The Empire Strikes Back: Sarah Palin’s Speech

I’ve reassessed my view of Sarah Palin.

My first thought about her usefulness to John McCain was that she would be a draw for disaffected Hillary supporters in a close race, but then all I knew about Sarah was that she characterized herself as a soccer, or hockey, mom.

But already I’ve learned more about her than I ever would have wanted to know, and her simple, original description of herself proves disingenuous at best, and there is the proverbial snowball’s chance in hell of her appealing to Hillary supporters.

A dizzying jumble of images and anecdotes now clutters the Internet. There’s a picture of her in a bikini, with an American flag motif no less, holding a rifle, with a loony grin, poolside. There’s another picture in a black leather mini-skirt, high platform shoes, satiny blouse with revealing décolletage, standing at a bar with a wine glass. There’s the head-shot of her looking through the sight of a military weapon, a la Thatcher in her tank. Then there are the many carefully-posed pictures of her dressed demurely in family groupings, sentimental pictures as familiar to me as her flat Midwestern accent, a holdover from Idaho in her case, which just happens to be America’s favourite refuge for survivalists, private militias, and Aryan lunatics.

Then there are her statements about the bloody, illegal invasion of Iraq being “God’s will.” How would she know that? Because George Bush told her? Or does God personally whisper in her ear? If it’s God, I wonder when He (Sarah being a fundamentalist, it could not possibly be a She) takes the opportunity of speaking to her? When she’s poolside in a bikini, toting a gun, or dressed and scurrying out the door with the clan for Sunday school?

She supported Pat Buchanan, poster boy for everything that is wrong with America, in his Junior Brown Shirt march for the presidency in 2000. Before that, she was a card-carrying member of the Alaska Independence party, not exactly in keeping with Stars-and-Stripes bikinis, but definitely consistent with erratic behavior. There were denials about the Independence party, but the records are there, as is her signature.

She has five children, including her most recent, sadly afflicted with Down syndrome. In this day of certainty through tests, it does seem irresponsible to have such a child, which likely will be dependent on family and society for its entire life. Yes, her behaviour is consistent with her views on abortion –” about which she once claimed she would not have an abortion even for a raped daughter –” but is it sensible? Does such a decision reflect sound, realistic judgment? Our world today is full of such complex situations and judgments, not a world of simplistic rights or wrongs.

She is against gay marriage, against abortion, and against just about anything else you can find in the “anti” repertoire of religious predators along the lines of Jimmy Swaggert or Jerry Falwell. If she accepts war and mass killing as God’s will, why does she not extend that thinking to gay marriage or tests which help us prevent tragic outcomes from pregnancy?

She’s not much more consistent in her other behaviour and thinking. She’s big on commandments and rules, but that did not stop her from trying to have her brother-in-law dismissed from his job in the state police. Nor did it prevent her hacking into an opponent’s computer to get information to secure her election as mayor. And respect for proper procedures did not cause her a moment’s concern when she used paid lobbyists to land pork-barrel projects for her town.

Sarah is almost an American cartoon character, Daffy Duck waving his wings and flapping his beak madly off in all directions.

Her acceptance speech at the convention was certainly competently delivered, but what did it say? It was literally a set of one-liners, Rush Limbaugh barking away on the radio, without any sense of purpose or direction stated other than winning the election and “serving the people.” God, I would hate to be tasked with listing all the monstrous crimes committed in the name of “serving the people,” almost as many, surely, as those covered by “God’s will” in history.

Actually, there’s very little that is new about Sarah Palin. I’ve seen this act before. In tone and substance and attitude, Sarah is Newt Gingrich in drag. But then Newt was almost as irreligious as John McCain. Sarah, though, has a big fat hunk of old Bob Jones tossed in –” after all, in the heady ’60s, the old man had guards with automatic weapons at the gates of Bob Jones’ University – and that brings us to one of her main purposes in this campaign.

Sarah is there to speak to the born-again crowd, people who do not actually trust John McCain as being sympathetic to their views, and with good reason. Born-agains are roughly a fifth of the American population, and the Republicans never can win without their support. So we’ve gone from having the nuttier class of fundamentalists burrowing into every corner of America’s government under George Bush, affecting even the language used in literature at the Grand Canyon, to having one of their own placed “a heartbeat away” from the presidency, and this by a man whose heartbeat just might not last his term.