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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 1/17/10

Sarah and the Spiraling Sewer of Regressive Deceit

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Message David Michael Green
I hope you're sitting down for this one. It's now been revealed that Sarah Palin is absolutely clueless about both international and domestic politics. Shocking, eh?

You remember Sarah, don't you? She's the one regressives gleefully championed just a year ago as the greatest thing since sliced bread, the person most qualified to be Vice President of the United States, just a step away from the presidency.

Turns out no one in America knew better how utterly bogus that claim was than the people who were making it. The latest revelations on this subject come from Steve Schmidt, the McCain-Palin campaign manager, and the guy who originally championed Palin for the VP nod after the ultra-right told McCain he couldn't have his buddy Joe Lieberman on the ticket after all.

Here's what Schmidt is now saying about Palin as she was being prepped for her debate appearance: "She knew nothing". A bit different from what we were hearing from him during the campaign, isn't it?

And when Schmidt says "nothing', he means NOTHING. She didn't know about World War I. She didn't know about that obscure event, World War II. She didn't know about the Fed. She couldn't tell you the difference between North and South Korea. She kept insisting that Saddam Hussein did 9/11. Her son in the military was about to be shipped off to Iraq, and she couldn't say who he'd be fighting there. She was so well acquainted with American politics that during rehearsals she kept referring to her debate opponent, a longtime prominent fixture in Washington, as a certain "Senator O'Biden", hence the real reason for the "Can I call you Joe?" ploy at the beginning of the debate.

Funny thing is, it was easy then to see what a complete and utter lie Palin was, from top to bottom. Easy, that is, if one was willing. But you took a lot of crap for stating the obvious. Emperors don't really like it so much when you point out that they're naked. But anyone who saw the Katie Couric interview, for example, could see how completely two-dimensional and absolutely false was the notion that this person was remotely ready to be a heartbeat away from the presidency of the United States, especially when the heart in question belonged to an old man with some serious medical history.

How does this happen? How does a presidential bid based on a lie that is simultaneously so manifest and so magnificent in scale nevertheless manage to generate 59,934,814 votes amongst the supposedly sentient occupants of the richest and most powerful country of the world, here in the twenty-first century, no less?

It's quite astonishing, really. But there's a simple answer. The lie of Palin's competence could only be sustained (and only for some people) by piling it on top of a whole litany of other lies.

Welcome to the spiraling sewer of regressive deceit.

The most proximate lie to the one asserting that Palin was ready to be president was the one in which the McCain team assured us they knew what they were talking about. In fact, they had almost no idea who Palin was. Indeed, they were the first among us to learn what a disaster she really was. But only after they'd already picked her.

They didn't know that previously because Lie Number Three they hadn't vetted her anywhere near properly. As the new book "Game Change", by well-regarded mainstream journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann reveals, the campaign came up with her at the last moment, didn't interview her husband or her allies or enemies in Alaska before choosing her, and didn't even send someone up there to investigate her background before the selection. In short, they didn't do any real due diligence in the five whole days they devoted to the project.

Lie Number Four revolved around what happened to anyone who had the temerity to question whether Palin was anything remotely like what she was being presented to the American people as. Palin was a complete unknown to almost all of the country, and it was absolutely natural and proper that, at a very minimum, basic introductory questions should be asked of her. But that, of course, could rapidly turn problematic, as it did. I had the gut sense at the time that they had gamed this out in advance, figuring out how to turn this massive liability into an advantage. In any case, they immediately flipped the logic on its head, so that anyone who asked the most innocuous question of or about Palin became some sort of misogynist, anti-Alaskan, mom-hater, thus turning the whole affair into a story about the people legitimately checking out Palin, rather about than the candidate herself, and thus also scaring off a lot of the mainstream lackey wimps who call themselves journalists.

Couric's simple question about what journals Palin read was the classic example. Not only was it a common sort of query that candidates get asked all the time, but it was especially appropriate for anyone (like all of America, for example) who wanted to know what made this person who was completely new to them tick. As Schmidt himself now admits, it was in no way any sort of "gotcha' question, as she and her camp and her supporters angrily screamed at the time. Quite the opposite. She was asked some simple questions in order to get a sense of who this new face to most voters might be. But she was quickly revealed to be an idiot. Therefore the big lie had to be trotted out to change the story. Poor Sarah. Poor chief executive of one of America's fifty states. Poor ferocious hockey mom. Poor potential president who might one day have to take on Vladimir Putin or Hu Jintao or al Qaeda. Poor abused Sarah. Monsters like Katie Couric were brutalizing her by asking her outrageous questions, such as, "What do you read?"

Which brings us to Lie Number Five, that of regressive competence. Right-wingers love to tell us how pragmatically competent they are. Governor Palin mocked Barack Obama for being a mere "community organizer'. No doubt she preferred MBA president George W. Bush as a better model. You know, the guy who took more vacations than any other president in history. The guy whose administration did wrong everything imaginable that an administration could do wrong, all within eight years time. Lie Number Five is that these regressives are tough, pragmatic, business-hardened, smart, efficient managers who know how to get the heckuva-job-Brownie done. If the job were telling lies, I'd have to agree. Otherwise, the truth is it turns out that they're disastrously incompetent.

Lie Number Six is that McCain was "out of the loop' in the vetting process (as if that would exonerate him, anyhow). Matt Lauer pressed McCain on this question the other day, and the senator trotted out every ploy in the Politician's Master Manual for Epic Evasion, trying to avoid exposure of his crime. Here's how Politico reports that little tête-à -tête:

"Pressed by host Matt Lauer how the GOP presidential nominee wouldn't know about the vetting of his own running mate, McCain said: "I wouldn't know what the sources are or care.' Instead of addressing the charges in the book, the senator repeatedly said he was "proud' of Palin and his campaign -- the same refrain he's kept up since he lost the election as Republicans and even some top members of his own campaign team have criticized the polarizing former governor. But Lauer didn't drop the issue and, in continuing to ask McCain about Palin, drew a flash of the senator's famous temper. "I just spent my time, Matt, over where three Americans were just killed in Afghanistan,' McCain said. "OK?' he asked the morning show host. When Lauer tried to continue, McCain interrupted. "I am not going to spend time looking back at over what happened over a year ago when we've got two wars to fight, 10 percent unemployment in my state and things to do,' he said. "I'm sorry, you'll have to get others to comment.'

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David Michael Green is a professor of political science at Hofstra University in New York.  He is delighted to receive readers' reactions to his articles (, but regrets that time constraints do not always allow him to respond. His website is (more...)
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