Thursday, September 04, 2008

Palin learns quick: torture is American

On genteel PBS, the talk after Sarah Palin's convention speech was all about her skilled punchline delivery, and her poise, and her hockey mom persona. How low we've sunk.

Palin's run through her own resume was fine. Her tributes to McCain were pro forma. Her showcasing of her own family was a bit over the top, but they're a political asset you can't blame her for exploiting.

Her self-branding joke - what's the difference between a hockey Mom and a pit bull? A hockey Mom wears lipstick -- was appropriate, as the latter part of the speech demonstrated.

Her attack on Obama was despicable -- a shameless catalogue of lies and distortions.

The worst first:

Al Qaida terrorists still plot to inflict catastrophic harm on America, and he's worried that someone won't read them their rights.

Won't read them their rights. That's Republican-speak -- now at last adopted with full throat by the McCain campaign -- for "will stop inflicting on suspected terrorists every torture that was inflicted on John McCain by the North Vietnamese" and/or "will not seek to hold suspects indefinitely without trial or without the right to challenge their imprisonment. " This in a convention in which every major speaker has rehashed those tortures that McCain suffered -- while none until Mike Huckabee last night dared use the word "torture" to describe the litany of stress positions, caging, temperature extremes, beatings and mental torments they catalogued (Palin used the oddly tortuous phrase "torturous interrogations").

As late as last February, McCain was still better than his opponents on this issue of issues. While Romney boasted that he would "double Guantanamo" and Giuliani dismissed sleep deprivation and long standing as minor discomforts, McCain -- who had suffered those tortures -- still said that Americans must not torture. True, by that point he had brokered compromises that left the CIA free to continue tortures prohibited to military personnel, and voted against a bill that would end their exemption. Then, this June, he excoriated the Supreme Court for upholding terrorist suspects' habeas rights in Boumediene. But he had not yet sunk so low as to taunt those who want to restore America's honor by rolling back the Bush torture regime. Now, his henchmen are handing that fascist red meat to his top surrogate. And she, Christian paragon, is happy to mouth the slurs.

Equally defamatory was this:
This is a man who can give an entire speech about the wars America is fighting and never use the word "victory," except when he's talking about his own campaign.
Obama has laid out a very clear set of military priorities -- drawing down troops in Iraq, diverting some to Afghanistan, and concentrating our energies there and in Pakistan to "finish the fight against al Qaeda" -- that is, to achieve "victory" against that terrorist network. Obama has contrasted his policy clearly with McCain's, claiming, with evidence, that McCain went to sleep over Afghanistan while al Qaeda and the Taliban regrouped.

But Obama has never suggested that McCain did not want "victory" against any adversary, or that he put his personal political fortunes ahead of national security. That disgusting charge is of course embedded in the smear above.

Indeed, the theme that Obama "would rather lose a war than lose a campaign" -- as McCain has asserted repeatedly -- is literally the theme of the Republican Convention. "Country First" is meant to signal that Obama puts himself first. The vapid celebrity charge meshes with portrayal of Obama as a vain, self-serving cad who does not love his country. McCain's response to Obama's challenge to ban attacks on patriotism from the contest has been to double down.

Nor is this mode of attack a departure for McCain. He spent the Clinton years impugning Clinton's patriotism, charging repeatedly that Clinton put personal political gain ahead of the national interest. Assuming such motives in other politicians outside a core of chosen friends seems to be a McCain reflex.

Back to Palin. Those who have seen her in action affirm that she's a quick study. Charlie Black envisions her training for foreign policy leadership by "sitting at the feet of the master." Unfortunately, the masters she'll be studying from this fall are expert chiefly in Rovian campaigning, military adventurism, tax cutting to the point of national ruin, and destruction of civil liberties.

Related Posts:
Barracuda Watch
Sarah Palin: No Dan Quayle

Thrilla in Wasilla: Patin wrestles with city officials

1 comment:

  1. Great post. You've put into writing exactly what I've been thinking. The hypocrisy of the GOP and their convention was fairly staggering. One night extolling the virtues of service (complete with placards), and the next night ridiculing Obama for his service as a community organizer. One night spent tossing bloody chunks of red, partisan meat, and the next night McCain tells us that we need to move beyond partisan rancor and work together...all with hardly a single policy prescription for our ills. McCain sold his soul to Rove and all those who destroyed him eight years ago. I don't think he can put the genie back in the bottle. He'd have been a true "maverick" if he'd told Rove & Co. to toss off, and chosen Lieberman or Snowe, or Rell, or Ridge instead.