I’m so caught up with this Palin–induced mess that I can think of hardly anything else these days. I’ve read every opinion article about her in the NY Times this weekend and have even read most of the comments on the blogs. Normally I don’t bother reading the comments, or leaving comments for that matter, but I am so curious about the kind of talk that’s happening around this election. Shamefully, most of the talk is about her, and hardly any kind of talk of any kind of substance is happening about either of the Presidential candidates. (Until today, that is, when the latest YouTube video came out today about the Keating 5, the savings and loan scandal in 1989.)
I seem to remember in past elections the kind of weariness our nation felt at the name-calling and finger-pointing to which the candidates and their campaign managers were reduced. I remember us all wanting to hear “something”—-anything—- from them in elections past other than the same uppercuts to each other’s character traits (and those jabs do seem to trickle down to the voters, in our own rings running circles around each other and taking cheap shots at each other’s ears) that always seem to emerge in the final weeks. And now we’re here in the final weeks, and lo and behold, we’ve all punched each other to near blindness, our eyes swelling shut even as we continue raining blows.
I think this fighting metaphor comes from a UFC fight I saw this weekend. I’m sure it was the first battle I’d ever seen—two men in a cage pretty much bare-fisted wrestling each other to an inch from death—as I’d probably remember that kind of violence. I watched almost the whole thing: from the two opponents walking out of their rooms, each with their own entourage, then waiting in their respective corners, then hitting fists as if greeting each other, and then, at long last, fighting. The mat was covered with blood from earlier battles: a man with “razor sharp elbows” had nearly brought a man to his final breath just moments before.The men railed at each other, fists flying—-strong at first, each bringing his own unique skill to the mat, each clearly demonstrating his strength. And then, after moments of beating each other as hard as they could, they were reduced—-for whole seconds—-to holding each other down on the mat and flailing their fists at whichever body part they could reach. Not whichever body part would feel the most damage, but whichever body part they could hit: ears, shoulders, backs. It was an exercise in watching two men, both clearly exhausted, both clearly withered, still try to exert power over the other. And it was pathetic. In the minutes after the battle was over, when one had been pounded so thoroughly on the top of his head by the other’s knuckles as if he were trying to punch in a cantaloupe, their faces would swell to twice their normal size with bruises and broken bones and the months-long healing process would begin.
We find ourselves in our own UFC ring these days, one angry old man slinging mud like boxing gloves against a guy who, despite his faults (which in my opinion are few, if any), and in that old man’s corner is the “hope” for the Republican party: a JV cheerleader who thinks she’s All That (wink, wink, daggonit.) And all of us? Well, here’s what we’re doing to each other:
A couple of weeks ago, in response to a forwarded email about Palin’s use of language (that I’m sure many of you read at some point), I received this in my inbox, a note directed at another person’s reaction to the forward:
I’m so sorry to doubt your messiah, Barack! Here’s how you typical leftists think: “Barack is sooooo magnificent and wonderful, and he’s the ONE we’ve been waiting for. I get a chill up my leg every time I hear him speak! If you oppose Him, it MUST be that you’re a racist. There’s no other explanation!”
My vote is not based on race. My vote is based on ideology. I happen to like the American capitalist system. I don’t want Barry and the federal government to take care of me and my family. I’d rather have a stumbling, bumbling Christian elitist in charge than a radical, America-hating communist. And just to keep the record straight, I am no fan of George W. Bush.
My response? I’d be lying if I said I shot back a quick reply with all the words I really wanted to say. Instead, I kept that note in my inbox and came back to it a couple of times while I mulled over my message. Here it is:
I just don’t understand how you could use such extreme language. “America-hating communist?” Really? Do you honestly believe that? Was it an idea that formulated in your own mind based on fair evidence from reliable sources?
Frankly, I can’t bear to have the world see us as a country willing to elect ANOTHER “bumbling, Christian elitist” in office, based on what’s happened recently. And for the past 8 years.
And as far as “we typical leftists,” I don’t know where you got your evidence for our “thoughts,” but I think it’s very fair to say you Just Don’t Get It. Obama’s no messiah, and I’d be surprised to meet a person who thinks he actually is.
Stop making judgements about Obama supporters and take a look at what’s best for the country. We’re not out to fight each other. We’re out to select the best person for the job.
I haven’t heard anything in response, and I can’t say I expected one. But the underlying message is clear: outside the two-man Presidential ring, there is a ring of millions and we are doing whatever we can to punch in cantaloupes. John McCain’s speech (read some of it here, watch a clip from Salon.com) is evidence that he wants his supporters (The American People) to do the fighting for him. He gives his supporters the fuel in the form of “an angry barrage of insults,” and leaves it up to The American People to burn everything down.
There is nothing of substance coming from the McCain campaign and Palin’s inability to articulate ideas in the English language is evidence that what comes from the McCain/Palin ticket is nothing but babble. Language aside, what we see from that ticket is exactly what we have had for the last eight years. And if the ticket disagrees, I have yet to hear or read anything to the contrary. Babble cannot elaborate on the issues. But one thing is clear: we have a man who’s health will most certainly falter and a woman who admitted she would take the country in her own direction should she ever have the opportunity. The woman has no direction of her own. And that means the same people who wrote her notes for the debate last Thursday will be the ones running this country. And who are they?
The Obama/Biden ticket represents real change, control of what’s spiraled out, support for American workers, and the proud face of America in the world again. With Obama/Biden we can take our heads out of the sand and breathe again. From Madeleine Albright, who was misquoted by Sarah Palin in a recent speech:
“Though I am flattered that Governor Palin has chosen to cite me as a source of wisdom, what I said had nothing to do with politics. This is yet another example of McCain and Palin distorting the truth, and all the more reason to remember that this campaign is not about gender, it is about which candidate has an agenda that will improve the lives of all Americans, including women. The truth is, if you care about the status of women in our society and in our troubled economy, the best choice by far is Obama-Biden.“
But with 28 days left until November 4th, I’m holding my breath. There will be a few more rounds to go and who knows what kind of moves the GOP can pull.
With that in mind, I sent in my New York voter registration today. Barack Obama is the man for this job.
Get out and vote.