McCain's going to a Bush-like base-centric campaign, consider his VP choice and consider the effect of that choice.


A new polling analysis from Gallup suggests that John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin may have helped him solidify his support among Republican women -- but it may have also alienated other voters and made the whole thing a wash for now.

Gallup's polling finds that McCain support among Republican women has increased from 85% to 90% in the last few days since Palin's selection. But on the other hand, his numbers have gone down among other groups: He's fallen by four points among independent men and three points with indy women, and is down by five points with Democratic men and two points with Dem women. So Palin hasn't really helped him so far.

"Instead, the data suggest that McCain has in essence fought a rear-guard action of sorts among white women of his own GOP base," the analysis finds, "building their support to a degree even as he was losing support among independents and Democrats of both genders."

The McCain campaign has given up on recruiting more voters to their side and are now gambling that, by firing up the base, they can get enough people to the polls to win. I doubt they can. They'll get a bump, but it won't be converts, it'll be from those who were worried that McCain wasn't far enough right. Those voters will have moved from not voting at all to voting McCain.

For McCain, the election campaign is over. What we're in for is an extended get out the vote campaign.