Flush from the rash of complimentary — if not to say gushing — reviews of Sarah Barracuda on Saturday Night Live, Wasilla’s Wonder Woman seemingly has made the decision to throw John McCain under the bus. Not that she’s alone in this assessment, if true.
Looking at it from her point of view, frankly, WHY does she need McCain now? The GOP that despises him (but of whom he has, of late, tried to emulate) loves her. Joe Scarborough was literally gushing on MSNBC about how everyone he’s talked to says that the camera doesn’t do her justice, etc. etc.
Celebrity trumps competence (and hey! who’s the political celebrity in the infamous Paris Hilton/Brittney Spears anti-Obama ad now?), and the Pat Buchanans of the bloviating class are seriously suggesting that Palin (or, “your girlfriend,” as they were ribbing Pat in the Studio) doesn’t know anything, but she can learn. That’s not important, it was asserted with grave gravitas, because she is a PRO, baby! She recorded (according to Lawrence O’Donnell) a piece for later broadcast SNL near the election, and nailed it the first TIME!! (All were impressed.) Boom! Cold reading! Nailed it!
Watching these middle-aged men more or less openly letching after the Governor of Alaska in her go-go boots was distinctly nauseating, frankly. But it is a political fact of life, and must be paid attention. They’re selling the sideshow candidate like a pinup calendar. Looky looky! (Urgh.)
Well, those are the qualifications for many, if not most positions in front of the camera, but they are NOT the qualifications of a president. T’was not important, however to our gravitassey bloviators. Even Mika Brezhinski seemed distinctly uncomfortable with the boys-locker-room chat on Governor Milf.
Worse, currently on one of the blogs I check regularly, McCain Palin banner ads are oxymoronically displayed above and below blog postings flaying McCain and Palin, except, er … where is McCain?
screencap of actual web ad now playing everywhere
Excuse me? When in history have we pushed the Vice Presidential nominee to the exclusion of the presidential nominee? We never saw GOLDWATER-MILLER ads with just Miller’s face. Never saw Reagan-Bush ads with only Bush’s face (no matter how ardently George the Smarter might have desired it); never even saw Mondale-Ferraro ads with just Ferraro’s face. It is completely off the charts, an act of political heresy and presumption without historical precedent in American politics.
You’d think somebody would notice, right? (Well, we ARE talking about the American press. Probably some London and Australian papers have noticed.)
And, looking AT that astonishing banner ad: “A PROVEN MAVERICK” is an ad tagline, like Coke’s “It’s the real thing” — and just as meaningless.
Come on, what does “It’s the REAL thing” mean? That all other soft drinks are imaginary? That they are made of some kind of funky not-quite-matter from the Q dimension? No: it doesn’t MEAN anything. It’s just meant to sound like it does.
So, too “a proven maverick.” Is there an academy, somewhere, that accredits ‘mavericks’? Is there some course of maverick certification? Some Dean of some college of Maverickology, whose Ph.D.s and graduate assistants have laid out the metrics for a battery of maverick aptitude tests?
Have statisticians polled statistically significant populations to determine her maverickyness? Is there a scientific instrument that measures maverick ray emissions? A mitochondrial DNA test for recessive and dominant maverick genes? Do mavericks have a specific ‘signature’ when analyzed spectroscopically?
Then HOW, pray tell, can “maverickyness” be “proven”? The former isn’t defined and the latter is a bald-faced assertion of dubious possibility.
Might as well say “A GENTIAN DREAMER.” Or even “Your Windsong stays on my mind.”
Because this is the triumph of packaging, as inappropriate as a Snap-On Tools calendar — featuring bikini-clad sirens holding automobile repair tools, or in the most surreal catalog of all time, some farm implements calendar that I once saw, featuring beautiful women in bikinis posing seductively next to tractors and cultivators. There is as little connection between that ad and voting for John McCain as there was twixt bathing suit and barnyard appliance.
The old porn producer, and president of the Adult Film Association of America, Dave Friedman used to say: “Give me a good box cover, and I can sell blank tapes.” Well, here’s the box cover. But they seem to be gearing up for 2012 already. After all, this was a calculation by the Rovian campaign and NOT, perhaps, McCain.
It is a puzzlement. But here’s a working hypothesis:
Having thought out the likelihood of a McCain loss, Palin has suddenly stepped forward to sell her own future standing on John McCain’s ashes. Consider this:
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has said he opposes the Federal Marriage Amendment, which would amend the Constitution to ban marriage equality, because he believes it is an issue to be left up to states. In an interview with CBN’s David Brody, Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) broke with McCain and strongly supported the amendment:
PALIN: [I]n my own, state, I have voted along with the vast majority of Alaskans who had the opportunity to vote to amend our Constitution defining marriage as between one man and one woman. I wish on a federal level that that’s where we would go because I don’t support gay marriage. I’m not going to be out there judging individuals, sitting in a seat of judgment telling what they can and can’t do, should and should not do.
Think Progress, Byat 11:49 am
There’s video, as well:
But this is a direct result of another decision taken. CBS News reports:
October 20, 2008, 12:35 AM
Palin Becomes Increasingly Accessible To The National Media
From CBS News’ Scott Conroy:
(COLORADO SPRINGS) It was less than two weeks ago when Sarah Palin astonished her traveling press corps by lifting the curtain (literally) and journeying to the back of her campaign plane to answer reporters’ questions for the first time after 40 days on the campaign trail. But the candidate who has been criticized for having a bunker mentality when it came to the national media can now lay legitimate claim to being more accessible than either Joe Biden or Barack Obama.
In the past two days alone, Palin has answered questions from her national press corps on three separate occasions. On Saturday, she held another plane availability, and on Sunday, she offered an impromptu press conference on the tarmac upon landing in Colorado Springs. A few minutes later, she answered even more questions from reporters during an off-the-record stop at a local ice cream shop.
By contrast, Biden hasn’t held a press conference in more than a month, and Obama hasn’t taken questions from his full traveling press corps since the end of September. John McCain—who spent most of the primary season holding what seemed like one, never-ending media availability—hasn’t done one since Sept. 23.
Though she often turns the “mainstream media” into a punching bag on the stump, Palin clearly enjoys interacting with reporters. She seems to relish the opportunity to demonstrate that her breadth of knowledge far exceeds what she offered to CBS News’ Katie Couric in a series of interviews that were marked by vague, often convoluted answers to straightforward questions….
AND she’s staking out positions different than McCain? There are multiple interpretations possible, but each and every one of them is Machiavellian in the extreme.
But, let’s assume that this comes from the Palin camp. What’s implied?
Well, at this point, playing her cards right, she is guaranteed a political prominence after the election, no matter what. Conversely, there is NOTHING McCain can do to rein her in, which means that she is free to pursue her own political agenda in the spotlight of the national lens.
So, she’s “De-Quale-ing” herself. Makes sense. William Kristol was originally Vice President Dan Quayle’s chief of staff before wandering a bit and then founding The Weekly Standard with Rupert Murdoch’s money. By all accounts, PNAC founder and chairman Kristol is the one who pushed McCain to pick Palin. The New Yorker reports on this this week:
On June 18, 2007, the first group disembarked in Juneau from the Holland America Line’s M.S. Oosterdam, and went to the governor’s mansion, a white wooden Colonial house with six two-story columns, for lunch. The contingent featured three of The Weekly Standard ’s top writers: William Kristol, the magazine’s Washington-based editor, who is also an Op-Ed columnist for the Times and a regular commentator on “Fox News Sunday”; Fred Barnes, the magazine’s executive editor and the co-host of “The Beltway Boys,” a political talk show on Fox News; and Michael Gerson, the former chief speechwriter for President Bush and a Washington Post columnist. […]
The other journalists who met Palin offered similarly effusive praise: Michael Gerson called her “a mix between Annie Oakley and Joan of Arc.” The most ardent promoter, however, was Kristol, and his enthusiasm became the talk of Alaska’s political circles. According to Simpson, Senator Stevens told her that “Kristol was really pushing Palin” in Washington before McCain picked her. Indeed, as early as June 29th, two months before McCain chose her, Kristol predicted on “Fox News Sunday” that “McCain’s going to put Sarah Palin, the governor of Alaska, on the ticket.” He described her as “fantastic,” saying that she could go one-on-one against Obama in basketball, and possibly siphon off Hillary Clinton’s supporters. He pointed out that she was a “mother of five” and a reformer. “Go for the gold here with Sarah Palin,” he said. The moderator, Chris Wallace, finally had to ask Kristol, “Can we please get off Sarah Palin?”
And, further down:
Finally, McCain’s top aides, including Steve Schmidt and Rick Davis, converged on Palin. Ed Rogers, the chairman of B.G.R., a well-connected, largely Republican lobbying firm, said, “Her criteria kept popping out. She was a governor—that’s good. The shorter the Washington résumé the better. A female is better still. And then there was her story.” He admitted, “There was concern that she was a novice.” In addition to Schmidt and Davis, Charles R. Black, Jr., the lobbyist and political operative who is McCain’s chief campaign adviser, reportedly favored Palin. Keene said, “I’m told that Charlie Black told McCain, ‘If you pick anyone else, you’re going to lose. But if you pick Palin you may win.’ ” (Black did not return calls for comment.) Meanwhile, McCain’s longtime friend said, “Kristol was out there shaking the pom-poms.”
The extent to which William Kristol is involved in this campaign includes the editor/writer of his Weekly Standard blog, and his research assistant for the Partnership for a New American Century, Michael Goldfarb, on “leave of absence” to act as the McCain campaign’s blogging guru.
They have their agenda, and John McCain has his, and it has been for some time apparent that THEIR agenda is driving the McCain campaign, to the extent that McCain’s friends and admirers in the media and on Capitol Hill have universally decried the McCain of the Rovian campaign as not the McCain that they know.
They have THEIR candidate — Sarah Palin — and THEIR agenda, and increasingly it appears that neither have much invested in John McCain. Having made the cold calculation, they have their box cover, and their glowing reviews from Broadway, where Palin trod the boards for SNL. They have their media phenomenon, and what use have they for McCain?
But, they understand that it is absolutely imperative that they get out there and REBRAND her before she’s painted as Mrs. Potatoe(sic) Head. Kristol’s experience of another pretty face, Dan Quayle, has taught him that much, in spades. Otherwise, she has no market value up the road.
And, as noted above, with no one giving press conferences in the last days of the campaign, she doesn’t have any competition for ink. She can methodically, strategically rebrand herself without fear of reprisal by McCain, and, I predict, you’ll see New Yorker pieces AFTER the election in which insiders admit to just that.
It’s the city councilors grabbing the silverware on their way to the refugee camp; it’s the Seven Eleven clerk liberating the cash drawer on his way out the door. Only they know no one will call the cops. It seems to suggest that John McCain is being thrown under the bus — certainly by his running mate, and probably by “his” campaign. When have you ever heard of a Vice President openly breaking with the top of the ticket before? It just isn’t done in American politics.
Yes, it COULD be to prove her maverickyness. (Or is that “maverickiness”?) But, as it stands, Palin can feather her nest however she pleases and McCain dare not publicly rebuke his fellow proven maverick. (FPM.) The adline provides cover for her and immunity from him, and I think they know that. McCain’s hands are tied during the election.
As John Nance Garner “Cactus Jack” actually said after he was elected in 1932: the vice presidency “isn’t worth a bucket of warm piss.” (It’s been cleaned up in the history books.) If John McCain wins, Palin would probably be looking forward to a long series of state funerals, so there’s a risk in openly breaking with the presidential nominee. Which suggests that the calculation has been made that McCain ISN’T going to win, and what can be salvaged.*
[* Which is, as a corollary, not nearly as dangerous as a BUSH administration who’s made the same calculation. As of tomorrow at noon, there are only 90 days remaining in his term, and attention probably ought to be paid (which probably won’t be) on what vanishes as they exit, stage ultra-right. I promise it will be more than the fabulist “W” keys on White House computers they falsely claimed of the departing Clintons. This becomes a dangerous time, these next 90 days.]
Yes: what I theorize requires a political cynicism and brutality (un)worthy of ancient Rome, but: is anyone going to suggest that these people are NICER than that?
Either way, we won’t be seeing the obscurity of Sarah Palin for a long time to come.
After all, she’s telegenic.
And they didn’t call her “Sarah Barracuda” in high school basketball for nothing:
To Alaskans – both allies and adversaries – Sarah Palin, 44, is known as “Sarah Barracuda,” a nickname that goes back to her days as an aggressive basketball player. Noted the Anchorage Daily News in an Oct. 23, 2006 profile : “Supporters consider the name a testament to her aggressive play and ferocious defense. But opponents said the name captures a predatory instinct that Palin could turn on friend as well as foe.” … (Business Week August 29, 2008)
When the folks in fishing communities nickname somebody “barracuda” they probably ain’t just whistling “Dixie.”