Caught on mike:
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.
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 --
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.