Friday, September 05, 2008

narratives

Orlando Furioso -- now that's a narrative we can believe in!

Caught on mike:

Chuck Todd: Yeah, I mean is she [Palin] really the most qualified woman they could have turned to?

Uberrepublican Peggy Noonan: The most qualified? No! I think they went for this -- excuse me-- political bullshit about narratives --

I'm trying to just get work done, but unfortunately I'm on edge all day waiting to see how the media defines its simplistic and mistaken narrative.

Here's the truth: John McCain so desperately wants to be president that he gave up long ago in resisting the Bush GOP in any meaningful way. Even if he really were a "maverick" (whatever that means), he's still a poor choice for president. His approach to economics is stuck in the 80s. His approach to foreign policy is frightening. He seems impatient with any facts -- whether there's a difference between Shi'ites and Sunnis, what countries border Iraq, what countries even exist anymore. Everything is reduced to good vs evil, victory vs defeat. If possible, he is even more hawkish and simplistic than Bush. He makes jokes about bombing other countries. Granted, his personal story regarding Vietnam is compelling, but by all accounts he took the wrong lesson from that war: the disaster of Vietnam was for him not due to hubris and overreaching or the cynical policy of using our own troops and the civilians of another country as expendable pawns in a game of geopolitics, rather it was due to a loss of nerve -- we should have won, whatever winning in Vietnam could possibly have meant. McCain's "toughness" translates into a terrifying reality -- he will go to war with anyone from Iran to North Korea to even Russia because he believes there is no problem that doesn't have a military solution, and no matter how badly things go, he will never admit he was wrong and change policy.

Meanwhile, his lack of judgment is pretty much proven by his irresponsible vp pick. Un-vetted and with absolutely no experience or even display of interest in foreign policy (the McCain campaign keeps echoing the idiotic and desperate "Alaska is close to Russia" line as its only response to this question), Sarah Palin is an incredible gamble. She may turn out to be capable, but how would we know? McCain certainly doesn't, since he picked her after only having met her once. The more I learn about her the less I like her. Ideologically she is from the far right wing of the Republican party, and her extremely brief time in office is already marked by scandals and abuse of executive power. She has shown herself to be confident in reading a speech written by a Bush speechwriter (decrying Washington insiders!). She seemed to warm to the Rovian talking points in that speech -- I was especially struck by her cold-hearted mocking of community organizing, which at its best was typical Republican disdain for anyone who wants to empower and help the less fortunate and discriminated people in our society, and at its worse was encoded racism (urban community organizer = black; small town mayor = white).

The truth is that the GOP convention was pathetic -- delayed at first because of a storm that might remind the country of the Republican criminal negligence after Katrina, it was marked by the uncomfortable avoidance of the president they had so emotionally praised in the last two conventions. A series of speakers attacked the Democratic party using hateful divisiveness and unbridled hypocrisy (Mitt Romney, wealthy former governor of Massachusetts and d*******g, decried the dems as "eastern elites") and the rhetoric climaxed with Palin's speech full of outright lies about her own record (bridge to nowhere) and Obama's (just about everything she said about him was mendacious). Then after this red-meat hate-fest, McCain comes out and promises reform and bipartisanship. This is an insult to our intelligence.

So we shouldn't worry, right? The GOP has run this country into the ground and there's no way Americans would give them another four years, especially when any sane observer can tell they promise nothing new, right? Well, here comes the media. Palin is "a rising star" that "energized the base" and once again, McCain is "the maverick." This is the narrative they seem to have chosen and perhaps no amount of reality will prevail against it. I hope I'm wrong. I hope the cognitive dissonance it takes to support McCain can't hold up. I hope the debates will reveal how much more prepared to be president Obama is than his rival. I hope Palin's and McCain hypocrisy tumbles and falls open for all to see. Unfortunately, for now, I'm still waiting.


UPDATE: for a snarky, but sadly accurate, take on the obscene double standard the press narrative follows for the two parties, here's vol. 1 and vol. 2.

15 comments:

crystal said...

In a way, the life "stories" about McCain and Palin probably affect people at a deeper level than actual facts .... it's sort of a Joseph Campbell type of hero mythology. So scary!

I sawe this quote in the blogosphere -

Jesus was a community organizer. Pilate was a governor.

Jared said...

so, I just saw a performance of Socrates' Apologia in Roone Arledge auditorium. And I was fascinated by what Socrates noted were rhetorical ploys that do not get into the heart of the issues or "truth" (those that he avoided in his defense), but try to sway people by emotions and not by justice...ploys that, if they work, ultimately insult the concept of justice itself. And, amazingly, almost every one of those ploys was used in the RNC.

Maybe we should all be reading Plato's Apology more...

Liam said...

Crystal --

"Jesus was a community organizer. Pilate was a governor." That rocks.

Jared --

That's scary -- remember what happened to Socrates in the end!

Jeff said...

The more I learn about her the less I like her.

Roger that. Is it sexist for me to say that she sounds like the typical PTA p.i.t.a. in your local school district who drives you crazy? I don't think she's going to wear well over time.

The Dems need to stop panicking over this woman and rally. Bring on the debates!

By the way, did any of you all happen to know that John McCain was a P.O.W.?

Giuliani's speech may have been the most galling of all, mocking community organizers (more than a few have been shot dead trying to do work in his city) and speaking of corruption, of all things. For the love o' Mike...

Signed Jeff, proud member of Protectionists Against Fred Thompson.

Jack said...

Obama is in trouble. I've written before and I will repeat:Republicans know how to play this game of winning by any means.

Take this year. Everbody thought and said the Republicn base was already with McCain, maybe not with enthusiasm, but there. So where could McCain go?

Ah, caught you. The Republican base is way deeper potentially than the evangelicals and the Catholic one issue vote.

The deeper level. Okay what do we call that new unexploited level. Well, I'm going to have to abreviate in part. Try the unwashed,or to be un-christian the whi.. tras. My terms are perjorative,so pick your own term; you know what I am saying.Look at these issues:

Choice.(ain't nobody going to tear Lila Sue's baby limb from limb)

Book censoring. ( no kid should read those f.....g dirty words books that my tax money pays for)

Global warming. (listen, I practically froze my ass off here in Boise last winter; Global warming, my ass)

Experience. (Listen, liberal pin head, she was mayor, and her city is no slum bag like that filty New York)

Foreign policy. Can you look out your window and almost see commie Russia? Sarah can, you eastern slob)

Gays.( You dont like her probably because you're queer)

Science. (Grandpa Jake was funny looking, but he sure weren't no monkey. Your parents may have been apes but not mine. Ha Ha)

Pregnancy out of wedlock. (You couldn't even do it even with 500 doses of Viagra. Plus your wives are ugly)

Now, you high brows, you think you are really big cause you went to Harvard.Sh.., you don't have enough real men to beat anyone in football.If you play, it's touch football. Take that anyway you want.

Okay liberal weenies, you're just jealous because no woman like Sarah would even look at you!!

Jack

jazzycat said...

Un-vetted and with absolutely no experience or even display of interest in foreign policy

As opposed to the experience of Obama who has been so well vetted by the MSM in the Ayers, Jeremiah Wright, and Resco associations. You guys are unbelievable. Granted her experience is not much, but neither is Obama's.

If you want an example of some real hate speech, give a listen to a Jeremiah Wright sermon who was the pastor that Obama was comfortable with for about 20 years.

BTW, Jesus was not a community organizer, he was and is the true living son of God who was not political in any way. He came to make atonement for the sins of all who trust in him through faith!

.....

Liam said...

Jazzycat --

Thanks for coming by. I'm afraid I don't see your point. Obama was tested in a brutal primary against a rival who plays hardball like no other in her party. We know everything there is to know about him now.

Despite what right-wing blogs may claim, Obama has almost no connection to Ayers. There is an attack ad out now that says Ayers "launched his career." This is frankly a lie in the pure GOP swiftboating tradition, and even Fox News refused to run the ad -- that should tell you something.

He has more of a connection with Rezko (not "Resco"), but can you point to anything inappropriate Obama did as a result of that? Remember, the alternative is the GOP, the party of Jack Abramoff, the party that had Enron in the white house designing energy policy. There is nothing to it.

As far as Wright goes, are you seriously saying the media did not pay attention to him? All we got was the same two youtube clips over and over again for two weeks. Obama addressed that in his Philadelphia speech, and I already blogged on it (you can do the search if you want to). I'm no huge fan of Wright's, but don't cast him as hate-monger when you've just seen two youtube clips out of the context of the speeches and the tradition of the black church in America.

Once again, the option is the GOP, the party of people like Falwell, Robertson, and Hagee -- people who claim that 9/11 and Katrina was punishment from God or that God sent Hitler to punish the Jews. That's hate for you.

Obama has significant achievements inside and outside politics that go back to when he was in school. He has taught constitutional law, worked in blighted communities, served in the Illinois state senate and in the US senate. He has been in the spotlight since 2004 and has shown that he knows a great deal about the issues, both foreign and domestic.

Sarah Palin, on the other hand, has been governor of a homogeneous, sparsely-populated state for two years. Before that she was mayor of a very small town. That's it. And as I said before, not only has she no foreign policy experience, she has shown no interest. Any comparison between her and Obama is patently absurd. That's why McCain's pick was so reckless. You want a president who thinks with his gut? We've had that for eight years.

As far as "Jesus was a community organizer" goes, that was a quip, not a theological statement. It refers to the fact that in his ministry Jesus spoke to, cared for, and empowered the most unfortunate members of his society. In that, he resembles more a community organizer than a politician. I stand by my statement that Republican derision of people who work in downtrodden communities is despicable, though hardly surprising at this point.

KcM said...

Joe Klein had a great riff about the community organizing strangeness over at TIME.

Media or no, I think the GOP shot themselves in the foot this past week. McCain's speech was a dud, and there was too much ridiculous teeth-baring, by Palin, etc. in the days before for McCain to gain much traction, I suspect.

As I posted over at GitM, we're up in the states we need (Obama apparently has 260 of the needed 270 electoral votes on -- or close to -- lock, McCain's at 186.) Former GOP states are in play, former Dem states aren't. And, just today, there's a story out that the Dems have gained over 2 million voters, and the GOP has lost 344,000, since the last cycle.

We're in good shape. And the GOP, thankfully, is in eclipse...no thanks due to much of the cowardly media.

jazzycat said...

Once again, the option is the GOP, the party of people like Falwell, Robertson, and Hagee -- people who claim that 9/11 and Katrina was punishment from God or that God sent Hitler to punish the Jews. That's hate for you.

Certainly, you do not hold the Republican party responsible for who votes and supports them? If so then, you have to hold the democratic party responsible for those who say 9/11 was an inside job. The disturbing thing about Jeremiah Wright is that Obama was comfortable in a church where the congregation wildly cheered the racist and hateful rhetoric of Wright. I can assure you any white politician would be DOA if he had even been seen in a racist church for one service!

With all due respect, your comparison of the experience of Obama vs. Palin is extremely weak. We have elected the following governers in my lifetime: Carter, Reagan, Clinton, and GW Bush. Suffice to say that none of them had much foreign policy experience when they were elected.

Is it because Palin is a woman that her experience is not as valid as others? Being tested in a burtal primary qualifies as experience to be president?

As far as Wright goes, are you seriously saying the media did not pay attention to him?

Yes, had it not been for Fox, the liberal MSM would have never mentioned Wright? Other than Fox they are all sold out for Obama in the best Dan Rather tradition. About a year ago (April 2007) the following quote by Wright appeared in the NY Times:

“If Barack gets past the primary, he might have to publicly distance himself from me,” Mr. Wright said with a shrug. “I said it to Barack personally, and he said yeah, that might have to happen.”
Hmmmmm!

Uh, what is wrong with a homogeneous state?

Thanks for allowing the interaction of a conservative from Mississippi.

One other quick point on Obama's foreign policy knowledge. I was amazed when he suggested that the Russia/Georgia conflict should be taken to the U.N. security council where even I knew that Russia had a veto!

Thanks again....

Liam said...

Jazzycat,

9/11 "truthers" are not necessarily Democrats. The swiftboater Jerome Corsi is one of them. John McCain, though once he criticized people like Falwell and Robertson, has publicly courted them. Robertson has run for president in a GOP primary.

If you want to know Obama's explanation of why he attended Wright's church, read his speech. Once again, if you want to really understand, there are resources. Wright is a firebrand in the tradition of the black prophetic church. He has said things in provocative ways and said dumb things. But Trinity is not a racist church. If you really want to dig up some quotes from Wright, we can talk about it. Even Mike Huckabee defended Wright.

You're right, GW Bush had no foreign policy experience when he was elected. You really want to go there? (Sorry -- couldn't resist). The point is not just experience, it is at least showing some sign of previous concern about international affairs. Once again, it's not about Palin, it's about McCain picking her.

"Is it because Palin is a woman that her experience is not as valid as others? Being tested in a burtal primary qualifies as experience to be president?"

No, it's because her experience (in politics) is not as valid as others. Show me anything I said that leads to your conclusion. Being tested in a primary doesn't on its own qualify one to be president, but it is a test of temperament, organization, grace under pressure, and it forces a candidate to explain themselves on the issues. It also reveals the skeletons in one's closet.

"Uh, what is wrong with a homogeneous state?

Thanks for allowing the interaction of a conservative from Mississippi."

Nothing at all is wrong with a homogeneous state. I grew up in one (Utah). But as governing experience goes, it means there are a lot of complications you don't have to face. And I'm glad to discuss things with people of all beliefs from all over with all kinds of opinions, as long as we remain civil -- I think we can do that, though we are both obviously passionate about this election.

As far as the security council question goes, that's called diplomacy. We did this during the cold war as well, when the Soviet Union had veto power there as well. It's a way of putting a situation on the world stage, even if an immediate solution doesn't result from it.

Liam said...

Kevin -- you've been optimistic through this who campaign season, and your hunches have been right. I hope things continue that way.

cowboyangel said...

Palin is "a rising star" that "energized the base" and once again, McCain is "the maverick." This is the narrative they seem to have chosen and perhaps no amount of reality will prevail against it.

While the media deserves a lot of criticism, I think the narrative you mention about Palin is legitimate to a degree. It was a surprising pick that has seemingly energized parts of the Republican base (though not all). Remember, the media absolutely loves political theatre, and she has definitely been excellent political theatre.

When the initial enthusiasm for this political theatre fades in the next week or so, however, the questions about her will remain and will start to be investigated more thoroughly by the media. There are simply too many questions, they're too important, and - most of all - they're too juicy for news outlets to ignore.

Speaking of Wright, look for more investigation into her religious views, her Assembly of God church, and her connections to Joe Vogler and the Alaskan Independence Party. You've already got Vogler saying things like, "I'm an Alaskan, not an American. I've got no use for America or her damned institutions." And there will be more.

There's a lot of video from her Wasilla Bible church. Already you've got some Jewish groups upset that David Brickner, founder of Jews for Jesus, was there recently, saying that Palestinian attacks against Israel "are God’s 'judgment of unbelief' for Jews who reject Christianity." [See "Palin Nomination Stirs, Worries Jewish Delegates" for quotes by Vogler and Brickner.]

And you've got Palin's pastor saying back in June that God "is gonna strike out His hand against, yes, Wasilla; and Alaska; and the United States of America. There's no exceptions here -- there's none." ["Palin's Pastor: God Will Damn America."

Precisely because of the Wright affair, and the media's obvious love for such stuff, I think we'll see more on this soon. Stories are already coming out, and videos are starting to circulate. It's threatening enough that her church has already shut down the part of their web site with videos of the pastor's sermons. But I think it's too late.

Granted, her Pentacostalism and Christian Zionism, despite being just as extremist as Wright's Christianity, is still "white" Christianity, so it probably won't be considered as threatening. But I think it will turn off many independents and non-religious Republicans who are on the fence.

Unfortunately, the "Maverick" narrative has a better chance of surviving because it's been around longer, and McCain has enough friends in the media to keep that lie afloat. But his recent attacks on the media may change that. They don't like being attacked, even by one of their favorites.

cowboyangel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cowboyangel said...

Actually, some of the Christian Zionism is more extreme than what Wright preaches. It's probably the closest thing we have in this country to the kind of apocalyptic Islamic extremism that fuels Bin Laden and the Al-Qaeda types. These people want wholesale destruction of nations and peoples because they think they've figured out God's plan for humankind in their reading of the Bible. I mean, what kind of sick people long for the end of humanity, the deaths of billions of innocent men, women and children, just because they think it's God's will?

Oh, right - Al Qaeada.

If anything comes out of Palin's nomination, I'm hoping a thorough investigation of Christian Zionism might take place. Though I doubt it will.

Jack said...

Hey, I love you Liam et al, but I feel so sorry for you. You are young and smart and well informed but that doesn't make a Sh.. to the Palin crowd.And "Christian Zionism"---hell, the Republican party, the administration, and almost all fundamentalist live on that 'mothers milk' of reaction. You think your well reasoned logic is impressive? It is to me but McCain and Palin just laaugh. Jack