The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Monday, September 29, 2008

Captain Obvious

I'm not going to go on and on about the incredible spectacle of the last five days, with McCain quite literally holding the economy hostage while the world watches and House Republicans claim that they would've voted yes on the bailout if Nancy Pelosi hadn't made them cranky. Plenty of other bloggers have covered it at great length, and it at least looks like McCain's desperate flailing in the wake of his campaign-stunt-gone-horribly-wrong is having a genuine impact in polling numbers.

Nope, instead I'd like to direct your attention to a little something that's appearing in the latest issue of Newsweek.

Let me confess that I was genuinely unnerved by Sarah Palin's performance at the Republican convention. Given her audience and the needs of the moment, I believe Governor Palin's speech was the most effective political communication I have ever witnessed. Here, finally, was a performer who—being maternal, wounded, righteous and sexy—could stride past the frontal cortex of every American and plant a three-inch heel directly on that limbic circuit that ceaselessly intones "God and country." If anyone could make Christian theocracy smell like apple pie, Sarah Palin could.

Then came Palin's first television interview with Charles Gibson. I was relieved to discover, as many were, that Palin's luster can be much diminished by the absence of a teleprompter. Still, the problem she poses to our political process is now much bigger than she is. Her fans seem inclined to forgive her any indiscretion short of cannibalism. However badly she may stumble during the remaining weeks of this campaign, her supporters will focus their outrage upon the journalist who caused her to break stride, upon the camera operator who happened to capture her fall, upon the television network that broadcast the good lady's misfortune—and, above all, upon the "liberal elites" with their highfalutin assumption that, in the 21st century, only a reasonably well-educated person should be given command of our nuclear arsenal.

It really is a frightening measure of just how much damage the right wing's decades-long propaganda war has done to bring out the absolute worst in their most committed supporters. Do you know what else is a frightening measure of how successful they've been? Newsweek's spineless pseudo-disclaimer accompanying the article:

When Atheists Attack: A noted provocateur rips Sarah Palin—and defends elitism.

Considering that the author's argument pretty much boils down to "If you're plumbing's busted, call a plumber," it takes a special kind of timidity to suggest that it's the stance of someone who's clearly a godless, bomb-throwing snob.