The spectacle in Minneapolis is generating lots of interesting e-mail from philosophers. I'll share a few items here.
The Palin nomination has unleashed a tidal wave of hypocrisy from the hypocrites who know no limits on the right, as Jon Stewart notes.
Senator McCain's speech last night was awful, even quite apart from its absurd content (a Republican who almost always votes with George W. Bush has become the agent of 'change'): as has been remarked before, the man apparently can't read a teleprompter. Which reminds me: we've heard lots about 'experience' lately, not much about smarts, and perhaps that's because the Republican ticket may be one of the dumbest in history, with the guy who graduated at the bottom of his class from the Naval Academy and the gal who attended five colleges over six years before finally graduating with a communications/journalism major at the University of Idaho. Don't get me wrong: I'm sure there are some intelligent communications/journalism graduates of the University of Idaho, but I'm pretty confident they didn't have to transfer in and out of nearly a half-dozen colleges in as many years before earning the sheepskin in Idaho. Maybe this has something to do with why the McCain campaign is hiding Palin from the media, lest she have to answer questions without a script? (Maybe they might ask her about what her old friends have to say about her?) As I remarked once before, there is no bottom to dumb, and this ticket sets new standards for dumbness. Of course, that issue can't be broached in public, and for obvious reasons.
But it's not just the stupidity, it's the venality of this pair--the war-monger prone to temper tantrums and the ignorant yahoo who buys into every delusion of the fundamentalist right--that's really alarming. A colleague from a leading American law school writes giving apt expression to this, after listening to Governor Palin's speech on Wednesday night and its reception among the diehards:
I heard some of the 'Republicans' on the radio last night and it was horrific. Only twice have I heard anything so blood-curdling: First, on viewing Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph des Willens while an undergraduate. And second, on listening to a radio broadcast of an old tape of a Jim Jones sermon in 'Jonestown' Guyana. These people - Romney, Huckleberry, Giuliani, Palin - are so unbelievably depraved it doesn't even feel remotely like America any longer. Even Bush and Cheney seem almost quaintly familiar by comparison.
Why is someone's having set up job-training and college-prep training courses for inner city poor folk before attending law school worthy of mockery? In what way is this less noble than reporting on hockey games as a sports announcer on a local television affiliate? I don't know how anyone could have listened to this ugly revelry last night and not felt deep, deep shame and dread.
The Republicans last night also took evident relish in comparing Perky Palin's executive experience as a dinkytown mayor and novice governor to Obama's and Biden's merely legislative experience as US Senators (and of course Obama's years as an Illinois state senator before that). Notably missing in this hoot-fest was any reference to that other legislator in the race, McCain. Here then is a question for the Republicans: Why isn't Perky Palin heading their ticket, with McCain in the veep slot? Is it 'sexism?'
Here's another question: Why does no one speak of the Keating Five any longer? Or about the fact that McCain was nothing but a drunken yob at the Naval Academy, finishing at the bottom of his class and doing absolutely nothing 'heroic' or even vaguely admirable in the military apart from staying in his cage once he got shot down? In what sense is this ugly, ugly man a 'hero' or a 'reformer?'
It will admittedly 'spoil the brand' if Obama has to start fighting. And besides, the 'independents' will be *really* frightened if they see a black man looking angry. But this is all the more reason, I think, for the rest of us to take the gloves off.
Here's one other thing: Perky Palin's 'official biographer' said something on the radio the other day (it might have been on Amy Goodman's program but I can't remember) about how Perky left the Catholic Church because she found Evangelicalism 'more meaningful.' Given the number of conservative Catholics who it's said voted for Reagan and then for Bush, perhaps somebody ought to be asking Palin to 'come clean with the American people about her anti-Catholic bigotry.' I'm a bit more hesitant about this than about Keating Five, etc., in that making politics of religion is especially disgusting. But if these brownshirts begin to gain any traction, I think just about anything necessary, or anything legal, will have to be done to stop them.
- A few days ago I was tempted to say that Perky Palin was Dan Quayle in go-go boots. But after hearing that horrifying rubbish last night I think we're faced with something much more sinister.
Speaking of brownshirts, the political police have been operating full force around the convention, rounding up protesters, journalists, and anyone in their path: lots of details here, here, and here.
Meanwhile, dear readers, let me assure you that this week has been atypical: I am not resuming political blogging, but it's been a slow week for philosophy news, and a big week for ugly political spectacles. Thanks to all who sent interesting links. Back to philosophy, I hope, next week!
UPDATE: This right-wing woman and Thatcherite is pissed about the choice of Palin! It's an amusing column, even if it is mysterious why she ever thought McCain was an 'honorable' person. An excerpt:
John McCain’s choice of Governor Sarah Palin was the last straw. It makes American politics look like a sick comedy....Today no rational conservative can vote for the Palin and McCain ticket. It makes America an international laughing stock. The fact that there has been a Palin bounce, after her charismatic speech, fills me with dismay.
This has little to do with Palin’s views. I disagree passionately with some of them, but the Republicans are entitled to present any views they choose to the electorate. Nor do I share the objections to Sarah Barracuda of the liberal sisterhood; unlike them I don’t in the least object to an ambitious woman being right-wing. I am rather right-wing myself, and Margaret Thatcher is one of my heroines....
What horrified me was not so much the woman herself, though she is clearly entirely unfit to be vice-president or president. It was McCain’s cynical and sudden choice of her. Would you give power of attorney over your entire life to someone you had only met once, or possibly twice? Of course not. You would give the matter and the person very serious consideration. Yet McCain in effect is offering power of attorney over all the affairs of the United States and over all Americans, including me, to a woman he had barely met. I myself wouldn’t hire a house-sitter on such scant acquaintance....
Obviously McCain’s public relations people have been scouring the country for libertarian babes. But politics is not painting by numbers. McCain doesn’t know Palin at all, nor it seems did his vetting people; revelations keep emerging about her all the time. But he showed himself willing to hand the free world over to a stranger because his people think she is a psephological paragon.
I had thought that McCain was, for a politician, an honourable man. Certainly honour is one of his top selling points. But who can think so now? In choosing a woman he doesn’t know or understand, purely for electoral advantage, he reveals a dishonourable lust for office, a disrespect for women generally and a dishonourable indifference to the future of his country. After all, if this known unknown woman does become president, it will almost certainly be because he himself is dead - quite possible given his age and health - and past caring.
Though he didn’t know Palin personally, he must have known a few facts about her. He must have known that she compares feebly with previous vice-presidential candidates. Her education is minimal, her real political and managerial experience very slight. The only previous woman candidate for vice-president, the Democrat Geraldine Ferraro, was well qualified, well educated and experienced; Palin can’t hold a candle to her. Palin’s experience is as nothing compared to that of Dick Cheney (congressman, secretary of defence and White House chief of staff), Al Gore (senator and congressman) or George Bush Sr (congressman, ambassador to the United Nations and China, head of the CIA). Being a vice-president is not just a matter of PR and homespun rhetoric, or used not to be....
In short Palin is an ill-educated, inexperienced hypocrite. The Republicans are trying to sell her to the voters as something she isn’t, and McCain hardly cares what she is. It’s a bad day for my native land.