Thursday, September 4, 2008
No live blogging tonight. Here in the middle of nowhere, the electrical service has been dodgy all day.
I was taking notes as I was watching McCain and suddenly thought to myself, "What? Are you planning on running for office?" Hah! I imagined me preemptively vetting myself in public - "Hi. I'm Julie H. Rose. I'm covered in tattoos. I've been psychiatrically hospitalized. I don't have any kids. I'm a Buddhist." How many people do you think are in my base?
All kidding aside, I want to express my feelings about McCain's speech tonight. Originally, I was planning not to, and instead was going to post a piece I wrote about the progressive, optimistic view of America I was brought up with in my early childhood, which I wrote after first seeing Obama speak. I thought it would be a good antidote to the mean spirited speeches I've heard at this convention and the even worse, totally offensive, repulsive, and disgusting stuff I hear on talk radio (and I'm not overstating that.) But in the end, I feel I must say something about my reaction to John McCain tonight.
Though Andrew Sullivan needs no more readers than he has, I will quote him here, for I feel similarly: ". . .it's striking how all the things that make me feel good seem to go down flat with this crowd."
I am a liberal. Let me get that out of the way first (as if any of my readers haven't figured that one out yet, or my being Buddhist didn't clue you in immediately).
However, I sometimes do vote for Republicans, such as Olympia Snowe. I voted for John McCain, as I've mentioned before, in the Republican primaries. I did that mainly to do something to keep Bush Jr. out of the running, but I've always had some respect for John McCain.
But (and it's a big but), this election season has completely destroyed my respect for him.
Now, tonight's speech, well, it made me sad. If (and again, this is a big if), John McCain could be the person and the candidate that this speech showed him to be, aside from his militaristic tendencies, I would be happy to vote for him (leaving Obama out of the picture for a moment). Yes, McCain hinted at his (new) anti-choice stance, with the (wink wink) phrase "the culture of life", but if you were blindfolded and didn't recognize the sound of his voice, you would have thought this speech was given by a reforming Democrat. But the speech was a sham. The base he energized by picking Palin is one that I fundamentally disagree with on nearly everything and his speech seemed to have almost nothing to do with the ideologies that his pick of her implies.
I wrote down a dozen lines that I agreed with (none of which the crowd responded to). They sound distant already, just a half an hour later. I also wrote down a dozen phrases that made me think, "Huh?". Who is he talking about when he speaks of the "me first country second crowd?" I have no idea. But when he speaks of how politicians have lost our trust because they "value power over principles", I nod my head in agreement. But then, I step back and think, hmm, maybe we're not thinking about the same principles. But y'know, at this point, I don't believe a word McCain says about his principles.
There is now a chasm of disconnect between what John McCain thinks he stands for and says he stands for and what the base he's representing think and stand for. If that's incorrect, then he's either become pathologically self-deluded or developed extraordinary powers of lying with a sincere face. Dare I say this, about a man who admits to have being broken: Has he been broken now?
So, in spite of the re-awakening of my fondness for John McCain, I must close my ears to words that I found stirring, for they are empty. Sarah Palin is now running for president, not John McCain, and the crowd tonight, though more upbeat than I expected them to be, only went wild when he spoke her name. They know what she represents. So, trot out John McCain to appeal to the undecideds and the moderates, but know this - he's just the front for a party platform that does value power over principles, and plans to use power (think Sarah Barracuda with an assault rifle) to achieve its aims.
Painting note: Jasper Johns, again. Three Flags. 1958
I might as well slather on the patriotism. I do care about this country. Maybe what sets me apart from the Republicans, however, is that I care about the world even more.
Addendum: There was more to my non-posted blog entry of this evening than I remembered (that speech sure knocked me for a loop, whatever that means. . .oh, and remind me to look up what that does mean or do it for me, your choice!)
Bill Frist gave a stilted (and quite sappy) speech about "health diplomacy", which at heart, was really quite wonderful. The crowd was bored. Why does it seem like the Republicans only respond with loud cheering when they're being egged on by hateful talk? Sadly, I once thought that if Obama and McCain were to be opponents in this election, we'd see an end to all the ugly politics, as I had visions of them both calling on it to stop. How naive! Can you imagine McCain getting Limbaugh to stop his vitriole? Never in a million years. It's above his paygrade.