Exclusively in the new print issue of CounterPunch
MARX: A HERO FOR OUR TIME? — Suddenly, everyone from the Wall Street Journal to Rolling Stone seems to be talking about Karl Marx. Louis Proyect delves into this mysterious resurgence, giving a vivid assessment of Marx’s relevance in the era of globalized capitalism. THE MEANING OF MANDELA: Longtime civil rights organizer Kevin Alexander Gray gives in intimate portrait of Nelson Mandela and the global struggle of racial justice. FALLOUT OVER FUKUSHIMA: Peter Lee investigates the scandalous exposure of sailors on board the USS Reagan to radioactive fallout from Fukushima. SOUTHERN DISCOMFORT: Kim Nicolini charts the rise of Matthew McConaughey. PLUS: Mike Whitney on the coming crash of the housing market. JoAnn Wypijewski on slavery, torture and revolt. Chris Floyd on the stupidity of US policy in Ukraine. Kristin Kolb on musicians and health care. And Jeffrey St. Clair on life and death on the mean streets of an America in decline
The Iron Lady and the Plumber

Palin/Wurzelbacher 2012!

by CHARLES R. LARSON

Now that the defeat of John McCain is almost a foregone conclusion, Sarah Palin has begun to distance herself from the 2008 Republican ticket, establishing a separate identity for her 2012 run for the presidency.  Samuel "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher has announced his interest in running for Congress in 2010 in order to solidify his position as Palin’s running mate in the 2012 election.  RNC operatives are ecstatic, already working behind the lines to retake the White House with the winning "Palin/Wurzelbacher" ticket.

Off-the-cuff remarks by an RNC leader reveal that steps have been taken to rebuild the GOP with Palin and Wurzelbacher in the most visible positions.  "We’ve already begun broadening their awareness of national and international events," the spokesperson stated, "by signing them up for four-year subscriptions to ‘The Weekly Reader.’"  Palin, we’re told, was able to read an entire recent issue of the ‘Reader’ during the course of an evening’s isolation. "She’s going to be crammed full of important facts by the time she makes her presidential run," the spokesperson added.

RNC kingmakers realize that a complete make-over is necessary to guarantee the success of their 2012 ticket.  "No more expensive clothes, but no thrift store clothing either," one kingmaker remarked.  "We’ve spent $149.00 and bought her a Singer sewing machine.  And she’s got four years to tailor a wardrobe that she’s be able to tell voters that she actually made herself."  He added, "We hope, of course, that Palin’s home-made duds will be an inspiration for all American women, now that the Bush economy has collapsed."

For their economic advisors, behind the scene positioning has already taken place by arranging for Alan Greenspan and Grover Norquist as the ticket’s top advisors.  Off the record, Norquist has said that the winning economic plan has already been formulated: "No taxes for anyone who votes Republican, no taxes at all."  To which he added, "What kind of fool out there would want to ‘spread the wealth?’  Helping others, why that’s socialism, un-American.  This’ll show those Communist pinkos."

"In four years, Palin will be the ideal candidate," another RNC leader effused.  "Just think about it.  Bristol will be happily married with several children.  Track will be a war hero.  Even Trig will be old enough to walk by himself, though the governor may still want to carry him around to show her undying love and devotion.  Even  Palin’s husband, Todd, will have won a few more races, which can only increase the image of the Palins as a model first family.  We mustn’t forget family values."

Joe the Plumber presents more of a problem for the RNC.  "But we’ve got an angle on that, too," Mary Matalin has also said off-the-record.  "Think about him—he’s a gift dropped right into our laps.  We’ve already started ghostwriting a series of plumbing manuals for him.  Not ‘Plumbing for Dummies.’  That’s too obvious, but manuals designed for specific consistuencies.  ‘Plumbing for Christians,’ for example, in the tradition of something like Thoreau’s "Walden," inspirational ways to help one’s self and better the economy at the same time. The plumbing metaphor will be in everything the GOP will do in the next few years."

There’s even a plan afoot to demonstrate Sarah Palin’s international credentials. "Remember," one Republican operative has said, "Alaska’s just a hop, a skip and a jump from Russia.   There are places where barely fifty miles of water separate the two countries.  All Governor Palin has to do—just before the 2012 election–is provoke Siberia into rattling its saber and start a little war with the Alaska National Guard.  She wouldn’t even need to check with the Obama administration before doing that.  She’d be defending her state—and the entire United States.  Think of the results.  It’d be like Margaret Thatcher in the Falklands.  Sarah Palin will be seen as the new Iron Lady.  The election will be a shoo-in."

CHARLES R. LARSON is Professor of Literature at American University in Washington, D.C. His books include Under African Skies, Worlds of Fiction, The Ordeal of the African Writer and Academia Nuts. He can be reached at: clarson@american.edu