Saturday, September 06, 2008

Guest Blog: Rod Richards on Sarah Palin

This blog entry was written by my husband, Rod Richards. He wrote it after Sarah Palin gave her speech at the RNC.

Enough Already:Palin Comparison

Well, Sarah Palin just finished her speech at the Republican Convention in St. Paul and, in a cliche that will be used endlessly by the news commentators over the next few days, she "hit it out of the park."

She really did.

Much as it pains me to admit it, and much as I disagreed with all of her positions on the issues of the day, she gave an awesome, fierce and fiery presentation. Someone (I wonder who worked on this) crafted a brilliant speech and she performed it almost flawlessly.

Ironically, she followed in the already-well-worn path of the McCain campaign by poking fun at Obama's rhetorical abilities (form without substance), but she's gotta know that it is her own abilities in this area that have saved the McCain campaign to fight another day (and quite possibly even win the freakin' election, he said with a shudder.)

The other irony was that she lambasted Obama for his "bitter" comment (though she never actually quoted it). I give you the quote to which she was referring:

"You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton Administration, and the Bush Administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not."

"And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

I quote it here to point out the irony because, while Sarah Palin made fun of this quote and elicited a huge roar from the crowd when she did so, the whole of her speech proved Obama one hundred percent correct. She provided a voice for the bitter but, rather than pointing to the real problems, she gave them the solutions that Obama noted above, most especially "antipathy to people who aren't like them."

She talked about McCain working for "you," the people, but it was a little hard to tell who that "you" included, outside of her family and a guy who was in the prison camp with McCain.

I don't have a transcript of the speech yet, but it is safe to say that she was not including any of the big "elites" (Washington, Eastern, media, liberal); she was not including "special interests" (and we can only guess what she would include in that category); she was not including those wussy "community organizers" (who are not "responsible" for anything). The "you" she kept referring to was increasingly defined by who "you" are not.

A few speakers throughout the night made a big deal about never hearing the phrase "Islamic terrorism" at the Democratic Convention. Giuliani, of course, wanted to hear about 9/11, when he actually was hailed as a hero for a few days until everyone came back to their senses and realized he was just the slimeball who happened to be mayor at the time. Palin wondered why "victory" was never mentioned when Obama talked about the war in Iraq. Now I'm no Alaskan governor, and I've never even been on the PTA, but let me suggest to the Republicans that when they use the term "victory," they also may want to actually define what the hell that means.

You see, Palin spoke to the bitterness that Obama named, but she ironically offered only empty-yet-heady rhetoric. She gave them pride in being Americans and for....hmmm, what exactly? She gave them pride in hating those nasty Al Qaeda members, while the Democrats were only concerned with reading these terrorists their rights. She gave them pride in wanting to drill for more oil (and this will change their lives how?...I mean, seriously, not rhetorically). She gave them pride in their bitterness and invited them to turn their venom on those who might actually see it for what it is; those who might want to work on the real and difficult cures for that bitterness, rather than offering the immediately satisfying fix of blind patriotism and/or false religion.

There, I said it. False religion.

There are so many levels of hypocrisy on display that it's hard to know where to begin, but I guess the one that really sticks in my proverbial craw about the Republicans is their cynical and careless use of Christianity, and I find it sad that so many sincere Evangelicals seem to be drinking this hypocrisy down like communion wine. I find it chilling that they can purport to be followers of the Ten Commandments ("Thou shalt have no other Gods before me") and yet engage in frenzied cheers of "Country First!" I find it unforgivable that they can claim the Hebrew Prophets in their Scriptures, and yet not mention "poverty" one single time! I find it, frankly, sacreligious (by their own standards) that those who profess to believe along with Paul that "there is no distinction since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" have no problem finding evil ever and always and only out there or over there (never right here or inside ourselves). They then proclaim that they can, once and for all, defeat evil. Interesting theology, but it ain't Christianity.

Now, believe me, I'm not saying that Obama is some kind of saint, but I feel a distinct difference in the purpose of his rhetoric as opposed to what I heard from Palin. He seems to be inviting people to participate in this almost-destroyed democracy before it's too late, or maybe more accurately that's how I feel that the people who are excited about Obama are interpreting his rhetoric. Palin seems to be calling people to continue hating and fearing all the same old bogey-men so that they can at least feel a little better about the sad situations that they find themselves in within this "greatest nation in all of human history" (as Mitt Romney called it).

So yeah, she hit it out of the park, but after the Bush/Cheney doubleheader I'm just tired of the whole damned game. McCain has been reported as saying that he would rather lose an election than lose the war in Iraq. I believe that once we've gone to war we've already lost...but I call on the American people to help make the first part of McCain's wish come true. He'd rather lose an election...let him hold onto his integrity.

As for Sarah Palin, she said, with all of the bitterness that she could channel from the crowd, that "This world of threats and dangers is not just a community, and it doesn't just need an organizer." But community is not a dirty word to most of us, and, further, this world is a global community, for better or worse. If it is also a world of threats and dangers, it may be because we do not treat it as a human community even across national boundaries, religious differences, and competing interests.

"We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality," said Martin Luther King, "tied in a single garment of destiny."

I know, I know, just a bunch of words. But those are the kind of words that can heal, not harm; that can help, not hinder. These are the kind of words that call one to approach the world with the humility and compassion that real religion requires and inspires. God save us all if we don't heed them.

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