“Here's The Pitch—It'll Be A Combination Of 'Northern Exposure', 'Peyton Place', and 'The Dukes Of Hazzard'! Pretty Good, Huh? Hello? Hell-oooooo?”
There was a consideration before this past week that some of us here at GNB go to Mary Tyler Moore-opolis to cover the Republican Convention. I'm so glad we didn't as it would have not only been a waste, but it would have screwed the correct context for experiencing the whole thing all to hell.
This “thing” was meant to be watched on TV. A shitty, pre-cable-ready TV with rabbit ears and a remote with a wheel that goes “click” when you switch channels.
Coming off the Democrats' Shubert Alley level of stagecraft last week, the GOP opted to swiftly counter-program with the surprise (a.k.a. “What the fuck?”) pick of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as “Senator McGollum's” running mate for their sub- “Waiting For Guffmann”-grade show this week. I was still recovering from Denver when I heard about the Palin choice Friday afternoon / evening, and I realized that in spite of its oddness, there really weren't many other avenues to pursue for the plane-trashing Arizona legislator.
Romney was out of the question, in spite of a smile that would blind you from a satellite and a bunny-trail smooth coif to die for. That bugaboo ‘Mormon Thing” would rear its head again with the American people. They are decent folk, but have a severe liability in the actual words of their religious texts and certain...well, offensive belief structures that were in place up until just a couple of decades ago. Things that soundbite-wise would have been killers, even with so-called “explanations” and after-the-fact context added...
“And the Lord had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.”
Giuliani, for all of his fear-mongering / hate-channeling ability was even further out of the question. His “Noo-Yawkiness” was going to be bad enough with the flyover voters, but his bottomless satchel o' scandals—as yet un-mined directly by the wife he openly cheated on if you can imagine that—was a non-starter as we noted here early and often. Add in his old wingman Bernard Kerik—who leave us not forget, Rudy pushed as Homeland Security Boss (!) is still about to go on trial for everything except for killing a man in Reno just to watch him die. Nope. Wasn't gonna happen.
Mike Huckabee. Were those dark-pooled eyes of his not prone to reflect the fearsome pit of super-religio-crazitude, he coulda maybe been a “contendah”. He'd have helped carry a south pretty much promised to McCain, padding the margins of victory only. But Huck's whole “fried possum” and cornpone ways would probably cost McCain valuable northern votes he'd need to steal to nab a surprise state or two. Huckabee's known gift of gab and affability would have been easily countered with a not-too-deep probe or two into his shadiness while at the Governor's mansion in Little Rock, right down to him and his wife's filching everything that wasn't Krazy Glued™ the fuck down when they left the place. And dare we mention Huck's lying about his odd handling of the parole of a rapist who struck again, and how that hamstrung his primary campaign for weeks? Shitty, shifty and shady. Can I get an “Amen”?
Fred Thompson? When my brother was six years old, I got him to believe a famous TV pitchman had six fingers on each hand—just as a goof through constantly saying, “See? Did you see it? Right there! Six fingers!” Eventually, he believed it, based on my timing when to tell him to look and through my convincing tone. Someone sadly pulled the same stunt on Fred Thompson late in life, getting him to believe that a good thing like “Gravitas” was the equal of being a ponderous, boring, wrinkle-faced lump of a man, and being thus he somehow had “Gravitas” in spades. A slug crawling across a patio stone holds more excitement than this man, and the only state he'd have helped McCain carry is the state of unconsciousness. When you leave “Law & Order” and viewers don't even notice you're gone, it means you not only bring nothing to the table personality-wise, but should you sit down at it, you will be asked to leave because you put people off their meals. Sam Waterston probably remembers you as that big guy who frowned during the half-hour you worked every week. No name. Just 'Ol' frowny-puss'. Dianne Wiest however, I'll bet he he has on speed-dial. Ooops.
Joe Lieberman. What to say about this saggy, nad-faced scold that hasn't already been muttered under the breath of progressives since the ought-sixes? “Short Ride” Joe has all the currency of a Brian Keith bon mot from an episode of Hardcastle & McCormick—but with less integrity. He's the guy who when the big snowstorm hit, sadly saw his lawn alone nearly bare because of how he positioned his house. So, because he couldn't build a fucking snowman, he must, must, must go from yard to yard in his “neighborhood” kicking over and then pissing on all of his neighbors' lawn-standing snowmen. Classy stuff. The lame-ducked twerp so wanted to matter again...but even a “Mad Cow” addled John McCain would have retained the common sense to consider only, then pick elsewhere with Joe's name in the mix. A three-alarm kennel fire sports more popularity than a Joe Lieberman vice-presidency. “Joe-mentum?” No. “Joe-Rect-um”. And I mean that in every sense of the word.
So, what about Texas' Kay Bailey Hutchison? Ehhhhhh...too Betty Crocker-cookbook circa “Mad Men”, and unable to move the female vote outside of Lubbock, Plano, and Texarkana—if she were lucky. Lindsey Graham? Too Huckleberry Hound, and frankly, a vetting cluster bomb that would set fire to the GOP platform and any Log Cabin situated near it. Charlie Crist? See “vetting cluster bomb that would set fire to the GOP platform yada-yada-yada...” Bobby Jindal? There's brown people to the GOP, and then there's FUCKING-BROWN PEOPLE to the GOP. Jindal is the latter. He's also so batshit crazy a fundie that Mike Huckabee probably looks at him and says, “Mister...you are in-tense!” His support of and actual involvement in...exorcisms (!) probably also would have hurt him...oh, just a little bit. Tom Ridge? Too closely linked to the idiotic color-code scares of Bush's halcyon fear-mongering years of 2001-2005, and so on and so forth with the remaining “contenders” as it were.
Leaving us with our Lip-Smacker™-ed pit bull, Sarah Palin.
There's the distinct possibility that she was chosen because no one left wanted to be hooked to this boat anchor of a ticket. That I can see. But I think there's a bit more...or rather, less to it than that.
An empty vessel with superficial charms was pretty much the one thing that could help McCain. Everything else would tie him either back to Bush or deeper into the beltway he despises so much he's collected seven different homes to run away from it to. And Palin's being a woman—and a youngish one while not tipping the scales in McGollum's favor, at least slows their tipping away from him a bit, as the shiny, bespectacled newness—“Now fortified with that second “X” chromosome, because folks, that's all it takes to get silly, wimminzes to rush out and vote for a party that hates them, right? You see, It was never going to be McCain flack and fluffer Carly Fiorina, as the business press was set to break the bones left over from their chewing the meat off her over her HP tenure debacle and then gnawing at her marrow of incompetence. And Fiorina for all of her fuck-ups comes with an administrative / big-job pedigree of sorts. She's the kind of person who could without even thinking about it, talk rings around the increasingly stupefied McCain on economics, business, health care and the like, diminishing him all the more.
Sarah Palin is NOT that person. She spent the last three days before Wednesday night's
And let's be real here. Palin's whole story as it unspools before us all is a mess. A pretty mess. But Goddamnit, a mess nonetheless. And a throw a scoop of sordid on top.
If you took that old TV you have in the basement, put on a combat boot and kicked the shit out of the picture tube so it split three ways and then turned it on, you'd see “The Sarah Palin Story” play out before your eyes. In one of the cracked sections you'd see an old episode of “Northern Exposure” playing. Small town drama against a backdrop of the western sun and weird shit galore, with the moose droppings filling in for her ham-fisted GOP poltico bullshit, of course. On the second section you'd see a washed-out kinescope of of the turgid soaper “Peyton Place”, with all manner of backstabbing, shocking affairs, mystery babies and melodramatic lies and cover-ups. And oh, the gossip! The big-chord, sudden turn and hand-to-mouth gossip! “Brought to you by Ivory Snow...it cleans dirt.” And in that final panel of the busted triptych you'd see a dirt-flecked episode of “The Dukes Of Hazzard”, another mess of faux-Americana gone amok, with “proud rednecks” and wild livin' and of course, the hyper-influential “Boss Hogg”, running the town and pulling every lever available to him—never mind legality to git whut he wants done, done.
Now quick, turn that sucker off before it shorts out and bursts into flames!
Q: Why in the “Wide, World Of Sports” would John McCain choose someone with more baggage than a JetBlue cargo hold on Christmas Eve? Did he know?
A: Why not her? Everybody else had baggage too, and frankly, time was getting short. He had to pick somebody, so he went with someone he figured maybe had some issues, but not the overly familiar ones of everybody else who was being bandied about. That said—note I use the pronoun “he” in describing whose pick this was. McCain's overweening ego is all over this pick—a brazen compulsive gambler's pick. “All the fuck in, Johnny.” There wasn't much deep thought in this, as seen in the eye-popping after-the-fact vetting. I think he knew there were issues, but he figured “How bad can they be for a mom of five who's a little bit ''MILF-y” and will pretty much say anything a senior GOP leader will tell her?
Pretty damned bad, as we're discovering. Beyond the “Hazzard County-esque” arm-twisting on her part in the “TrooperGate” scandal and her ties to Ted “Bridge Over Troubled Water” Stevens' boondoggle, there is “BabyGate”. And let me make one thing clear here. This isn't about ragging on her daughter Bristol and her situation. (Although I am tempted to cast kindness to the wind when it comes to Bristol's “man” Levi and his proud “F'n Redneck-ness”...but for now...) Unexpected and oftentimes disappointing things can happen with teens and sex. A teen pregnancy and a teen mother is nothing and no one to mock. However, the way Bristol's mom, ol' “Caribou Barbie” handled the matter is something else ugly and creepy entirely.
When it became apparent that Bristol was in the family way back in the spring, Mommie Dearest pulled a “Handmaid's Tale” and yanked her daughter out of school—under the threadbare blanket of a lie about Bristol having super-communicable mononucleosis. It appears that ol' tough-as-nails Sarah couldn't bear the shame of being an anti-choice spouting, abstinence-only screeching, family-values bullshitting, wingnut Governor while having her parenting maybe appear something less than the pious conservative ideal. She basically locked her daughter away out of sheer personal and political mortification while keeping up with her spewing of talking points that defied her own reality.
In other words...she's a Goddamned hypocrite. End of story.
And she kept this little Grand Guignol secret until the small-town rumor mill spilled over into the MSM and it could no longer be finessed away. Which doesn't mean she didn't try, by having Bristol show up at an early running mate event strategically cradling her younger brother Trig over a perfectly placed large blanket meant to lamely obscure her pregnant belly. But it was too late, as every Wasilla native with eyes and a willingness to talk dropped dime about the charade.
And a disorganized GOP leadership (listen here for some off-the-cuff / accidentally on-the-mic revelations about the party's real situation) led by it's by-default standard bearer had already made its choice as time was perilously short to get someone, anyone in the spot. Again, a brazen compulsive gambler's pick, but let's be real—if Karl Rove's ass is colllecting check the first for supposedly helping out the GOP this year strategy-wise with stuff like this, the next one he gets should come in an envelope stuffed with toxic white powder in it for all the good he's done and for basically stealing money from the party. We've got the National Enquirer on Palin's ass now with tales of not just Bristol's baby issues, but Sarah herself possibly caught up in some schtuppin' that shouldn't have been happening. And if you think Enquirer probes are a joke, ask John Edwards, who was less welcome in Denver than the Dallas Cowboys' Roger Staubach last week.
But, as I got a haircut on Tuesday, when the talk at the barber shop turned to politics a well-knowledged fellow patron summed it up nicely. He described McCain's choosing Palin in terms that maybe explained the senator's rationale.
“Imagine you're being held hostage, and your captors say, 'The only way you get out of here alive is to let us take a finger from you. You've got a choice—a thumb or a pinky. You make the call.' It's like 'Shit...I wanna live, but I gotta give up a finger? Which one? Which one? I need my thumb so I can pick up stuff...but man, that means I gotta let em chop off my pinky. That's my finger! Fuck. I wanna get outta here. I can maybe live without the pinky. But I gotta have my thumb. I gotta have my thumb.' So, you give up the pinky. Picking Palin was giving up 'the pinky' for McCain, and pickin' Rudy or Romney would have been sayin' 'Bye-bye thumb.' So he's cut loose. He lives. Fuckin' 'yay!' But then he sees the cut was done with a dirty-ass knife, and the spot where he lost the pinky is all infected, and that shit is spreading. Now he's probably gonna lose the 'nothin' finger next to the infected pinky stump too. S' not an important finger, but all of 'em mean something extra when you've already lost one. Know what I mean? I mean...you're alive an' all that. But yo', don't front...losing a finger's always gonna be a bitch. And then 'cause of the first one being done all grimy, you might lose two? When does it stop? You make a shitty bargain to save your ass and look what happens.”
You end up with pig-fucks like Palin's venomous “Rudy with a better drag-stylist” speech. (And whoever signed off on that “Community Organizer” diss line needs to be fired, their car keyed, and then have their house burned down.) You get McCain's awful, “Green Jello Mold 2.0” address last night where he did everything but read the parentheses-ed “Nexts” and “Continueds”. And an A/V gaffe so bad during the speech that it should earn its perpetrator a slot in the witness protection program. You wind up with a republican convention so dishwater-tepid that it would make the National Gathering of High-Colonic Facilitators in Sandusky look like “Freaknik '88”. And then, The National Enquirer chasing your people down, lurking behind hotel hallway ice machines looking for scandal, scandal, scandal!—to where it's so bad that your VP choice has to be spirited away to basically hide back home for ten days, and probably to have the motherfuckers who are diming her out back there dropped into ice-fishing holes to shut 'em up about her numerous and burgeoning scandals.
As I said before:
“Palin's whole story as it unspools before us all is a mess. A pretty mess. But Goddamnit, a mess nonetheless.”
Such...a pretty mess. Take it away, Vanity.