October 02, 2008

On politics

This will be my only full post on politics. While I've been posting lots of articles on my delicious feed and little bits on twitter -- and many of them have substantial comments attached -- I don't have a lot of time to try and write coherent thoughts down, these notwithstanding.

Most people would describe me as a flaming liberal if anything, but I am more conservative than that label indicates in terms of spending and other matters. So take all this with whatever grain of salt you like.

Overall, I continue to be deeply distrubed by the anti-intellectualism displayed by the Republicans, and by the American people. When did it become okay that someone "just like me" should be President? Or Vice President? I want someone better than me! (I want someone better than you, too, unless your name happens to be Roger Byford or Barack Obama.) I want someone who reads books for pleasure and who has an idea of the varied forces that have shaped our country through history; who can disagree with somone without hating on them and indeed surround themselves with people who disagree; who doesn't see everything as a black and white issue; who's willing to honestly reassess policy stances and ideas. And someone who actually tries to prove a point through reason and logic and collaboration rather than disprove the opposition through demonization and belittling.

The nomination of Sarah Palin is just the latest incarnation of this, but it's the scariest to me. We have no real idea who she is, just that she's from a tiny, incredibly abnormal state where the governor faces few of the decisions and tradeoffs that most of the other 49 do, the ones that make the job, you know, hard. (I'm sure PA's Ed Rendell would have a 100% approval rating if every man, woman and child got $3000 every year and paid neither income nor sales tax, even though he likes the Eagles.) Despite her protests tonight I strongly suspect that her intolerance for "others" (gays, lesbians, muslims, Phish) would manifest itself in awful and inhumane policies.

It's not just that she's underqualified, it's that she revels in her underqualifications. They're a badge of honor, she's an outsider and a hockey mom and has a family with problems like you and me. It's perfectly fine to her that she has little knowledge of the Supreme Court beyond those decisions she's heard about in church. That she's gone out of the country (or probably even traveled within the country) less than I have. That her knowledge of economics likely begins and ends with, "Lower taxes means more jobs" in all possible conditions. It's just dandy that half of her answers are affirmations of democracy, freedom and the American people, why should she change? She could probably work in puppies for the other half of her answer and nobody would blink an eye. Or they'd blink, but then go into how effective the puppies were at relating to swing voters. (I have a lot more bile here, but I'll let it go.)

An incredibly frustrating thing is that the media is joining this race to the bottom. Palin's blatant disregard for the questions she was asked tonight seems to be dealt with as a "Oh, that's just what they do" sort of thing. The debate moderator (no matter how ineffective) represents all of us who can't be there, who won't get the opportunity to talk to these people directly. So when she explicitly refuses to answer a question, she's disrespecting us. And it's just fine, it's just a tactic that's gauged on whether it works or now, how well it functions. How about whether it's right or wrong? Is this the end result of all the relativism from the last 40 years? Everything isn't a fucking horse race!

A few other things, it's late:

  • McCain and the direction he's taken the campaign has been hugely disappointing. It's too much to ask for his former openness, but how about just non-idiocy. He treats everyone like morons, comes out with bald-faced lies, and touts his bipartisanship while constantly attacking attacking attacking. I had high hopes for him and the campaign, confident that the scorched earth short-term views of Rove and company would be left behind. I was wrong.
  • When did everyone just stipulate that higher taxes == fewer jobs? The media lets Republicans state this again and again as if it's the sun rising in the east. Didn't we add 22 million jobs to the economy during the 1990s while raising taxes?
  • Barb will love hearing this, but would it be too much to get these people to talk about the trade-offs they face and which way they'd go when confronted with them? If we cut or freeze spending, what trade-offs are we making? We may be okay with them, we may not be, but they're never explicit, so you just have this generic apple pie goodness -- of course spending is bad! -- without any of the downsides.
  • I was very disappointed by the David Brooks reaction on PBS. He's always struck me as someone who eventually comes to good conclusions, even though it takes a while to get there. But when he discussed the debate tonight I wasn't sure we'd seen the same thing.
  • I wish they had E.J. Dionne on their program, he's my favorite political commentator (talking head and writer).
  • I wonder whether McCain's position on ANWR (no drill, at least for now) is related to his worship of Theodore Roosevelt, and the idea that once you go into a place like that, you'll keep going in again and again forever, and you won't be able to stop it, tarnishing the park for all future generations.
  • IMO Biden did awfully well. He had a tough job: look professional (even boring), don't condescend or get too riled up and just let Palin do what she's going to do. Saving the "he's not a real maverick" for the end of the talk was quote smart.
  • Rafe's live blogging/chat thing was pretty cool, kind of like MST3K with some mostly cool people I'll never meet.
Next: Pittsburgh Perl Workshop 2008: This weekend!
Previous: Yes, I am on twitter