- Harry Lime (The Third Man)
I can't think about the Sarah Palin pick without thinking about this quote. John McCain thinks we're suckers and mugs, and he and his conservative ilk think they'll have no trouble pulling the wool over our eyes. Richard Cohen:
John McCain's selection of Palin, which I first viewed with horror, could now be seen in a different light. Based on various television interviews over the Labor Day weekend -- and a careful reading of the transcripts -- it is possible that this is McCain's attempt to make fools of his fellow Republicans. He has succeeded beyond all expectations.
Just to show that he would not ask of others what he would not do himself, McCain came before Chris Wallace to sing Palin's praises. He said that he had "watched her record . . . for many, many years" which is, a prudent man might say, more years than she's had a record. McCain, as a fellow military man, did not mention Palin's tenure as the supreme commander of the entire Alaska National Guard, maybe because he thought it speaks for itself. If that's the case, he's right.
Probably the most depressing thing about Palin is not her selection but the defense of it. It has produced a parade of GOP spokesmen intent on spiking the needle on a polygraph. Looking right into the camera, they offer statement after statement that they hope the voters will swallow but that history will forget. The sum effect on the diligent news consumer is a feeling of consummate contempt for the intelligence of the American people -- a contempt that will be justified should Palin be the factor that makes McCain a winner in November.
One of the more heroic efforts at Palin worship came from the commentator-columnist William Kristol, the former chief of staff for Vice President Dan Quayle. He had to use the code word "traditional" three times in a single sentence to make his point: "It's a pretty amazing story of personal success, being at once a traditional woman who broke all of these traditional barriers, kind of the best of both worlds, if you believe in traditional values."
About the only Republican who seemed totally sincere about Palin was Grover G. Norquist, an anti-tax obsessive who once likened the argument that the estate tax affected only a very few people to the argument -- made by no one I can think of -- that the Holocaust also affected a relatively few people. "I mean, that's the morality of the Holocaust," he said only five years ago. Norquist called the selection of the anti-tax Palin a "wise" choice.
What can really be said for a movement so intent on pulling the wool over our eyes? Conservative philosophy comes down to this: regular people are rubes, and we must distract enough of them so they don't notice the elite constantly enriching itself.
One thing I can tell you... John McCain is going to wish he vetted Palin, which he clearly did not. It's a convenient story for the GOP that Palin is a "reformer" and therefore clean, but I suspect some revelations are on the way.
When a politician comes out of a truly corrupt system, a reputation as a "reformer" isn't the same as a clean record. Reformers, in general, are somewhat less corrupt then the machine they're fighting, and they're enemies of the most entrenched elements of the existing system. But they're not radicals, and they're not ascetics. They played by some of the rules. If they'd simply rejected the whole rotted infrastructure, the system would have purged them early, and they'd never have been powerful enough to confront anyone at all.
Palin did not reject the system. Alaska is a pork-based economy. So when she was mayor of Wasilla, a town of 6,700 people, she employed Robertson, Monagle & Eastaugh, a powerful lobbying firm, to push Congress into appropriating almost $27 million in earmarks for her town. That's about $4,000 per person. When the $250 million Bridge to Nowhere was a possibility, she advocated for it. When Ted Stevens was the state's most powerful politician, she attached herself to him, directing his 527 group. Which is not say she doesn't have some reformist credentials: She does. But in a state as corrupt as Alaska, that's not the same as saying she's clean.