McCain and company unveiled a ghoulish and predictable narrative from their crypt this week: a boilerplate and intellectually vapid narrative catering to base, knee jerk emotions. One that also shamelessly and hypocritically plays the divisive, “Culture –War” card to elicit orgasmic glee from a Convention audience so White that I had to increase the Contrast just to see some color.
In order to win over undecided moderates and independents, McCain disguised himself as a maverick Yoda, a seasoned and unorthodox statesmen pledging a promise that “change is coming.” However, it seems that no one told the Convention audience. One could easily play “Where’s Waldo?” while watching the Republican delegates, but instead replace “Waldo” with “Minorities.” [I counted about 6.25.]
“CHANGE IS COMING”
In a sign of desperation or perhaps blinding ignorance, McCain misappropriated Obama’s “change” slogan [which has become more nebulous and faltering] to convince a domestic and international audience that the Republican Party will clean up The White House. Apparently unbeknownst to the Republicans, they have lived as owners of that house for the past 8 years. McCain’s history with the Keating-5 Savings and Loan scandal no doubt gave him experience in this specific case of rhetorical “impropriety.”
He placated the “wealthy Republican base”- corporate interests, upper class and multinational companies – as he rehashed the tired and failed Republican mantra of “less taxes, less government spending. ” Along with it, he followed Bush’s playbook and attached a ridiculous claim to “moral” superiority in comparison to elite, cowardly liberals: essentially all those who disagree with him and his Party. The Bush economic policy of taxing the poor, government deregulation, annihilating welfare programs, and attempting to privatize everything under the Sun [if they could privatize the Sun, they would] has resulted in one of the most disastrous economic conditions since the Great Depression. One that McCain and company selfishly follow to appease their wealthy donors, fatten their military contract investments, and shield the rich from paying high taxes. This Republican “Big Government vs. the little guy” line is so successful because it terrifies American workers. The Republicans love stroking economic uncertainty and fear by blaming the dark skinned immigrants, government regulation and socially responsible welfare reforms as the real cause of economic turmoil instead of highlighting their own selfish malfeasance, corruption [Jack Abramoff, the loyal Republican lobbyist was just sentenced to four years in prison] and lack of accountability.
MOTHER. MOOSE HUNTER. MAVERICK.
To woo his “cultural, religious base,” McCain unleashed his light saber in the guise of a well coiffed, moose hunting pit bull named Sarah Palin. The Vice President candidate, governor of Alaska, came out with fisticuffs and blazing guns, playing the role of aggressive, go get ‘em “drill sergeant” as a foil to McCain’s persona as the wise, calm but forceful “General.”
Palin unveiled herself as a fascinating, political Frankenstein. Like the computer-designed woman in the movie Weird Science, she seems to be the perfect wet dream composite as imagined by lustful and passionate right wing, radical Republican teenage boys.
She’s a salmon fishing, Bible thumping, pistol packing, hockey mom who can hunt a moose, skin it, make a burger out of it for lunch, catch the pastor’s Sunday sermon, and also find time to wear a sexy -but not butch – power suit the following day for a press conference. And, according to her drooling, Conservative acolytes, she thankfully doesn’t look “lesbian-y” and aggressively intimidating like that alleged man-hating ogre Hillary Clinton.
In one of the few moments of incisive self-awareness, Palin asked a self-referential question: “What’s the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? Lipstick.” The “Barracuda” has apparently evolved. Indeed, the pit bull is an even more apt metaphor. The pit bull, often referred to as the “All-American dog,” was bred primarily as a fighting terrier, an attack dog if you will. Furthermore, the image of the pit bull, draped with an American flag around its body, was used as WW1 pro-war propaganda to “fire up” the American masses. The jumbo sized, digital American flag behind Palin was sufficient for similar purposes.
I, amongst many others, actually wish she would instead answer the thoroughly reassuring question she asked before being nominated: “What is it exactly that theVP does every day?”
Apparently this VP candidate recites a mean spirited speech written by a George Bush aide, following the venerated smear tone perfected by Lee Atwater and Karl Rove, to mask her party’s intellectual and moral bankruptcy concerning foreign and domestic policy in favor of firing up a “base” infatuated with Guns, God, War, and randomly chanting “U.S.A.! U.S.A!”
The Republican Convention touted this specific image of Palin: “Mother. Moose hunter. Maverick.” If the latter, then she resembles Tom Cruise’s reckless and ambitious Maverick from Top Gun, only without the loyal, wiseass counsel of Goose. [And McCain is no Goose. Can he play homo-erotic volleyball and karaoke to Righteous Brothers? I think not!] Even though Palin lays claim to God and moral superiority, the head of Alaska’s state police union recently alleged “Maverick” Palin’s aides improperly obtained her former brother-in-law’s state police personnel files to use the information to raise complaints against him- eventually leading to his improper dismissal.
Furthermore, “The Maverick” decries the liberal elites’ lifestyle and values, yet her family now resembles the one portrayed in the “godless, leftist Hollywood” movie Juno [the Oscar nominated movie about a unwed, teenage pregnancy]. She maintains she has far more executive experience than the “12 years as elected official” Obama, even though she has been the Governor of Alaska for less than 2 years and previously a mayor of a city with less than 9,000 people. Along with McCain, she wants to bridge the bipartisan American community, yet she derides those community organizers, who sacrificed six figure incomes to help the disenfranchised, as lacking “actual responsibilities.” [Palin said: “I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer, except that you have actual responsibilities.”]
She shamelessly uses her gender to win over Clinton’s female voters by repeatedly praising the Senator for breaking the “glass ceiling”, yet earlier she said she wouldn’t support Clinton because she couldn’t stand “Clinton’s whining.” However, when Republicans whine, it’s defensible because of that nefarious cabal known as the “liberal media” who have the audacity to ask the still unknown Palin critical questions. Just yesterday Palin complained, “The Obama-Biden Democrats have been vicious in their attacks directed toward me, my family and John McCain.” When asked to cite an example of Obama-Biden’s attack on Palin’s family, Palin aides couldn’t find one, and instead offered as proof that the Obama-Biden camp erroneously attacked Palin as a “supporter of Buchanan.” Huh? Does that even make sense? But, hey, it’s OK. Let it go. She hunts moose, for God’s sake. Moose! Let’s leave the pit bull alone for now.
Milking combat and aggression for all its worth, Palin acted like Flava-Flav and played hype man to bolster McCain’s war veteran narrative. McCain continued to revisit his “war” story; one told so many times throughout the convention that I wish McCain had simply parachuted to the stage wearing a Captain America uniform carrying a lifeless body of an “Islamic terrorist” whom he had either just shot with his handgun or strangled with his bare hands. I am still waiting for a mainstream talking head to ask how flying bombing raids on Vietnamese villages transforms one into an enlightened Commander in Chief capable of creating and implementing a competent foreign policy. I am also waiting for a talking head to ask if indeed being a veteran is such a sacred, hallowed status, then why did the Republicans implicitly endorse the “Swift Boat Kerry” smear campaign of 2004?
Perhaps McCain’s most egregiously disingenuous claim is that he represents “average America” and its values. Most of my neighbors, who seem to be either working two jobs just to stay broke or dipping into their diminished savings to pay for gas and health care, aren’t married to a beer heiress worth more than one hundred million dollars. Also, most Americans, unlike John McCain, can answer the question: “How many homes do you own?” Many would say, “I don’t anymore – it got foreclosed.” When asked this question, McCain forgot how many he homes he owned. [Anywhere from 6 to 11 according to reports.] According to a Vanity Fair article, Cindy McCain’s Tuesday night wardrobe, including jewelry, cost more than $300,000. Apparently the “average American” family can afford to wear the cost of a house for an evening.
All of these inconsistencies highlight the brilliant hypocrisy that fuels American political machinery. One that is straightjacketed by a two party system trumpeting candidates who talk pretty but deliver empty promises in favor of arrogant quests for power. As witnessed by the McCain-Palin Republican ticket, it seems the Empire finally struck back – just like it did four years ago.
WAJAHAT ALI is a Muslim American of Pakistani descent. He is a playwright, essayist, humorist, and Attorney at Law, whose work, “The Domestic Crusaders” is the first major play about Muslim Americans living in a post 9-11 America. His blog is at http://goatmilk.wordpress.com/. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org