Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Celebrity

My, what an unexpected and nasty piece of work is Governor Sarah Palin. In her oratory and interviews, equal parts smugness, red-baiting and hypocrisy:

Decrying "socialism" in her snakey, dishonest, "I'm not the one saying", innuendo dripping, Wormtongue-ish way:
Grima used his skill with words and persuasion to influence the enfeebled King's decisions and policies.
Hmm, enfeebled king. Sound familiar?

The fact is that Palin is from the most socialist of states, Alaska, where every non-felon resident gets some redistribution of the oil wealth, for $5,522 between her and her husband in 2007. You know, the "pro-America" form of socialism.

But while the McCain campaign ran ads prior to Gov. Palin's selection that accused Sen. Barack Obama of being a "celebrity" the like of Brittany Spears and Paris Hilton, now it's his running mate who's dressin' like a star:
The Republican National Committee appears to have spent more than $150,000 to clothe and accessorize vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and her family since her surprise pick by John McCain in late August.

According to financial disclosure records, the accessorizing began in early September and included bills from Saks Fifth Avenue in St. Louis and New York for a combined $49,425.74.

The records also document a couple of big-time shopping trips to Neiman Marcus in Minneapolis, including one $75,062.63 spree in early September.

The RNC also spent $4,716.49 on hair and makeup through September after reporting no such costs in August.
Hey, remember when John Edwards got a $400 haircut? Inflation.

And, as a conservative mavformrick she's also always been keen to help you decide what to do with your money:
Gov. Sarah Palin charged the state for her children to travel with her, including to events where they were not invited, and later amended expense reports to specify that they were on official business.

The charges included costs for hotel and commercial flights for three daughters to join Palin to watch their father in a snowmobile race, and a trip to New York, where the governor attended a five-hour conference and stayed with 17-year-old Bristol for five days and four nights in a luxury hotel.

In all, Palin has charged the state $21,012 for her three daughters' 64 one-way and 12 round-trip commercial flights since she took office in December 2006. In some other cases, she has charged the state for hotel rooms for the girls.

Ah, well, what she lacks in honesty she can at least make up with knowledge:

Q: Brandon Garcia wants to know, “What does the Vice President do?”

PALIN: That’s something that Piper would ask me! … [T]hey’re in charge of the U.S. Senate so if they want to they can really get in there with the senators and make a lot of good policy changes that will make life better for Brandon and his family and his classroom.

Actually, no one is in charge of the U.S. Senate, and agenda is now by established tradition run by the Majority Leader, working with whatever degree of collaboration with the Minority Leader. The Vice President is also "President of the Senate" but rarely shows up since it's basically a gavel job, except to break a tie vote -- which has happened only 242 times since 1789 for an exact average of once a year.

It turns out that Palin's qualifications are actually the top reason (does there have to be just one?) why John McCain's poll numbers are plopping into the toilet:

Fifty-five percent of respondents now say Palin is not qualified to serve as president, a five-point jump from the previous NBC/WSJ survey.

In addition, for the first time, more voters have a negative opinion of her than a positive one. In the survey, 47 percent view her negatively, versus 38 percent who see her in a positive light.

That's a striking shift since McCain chose Palin as his running mate in early September, when she held a 47 to 27 percent positive rating.

According to another poll by Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, opinions of Palin have flipped in the last month, especially among the female voters she was expected to attract to the McCain ticket.

Nearly half -- 49% -- of voters have an unfavorable opinion of her while 44% have a favorable view. A month ago, "favorable opinions of Palin outnumbered negative ones by 54% to 32%."

We've begun talking about how Sarah Palin is setting herself up for 2012 while shemping her King Lear-like running mate to wander confusedly and alone, but maybe she'll be poison even to her party by then. While Palin is meteoric celebrity in the world of the religious right who's working hard to get the anti-Union vote as well, she's actually an anvil not only on the topline GOP ticket but, by that very nature, on all the down-ticket races as well.

And now in a major humiliation, the kind of campaign expose that supposed to come out after a Presidential election is actually coming out in next Sunday's New York Times Magazine, and includes how Sarah Palin was vetted, I mean, chosen:
Having interviewed several of the Senator's chief aides, Draper details the process by which McCain ultimately chose his running mate (New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg was surprisingly high on the list). And the decision may have been even more impulsive than initially thought. Gov. Sarah Palin, who had never been on the VP shortlist, was advanced at the last minute by Schmidt and Rick Davis, and was picked after a less-than-hour-long chat in with McCain at his ranch in Arizona.
In the end, if McCain does indeed lose this election, it won't be because of Gov. Palin or even, in a direct sense, Sen. Obama. McCain will have lost it for himself. They say that Presidential campaigns can build character -- we want to watch a new candidate grow, become, promise more for the future -- but they also reveal character. Obama is smart in many ways, from book-smart to game-smart to people-smart. He's sober in temperment and generous of spirit, without being anybody's fool.

What this campaign has revealed about John McCain's character, as set as it is for him at his particular flavor of age 72, might be read in a number of different ways, but heroic is not one of them.

Cold, political and calculating, perhaps?

If so, how much farther off could his calculations be?

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