Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Sarah Palin: The Art of Mockery

I felt obligated to watch a part of the Republican convention last night. After all, it's hardly fair to disagree with arguments you haven't even heard. Frankly, I heard little in the way of ideas and issues. The prevailing tone I picked up on was one of mockery of the ideas of others, and of their service, which contrasted to the Republicans' discredit, I thought, with the respect with which Obama seems to have insisted on in speaking of McCain, Palin and their supporters. I watched Joe Biden's commentary on the Palin speech this morning, and he spoke of her with nothing but respect and admiration for her skills. His criticism was restricted to the omissions from her speech--such things as health care and the economic plight of the American middle class--which the Obama camp considers to be the real issues facing the nation. He also drew attention to the more obvious rhetorical inaccuracies, specifically her unjustified... well, false assertions about the Democratic ticket's tax proposals. Fair enough to point to where the speech fell short. But mockery? The minimalization of Obama's career to a period of community work (bravo for him!) twenty years ago? This, to my mind, was empty rhetoric and spoke ill of those who indulged in it.

As for Sarah Palin, I received a copy, yesterday, of the letter I attach below. It presents a different view of her than that which she put out last night. Generally speaking, I don't like negative screeds, but it does seem important to take a good look at the presumptive Republican vice president, and this letter, despite its obvious passion, steers mostly clear of the personal attack ("redneck," perhaps, is an exception!) No question but that it's an opinion piece. But it's well-written, I'd say, and well-informed, coming from a faculty member at the American University in Washington DC. I checked out the writer, Joyce L. Francis, to be sure that I was not simply promulgating scuttlebutt. It's written as a caution to Dr. Francis's Stanford University classmates whose possible loyalties to Hillary Clinton and the progress of women in politics might lead them to be taken in by the McCain/Palin rhetoric. It's worth a read, and I offer it as such. No one has to agree with her argument, but it comes from what appears to be a genuine, intelligent and thoughtful source.

Dear Classmates,

As an Alaskan, I am writing to give all of you some information on Sarah Palin, Senator McCain's choice for VP. As an Alaska voter, I know more than most of you about her and, frankly, I am horrified that he picked her.

The most accurate description of her is redneck. Her husband works in the oil fields of Prudhoe Bay and races snow mobiles. She is a life time member of the NRA and has worked tirelessly to allow indiscriminate hunting of wildlife in Alaska, particularly wolves and bears. She has spent millions of Alaska state dollars on aerial hunting of these predators from helicopters and airplanes, dollars that should have been spent, for example, on Alaska's failing school system. We have the lowest rate of high school graduation in the country. Not all of you may think aerial predator hunting is so bad, but how anyone (other than Alaska wolf-haters, of which there are many, most without teeth), could think this use of funds is appropriate is beyond me. If you want to know more about the aerial hunting travesty, let me know and I will send some links to informative web sites.

She has been a strong supporter of increased use of fossil fuels, yet the McCain campaign has the nerve to say she has "green" policies. The only thing green about Sarah Palin is her lack of experience. She has consistently supported drilling in ANWR, use of coal-burning power plants (as I write this, a new coal plant is being built in her home town of Wasilla), strip mining, and almost anything else that will unnecessarily exploit the diminishing resources of Alaska and destroy its environment.

Prior to her one year as governor of Alaska, she was mayor of Wasilla, a small red neck town outside Anchorage. The average maximum education level of parents of junior high school kids in Wasilla is 10th grade. Unfortunately, I have to go to Wasilla every week to get groceries and other supplies, so I have continual contact with the people who put Palin in office in the first place. I know what I'm talking about.

These people don't have a concept of the world around them or of the serious issues facing the US. Furthermore, they don't care. So long as they can go out and hunt their moose every fall, kill wolves and bears and drive their snow mobiles and ATVs through every corner of the wilderness, they're happy. I wish I were exaggerating.

Sarah Palin is currently involved in a political corruption scandal. She fired an individual in law enforcement here because she didn't like how he treated one of her relatives during a divorce. The man's performance and ability weren't considered; it was a totally personal firing and is currently under investigation. While the issue isn't close to the scandal of Ted Steven's corruption, it shows that Palin isn't "squeaky clean" and causes me to think there ay be more issues that could come to light. Clearly McCain doesn't care.

When you line Palin up with Biden, the comparison would be laughable if it weren't so serious. Sarah Palin knows nothing of economics (admittedly a weak area for McCain), or of international affairs, knows nothing of national government, Social Security, unemployment, health care systems - you name it. The idea of her meeting with heads of foreign governments around the world truly frightens me.

In an increasingly dangerous world, with the economy in shambles in the US, Sarah Palin is uniquely UNqualified to be vice president. John McCain is not a young man. Should something happen to him such that the vice president had to step in, it would destroy our country and possibly the world to have someone as inexperienced and inappropriate as Sarah Palin. The choice of Palin is a cheap shot by McCain to try to get Hillary supporters to vote for him. when McCain introduced her today, Palin had the nerve to compare herself with Hillary and Geraldine Ferraro. Sarah Palin, you are no Hillary Clinton.

To those of you who, like me, supported Hilary and were upset that she did not get the nomination, please don't think that Sarah Palin is a worthy substitute. If you supported Hillary, regardless of what you think the media and the democratic party may have done to undermine her campaign, the person to support now is Obama, not Sarah Palin. To those of you who are independent or undecided, don't let the choice of Palin sway you in favor of McCain. Choosing her shows how unqualified McCain is to be president. To those of you who are conservative, I guess you have no choice for president. But please try to see how the poor choice of Palin tells us a great deal about McCain's judgment.

While the political posturing inherent in the choice of Palin is obvious, the more serious issue is the fact that the VP is, literally, a heartbeat away from the presidency. Sarah Palin is totally and unequivocally unqualified to be vice president, let alone president.

I know this is a lengthy and emotional email, but the stakes are high. I thought it might help for all of you, regardless of political affiliation, to know something about Palin from someone who has to live with her administration in Alaska on a daily basis.

Joyce L. Francis, Ph.D.
International Development Program
School of International Service, American University

Okay, make what you will of this one. No matter the political stuff, I send metta for her happiness, and goodwill to those Republicans at their convention. And that's hard!


thailandchani said...

Interesting! I wrote about Sarah Palin this morning, too.. but without all these facts to back it up. :) It was just instinct about her.

It is hard to send metta to people like that - but probably more necessary now than any other time.


John Torcello said...

Notes I recently took from an article appearing in TriCycle (online) entitled:

Election Returns:
The Politics of Karma, the Karma of Politics
By RJ Eskow

Politics is about Battle
- the craft of ideas expressed through the spoken and written word -
It is a rough old trade

The most important thing to remember if you want to act in the political sphere is to quiet the mind and open the heart
trying not to fall prey to adopting mindlessness
trying not to forego mindfulness

Don't try to elevate yourself by criticizing others
just because you think you're right doesn't make them wrong

The only thing worth hating is hate itself the first person that gets happy when you forgive your enemy is you

Don't get down on yourself if you're not interested in being socially engaged
If you're actions and interests, that entity you call ‘self' only serves that entity, it shows.
If your definition of self includes society, you'll help society.
If your definition includes the universe, that will reveal itself too

I begin my work with the Obama campaign tonight...

Carly said...

OK, P, how's this for staying with your theme?

re: the soccer mom with the less than mediocre mind

Before one asks is this the best America can do? One should note that's what has been done.

The content of the letter by Joyce Francis, is easy to accept, because it jibes effortlessly with a smart person's perception of SP speaking - a certain arrogance, gall, guile, ambition, and pettiness of someone who can't think straight.

One of the particularly revealing petty attacks SP made was about some columns being sent back to a props lot that were used for an Obama speech. Today, it's reported that the Repub convention stage is being entirely reworked to effect a town hall.

What's supremely dangerous about SP is, she's clueless. If Mcain dies, something even worse than Bush could happen.

We, who want change should study the faces in the close-ups of the people applauding on the floor of the Rep convention. They reveal a mindset of mind boggling proportions, millions of robotic humans. These Americans know no tough lessons. They are like spoiled children.

I think things could get worse in this bitter divide. Brace yourselves, because sending metta is like praying for a miracle. Like prayer, sending metta over time and space is probably only an idea, for one can only influence reality by the weight of one's character. Even then, it is difficult to influence "pigs and fish and lemmings". And It's probably as bad for one with no contact to such people to mentally connect oneself to their throng in a hopeful way as it is to attach oneself by hating. Therefore, when it comes to mass ignorance with power, like happened in pre-nazi Germany, I'm going with watchful and cautious perseverance.

Cardozo said...

A thought I had today:

When you look at their actual job experience, Sarah Palin doesn't seem to be significantly less qualified than Obama for the presidency.

Obama's grassroots organizing and state senate experience doesn't give him a lot of foreign policy credentials.

For me, it comes down to a matter of character and knowledge. Having read Obama's books and policy proposals and listened to his speeches, I feel confident in his ability to lead.

As Obama himself has said, being ready to lead boils down to more than just experience.

PeterAtLarge said...

Chani, I hope that there are many who will read your own good words this morning. As the ads keep saying: Sharp!

John, thank you. And good luck with the campaign work! Thanks for doing it.

Carly, always good to hear your voice. I had the same reaction to those faces in the crowd, and send them metta with circumspection and detachment. By sending out wishes for their happiness, my intention is for them to accrue some wisdom, too--without which happiness is no more than delusion.

Cardozo, true enough, if you don't take the most recent history into account. I'd suggest that Obama's extraordinarily successful management of a months-long, multi-million dollar political campaign and his triumph over those far more "experienced" than himself is ample evidence of executive skills--skills that he continues, demonstrably, to hone.

Anonymous said...

I have not been able to bring myself to watch the RNC. Although I feel as though I should. I keeep waiting to hear something, anything laudable about Palin. But so far, nothing.

MandT said...

Admittedly wicked, I was hoping for a bucket of blood 'Carrie' style to type cast Palin's true nature. Her beauty queen rambo zeitgeist is arrived.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I received that piece as an email, too as well as another, less emotional one written by Anne Kilkenny who has known Palin since 1992. It appeared in
"The Washington Independent" August 31, 2008 issue. I think it's well worth the few minutes it will take to read it.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

The link didn't all copy in my other comment. I hope this one does.

It didn't. Please add after 3671 the following: /the-reform-candidate