Friday, September 05, 2008
I've never looooooved Barack Obama during this long campaign season. In fact, I rather disliked him during his primary contests against Hillary. (One debate moment stood out in my mind, when Hillary angrily said something like, "You've been talking about change, but I've been WORKING for change for 35 years!" Amen, Sister. Same thing when Hillary made the point during a press conference that both she and John McCain had experience, but Obama had... a speech he made in 2002.)
After Obama won the contest, I was convinced I was going to vote for him. I'd heard silly reports on the news that "feminists" were "disgruntled" and were going to go over to McCain's side because they felt that Hillary had been disrespected. I never felt that she had been disrespected. I did feel the loss was IFFY---Close as it was, for instance, had it been 1984, the Party Regulars would have wrangled the Super Delegate votes for Hillary, and she would have been the nominee. (In '84, Gary Hart won late big-delegate contests like California; he could have been a contender had not the party tamped him down.)
Though I'm a Hillary fan, I was still ready to get on the Obama Bandwagon, especially after last week's convention spectacle. Obama's speech, in particular, was more than "just" a spectacle. I listened aptly. I got chills. Yes, things DO need to change...
And then came the following week's announcement of Sarah Palin as John McCain's vice presidential nominee... Upon first attention, I thought, "I absolutely hate this 'hockey mom' shit. She's just another Dan Quayle. What in the hell was John McCain thinking?" And I hated even worse what I thought was going to be the inane focus on family: "She's a mom! With a SPECIAL NEEDS child!" And then came the pregnant daughter news, which made me recoil even more: "This is a fucking white trash nightmare---how much worse can you get? A retarded kid AND a knocked-up teenager? Jesus H. Christ, I do NOT want to have to listen to her cutesy 'And here are my kids Trig, Trap, Snatch, Patch, Snig, Snog, and Boogely' for the next 2 months!"
Luckily, her speech Thursday night at the Republican Convention wasn't cutesy or stupid for more than, oh, 30 seconds or so. After the "My husband is World Champion of...glkfhlsjkhdflk," (what the fuck? snow-mobiling or something?), she got into her main points: "Barack Obama authored 2 memoirs, but never a single piece of legislation." And the fact that, even as mayor of a tiny town in Alaska (Wasilla, 9,000), she still had to make more actual decisions than Obama ever had to make. (She also wondered aloud what exactly a "community organizer" did. I watched an MSNBC doc on Obama that touted his "community organizing" skills. From what I garnered from the program, his sole accomplishment was that he called attention to asbestos in one apartment complex. And then when it took 3 years to get the problem fixed, he got discouraged and decided to go back to law school.)
Listening to Palin's speech made me embarrassed for both Barack Obama and myself (for supporting him). The guy voted "Present" (rather than "Yea" or "Nay") an embarrassing number of times while both in the Illinois State Senate and in the US Senate. Obviously trying to protect himself and avoid any clear-cut stance that would come to haunt him in a later campaign. As the attack-dog Giuliani also pointed out in his speech Thursday, an executive has to be able to make tough decisions. Voting "Present" to protect one's political hide and appease potential voters isn't anywhere near good or bold enough.
In short, listening to Palin made me understand that the woman was hands-on INVOLVED in her community. She'd grown up there. She became a member of the town's PTA, tried for the city council, tried for mayor... Later tried for governor of the entire state.
What, on the other hand, did Obama ever do for his community? Travelled briefly through the "South Side of Chicago" before deciding to ditch the struggle and go to Harvard? (Then, after Harvard, upon coming back to Chicago, he won his State Senate seat by getting his opponent---a black woman, a supposed friend and mentor of his, and a longtime member of the community---kicked off the ballot on a technicality.)
Barack Obama has not earned a thing. (He has, on the other hand, FINAGLED and talked his way into quite a few things.) Hillary tried to argue this point, but she was hampered by the fact that she herself had only come to prominence as a result of her husband.
Sarah Palin, brief as her career thus far has been, is a self-made woman. And her arguments for John McCain (and watching McCain's convention speech tonight) made me re-evaluate what I thought was my solid support for a Democrat (any Democrat) this year.
Aside from McCain's unmatched physical service to our country, he actually does also have a long legislative history as a senator, working with Democrats Feingold and Lieberman, among others, on issues of campaign finance reform, immigration reform, judicial reform. He didn't always get his way, but the man TRIED, in an ongoing nonpartisan way. Not in "sexy" fields assured to garner press attention, but rather, for the sake of good government.
It took Palin and her convention speech to shake me out of my "of course I'm voting for Obama, I've always voted Democrat" lethargy and to make me THINK for a second.
(My old friend Ginny, who loved Heart, would also love the fact that the Republicans played "Barracuda" at their convention, in honor of Palin. Hi, Gin!) :)