canarypapers

A REVIEW OF THE BIG SPEECH: When is a little knowledge dangerous? When it’s Sarah Palin.

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The talking heads are unanimous: Sarah Palin gave a command performance last night. Truly, she did — if you’re the sort who likes your scripts well-delivered, on-cue, by a skilled actress. Our local theatre group has many such talents.

Sarah is to be commended for her seamless delivery of this one-man act, peopled as it was with such a diversity of characters: plucky, all-American hockey-mom of five (being unfairly persecuted by the elite liberal media) who rose to be mayor of Wasilla (a small town, whose size is being disrespected by the elite, liberal media), and who then rose to become governor of Alaska (a state which, if you elect Sarah Palin,  promises to give us cheap gas and oil, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and staunch terrorism everywhere), whereby she proved her skills as a maverick politician, bucking a corrupt, good-old-boy system to restore truth and transparency to Alaskan politics (pay no mind to the man behind the curtain) and will do the same for the corrupt, good-old-boy system in Washington (which is run by politicians whose job skills pale in comparison to hers) because, for one thing, she represents ‘real’ Americans, (not those bitter, unpatriotic ones who aren’t proud of their country in both good and bad times, such as when that country lets its citizens fall, en masse, through the cracks into joblessness and financial despair, while paying $16 billion per month for two wars, while its leadership has become the scorn and ridicule of the world, for its lawlessness and bullying) not those liberal, elist democrats, who know nothing about fiscal responsibility, and just want to spend, spend, spend and run our lives through big government (that’s $140 per bitter household, per month, to fund the two wars) and, for another thing, she is better qualified to be vice-president than Barack Obama and Joe Biden rolled together (her qualifications, by now, should be self-evident to all, unless you’re with the liberal, elitist media) and, plus, she can ‘hold her own’ against the big boys (careful on your attacks, angry elitist liberals, or they’ll pull the sexism-card) as we saw in the sarcastic, condescending, disrespectful attacks she so skillfully waged, and with such relish, on Obama and Biden (as their class act — evidenced in the constant, outward respect they’ve shown for Sarah and her family this week — was lost on her, which I guess makes Obama and Biden weak on terror), proving that Sarah Palin is therefore tough enough to stand up to the terrorists and terrorist nations in the world (how, exactly, do you pronounce all these crazy Islamic terrorist words?)  and ready to carry the maverick mantle with her running-mate, John McCain (did I mention he’s a POW?) all the way to the White House, where she is prepared, on day one, to be vice-president, a mere heartbeat from the presidency (“What is it, exactly, that the VP does every day?”)

The problem is — the same as it was before she delivered her speech celebre — Sarah Palin can only aspire to *act* as if she had command of the facts, can only aspire to *act* as if has the depth of experience to qualify her to competently hold high office, can only aspire to *act* presidential. And she can only aspire to maintain this act, so long as there is a crew of players behind the scenes to arrange the sets and feed her the lines. 

This was the very problem from which George Bush (and, by extension, all of us) suffered for the past 8 years. He brought to the White House a college degree in business, a term as governor, and a set of ideals borrowed from his father. He brought little else in the way of credentials, unless you count his bull-headed insistence that he knew what he was doing, despite his profound ignorance of constitutional law and political science, and a perplexing lack of curiosity over the goings-on in his administration. Here, he was ready-made to be the very leader he became: a hapless, button-eyed puppet to a man named Dick Cheney who did, indeed, own an impressive command of the facts — not to mention a shrewd eye for business, as CEO of a corporation whose life blood is war and oil, and a shrewd team of lawyers, such as David Addington, who exploited and tinkered with the the Constitution to give Dick Cheney unprecedented power.

The State of the Union

In the wake of this malignant tinkering, our government body, our Constitution and our Bill of Rights have undergone radical changes over the past 8 years, the likes of which most Americans are unaware and would be incredulous to believe. In the course of this change, the checks and balances in our Constitution — designed to protect us from such an invasion from within — were exploited by Cheney and Addington to render powerless any attempt to cut such a malignancy from the government body. When people say that Dick Cheney is the most powerful man in the world, it is no hyperbole. And when people say that Dick Addington is the most powerful man you’ve never known, they are not kidding. For evidence, one need look no further than the powerlessness of our lawmakers on Capitol Hill, despite that some have fought tooth and nail to stop this seemingly unstoppable force that has undermined our Constitution and our democracy.

The video, below, gives about as succinct an example as you could find. Here, in the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee hearing this past June, committee members sought answers to a simple question: “Could our president order the torturing of the children of terrorist suspects, or the live burial of terrorist suspects, to extract information?” In the skilled hands of Cheney attorneys, Addington and Yoo, it is possible to dodge answers and stonewall the hearings, through clever semantics, legal “sleights of hand,” and stalling to run-out the clock on the 5-minute time limit on testimony. Most Americans are oblivious to the existence of such hearings, which makes all the more concerning the blind acceptance many Americans have extended to Sarah Palin’s thin credentials. This shows a lack of understanding, an ignorance of the real-time issues a president confronts in the course of his or her job — issues that are layered in myriad nuances, that require specific skills and depths of experience. These credentials are sorely lacking in Sarah Palin. Her ridicule of Barack Obama during her speech, when she jeered that he is the sort who would stand up for the rights of terrorist suspects, demanding they be read their rights, reveals a proufoundly dangerous way of thinking for a leader of a democratic society. Granted, there are many, many Americans who would advocate and cheer-on the hanging death of terrorist suspects, without due process or a trial to prove or disprove their innocence. Those who believe it is fair for an innocent human being to be punished for the actions of others, are no different from those very terrorists we claim to abhor.

Americans wave the flag as vigorously today as they did 8 years ago, even as the democracy over which that flag unfurls has become a shadow of its former self. Constitutional law may not be as sexy as mooseburgers, assault rifles and hockey moms but, when it comes to maintaining a democracy, the Constitution has proven itself to be indispensible for over 200 years. What this country needs, first and foremost, is a strong leader with an eye toward restoring our moral compass, and with the knowledge, experience and ability to work with our other lawmakers to restore our Constitution. Without this, the flag we honor represents a democracy that no longer quite exists, except in myth. 

Substance vs. Subtext

There are many in this country who felt a certain gratitude this past May, when Sen. Obama announced one of the goals he intends to accomplish during his first 100 days in office: “I would call my attorney general in and review every single executive order issued by George Bush and overturn those laws or executive decisions that I feel violate the constitution.” Being a Harvard law school graduate, and serving as the president of the Harvard Law Review, and teaching constitutional law for 12 years affords him the credentials to not only aspire to such a task, but to undertake it with some competency. Indeed, some would rightfully claim that the six years Obama served in the Illinois State Senate, followed by nearly 4 years in the U.S. Senate, only add these credentials. There is little doubt that he would receive a wide round of applause from his fellow lawmakers in Congress for undertaking this necessary and most patriotic task to restore our Constitution to its pre-Cheney integrity. This is but one step, and a tiny one at that, given the enormity of change our country has seen over the past 8 years — change that could never have taken place in the open, but which thrived in dark secrecy, which is why so few Americans appreciate the urgency of what lies before us.   

Sarah Palin said it best near the end of her speech: “For a season, a gifted speaker can inspire with his words.”

Sarah Palin may very well be a woman deserving of a mother-of-the-year award and an award for the most popular governor in the country. She would make an inspiring spokesperson for pro-lifers, and a powerful role model for business women everywhere. She needn’t be vice-president to deliver Alaskan oil to the American people. She needn’t be vice-president to address the ongoing need to erase sexism in this country. She can develop this role in her current position as governor of Alaska. 

But Sarah Palin is not ready to be leader of this country, particularly as we emerge from such a dark chapter in the history of our democracy. She gives a great speech, but owns such a shallow command of the facts, as to be dangerous. Here, Sarah Palin is ready-made to be just the leader she’s being groomed to be: a walking, talking PR campaign, whose job is to deliver scripted pep talks, to inspire the uninspired into believing there’s nothing wrong with this country that can’t be fixed with some good old-fashioned, Sarah Palin-style Alaska politics because, godknows, there surely couldn’t be millions of others out here who, given license, could parade out onto a stage and speak with such authority over events of which they know next-to-nothing, thereby insulting an entire country of thinking, intelligent people — men and women alike, but especially women, and most especially those women truly qualified to the vice-presidency. I’d like to think, anyway, that few would embarrass us, as she did, by the cheap relish she enjoyed while hurling the sarcastic, condescending insults she was scripted to wage at her opponents. 

I Feel a Gag Order Coming On

In this vein, we are going to see, in the coming days, the media coerced into silencing the voices of dissent against Sarah Palin. Or, at the very least, softening the criticism. After all, she’s a woman. The media will comply, of course. After all, they’re a business. They’ll bend over backward to avoid getting stuck again with that damned sexist label and being shut-out by the McCain campaign. Maybe 10, 20 years down the road, women will rise again, demanding not only the same rights as men, but the same treatment and the same expectations. For now, chin up, America. Sarah’s got your back. The show must, the show will go on. And, with your help, Sarah Palin is ready to step into George Bush’s shoes and reprise the role of hapless, albeit more glamorous, button-eyed puppet to the Cheney agenda for war and oil, rot and ruin. The American public believes otherwise at their own peril.

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by Mantis Katz, for the canarypapers

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