The eve of destruction

Sarah Palin at a speech in Jefferson City, Missouri, this weekend, to which I say, “Woman, what are you talking about?”

“What do they think? Do they think the terrorists have all the sudden become the good guys and changed their minds? No, the terrorists still seek to destroy America and her allies and all that it is that we stand for: freedom, tolerance, and equality. The terrorists have not changed their minds.”

As we finally arrive at Election Day (ya rly!), with Barack Obama for all appearances having a very good chance at being the next President of the United States, Sarah Palin’s speeches have dissolved into empty, jingoistic rhetoric, not that they were ever rich with innovative viewpoints and solid know-how in the first place.  She treats the word “terrorist” like a scary monster doll to be shaken at the ignorant masses, a big green (or brown, rather) boogeyman that she and John McCain will keep at bay for us, apparently with crosses and holy water, since neither of them have really explained specifically what they plan to do about the so-called “war on terrorism,” only that they’re going to keep spending lots of money on it.  It’s a wonder she hasn’t just thrown all good taste out the window and held up a picture of the falling man from 9/11 while saying “If you vote for Obama, this will happen to you!” Seven years later, when we’re facing record-high unemployment rates, more Americans are going without health insurance than ever before and the economy is circling the drain, Sarah Palin is convinced that our top priority should still be protecting our country from terrorists.  That should be our primary fear, brown people in turbans who hate America because of Christianity and MTV and shows like Gossip Girl, not whether or not we’ll be able to pay our rent next month.

Meanwhile, John McCain, who I genuinely liked before this campaign, continues to latch onto “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher with almost totemistic fervor, even claiming he’ll “take him to DC” if he wins.  It doesn’t matter that Wurzelbacher isn’t actually a licensed plumber, doesn’t make enough money to feel the effects of Obama’s tax plan and seems to be about as dumb as a bag of sand.  As far as McCain is concerned, Joe the Plumber is America, and if he keeps invoking his name like some sort of prayer, it proves he has the needs and concerns of all Americans in his sights.  He is in touch with America.  Except that he’s not.  He’s not even in touch with his campaign at this point.  It’s been off the rails for months now, fueled by idiocy and hatred, and I want to believe that McCain isn’t really responsible for most of it.  With Mitt Romney or even Tom Ridge as a running mate he could have had a clean campaign, or at least, one not wrought with so much abject stupidity.  He could have given Obama a good, strong run for his money.  Not that I wouldn’t still be voting for Obama, but it would have been nice if this campaign hadn’t given me the opportunity to see the very worst of America along with the very best.

I don’t want to jinx anything by making this into a “how did John McCain lose” post.  There’s a tiny, terrifying chance they might take this, not likely through entirely honest means, but still, I don’t want to risk the chance that I’ll be writing a “what the fuck happened?” post on Wednesday.  Still, his chances of winning would have improved if he hadn’t picked a running mate who misunderstands the First Amendment, who has never once taken responsibility for her many misstatements and blunders, who continuously relies on disproven, inaccurate information about her opponents to earn support, who allows her supporters to make racist threats against Barack Obama without admonishing them, who outright refused to answer questions at the vice-presidential debate, the one time she was all but required to prove why she was worthy of the position, who seems utterly incapable of answering any question without falling into a babble of meaningless, patriotic nonsense.    They would have improved if it wasn’t so patently obvious that nobody in the McCain campaign has the first clue what “middle class” means.  I don’t know in what part of the country a household income of $250,000 per year is “middle class,” but it’s not in my neighborhood, and I live in one of the most expensive cities in the world.  A colleague of McCain’s recently referred to Cindy McCain as a “small business owner.”  I don’t know about you, but when I think “small business owner,” I think someone who runs a dog grooming business or a daycare center.  Cindy McCain is a millionaire, heiress to one of the largest distributors for Anheuser-Busch in the country.  How can any of these people say with a straight face that they know about the hard-scrabble, Bud-drinking, NASCAR-watching, John Cougar Mellencamp-listening part of America? And how can the people who are from that part of America believe that their voices are really being heard?

If John McCain is elected President tomorrow, it will be mostly ignorance that got him there.  As a war hero who once had the best intentions for his country at heart, he deserved better than that.  He deserved a campaign worthy of someone of his stature, and while I won’t be sorry if he loses, he has no one to blame but his own campaign.  Tomorrow he faces at worst a painful defeat, and at best a hollow, ugly victory.

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