The Palin Stars of the Morning

When I heard that John McCain had picked a glamorous, gun-toting, motorcycle-riding, crusading woman to be his running mate (named Sara[h] P., no less), I have to admit I got chills–not altogether unpleasant ones. This is an archetype that powerfully appeals to men and, it seems, women.

Now, though, count me among the bemused. Partly it’s that Governor Palin’s executive record isn’t as great as touted. She left her hometown in a fiscal mess which (given the scale of the budgets involved) rivals the nightmare-in-red-ink that Bush-Cheney have inflicted on the federal level. (See the details of one example of mismanagement here.) She has been lying, persistently, flagrantly, and apparently consciencelessly, about her alleged opposition to the “Bridge to Nowhere” and other (more successful) attempts to corral Federal earmark money for the benefit of Alaska. (“Earmarks” is the term used when the money is for Us, the Good People of This Fair State. “Pork-barrel” is when it’s for Them, the Bad People in Some Other State.) I will leave others to sort out the thorny issues of her foreign policy experience (her state was one thin border away from the ravening hordes of Canada, etc.) and the extent to which one can be the “commander in chief” of a military unit which has another actual commander-in-chief. (See some relevant detail here, but it’s only Wikipedia, so apply salt as needed, directly to the wound if it seems advisable.) Suffice it to say that I don’t think these claims are strong.

The real source of my bemusement, though, comes from Palin’s alleged media appeal. She is easier on the eyes than McCain is, or many a politician of the left, right or center. (McCain himself has been visible moved by her.) But, for me, the spell breaks when she opens her mouth. Irrespective of what she says, her delivery is smug, supercilious, irritated, and nasal. Of all the politicians on either side, I’d say the one whose speaking style most resembles hers is Giuliani. If other voters, particularly in the center, see her (or hear her) this way, I don’t know that she will really help McCain to reach outside his base.

He could have done worse (i.e., by picking almost anyone who ran against him in the primary, with the possible exception of Huckabee). But I think that just illustrates how thin the bench is on the Republican side, when you’re talking about politicians who can operate credibly on the national level. (The Democrats are not much better off, and pretty much lucked out with Obama. I know this will probably get me more lectures about how Obama is not the Messiah–a true fact which is utterly irrelevant–but so be it.)

About JE

James Enge is the author of the World-Fantasy-Award-nominated novel Blood of Ambrose (Pyr, April 2009). His latest book is The Wide World's End. His short fiction has appeared in Swords and Dark Magic (Harper Collins, 2010), Black Gate, the Stabby-Award-winning anthology Blackguards and elsewhere.
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10 Responses to The Palin Stars of the Morning

  1. Anonymous says:

    about her alleged opposition to the “Bridge to Nowhere” and other (more successful) attempts to corral Federal earmark money for the benefit of Alaska.

    I heard a big chunk of McCain’s acceptance speech. I didn’t really think much of it one way or another, but he made me laugh out loud twice. Both times shortly after reintroducing Palin. Both times when talking about how they’d be going after big spenders and the authors of pork. “Do you know who your running mate is?”

    But, for me, the spell breaks when she opens her mouth. Irrespective of what she says, her delivery is smug, supercilious, irritated, and nasal.

    Bingo! I find her voice incredibly annoying. By contrast, I enjoy listening to Cheney’s non-campaign speeches. He has a sneer made for radio, but a pleasant voice and a good sense of humor.

    –Jeff Stehman

    • JE says:

      I have to agree with you about Cheney. While watching the Iran-Contra hearings, lo these many years ago, I found myself liking him (in spite of policy issues) for his wry, dry drollery.

      Voice may be underrated as a political strength in this video age. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the two unkillably successful politicians of the last thirty years (Reagan and Clinton) both have (or had, in RWR’s case) very warm, easy-to-listen-to voices.

      • scbutler says:

        I used to go bonkers listening to Reagan. “There you go again…”

        • JE says:

          The content of what he said would madden me. But his voice was so soothing! I remember listening to his “star wars” speech, when he described the ideal state of the program. It was like listening to a bedtime story with a happy ending. I don’t wonder that people fought passionately for it afterwards, not all of them from motives of self-interest. Hearing the program criticized must have been like hearing someone malign their Happy Place.

          • scbutler says:

            I could never separate the two. But then I was against what he represented long before I ever heard him speak politically.

            Even so, I’d rather have him back than what’s being offered up by the GOP now.

          • JE says:

            Well, there you have it. Bush is a uniter. Only in reverse, sort of.

  2. newguydave says:

    “her state was one thin border away from the ravening hordes of Canada, etc.”

    Ravening hordes eh? You talkin’ ’bout us? Northern B.C. and the Yukon territory has a pretty tough militia. Three guys in ‘coonskin caps and fringe leather jackets. Got ’em reliable type muskets now, traded beaver pelts for ’em.

    • JE says:

      As I understand it, the Canadian army is training an elite strikeforce of werebears who are going to hurl themselves across the border and compel the US to accept inexpensive health care and relatively civil political discourse, among other horrors too unspeakable to name. Parts of this account may have been slightly exaggerated.

      • newguydave says:

        Right. Except the bears care little for health care. They might teach lessons in the importance of green energy sources and lowering emissions long before 2050, being animals from the forest and all.

        • JE says:

          Mission creep is a big problem with werebears, too. The last time one broke in here, he claimed he was going to feast on our innards, but in the end he settled for an peanut-butter-and-honey sandwich and surfing the internet awhile for furry porn.

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