I spent most of my life living in various countries abroad, mainly in Europe. Eight years ago I returned to the United States for the second time, discovering that I could finally feel at home here. Family issues largely account for that change, however it has been a welcome one.
A few days ago, I attended a talk by Barack Obama's foremost foreign policy advisor, Tony Lake. At one point he emphasized the qualitative shift in foreign attitudes toward the U.S., saying that negative feelings were not new, but over the last eight years they had become personal. I think what he was referring to was incredulity that the American people could actually choose such bad leaders. And I thought, thank goodness, that's not going to happen this time.
This morning, for the first time in this presidential campaign, after watching - and listening - to Sarah Palin speak at a rally in Clearwater, Florida, I'm beginning to fear that I might have been overly optimistic, and that after November 4th, I might feel compelled to go and live in another country again.
Hearing the enthusiastic roars of the crowd, reminiscent of a Spartacus sound track, I wondered if unlike previous rallies, this was a big one. The camera never showed the entire scene, but when it panned over those directly behind the speaker I realized that the spectators had been arranged in rows of red, white and blue. (I"d previously noticed that those directly behind the speaker were all wearing red.)
This was a carefully designed backdrop for the star that Sarah Palin has become, and I would wager my week's food money that she has been let loose to do her thing, without any prepping by the professionals.
Because she's way ahead of them. Where Roman Emperors delivered soaring rhetoric to old men in togas, Sarah Palin has mastered the soundbite for a People's Senate, from the tribute to victory, to the claim that there's nothing patriotic about paying taxes.
We knew the campaign would get really nasty as McCain's numbers plummet with the stock market, so it was no surprise to hear his running mate, whose husband belongs to an Alaskan separatist party, indict Obama for being friendly with a man who, when Obama was eight years old, indulged in terrorist activities. We've been told that Obama is not going to allow himself be swift-boated, but the spokesperson brought on afterwards by CNN, did nothing to defend him.
The problem is not that McCain must be tickled pink to have gone with his instincts and picked a barracuda/gladiator for veep. The problem is that, dressed for the occasion or not, there are perhaps too many Americans who love a Roman Circus.