Thursday, September 4, 2008

"Do not underestimate this woman" (fr. KITCHEN TABLE)

The following is a blog from Kitchen Table.

I had to share it with you because it's brilliant and important. 


I have one piece of advice. Do not underestimate Sarah Palin. She is about to give John McCain the White House.

Within 24 hours of Palin being named by McCain as the VP candidate I joined a Facebook group called "Sarah Palin is not Hillary Clinton." It is a group of women offended by the idea that Palin's candidacy could be used as a cynical identity politics ploy to get HRC voters. But tonight I realized something much scarier: Sarah Palin is not Hillary Clinton, she is much worse.

Palin is more ruthless, more eloquent, more audaciously dishonest, more single mindedly ambitious, more likeable, and eminently more electable than Hillary Clinton has ever dreamed of being. I am scared. America is loving this woman. I predict a 5 point jump in the polls after her speech tonight.

The most important statistic two months before an election is not the number who like or dislike a candidate; it is the number of people who do not yet have an opinion. We call this the "potential for learning." A savvy campaigner knows that if many people still haven't formed an opinion then you have plenty of room to teach the public about yourself on your own terms. This was the problem with HRC and part of why I claimed she was unelectable. Everyone had an opinion about Hillary: good or bad, there was no learning potential, people had their minds made up. With Sarah the game is different. No one had any opinion, how could they? Now the GOP has two months to tell us anything they want about her and we have little choice but to listen. Tonight's speech was round 1 and Palin delivered a knock-out.

Sarah Palin is not Hillary Clinton. Hillary put her own dreams on hold for decades to stand by her man and pursue the dreams of her husband. Then she watched as he squandered much of her potential political capital this season. Palin has allowed nothing to stand in the way of her meteoric political rise: not a pregnant, unmarried teen daughter; not a son leaving for war; not a special needs infant still in arms. Sarah Palin is a frightening and potent political mix. Her uterus is just part of the terrain of her politics. Her children are evidence of her pro-life agenda and small town values. She shameless stands next to her pregnant teen daughter and the baby-daddy while proclaiming herself the future guardian of our children. No thanks Sarah, I would rather not have you making policy for my daughter.

Sarah is no member of the sisterhood of traveling, sweet-potato inspired, pantsuits. She is a pencil skirt wearing tough girl who makes jokes about being a pit bull in lipstick. She boldly asserts that her record as the mayor of a tiny town is relevant experience for the US presidency. She correctly pronounces Iran, which is something our current president cannot do. She laughs at the national media and lets them know she is not interested in cuddling up with them. hell no, Sarah can field dress a moose, she will not need to have Chris Matthews' approval. She makes fun of Barack Obama with an audaciousness and ugliness that Hillary tried to summon, but never quite managed to pull off with as much charm and self-deprecation as Sarah did tonight. Trust that Sarah Palin is not going to cry about the mean things the pundits say about her.

And I have to say it Yolanda, Sarah speaks with a kind of fiery self-assurance that is very familiar to me. It is the hard, bright blindness of righteousness that I so often see in evangelical Christian political leaders. There is something remarkable and frightening about truly believing that you are marked by God to do what you want to do. It makes you impervious to criticism and unlikely to experience self-doubt.

This woman will not stumble. If she has an ounce of breath in her body she is going to try and drag that old man across the finish line.

Melissa  "



I promise you with all sincerity that I tried to watch the GOP Convention tonight with an open mind. Seriously, I want to understand my neighbors and my fellow citizens. I want to know who supports the McCain/Palin ticket and their reasons for doing so. So I fortified myself with prayer before watching and listened attentively.

Melissa, I am not going to talk about how Palin keeps parading her disabled child on television and how she tactlessly tried to manipulate the emotions of parents with special needs children. I am not going to talk about how she blatantly used her eldest son to try to convince the American people that Republicans alone are true patriots. I am not going to talk about her attacks and false accusations against Obama and Biden.

I'm not going to talk about the endless focus on McCain's experiences as a POW. I am not going to talk about her backhanded tribute to diversity by mentioning her husband's Yup'ik heritage. I am not even going to talk about the scary audience shouting for more drilling in Alaska and the uncomfortable looks on the faces of the two black people they kept panning in the audience. I'm going to focus on other more substantial issues:

1) Palin mentioned no fewer than 5 times that drilling in Alaska is her strategy for dealing with the energy crisis. There was no mention of environmental factors, no sense that this is only a short-term strategy for a long-term issue. Clearly the"reduce, reuse, recycle" mantra hasn't made it to Alaska, because there was no mention of how we can possibly REDUCE our consumption of energy as part of a viable strategy to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and energy sources.

2) In her speech, Palin argued that she had voted AGAINST the "Bridge to Nowhere" legislation. During her run for governor, she actually SUPPORTED legislation for this disastrous plan, which McCain himself made a symbol for government excess. Has she conveniently forgotten her initial support of this project? Did she forget that she hired a Washington lobbying firm to lobby for additional Congressional earmarks for this "Bridge to Nowhere?"

3) In his speech, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani argued that the presidency wasn't the time for "on the job training" and yet, he unequivocally supported a vice presidential candidate who touts her credentials as a small time mayor of a town of 6,000 people, a woman who has admitted that she hasn't even been to the majority of states that she will represent.

4) In his remarks, Mike Huckabee argues that the presidency isn't "symbolic," and yet Governor Palin was explicity chosen as a symbol. Her fertile womb, and that of her daughter, has become the new symbol of the Republican party.

5) All of the candidates, even Giuliani, kept gloryfying the "small town" experience and life, as if somehow only people who live in small towns are real Americans; as if only people who live in Alaska and Kansas are true citizens. Deeply encoded in that is a racialized message about who can and who should represent America.

Melissa, what I saw tonight scared me. I mean, truly scared me. I have a handle on McCain and what he represents. Sarah Palin is a different creation all together. As I watched the audience literally devour her words bit by bit, I began to wonder if I live in a completely different world.


P.S. Kitchen Table readers: please continue to pray for the people in Haiti. They have experienced such devastation from Gustav. The food crisis there is dire. Please, please keep Haiti in your prayers, along with all the other folks affected by the recent hurricane."

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