Yup, Bristol Palin, 18, made news recently, giving birth to Tripp Easton Mitchell Johnston (Heck, why stop at two middle names. Let’s go for three or four or five. Perhaps we should create 10-word names to signify, not just the super rich, but the super-duper rich, and let’s let these commoners know just how insignificant their paltry, three-word names and three-letter lives really are.)
I care about this birth about as much as I do about which way the wind blows. Surely there were thousands of others born who will turn out to be just as or more important, far more important, to humanity than the one meriting this special press.
Bill McAllister, spokesman for Gov. Saran Palin, did have sense enough to say this:
“This office will not be issuing any statements on [Bristol's baby]. We’re here to talk about state government and that matter falls outside of that.”
Kudos. Now, if the media would follow suit and recognize this as a non-story, we just might be able to get something accomplished for the common good.
John McCain apparently climbed out of the woodworks Tuesday to conduct an interview with Jay Leno for the “Tonight Show,” meanwhile, Sarah Palin has, after her running mate’s defeat, been all over the place. For instance, her recent interview with Matt Lauer, where she chatted with him (with hubby present at times in their Alaska home) about the race’s negative turn down the home stretch, the decisive Obama win and the supposed tensions between Palin and folks within the McCain camp.
A few highlights:
Lauer: When you did know it wouldn’t go well for you?
Palin: I — you know, I didn’t know until the — the…
Lauer: Right up through election night?
Palin: Absolutely. I had great faith that, you know, perhaps when that voter entered that voting booth and closed that curtain that what would kick in for them was, perhaps, a bold step that would have to be taken in casting a vote for us, but having to put a lot of faith in that commitment we tried to articulate, that we were the true change that would progress this nation. So again, the margin was pretty surprising to me.
She apparently had great faith in the Bradley Effect: “I had great faith that, you know, perhaps when that voter entered that voting booth and closed that curtain that what would kick in for them …” (she could have easily said:) that they were about to vote for a black man (half black) and that person’s whiteness would not allow that to happen. Thus, white people’s whiteness would, in secrecy, with only God watching, choose the familiar over, what some would call, a risky black vote. But with a 52.6 percent win in the Electoral College and a nearly 10 million vote advantage in the popular vote, we must conclude that would have been faulty reasoning, for the white And black vote were heard that day. Here is Palin’s full response:
I had great faith that, you know, perhaps when that voter entered that voting booth and closed that curtain that what would kick in for them was, perhaps, a bold step that would have to be taken in casting a vote for us, but having to put a lot of faith in that commitment we tried to articulate, that we were the true change that would progress this nation. So again, the margin was pretty surprising to me.
I can’t make sense of it either, and my version seems more comprehensible. Regardless …
Lauer: There is this feeling — and some of this comes from leaks and other just perception, people getting a gut — that there was increasing tension between you and Senator McCain in the final stretch of this campaign. Tell me what the relationship was like.
S. PALIN: We have a great relationship. Had from day one. Had the first time that I met him last year, he and his wife. I just have been great admirers of them, of their family, of all that Senator McCain has accomplished. Never once was there any inkling of tension between the two of us. Perhaps within the campaign there were campaign staffers who…
Lauer: Well, describe that for me. Who was butting heads?
S. PALIN: You know, I don’t even know. That inside baseball stuff regarding the way a campaign works on that level — I certainly didn’t get bogged down in any of the potential skirmishes or perceived problems.
When asked if she was disappointed that she wasn’t able (by staffers) to give the speech she wanted, she said,
A little bit because again — not — not for me personally to get to be up there on the stage and give one last speech, but to be able to say, “This is an American hero. Let us be thankful for what he just offered our nation. Now, let’s all work together to support the new president.
On this point, I believe her, and I believe her because she not only gives accolades to the loser, the “American hero,” McCain, but to their opponent. And I also believe that her and McCain have nearly always been quite candid and close with one another, and it was likely McCain’s campaign officials, not the man himself, who saw the damage Palin was doing (i.e. disasters interviews with Katie Couric and Charlie Gibson, to name a couple).
Lauer then brings up the wardrobe issue, and I don’t care. Next line of questioning.
Lauer appears at Palin’s home in Alaska and says,
While we were there, we had a chance to talk to Governor Palin about the highs and lows of the campaign and what the future holds for her.
Meanwhile, it is now 7:30 on a Tuesday morning, the 11th day of November 2008. I’m Matt Lauer reporting live from Anchorage, Alaska. Meredith is back in Studio 1A in New York City.
And, Meredith, do you think the producers would let me get away with calling this my ends of the earth trip?
VIEIRA: I don’t think so. Nice try, Matt. But, uh-uh. I don’t think so. You’re coming back and then going out again.
But I’m actually looking forward to dinner with the Palins.
What was your biggest surprise when you met the family?
Lauer: You know what, this is a very down-to-earth family. You know, over the last couple of months we got used to watching Sarah Palin on the road with the Secret Service around here and state troopers everywhere. None of the trappings of the campaign remain. She is someone who drives the 45 miles between Wasilla and Anchorage every day herself — no driver. And when she’s home, she is a working mom, cooking dinner, as I mentioned, for her family and for visitors. And so I think that it’s just that how down to earth she appears to be is what really surprised me most.
Here, with the “I’m actually looking forward to dinner with the Palins” Lauer inserts himself into his own story as one of its characters, which is precisely the opposite of what a journalist should do. I’m not suggesting Lauer was a journalist in the first place, just that he wears that badge.
VIEIRA: And her kids — those kids are so cute. Looking forward to it, Matt.
Here, Viera finds her way into the plot.
Lauer then begins talking about, perhaps, Palins’s shining moment, that of her speech before the Republican National Convention.
And, you know, I knew that it was an opportunity to be there representing the middle class, hard-working American families facing challenges that certainly my family faces.
The middle class! The Middle Class? Palin, Todd and the gang may be middle class in thought and expression (They appear to be down home enough) but appearance can be deceiving. Their combined salary would by far not qualify for Barack Obama’s proposed tax breaks for those making under $250,000. Not only do they not represent suburban America, they certainly don’t represent those who can’t even afford to live in suburbia.
Then, Lauer turned to asking Palin about personal attacks on her family, of which, I care nothing about that sensationalist stuff either. Next, talk segued to the economy.
S. PALIN: Well, I think the economic collapse had a heck of a lot more to do with a collapsed campaign effort than me, personally.
Palin, in my view, was the only element that gave McCain’s campaign life. Without her, his campaign was limping, if not six feet under. And that essence was this: her vibrance (Read: relative youthfulness), oratory ability and her appeal to the everyday person, whether deserved or not. But, what led to McCain’s loss were, in part, these factors, in this order:
- Obama’s eloquence, gift of oratory, gift to inspire, youthfulness, and most importantly, his message of change in the wake of a disastrous eight years;
- Palin’s lackluster performances at debates and wholly defunct interviews with Gibson and Couric; and
- McCain’s oldness (both physical and metaphorical) and his perceived (whether real or not) connection with the policies of George Bush.
And thinking about post-Election Day, why has McCain done less interviews, while Palin is seemingly everywhere? Again, her youthfulness, her beauty (Yes, this is a totally valid reason … We, as a people, naturally gravitate toward that which is pleasant and beautiful) and her apparent possibility in many people’s minds of being a potential presidential candidate the next go around. For McCain: Who knows whether he will be here in four years, much less as a presidential candidate (and to listen to his concession speech is to conclude that he has asked that question as well). For Palin, the door is wide open. Write any nonsensical blog and include the word “Palin” as a keyword and one will get hits because people identify with that very word. And that of itself, frightens me a bit. Frankly, the thought of her leading this great nation (in McCain’s absence) is one reason of many why my vote slid elsewhere. And here, we return to the interviews she has conducted. While Palin has said she can’t even think that far ahead (to the presidency in 2012), I can. Mark my words, this won’t be the last we hear of the governor from Alaska.
Universal manhood suffrage, by establishing an aristocracy of sex, imposes upon the women of this nation a more absolute and cruel despotism than monarchy; in that, woman finds a political master in her father, husband, brother, son. The aristocracies of the old world are based upon birth, wealth, refinement, education, nobility, brave deeds of chivalry; in this nation, on sex alone; exalting brute force above moral power, vice above virtue, ignorance above education, and the son above the mother who bore him. — Susan B. Anthony
What will Sen. Barack Obama’s (half white, half black) election mean for the black race? For the white race? For our country? And how will it implicate this country’s past spiral down into slavery, its civil rights upheaval of the 1960s and its future?
First, Obama’s election is hugely emblematic. For centuries, speaking as a white person, we have had no problem, in other time periods, letting blacks cook for us, farm for us, serve us food, watch our children, cart us around, even make babies for us (albeit often illegitimate ones in the eyes of the then-law), but white America seemingly has never been fully confident (in fact, wholly fearful) of giving a black man the keys to the kingdom. In a couple months, Obama will hold those keys.
But what’s at the heart of such anxiety? That a semi-black president will attempt to initiate legislation that will benefit only black people? That a supposed less experienced senator from Illinois will irresponsibly guide us out of Iraq, thus perhaps upping the level of concern for terrorism at home? That he will bumble dealings with Putin in Russia’s harsh dealings with peripheral countries and that country’s ever-leanings toward the old Russia? That he will sit across the table from guys Chavez and Ahmadinejad, without preconditions, and attempt to instill reason into unreasonable characters? That he will set up abortion clinics at every corner so as to lay waste to sexual responsibility in preference to social irresponsibility?That we ultimately don’t trust him?
What’s in a name?
According to this video: http://eyeblast.tv/public/video.aspx?v=Q4IrVrkU much is in a name. The name given to you by your parents, gauging by this account, relegates you to a life of obedience to the implications of his/her own name. So, if your name is David, is it assumed you will, for instance, slay a giant with a slingshot and take as your mistress the wife of another? If your name is Abraham, should we assume you are expected to nearly slay your son (but be called back in the end), symbolically father thousands and lead a nation. If your name happens to be Jesus, as is the case in many Hispanic families, does it follow that you will go on to heal the sick, feed thousands and raise your friends, notwithstanding, yourself, from the dead. If one of your names is Hussein, are you thus relegated to the Islamic faith, or worse, terrorism? We don’t expect people named Abraham, David or Jesus to do such things in modern times, thus, why should we expect Obama to follow a similar trend? It’s astonishing that smaller symbols combined to form more cohesive, more meaningful, larger symbols can raise so much ire in a man’s middle name. Yet, this is the absurdity some have been reduced to during this election.
Some reduced to much worse
Forty-plus years removed from the Civil Rights movement and from segregation, racism is still a real and terrifying current running through American society, so much so that a black man can’t even begin talking about positive, uplifting notions of unity and accord in this country without talks of assassination. Some 150 years from slavery, nearly a century (or less) from lynchings and cross burnings, we still have yet to come to grips with our own mutual humanness.
A minority of white people actually feel bad about that black, dark (even the words to us denotes a negative) era of American history, such that some are willing to consider reparations to make up for the sins of their white ancestors and to make up for the toil, sweat and blood shed by the enslaved, which still today creates in many black folks lingering feelings of anger and resentment that the ancestors of masters, or even the ancestors of poor white folks, can’t pretend to understand. Other whites, though admitting it was a tragic step in a subversive direction for the country, make no claims of guilt and let the past speak for itself. The present isn’t implicated by the past, some may say, and we should move forward and seek to make the reality facing us today a better one. Some, evidenced by the above article, clearly haven’t moved on and are still waging the Civil War and carrying the cloak of the KKK, albeit largely in secrecy.
So, what now? The choices before us today are ironic by every account. The Republican headliner, John McCain, an aging, white male, at times, playing second tier in the headlines to Gov. Sarah Palin, the surprising vice president female choice, a largely unknown from Alaska, who is far more fundamentally evangelical, at least publically, far less professionally qualified and arguably, less ethical than her running mate (See: Troopergate). The champion of women’s rights, Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, long since bowed out of the election. Next, Joe Biden, another aging, white male, is following, not leading, the first black man in the country to head a major party ticket.
And Obama: the greatest irony of them all. A half white, half black, Harvard-law educated, erudite man poised — and with seeming tireless poise — is hours away from making this, if it isn’t already, the most historic presidential election. Assuredly, some, black and white, will vote purely on racial grounds, regardless of who is best fit for the job, which would be an anachronistic way to approach the most important decision a person can make as a citizen. Others, I’m confident, will make informed choices.
Assuming the polls are correct and assuming McCain doesn’t make a large push down the home stretch, will an Obama win erase the legacy of slavery or Jim Crow or segregation? Certainly not. Will it move us closer to obtaining racial harmony? Time will tell, and the country’s reaction to the election, whether there will be racial scuffles, more assassination attempts, nothing at all, or positive steps toward the unity among races of which Obama so frequently speaks, will testify to the evolution, or not, of our racial character since 1964. It will, for sure, test us like nothing since that year. And in my innermost whiteness, the ironically dark lurker beneath that eggs me on to lock my car doors in urban neighborhoods, some form of underlying anxiety persists at times, one from which I can’t deny or shirk away. It seemingly runs in all of us, at the core, black and white. It is this: for blacks, a nagging resentment; for whites, an often mistrust for those of other hews, that follows us through history like a ghost. Regardless of whether we want it there or not, it’s embedded in many of our ancestries and seated firmly in the roots of our family trees. Our ability to come to grips with these feelings, channel them and find new ways to respect and dignify our fellow man will dictate how the next four years play out. After all, at the core, we exist as humans across, and independent from, racial lines. Blacks, whites, Hispanics, Asians have family and friends they love. They have children they want to see succeed. They live with the same basic needs. At times in our history, these truths have often teetered just out of reach. We can only hope that in the near future, they will be more fully realized.
Sarah Palinsays she’s just “your average hockey mom.” But she sure doesn’t dress like one.
Seems the RNC coughed up a whopping $150,000 to outfit/accessorize Palin and her family for the campaign trail.
The tally included included a $75,062.63 visit to Neiman Marcus and two Saks Fifth Avenue pit shops totaling $49,425.74, according to Jeanne Cummings at Politico. That’s a lot more than the $1,874 spent by average Americans, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Click here to see how Sarah’s clothing has changed since her VP nomination.
According to our intrepid political reporters at Top of the Ticket, the RNC’s financial disclosure records for September and October show that the RNC did charge those purchases as “campaign accessories.”
Charged were Bloomingdale’s ($5,102.71), Barney’s ($789.72), Atelier men’s boutique ($4,902.45) and two baby clothing and accessory stores.
Apparently, it’s totally legal — albeit not normal — for campaigns to buy duds for their candidates. Politico checked records for Barack Obama’s campaign and the Democratic party: No similar fashion expenditures. …
And these gems from the Hugh Hewitt Show (I don’t know who he is either, but Palin interviewed with him in late September):
HH: Governor, you mentioned the people who are struggling right now. Have you and your husband, Todd, ever faced tough economic times where you had to sit around a kitchen table and make tough choices?
SP: Oh my goodness, yes, Hugh. I know what Americans are going through. Todd and I, heck, we’re going through that right now even as we speak, which may put me again kind of on the outs of those Washington elite who don’t like the idea of just an everyday working class American running for such an office. But yeah, there’s been a lot of times that Todd and I have had to figure out how we were going to pay for health insurance. We’ve gone through periods of our life here with paying out of pocket for health coverage until Todd and I both landed a couple of good union jobs. Early on in our marriage, we didn’t have health insurance, and we had to either make the choice of paying out of pocket for catastrophic coverage or just crossing our fingers, hoping that nobody would get hurt, nobody would get sick. So I know what Americans are going through there. And you know, even today, Todd and I are looking at what’s going on in the stock market, the relatively low number of investments that we have, looking at the hit that we’re taking, probably $20,000 dollars last week in his 401K plan that was hit. I’m thinking geez, the rest of America, they’re facing the exact same thing that we are. We understand what the problems are. It’s why I have all the faith in the world that John McCain is the right top of any ticket at this point to get us through these challenges. It’s a good balanced ticket where he’s got the experience, and he’s got the bipartisan approach that it’s going to take to get us through these challenges. And I have the acknowledgement and the experience of going through what America is going through.
Answering a third-grader’s question on a Colorado TV interview about the role of the vice president, Palin again repeated that the VP is “in charge” of the Senate, that “they can really get in there with the Senators and make a lot of good policy changes …”
I know Palin was probably trying to simplify her response slightly given the questioner (we can only assume), but as Joe Biden said, the Constitution is explicit about the VP’s role:
Article 1: The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.
I don’t know that I’ve ever explicitly said this, but John McCain is an able leader. If he were president, I would at least feel confident that the wheels of our country would stay on the track (although most of the world would continue to dislike and distrust us and think we were pompous and obnoxious freedom crusaders, meddling in every world theater, and setting up little democracies around the world to people who may or may not want it). I would have felt comfortable with Mitt Romney or certainly with Rudy Giuliani, but McCain and his campaign have put the free world in jeopardy by his VP pick. Make no mistake. I credit Palin with these qualities (most will serve her well on the world stage): intelligent, cagey, pleasant, folksy, adept at public speaking, has the ability to cram a lot of information into her head, loving parent and ruthless. But experienced enough to juggle enormous, world-implicating issues she is not. It says something significant about McCain and his staff’s decision-making. Were something to happen to McCain, can we really picture Palin staring down people like Putin or Ahmadinejad? I mean, it’s terrifying to think about. For real. No jokes. It’s not funny. At all.