Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Completely biased impressions of the RNC

WARNING: What follows is a completely partisan, totally biased, largely unfiltered stream-of-consciousness type observation of what I'm watching on CNN of Sarah Palin's acceptance speech in front of the Republican National Convention.

*10:42 pm EST CNN just showed secret service escorting a woman with a large tote back with raised fist out of the convention hall. Wonder what that is all about...guessing she's a protester?
[UPDATE: 9/4/08: This just in from CNN's website: "Police said two protesters were removed during Palin's speech. They said they were members of the anti-war group Code Pink. A spokesperson for the Joint Information Center said the two women were escorted by law enforcement officers from the Xcel Center for heckling. They stood and yelled off to the side of the podium during Palin's speech. They were not charged and have been "sent on their way," this spokesperson said."]

*Sarah Palin is ripping on Obama for his previous comment about people clinging to religion and guns months ago to a crowd in SF.

*What is the "Washington elite" that Sarah Palin refers to? Wouldn't that include her candidate, John McCain? The man was in Washington DC so often and not at home with his wife and children that Cindy McCain got so stressed out that she formed an addiction to pain medication [don't believe me? See Newsweek's cover story on Cindy McCain from June 30, 2008. It was actually a pretty balanced/sympathetic portrait of Cindy McCain and it made me feel sorry for her because basically she was raising her kids like a single mom, albeit a single mom who has millions at her fingertips so lets not get too carried away. Also I'd bet money that Cindy McCain has been either emotionally or physically abused (or both) by John McCain (we know that he's called her a "c---" in front of others in the 2000 campaign). The man has huge DOCUMENTED anger issues. Please, someone slip Mrs. McCain a pamphlet to a woman's shelter. Get out woman! Take the kids and GET OUT NOW.].

*10:46pm Sarah Palin is claiming to be a reformer. I wonder if that's why she hired a lobbyist while she was mayor and why she flip-flopped on that "bridge to nowhere" that she initially voted for and then didn't vote for. And seriously, what WAS the vetting process for Sarah Palin???

*I feel like a Peanuts character right now and that Sarah Palin is one of those "adults" because all I'm hearing is "wah, wah, wah, wahhh wahhhh."

*Palin's youngest daughter is totally cracking me up--she's adorable and she's holding her baby brother and was stroking his hair when she decided to smooth it down by licking her palm and then slicking back his hair with her wet-spit palm! This girl's got character.

*10:50pm What's up with the digital screen that the RNC is using behind its speakers? When Rudy Giuliani was speaking they showed, predictably, a skyline of NYC. Just now they showed the Washington monument and the reflecting pool behind Sarah Palin. Wouldn't that just reinforce a connection between her and the "elitism" of Washington DC?

*She's claiming that while drilling won't solve our energy crisis it's better than doing nothing at all. TOTALLY FAULTY LOGIC! It may, INDEED, turn out that doing "nothing at all" is much BETTER than doing something if the something turns out to have irreversible detrimental consequences for the environment. And what's up with the earlier calls that the Republicans keep shouting to "Drill it! Drill it!" Is it just me or is this a vulgar phrase, and I mean this in more ways than one. If we want energy independence then WHY AREN'T WE DEVELOPING MORE ALTERNATIVE FUELS???!!! Or more specifically, why aren't Repulicans spearheading Green issues related to energy independence???

*CNN keeps panning to the dozen people of color at the RNC--I've seen the "Viva McCain" guy at least 3 times in the last half hour. Aren't there any other brown people and/or Latinos they can focus on? Do they think that we won't recognize that when they keep showing the two-three African American men over and over again that we won't realize that they are the SAME black faces and not new black Republicans? And what's up with the Asian Americans in the crowd...I did spot Elaine Chao, guess you got to give it up for the Asian American token in the Bush cabinet.

*10:55 Sarah Palin just ripped on Obama for his support of MIRANDA laws....WTF???!!!

*Now it's the St. Louis arch behind her--I guess the RNC is trying to show "American" views to support the belief that it's "Country first." Wish I could see more of it--looks like a nice slide show from the highlights of someone's cross-country trip.

*I don't think neon green is the right color for Cindy McCain, but it does seem to be within her color palette because she tends to favor very bright, solid colors.

*I wonder if they are selling those white cowboy hats that the Texas delegation keeps waving in the air. I'd like one of those!

*Is it just me or is the crowd in the RNC of an older demographic than the one at the DNC last week? Where are the young folks? Where are the college-aged Young Republicans?

*11:01pm Now she's pumping up John McCain's "war hero/fighter" credentials. "There is only one man who's fought for you where winning means survival and losing means death." What does that mean exactly? In the Viet Nam analogy it doesn't quite work. John McCain's plane was shot down, he was tortured, and eventually he was released, but we also evacuated Viet Nam (ie: fled) and South and North were eventually united as a communist country (although you wouldn't recognize it as such anymore). So if John McCain survived, does that mean he won? But what did he win, besides his life? We lost the war, and many died...I'm just not seeing the logic in this rhetoric.

*They aren't showing him now but Levi Johnson, the boyfriend of Bristol Palin, cleans up nicely (for a contrast you should see these photos on Huffington Post). You wouldn't guess that he's the self-identified/proudly proclaimed "red neck" that he says he is on his My Space page. I haven't checked, but do you think his My Space page is still up or has the McCain camp taken it down...And can people still find him on Facebook? Has anyone tried to "friend" him lately?

*11:06 Palin just wrapped up her speech by asking people to elect a "great" man as President of the United States.

So I'm taking her advice and voting for Barack Obama in November!

[Aside: Is it just me or is the soundtrack for the RNC essentially a country-western track? Don't Republicans listen to something besides this one genre of music? Seriously, aren't there some soul fans in the GOP leadership? A little Marvin Gaye anyone? Or perhaps they don't want to run into anymore problems with singers telling them that they don't have their permission to use their songs, which both Van Halen and Jackson Browne have recently done.]

p.s. Just like last week, I can feel tears welling up in my eyes, but they are NOT tears of joy...they are tears of panic and frustration and anxiety because this election is SO IMPORTANT and I can't believe that it's going to be a nail biter because to me this seems like a NO BRAINER (sigh), but like I warned at the top of this post, this is my own completely biased take on tonight's convention coverage on CNN.

7 comments:

C.N. said...

Great play-by-play, Jennifer. I chose not to watch Palin's speech but it was nice to get a synopsis of it. Keep up the good work.

C.N.
Asian-Nation.org

spartakos said...

Re: Palin ripping on Obama for his "guns and religion" comment...sorry, but I think she was right to rip him. That statement was ignorant at the least, bigoted at the worst.

Re: Washington elites...John McCain supposedly gets a pass from being a Washington Elite because he's a "maverick". To be honest, he is better than a lot of long-time Washington politicos...he's down on spending and earmarks, he doesn't seem to be part of the usual "good ol' boy" backscratching and trough-feeding crowd.

Re: John McCain the abuser...I hate spousal abuse as much as the next person...but aside from the famous c-word incident, is there any real evidence that McCain is abusive?

Re: "drilling's better than nothing"...it depends on what you mean by "better". Palin is referring to "better for America's energy needs", not "better for the environment"...and on that score, she's right.
That said...I do support alternative fuels. And drilling. And everything. I was pretty pro-nuke for a while, but now I'm told solar is coming on strong. Whatever works.
Oh, and republicans aren't spearheading any Green issues because, frankly, the Greens hate them.

Re: Palin's snark about Miranda. This is actually one where I completely agree with you and think that comment was foolish and short-sighted. As I told my wife last night, the right is too fond of the phrase "civil rights for terrorists"...as if anyone accused of being a terrorist is automatically a bomb-brandishing killer.

Re: cowboy hats...I wish I looked good in a cowboy hat; I think they look cool.

Re: young republicans...there aren't many. But there are many reasons for that.

Re: McCain's war hero cred...McCain's rep here is that he's courageous (he certainly is), he's committed to America (he certainly is), and that he has been tested by severe hardship and came through it okay (which is debatable, I guess). That said, I couldn't disagree more about the Vietnam war and how we "lost" it (I believe we threw in the towel when we were winning), but that's a huge long discussion by itself, so we can let that rest.

Re: the election being a "no-brainer"...gently, I might suggest that it's easy for you, because you seem to agree with most all of Obama's positions (if I'm wrong, I apologize). It's actually a very tough choice for me...because while I disagree with Obama/Biden on law/government/economics (boy, do I on Constitutional issues), I disagree with McCain/Palin on most social issues. I'm not a one issue voter...if I was, I'd vote republican, because Obama/Biden stink on the 2nd amendment. But I'm not...so I really have to think about this one, and weigh what's best (IMO) for the country. That may turn out to be Obama. But while I don't think Obama will ruin the country (as some conservatives fear), nor do I think McCain will destroy it (as you seem to fear).

Jennifer said...

CN--thanks for the props--I appreciate them, although I sometimes think my current political obsessions aren't so healthy for other parts of my life (I am reading EVERYTHING through the current election cycle/convention rhetoric and it's SO TEMPTING to bring up analogies in class but since I'm committed to NOT talk about politics in my classroom, I'm having to bite my tongue constantly. So far so good, but there seem to be so many interesting parallels to make in this election cycle between what we are experiencing in the political sphere and the literary theory & American narratives I'm teaching).

Spartakos,
I'm planning to do a post on why I identify with the Democratic party/why I believe I am a Democrat, because I think what my very partisan and biased observations demonstrate is a set of political beliefs that are rooted in my support for the principles and ideals that I associate with the Democratic party.

Although truth be told, I think that separate from my political affiliation I believe in a liberal-progressive world view, which means in terms of political platform issues I am very pro-choice, I believe in gender equity (which also includes re-thinking traditional roles that men get locked into -- so I think we need to advocate for more paternity leave in addition to maternity leave, or maybe just simple parental leave time. I believe in anti-racism/discrimination education, and I believe in gay marriage and other forms of queer union/recognizing queer subjectivity and the right to identify along multiple axes of sexuality.

And I definitely believe we need to do more for the environment because WE TRULY HAVE ONE PLANET.

I guess the thing I'd say in response to the issue of alternative fuels and why the Republican party hasn't been more proactive is that regardless of whether people who are formally part of the "Green" party want Republicans to be active in these issues, that shouldn't preclude people of ALL political orientations to get involved in environmental/energy issues (and I do think that the latest ads for "We Can Solve It" that pair up people like Al Sharpton & Pat Robertson are a great example of this--that you can disagree on politics and ideology but you can agree that we have to do something.

As for a single candidate or party being responsible for destroying the nation, I just don't' believe that. Whether Obama or McCain ends up in the White House, no single person can be responsible for destroying anything. They will wield enormous power. And they will have a chance to change the world. But neither Obama nor McCain and neither the Democrat nor Repubican party can either screw up things beyond repair or repair things completely.

I guess in some ways I have drunk the cool aid in terms of Obama's 2004 speech and parts of his 2008 speech. There is just TOO MUCH WORK to be done and we have to figure out a way for us ALL to get involved and do it. I suppose my small corner niche in this is through different social justice issues and trying to live in terms of being environmentally sound/friendly.

What disturbs me about Palin's speech is that it seemed it was heavy on the sarcasm/mocking of Obama and a lot of ideals that people who aren't just Democrat believe in: people who work hard as community advisers and who care about protecting natural resources/wildlife in the Arctic and who care about civil rights (ala mocking the Miranda laws).

spartakos said...

Re: your liberal-progressive world view...I understand where you're coming from there. And in fact, I'm pretty much in agreement on issues such as equality (be it gender, racial, or alternate sexuality). I likewise understand your thoughts on the environment (where I disagree a little more; more on this in a sec).
But those are all goals. I'd be interested in where you stand on the nuts'n'bolts, the "how to do it"? I'm very curious about your stance on issues such as:
--Role of government and scope of government...how much power should the federal/state government have.
--Role of laws...which laws are constitutional; do we have enough laws? Do we need more? Do we have too many?
--The Bill of Rights...how absolute is it?
--Economics/taxation...how much power should the government have over how we earn a living, what we do with our money, and so on? How should government be financed?
--How to bring about change? Peer feedback? Education system? Social pressure? Legal mandate with criminal penalty?

Re: only one planet...here we must probably agree to disagree, because I am with Jerry Pournelle; we don't live on just one planet, from a certain point of view...we live on one planet in a solar system of many planets and countless moons and asteroids, in a galaxy of millions of stars. If we are willing to look to space in the future, we can return earth to a garden. The resources are available if we're willing to go after them.
We could have many planets. With work, we could even have many planets like earth.

Re: Palin's snark/mockery...can't really disagree. Her speech did not impress me. And I've always believed you get more flies with honey than vinegar. Just because someone disagrees with me, that does not make them my enemy...and that doesn't make them open targets for mockery or derision.

Kushibo said...

Who vetted her? Rush Limbaugh did.

Sarah Palin was a brilliant choice for McCain to get elected. There are few people on the fence who will choose not to vote for McCain because of Palin's views or "inexperience" (which, objectively, is not all that worse than Obama's). The people who would never vote for someone like Palin are people who wouldn't have voted Republican anyway.

But Palin has now fired up the GOP that was lukewarm to McCain. These people will no longer stay home on November 4. Many of them will work hard for a McCain-Palin to win.

And for McCain, Palin offers some of the maverick, go-against-your-party independence he likes, especially if he's going to try to make a dent in corrupt Washington practices (which I think he wants to do and it's the only saving grace about him, methinks).

So choosing Palin was a brilliant strategy for McCain to win. I dare say it might end up working.

I only hope, in that case, that he survives to the end of his first term and that VP Palin doesn't muster the votes to get the Republican nomination for 2012.

Jennifer said...

Kushibo,
I can see why you named Rush Limbaugh as her personal "vetter" since choosing Pallin does seem to be assuring a slice of the Republican party (or its "base" as the pundits keep saying). Truth be told, I don't really have any accurate sense of how large this "base" is, ie: socially conservative, Evangelical Christians who live outside of urban areas and are white and middle-class/upper-middle-class (that's the base, right?).

I say this because I don't personally know anyone who fits this demographic. I mean, I'm sure there are people I'm acquainted with, but off the top of my head, no one fits this bill. I do have friends who are Republican, but they are all socially liberal and fiscally conservative, and oddly (or interestingly) enough, none of them are Christian, or at least are only nominally so (ie: baptized Catholic but don't go to church anymore).

I suspect that for a great number of Repubicans, the pick of Palin may be something they have to swallow rather than feel energized by, but, again, this is based on scanty evidence on my part.

I also wonder the degree Obama really *wanted* Biden as his VP choice. There's nothing suggesting an acrimonious relationship between the two, but lets face it--politics is politics, and if you want to win a presidential election, you have to be able to come to the center.

Which is, I suppose, what makes me think the choice of Palin is a bit...odd? She's not a centrist, although I suppose some may *see* her that way--and perhaps it's all about perception.

Spartakos,
Great questions about role of govenment, law, how to effect change. I suppose that I stand pretty much where most typical Democrats do. I guess I also may define "government intruision" a bit differently.

Lets take an easy liberal topic, gay marriage. I don't see it as government intervention to allow gay marriage--but it does seem like government interference to try to amend laws/constitutional rights to limit marriage between a man and a woman. In this case, I think I err on the side of wanting to assure the most choice possible to people and to let people decide.

This is one of the reasons why I found Huckabees marriage conventant to be beyond punitive. I think divorce is disruptive for society, and certainly people shouldn't treat marriage as casually as they do dating, but ending a marriage that isn't working seems like an adult decision and not something the state should intervene in.

I also am not troubled by taxation for services that benefit the greater good of the society I live in. Don't get me wrong--it's not that I'm an extreme do-gooder, but I've never been terribly acquisitive/materialistic (as evidenced by my choice of profession) so I think I should pay a certain amount of taxes based on my income. I do understand that it's not quite this simple--and that others are really struggling. But I'm saying, for me, I don't mind conserving.

And I suppose, ideologically, that's something I really do believe in: conservation. Of natural resources, of energy, of finances. I believe in treading lightly whenever possible, and I also believe that solutions must come from multiple sources and that the best thing for my classroom is to have a variety and diversity of voices--especially ones that challenge MY world view (but in a respectful way). Some of the best conversations/teaching moments I have had were with students who didn't agree with my interpretation or a fellow student's interpreation and we all just discussed and worked it through together.

Too simplistic to think it can work at the level of government, but in answer to your last question, we need change from all fronts. Certainyl education--but also social responsiblity--when you see someone throw down a wrapper you could pick it up and say, "Excuse me sir, you accidently dropped this!" (and smile--I've done this before).

We don't like to confront one another, but sometimes the only way to make change happen is to have a little bit of confrontation and tension.

Again, hard to find the right balance. And trust me--if I had all the answers for the questions you posed I'd probably consider running for president myself! (although it'd be a fiasco--no one would vote for me and I'd shoot my mouth off and say all the wrong things and probably get belligerant with people).

Enough with the Sat. morning ramble. I'm off to read some Crevecoeur.

Kushibo said...

I hope you don't mind if I answer this line by line. Back when my blog was going full force, I was a master fisker. :P

jennifer wrote:
Kushibo,
I can see why you named Rush Limbaugh as her personal "vetter" since choosing Pallin does seem to be assuring a slice of the Republican party (or its "base" as the pundits keep saying).


For McCain, the appeal of Palin is that "I like her because she's like me about X. I don't have Y and I don't really care much for Y, but a lot of the base likes Y and will really rally behind her for it.

A win-win situation: someone he can work with on his pet issues (corruption, bucking the establishment) and who brings up a base which might come out in force to help his ticket win. (Though they still don't trust him.)

I lived in Seoul during the past several elections and I listened to Rush Limbaugh on American Forces Network just to get a taste of what the other side was saying. Back in 2000, it was striking how Rush Limbaugh all but stopped his attacks on Hillary, Bill, and Al Gore so that he could viciously take down John McCain. Unless you have witnessed this, I don't think you can fully understand the scope of the right's distrust and loathing of McCain.

Palin is their darling and he has brought back a bunch of support. He no longer has to win just in the middle and from the moderates.

Truth be told, I don't really have any accurate sense of how large this "base" is, ie: socially conservative, Evangelical Christians who live outside of urban areas and are white and middle-class/upper-middle-class (that's the base, right?).

Those are parts of the base, but you risk mischaracterizing them at your own peril. One important thing to understand is that they are bit all rural or even suburban. Quite a few are still in urban centers and the number of evangelicals is growing.

That is NOT to say that evangelicals automatically equals GOP supporter. I think the percent of evangelicals who vote Dem is around 25 or 30%. You see, a lot of evangelicals (and other Christians) read THE WHOLE BIBLE including those parts about sharing God's love, helping those in need, and not judging others unless you yourself are God. The good parts. I myself am a lifelong Christian and a lifelong Democrat. As is Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Jimmy Carter... need I go on?

Mike Huckabee sometimes sounded downright liberal in some of his help-the-poor social positions, which made me secretly hope he would be picked as McCain's running mate.

Nor are they all middle- or upper-class. A lot of evangelicals are poor or from modest means, especially in the rural South. And a lot of them don't trust the big-business interests of the GOP in Washington (that Caesar-like entity).

Anyway, I think that a future Democrat could go a long way toward reaching out to some of these folks. Bill Clinton did: He simply said that he (like most Americans) doesn't LIKE abortion, but by golly making it illegal isn't the way to reduce it. It's easy to point to the stats of abortions going down under Clinton and then going up again under Dubya.

I say this because I don't personally know anyone who fits this demographic. I mean, I'm sure there are people I'm acquainted with, but off the top of my head, no one fits this bill. I do have friends who are Republican, but they are all socially liberal and fiscally conservative, and oddly (or interestingly) enough, none of them are Christian, or at least are only nominally so (ie: baptized Catholic but don't go to church anymore).

Growing up in Orange County, California, most of my Republican friends (and relatives) were like what you described.

I don't recall where you're from, but if it's the same type of thing, I would say you run the risk of misjudging the opponent if you don't understand them well. Living in Seoul I was mostly outside the English-speaking community, but I got involved in enough "American" stuff to come into contact with a steady stream of Americans. Since they were from all over the United States, I got a better taste of what different people thought from different places. I discovered a bunch of Texans who loathe bush and are embarrassed he's from their state, evangelical Californians and New Yorkers (from Manhattan even!) and all manner in between.

A lot of evangelicals, I discovered, are bitter because they are constantly misrepresented by the media and the left, with a lot of them also distrusting attempts to put too much religion in the hands of Washington or state governments.

You'd be surprised.

Of course, there are people who don't understand their own faith's history in this country and who want to turn the United States into a virtual theocracy where prayer in schools is all but mandated, abortion is strictly illegal, 6-day creationism is taught side by side with (if not instead of) evolution, and all sex education is replaced with abstinence education.

But that is actually a small percentage of that group.

I suspect that for a great number of Repubicans, the pick of Palin may be something they have to swallow rather than feel energized by, but, again, this is based on scanty evidence on my part.

For moderate Republicans, especially like you describe above, it is. These are the people who voted for McCain because he wasn't like Palin.

And since McCain did in fact win his party's nomination, I'd like to think they are a sizable chunk of the party.

I also wonder the degree Obama really *wanted* Biden as his VP choice. There's nothing suggesting an acrimonious relationship between the two, but lets face it--politics is politics, and if you want to win a presidential election, you have to be able to come to the center.

I think he feels personally comfortable with Biden, and he knows Biden fulfills a role he needs.

Frankly, I wish he had used New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson to fill that role. That guy is more experienced than any of the Democratic field. Maybe he is going to choose Richardson for Secretary of State, where he can do the most good. Also, being half Hispanic, I think support for Richardson would have tipped certain states (like Florida) into the blue column.

Which is, I suppose, what makes me think the choice of Palin is a bit...odd? She's not a centrist, although I suppose some may *see* her that way--and perhaps it's all about perception.

McCain likes her because she's been a maverick against a corrupt GOP establishment. And he knows she'll galvanize a group that hates him. He can hold his nose and let her get to work on that. It was a brilliant tactical choice for him.

Sorry for the long response. :)