John McCain, the Michelin Man, definitely killed a lot of birds with one stone last week when he unfurled his running mate, Sarah Palin, at the Republican convention. You could tell he was sitting pretty like the cat that ate the canary this morning, when he was opposite Bob Schieffer on "Face the Nation." He looked like he had dropped ten years in ten days and was positively lit from within.
As for me, I went from the successive highs engendered by watching the Dems--from feeling light-hearted and buoyant all week--to the unspeakable lows of a mastodon's floundering in the swamp. Everyone I know who forcibly subjected themselves to watching the Republicans do their thing on stage had the same uniform response: it made them sick. I mean really SICK, not as in the metaphor "it made me sick," but real-life actual sick, nauseous and queasy sick, full-body sick. This phenomenon is now so widespread, there must be reasons for it. Op-Ed columnist Bob Herbert may have nailed some of them in his NY Times offering the next day:
"If there was one pre-eminent characteristic of the Republican convention this week, it was the quality of deception. Words completely lost their meaning. Reality was turned upside down."
I'll go even further and suggest that malign spirits occupied the hall that night. Folks waving flags. who yelled "Drill, baby, drill" like they were Nazi butchers whose lungs were nearly bursting. One after another, speakers belittled Obama, mocked him, joked him, raped him, like there was no tomorrow. How to describe what I witnessed? Ugly. Evil. Disgusting.
Here's Rudy Guiliani: "He worked as a community organizer. What? Barack Obama has never led anything, nothing, nada." These words were then echoed by the Republican's newest hate-monger, Sarah Barracuda: "The world of threats and dangers, it's not just a community and it doesn't just need an organizer."
These witty one-shots all drew dark laughter from the crowd. After they were done eviscerating Obama, McCain went on to STEAL his platform, masquerading himself as the leader of "change." (He'd already realized he wasn't going to make it on "experience.")
But what really happened that night seems to have gone largely unremarked. In his choice of Palin, McCain handed the country over to the Republican party's right-wing Evangelical base, the same group of folks that put GWB into office twice, and who up until then had been mostly indifferent to his candidacy. Indifferent to him, as he was to them:
In the not-too-far-distant past, McCain famously assailed Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson for "the evil influence that they exercise over the Republican Party." (Later he said it was a joke, his standard tactic of obfuscation to disguise what he really means.) In January of 2007, Dr. James Dobson, the influential evangelical leader, said of McCain, "Speaking as a private individual, I would not vote for [him] under any circumstances." Since then, McCain has courted and accepted endorsements from "agents of intolerance" such as John Hagee and Rod Parsley. The very McSame who previously called himself an Episcopalian and shied away from talking about his personal faith, now declares Roe v. Wade must be overturned, and speaks openly about his faith in Christ.
So let's talk about deception! Let's talk about turning reality upside down. Meanwhile, what the Michelin Man has really done (by choosing Palin as his VP) is to set the country up for "four more years" of hideous rule by the same religious Right who have destroyed it. This sinister move now gives him a chance of winning. And they say this man has a conflict between ideals and ambitions? After such an unconscionable sleight of hand, McCain is now gallingly proclaiming himself the "maverick" candidate of "change"? How can you not feel sick? How can you not feel your world is being willfully turned upside down?
Make no mistake. Sarah Palin, as one blogger put it even better than even I could, "is more than a charismatic, lipsticked pitbull. She's Cerberus, the hound of Hades, waiting for us at the gates. I truly fear her, and I want her defeated. Soundly, everlastingly defeated."
Let me quietly lay that comment right side up on a clean surface, so I can better inhale it, deeply.