If you thought, in the wake of the nightmare of the Bush years, and the euphoria of the Democratic Convention, that the political pendulum in the USA was swinging to the “left”…
If you thought that the Bush regime was so widely and bitterly hated that a repackaged version couldn’t seriously contend for the presidency…
If you thought that the Christian fundamentalist theocrats were passé…
Then you got a shocking wake up call from the Republican National Convention.
As the RNC opened in St. Paul, it appeared in danger of being a dud, or even a fiasco. There was the awkward issue of a widely and deeply hated incumbent president whose name is synonymous with lies, endless war, and torture. Then there was Hurricane Gustav, threatening to remind the world of, and perhaps even provoke a rerun of, the hell that the people of New Orleans and the Gulf region were put through by the arrogant neglect of the government before and after Hurricane Katrina. On top of all this, the “Evangelical Community,” (read: fundamentalist Christian theocrats) were threatening to sit things out, unsatisfied with their role in a potential John McCain presidency.
But in a stunning turn-around, the Republicans came out at the RNC with big guns blasting. The sparkplug was the selection of Sarah Palin as the vice presidential candidate. But the whole event was a coordinated barrage of venomous attacks on liberals, crude pandering to and promotion of “resentment” of the white middle class, and calls for unquestioned support for endless war. And as a defining subtext, the convention marked the insertion of the Christian fascists much more deeply into the '08 election.
The run-up to the convention took a startling turn with the announcement that Sarah Palin would be McCain’s running mate. The announcement was a shocker because there had been no indication that Palin was being seriously considered by McCain. The New York Times wrote that “Ms. Palin had no strong advocates” among McCain’s advisors.
And there are other clear indications that McCain was not seriously considering Palin. She did not go through the kind of serious vetting process and investigation that all the other candidates on McCain’s list of possible running mates went through. The Washington Post reported that “Palin was not subjected to a lengthy in-person background interview with the head of Sen. John McCain’s vice presidential vetting team until last Wednesday in Arizona, the day before McCain asked her to be his running mate” (our emphasis). And McCain officials told the Washington Post that they were not even informed of the potential scandal involving Palin’s pregnant unmarried daughter until that last-second background interview, even though this is the kind of thing that would normally be revealed well in advance during the usual protracted vetting process for a vice presidential candidate.
In fact, McCain wanted Joseph Lieberman, his co-cheerleader for “staying the course” in Iraq, or former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge to be his vice presidential candidate. But the nominally pro-choice Lieberman and Ridge were deal-breakers for powerful forces of the Christian right. James Dobson (of Focus on the Family) announced before the convention that he “cannot and will not vote for Senator John McCain.” And, speaking after the Palin announcement, Dobson said that if McCain would have “come up with Lieberman or Tom Ridge or somebody like that, we’d be back in a hole again.”
Dobson and those he represents essentially made McCain an offer he couldn’t refuse. While all the channels are not clear, Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, told Christianity Today that he had “recommended” Palin to McCain’s people. And after the announcement of Palin as the VP candidate, Dobson said in a radio interview, “If I went into the polling booth today, I would pull the lever for John McCain.” He added, “When I look at the choices that are ahead and what the implications are for this country, and now especially with this selection, with just an outstanding V.P. candidate as a running mate, I tell you what I am relieved and very excited.” (Dennis Prager show, 8/29/08)
And so, as it turned out, Senator “Maverick,” the guy who supposedly listens only to his independent set of values, had to bow down and take a vice presidential candidate he had not selected, and hardly knew, in order to feed the Christian fascists.
Palin herself is both a Christian fundamentalist and a product of the Christian fascist political machine. She aims to ban all abortion, even in the case of rape or incest. She believes in “young earth” creationism, a literalist reading of the Bible’s mythology of the history of the planet that claims the earth is thousands of years old in opposition to the scientific fact that it is billions of years old, and has argued that this theocratic dogma should be taught as an “alternative” in public school science classes. As mayor, she tried to ban books from the library and fire the librarian when she opposed that. In a video available at YouTube, Palin tells a youth group at an Alaska church that not only is the Iraq war “a task that is from God,” but even declared that a potential gas pipeline she wants built from Alaska to the lower 48 states is “God’s will.”
Coming on the heels of the pilgrimage by McCain and Barack Obama to Christian fundamentalist Rick Warren’s church for what was essentially the first debate between the two, the vetting and selection of the vice presidential candidate by religious fundamentalists—in a manner not that different from the way the Islamic theocrats in Iran approve political candidates—was a chilling exercise of, and strengthening of, the power of Christian theocrats in the United States. And the promotion of Palin to the status of “political superstar”—by the same media that the Republicans accuse of being biased against them(!)—alone amounts to a major advance for these fundamentalist fascists.Giuliani and Palin’s One-Two Sucker Punch
While the insertion of Palin pumped energy into the RNC, the whole event was a synchronized and bellicose call for unquestioning loyalty to aggressive, endless war, to hyper-chauvinism, and for the social base of the Republicans, a call to prepare to tough out hard times. All accompanied by incessant bashing of Hollywood liberals, “the mainstream media,” and others who are served up to the angry middle class as scapegoats for their problems.
That message was delivered as a one-two punch from Rudoph Giuliani and Palin.