Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Reality Check

Too Much Life?
Published: September 2, 2008

Subtlety is not one of Maureen Dowd’s strong suits, but she seems to be trying to break it to the Republicans as gently as she can.

For many years, reality was out of vogue with Republicans. {snip} Now reality, in all its messy, crazy, funky glory, has flooded the party, in the comely, crackling form of Sarah Palin.
One good thing about the storm that raged through the blogosphere over the long weekend is that it did a lot of the heavy lifting for Dowd as far as coming up with silly names for things.
Only four days into her reign as John McCain’s “soul mate,” or “Trophy Vice,” as some bloggers are calling her, on the ticket known as “Maverick Squared,” Palin, the governor of Alaska, has already accrued two gates (Troopergate and Broken-watergate), a lawyer (for Troopergate), a future son-in-law named Levi (a high school ice hockey player, described by New York magazine as “sex on skates”), and a National Enquirer headline about the “Teen Prego Crisis” with 17-year-old daughter Bristol.

Sarah Palin's Face Combined with Dan Quayle -

And here is where the subtle part comes in. She is going to compare the Palin selection to the two worst vice-presidential nominee fiascos in recent history. First up is another pretty boy picked for his inexperience and youthful demeanor.
It seems like a long time since Vice President Dan Quayle denounced Murphy Brown for having a baby out of wedlock, saying that this “poverty of values” contributed to poverty in the inner city, and perhaps even to the Los Angeles riots. It also seems like a long time — and another McCain ago — that Republicans supporting W. smeared the old John McCain by spreading rumors that he had fathered an illegitimate black child.
She is setting up the Republicans in a glass house. Some will try to make lemonade out of the lemons they have been dealt.
As more and more titillating details spill out about the Palins, Republicans riposte by simply arguing that things like Todd’s old D.U.I. arrest or Sarah’s messy family vengeance story will just let them relate better to average Americans — unlike the lofty Obamas.

“If this doesn’t resonate with every woman in America, I’ll eat my hat,” Bill Noll, an Alaska delegate whose daughter got pregnant at a young age and kept the baby, told The Times’s Ashley Parker.

Sarah Palin and Geraldine Ferraro Faces Combined Together -

But all this post-announcement hand-wringing reminds Maureen of another pioneering woman plucked out of obscurity.
When you make a gimmicky pick of an unknown for vice president, without proper vetting, there’s bound to be a sticky press conference sooner or later. I watched it happen with Ferraro and then with Quayle, and I watched Mondale and Poppy Bush curdle with embarrassment but plow through.
Dowd splits the blame for these fiascos between the starry-eyed nominees and the incompetent nominators.
The political unknowns, of course, want that tantalizing brass ring, so they’re not always completely forthcoming about their skeletons, if they’re lucky enough to be ineptly vetted. This is ironic, since the nominee who gets blindsided with these crises — Did McCain really know that this Palin reality show was about to pop and swallow his convention — is presenting them to voters as the most trustworthy people to inherit the nuclear codes.
Dowd asserts that Ferraro set women seeking the highest office back a couple of decades.
Because Ferraro grabbed at the chance, without revealing to Mondale’s incompetent vetting team how damaging some of her husband’s financial imbroglios could be, she went from being a female icon to part of the reason it’s taken a quarter-century for another party to take a chance on a woman.
Finally, she compares the McCain camp to another electoral loser.
Hillary cried sexism to cover up her incompetent management of her campaign, and now Republicans have picked up that trick. But when you use sexism as an across-the-board shield for any legitimate question, you only hurt women. And that’s just another splash of reality.
And that reality is not pretty. By Dowd standards, Maureen was taking it pretty easy on Governor Palin, but let’s review the adjectives used at the vetters: gimmicky, sticky, ineptly, incompetent (twice). These are not the words associated with campaigns that wins the ultimate reality show.

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