Doped Up On Hope: McCain Knows Exactly What He’s Doing
Until watching her speak at the Republican National Convention, I was stumped by the phrase “Vice-President Palin.” As cute is she is supposed to be, I still think that she looks like her nose is attached to her glasses. Her voice reminds me of an extra from Fargo and her speech delivery had a spoken-word poetry type of rhythm – sarcasm, wordplay and all. In the speech she hits the ground running with lies and endorses political viewpoints that pretty much disgust me (she is anti-choice, for example). I really just don’t like this woman one bit. But after listening to her speak during the RNC, I finally get why John McCain chose her as his running mate. It’s mostly just because he can.
First of all, let’s get one thing clear: Sarah Palin is John McCain’s third beauty queen, a type of ornament we know he’s shown a penchant for when choosing both his first and current wives. There are plenty of rough looking conservative women who would have been better choices from an experience perspective, but they weren’t chosen over sister Sarah. The fact that Palin is young and female not only attracts young and female voters, it also attracts McCain himself. Think about how much longer that Anna Nicole billionaire dude lived just because he had her sitting on his lap from time to time.
Sarah Palin’s “fiestiness” aside, John McCain knows this country better than any of us do and he knows exactly where his homegirl fits in. He knows very little about economics, world geography, or technology, but he knows this country inside and out. He’s a seventy-two-year-old man who was already in his early twenties when Alaska became a state (which, come to think of it, probably makes Alaska governor Palin extra plucky in his eyes). John McCain is older than the chocolate chip cookie, McDonald’s, and nylon stockings. At this point he knows who lives here, he knows who votes, and he knows that so many of “them” will vote for his ticket no matter what.
Most of you, and for that matter everyone you know, have been sittin’ here going “What? Palin who? She’s unknown, pro-creationism in schools, and pro family values yet has a pregnant teenage daughter? McCain just lost this election!” As fact after hypocritical fact come out about this woman, McCain’s election chances seemed to slim by the hour. As usual, we colored folks is wrong, wrong, wrong, and that is the saddest part of it all. What McCain understands about this country that we hate to accept, especially lately, is that none of these things matter against a man like Obama, who embodies everything detested by the average, undereducated, culturally challenged, provincial, common American. Barack Obama is so popular with his supporters because he’s well-educated, eloquent, passionate, charismatic, and successful. Where is his knocked up teenage daughter? Where is his love for huntin’, trappin’, and livin’ off the land? Why isn’t he stiff, stilted, stammering, and simple? In other words, why isn’t he like us? And of course by “us” I mean “them.” If we pretend that this country is color-blind, Obama is just a fancy-pants. He’s the whistle blower, the stuffed shirt, the guy who took away our beloved trans fats. If we accept that this country is far from color-blind, Obama is the black guy. In other words, he can’t be trusted no matter how you slice it. In this sense, McCain has tapped into the American cult of personality in a way that not even Barack Obama has. This country is full of haters and McCain knows that catching their attention will get him into the White House.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but John McCain is not as out of touch as we like to think. We just have way higher standards these days. We’ve been talking a lot of sensible politics and listening to really smart people. This is not at all the norm. We’re all doped up on hope and don’t know which end is up anymore. But when I read, for example, that Jamie Lynn Spears sent a gift and note of encouragement to fellow redneck teen mom Bristol Palin, I thought “yes, of course!” All of this time we’ve been calling Jamie Lynn and her sister Britney “trailer trash,” but someone has been buying CDs and DVDs and whatnot to earn these two enough money to act so foolishly. Britney and Jamie Lynn come from a little Louisiana community, just like thousands of other communities across America, filled with that same ilk of American. These people vote, and most don’t aspire to accomplishments like going to Harvard, living in the big city, or writing books like Obama has aspired to do, let alone actually done. They do the best they can and if that means that their evangelical rhetoric results in a teenager who’s just a little bit pregnant then so be it! The Palain (Plain?) families of the world have mostly only seen black folk on the other side of the tracks, on television, or while serving in the armed forces. Do you think they’d rather see four years of “Baby Bristol” updates, or watch Malia and Sasha Obama go in and out of cornrows? America needs tasty, shiny, familiar-but-prettier celebrities. We’re fresh out of Kennedys so the Palin clan just may have to do.
This Palin strategy (or lack thereof) may benefit McCain in the end, especially if the Obama campaign gives Americans more credit than they deserve and don’t address Palin as anything more than a former small-town mayor. Whether or not McCain properly vetted his VP pick before the announcement is neither here nor there. It doesn’t seem good enough for him to simply win the election, he’d rather beat the perceived odds and win with a flourish because he’s “The Maverick.” McCain is just that guy. Through his campaign, John McCain is essentially saying “Wanna see something? I can pick the least desirable VP, not know much about the world, be in the early stages of dementia, and be from the same party as the least popular president in history. But watch this: I will still be beat the black guy.”