By Kelly Jean Cogswell
In the distant presidential campaign of 2000, when the Democrats could have touted the flourishing economy and budget surplus of the Clinton administration, they preferred to focus instead on more important issues. Like how George W. Bush pronounced "nucular."
We also heard about W.'s cowboy hats, ridiculous big ears, terrible grades at Yale, drunkenness, and cheerleading activities, while Democratic and left-wing pundits sneered at the idea that running a baseball team, especially a losing one, could be considered "experience," and asserted that if George W. Bush wasn't born with a silver spoon in his mouth, he would have been lucky to be the bat boy. Likewise, he wouldn't have been governor of Texas if he weren't a member of the Bush royal family. Nobody'd be enough of an idiot to vote for a loser like him.
Having been so successful with their sneer tactics in 2000, Democrats repeated them in 2004. And having failed yet again, the Dems have sunk their 2008 energy into a similar campaign calling attention to McCain's white hair, internet illiteracy, and obviously senile fits of rage. His running mate, that crazy nobody, Sarah Palin, has been dismissed as a cosmetics saleswoman at Macy's, beauty queen, and white trash, fundamentalist baby-making machine that pauses just long enough between births to skin a moose alive.
The problem with sneer campaigns, is that while they're supposed to make the target look stupid and inept, what they actually do is reveal the values of the sneerer. And in this campaign, what the Democrats are revealing is that they think old people, poor and working class people, and women are too stupid and ridiculous to consider for any top job. Yeah, that'll win them the election.
My advice is to just drop the sneers. If the Democrats want to make the Republicans look ridiculous, they only have to stick to the issues. Like McCain's role in getting us into the mess in Iraq. McCain repeatedly insisted that Iraq played a major role in 9/11, even after the theory was totally disproved by U.S. intelligence services. He also insisted on the imaginary WMD's in Iraq, and even blamed Suddam Hussein for the anthrax attacks in the U.S. And it was the veteran warrior McCain, in his own sneering arrogance, who backed up the Bush administration in vastly underestimating how many soldiers would be needed to handle the whole invasion.
McCain has also supported Bush's economic policy, and his Republican cronies have repeatedly said that the economy is fine, and characterized suffering Americans as a bunch of whiners, even as the federal government has been forced to step in and essentially nationalize two gigantic loan programs to keep the economy from totally collapsing. Long live socialist Republicans!
To undercut Palin's effectiveness as a symbol of change, especially in the pork barrel area of Washington politics, all you have to do is point out Palin's pig dinners as Alaskan governor, where the subsidy per citizen is several times the national average. According to the Washington Post, Palin herself has apparently billed Alaskan taxpayers for travel expenses when she was sitting at home.
And when Palin sneers at Obama's foreign policy, "He's worried that someone won't read them their rights," it should be enough to point out that the top of her ticket was himself tortured during war and didn't much like it.
If they want to win, Democrats should forget the cheap shots about senior citizens, moose shoots, and beauty queens, and stick to the issues. Sure, the late days of a campaign are supposed to be all about character, but isn't that what the issues often reveal?
Which is why the attacks dismissing Sarah Palin as one more crazy evangelist only chosen as VP for her vagina and abortion stance, have been particularly disturbing. Not just because of their misogyny. But because they show just how much the left continues to underestimate American fundamentalists, especially the new wave. They're creationists, but no morons.
Sarah Palin is just the vanguard. As I said last week, yes, she wears go-go boots and has a bunch of kids. She didn't go to Harvard and get straight A's. But she's a formidable politician. She's intelligent, scrappy, and flexible with an extraordinary learning curve.
She was a town council member of Wasilla, Alaska in 1992 at 28. She took office as mayor at the ripe old age of 32, tried to bull-doze her way into establishing a fundamentalist Christian town including censoring books, but met so much opposition they tried to recall her. The difference between her and the old guard is that she then moderated her positions enough, at least publicly, to get re-elected by a fat margin.
Barely a decade later, she was governor of Alaska. Now, still anti-abortion, anti-evolution, anti-queer she's on the road to the White House. Sneer at your own risk.