September 4, 2008 — Sarah Palin’s acceptance speech was not quite Churchill, though it did provoke me to think of a part of one of Winnie’s finest, “. . . if the United States lasts a thousand years, men will still say: ‘This was her finest 45-minutes.’” Palin’s speech, last evening in St. Paul was exceptional. Liberals and Democrats need to accept that fact. Efforts to claim it was written by a Bush speech-writer miss the point entirely. All that said, however, by the genuine thinness of her résumé, it cannot help but prove they were her best moments, and now, alas, her best moments are all behind her.
As hiatus from where I’m headed, I want to wrap up the matter of the quality of the speech, which I contend was exceptional. It roused those in the convention from their stupor, and it likely energized, at least for a while, the base sitting at home watching. It was delivered with polish. It was delivered with Shakespearean sly, venomous wit. It was delivered with every tonal nuance such a speech could be charged with.
To which I now add: So what? Larger, much larger questions loom, and the answers reside 100% on the side of the Obama/Biden ticket. This post does not go to McCain’s many deficiencies, and the easy picking targets they present to the Democrats. I’m concentrating here on Palin. So let’s get started.
Forget all the mesmerizing talk of hockey-mom and mom of a special needs child. Taking your kids to hockey practice, and/or having a special needs child has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with anything whatsoever required of a vice-president or president. It makes one neither worse nor better qualified to fill the role.
If that premise is presumed true (And I’d really like to hear from all who think it is not, who feel that taking kids to any athletic practice and having a child with physical and/or psychological/emotional problems ought to be, from this point forward, etched constitutional qualifications next to natural born citizen and having reached the age of 35.), what then is, or are?
A long train of “experience,” and especially “executive experience,” gondolas has been put on the tracks, as critically essential, by the GOP. Does Sarah Palin have any . . . that equip her to steer the largest economy in the world, to address climate change issues (which she denies even exist, except as figments of imagination in the minds of all who claim it does), to deal most efficaciously and effectively with an entire coterie of foreign leaders, some of whom incline towards us and many who do not, to judge which of the Pentagon’s infinitely lengthy wish list requests are legit and necessary, which are froth, which are in between, and what ought to be the most crucial of all to a constitutional democracy such as the United States: what is and is not fully in accord with that constitution?
The past eight years have been witness to the most offensive trespasses of the Constitution of the United States. Whether the issues were violations of Article 1, Section 9’s right to habeas corpus, or Article 6’s declaration that treaties are the “supreme law of the land,” or the First Amendment’s right to freedom or speech or of assembly, or the Fourth Amendment’s protections against non-judicially approved wiretapping of those within our borders (NOTE: This amendment, as with all of the first ten, require no citizenship test as to their applicability.), the Sixth Amendment’s guarantee that the accused shall have the right to a speedy and public trial as well as the right to face one’s accusers, and whether those in the Bush administration have been indicted or tried and convicted, there can be no argument that the administration has violated the cited constitutional components repeatedly and wantonly.
Here’s the analogy I’m going to use, to demonstrate that such violations I’ve cited must never, ever again be tolerated. By the time you’ve reached the age of 40 or 50, odds are you’ve attended at least one funeral where the casket containing the deceased remains was on display. Whatever combination of minerals and molecules is contained within the casket, they are NOT the slightest more consequently related to the individual whose living, breathing, spiritual entity used to possess those minerals and molecules than a 2X4 in Home Depot’s lumber department. And yet, you refer to it as if it did. Same thing with the United States of America. It’s spirit can be desiccated, and its innards eviscerated, and you can still call it the USA. But it will not be the USA.
George Bush possessed an MBA. Dick Cheney’s major was political science. And everyone in the country saw what their ignorance of and lack of love and appreciation for the constitution led to. Sarah Palin’s 4-year (ONLY!) major was journalism. Now that may have provided her with a grasp of journalistic standards, and it may have been an adequate prerequisite to be considered for a news reporting position, but it did not necessitate a first guess concerning anything truly constitutional. (SNIDE REMARK: I suppose she could always call back to service Alberto Gonzales, or John Yuu, or summon Jay Bybee to pen another infamous memo.)
Getting back to “executive experience,” however, the McCain campaign and its throng of supporters have expected the rest of us to regard being mayor of Wasilla, a wholly missable tiny dot on the map outside Anchorage, as “executive experience,” equivalent with, say, New York City. Wasilla has, or had at the time, approximately 6,500 citizens, and the city employed approximately 50 people. Honest, and I mean this with no tongue in cheek, the principal of almost every urban high school in the country has exponentially more responsibility than does, or did, any mayor of Wasilla, or any town its size. The high school principal has to deal with being situated smack between angry parents, unruly (frequently highly dangerous) students, upset teachers, deteriorated facilities, inadequate text materials and lab equipment, the unrealistic demands of a politically driven school board, and a budget that satisfies no one. Every week, the typical high school principal faces dilemmas and must make decisions that are more difficult than the sum or all that Sarah Palin likely faced in all her terms as mayor!
Also touted as “executive experience” is her stint of being governor of Alaska for a little more than a year. Alaska enjoys oil revenues that have filled its reserve fund to overflowing; $40 BILLION at last count. With 650,000 residents, that’s more than $61,500 for every man, woman, and child in the state. The largesse is so great that the state has neither an income nor sales tax. The largesse was so great that recently every man, woman and child received a check for $3,200.00, and that is AFTER all costs of running the state have been paid! You provide that sort of fiscal luxury to any other state, and the task of governing becomes more akin to a child’s play game of You-Be-Governor-Today.
Charlie Crist of Florida, Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, Bill Richardson of New Mexico, Jennifer Granholm of Michigan, and every other governor except Brian Schweitzer of Montana is within the Iron Maiden fiscal bind, not of figuring which of the state programs to expand, but playing a smoke and mirrors and Russian Roulette budgeting game that will decide which ones can survive intact just one more year, and which ones can be cut or eliminated, doing the least damage to the state; education, roads, parks, etc. Now that’s “executive experience”! Cash engorged Alaska? Not so much.
More than one Republican contested that Palin’s role as Commander in Chief of the Alaska National Guard somehow fully qualified her to fill the shoes of Commander in Chief of the entire United States military.
And Cindy McCain said that, as Alaska is the closest US land mass to Russia, that fact gave Governor Palin “international cred.” Both suggestions are not only absurd, they’re insults to the basic intelligence of all to whom they were directed, which is you and me and the rest of the US population. Like, “you’re all so dumb that I can tell you anything, no matter how ridiculous, and you’ll believe it.” But based on proximity to another country, every citizen of Detroit (one mile across the Detroit River from Canada), and every citizen of Nogales, New Mexico enjoys even more international cred, at least for that specific presidential criterion, to be president. It’s too bad that Key West is 90 miles from Cuba, somewhere around 40 miles farther than Wales, Alaska is from the claimed Russian waters in the Bering Sea. Otherwise, Jimmy Buffett would have as much international experience credibility.
I’m sorry to have to report to all of Palin’s acolytes that all assertions of both “executive” and “international” experience” just don’t hold water. Though, so long as the target audience did not include the undecideds, it was one hellova speech. Almost made me forget for the briefest second that a 4-year degree in journalism and being mayor of some backwater town of 6,500, or the doler of cash from gushing coffers was not in fact, what do you call it? “Executive Experience,” or experience of any sort that might be preparatory for even a mid-level federal office . . . let alone: President of the United States.
Please, permit me to recapture the sentiments of Peggy Noonan, President Reagan’s speechwriter: “It’s over.”