Speech to Nowhere
* The video is from a tv station in Alaska and tracks the Trooper Wooten investigation into whether or not she abused executive power by firing someone because they wouldn't fire her ex-brother-in-law. The article by Will Bunch came in earlier from Truth Out.
Palin's Speech to Nowhere
Thursday 04 September 2008
by: Will Bunch, The Philadelphia Daily News
Sarah Palin delivered a great speech tonight -- for her party, for John McCain, for herself, for what she set out to accomplish. This was America's first real glimpse at the Alaska governor, and what we saw was a boffo politician who speaks in a plaintive prairie voice that channels America's Heartland like a chilling breeze rippling a field of wheat, who knows how to tell a joke, how to bring down the house and bring a tear to a few eyes. She is proud of her family, as she should be, and there is much to admire in her own "personal journey of discovery" (don't we all have these, by the way?) including her efforts to raise her son Trig. It is indeed nice to think that there would be an advocate for such children inside the corridors of the White House, although I'd surely like to hear what -- if anything -- she's done for special needs kids as governor of Alaska.
But...it was a great speech -- written for someone else, a male in fact, days before the Palin selection was even a gleam in John McCain's eye, but a great speech nonetheless. The pundits are fawning over it as I write this -- Tom Brokaw said she could not have been "more winning and more engaging" -- and in a world that is dominated by horse race journalism I can understand why, because I agree that Palin's one-of-a-kind story has given her long shot running mate a decent chance now of pulling this one out at the finish line.
It's a good metaphor, a horse race, because in the end it finishes right near where it started -- just as it will be for America if John McCain and Sarah Palin are sworn in on Jan. 20, 2009. Yes, it was a great speech politically, and a great night for her family, but an empty speech for America -- and for America's families. It was defined by its lowest moment, Palin's shameless lie about "the Bridge to Nowhere."
This was a Speech to Nowhere.
It was a Speech to Nowhere when Palin said that "I told the Congress 'Thanks but no thanks' on that Bridge to Nowhere," because that was a lie, and the worst kind of lie in American politics, a blatant falsehood that showed utter contempt for the American people that Palin pledged to serve, assuming we are too stupid to look up or know that truth, that she pushed for those funds in Congress and while she got great political mileage out of announcing that she was killing the project, she still has not returned the funds to American people.
It was a Speech to Nowhere because Palin also boasted seconds before her lie of fighting against wasteful earmarks in Congress, even though she pushed for and accepted $27 million of such grants when she was mayor of Wasilla.
It was a Speech to Nowhere because Palin said that "we've got lots" of oil and gas this country, and while one supposes that all depends upon what you definition of the words "lots" is, the production of oil in the United States has been irrevocably on the decline since 1970, and with her words she showed this nation that she and John McCain will perpetrate the dangerous myths that began with Ronald Reagan at his acceptance speech in 1980, that sunny optimism is the solution to all our energy woes, and not a posture that put energy research on a war footing, or requires moral leadership on conservation, mass transit, or any other common sense answers whatsoever.
It was a Speech to Nowhere because Palin boasted that "I stood up to the special interests, and the lobbyists, and the Big Oil companies," and the audience cheered -- after eight brutal years of the same crowd's cheering two oilmen in the White House who fiddled while $4-a-gallon gas burned and while American men and women died in a needless war fought on top of an oilfield, and while lobbyist friends like Jack Abramoff and Ralph Reed got rich at the same time.
It was a Speech to Nowhere because Palin had the nerve to talk at length about John McCain's "torturous interrogations" in the very same speech when she all but condoned the continuation of similar, abhorrent practices that have been directed for eight years by our own U.S. leaders, when she stated that Democrats are "worried that someone won't read them [terrorism suspects] their rights."
It was a Speech to Nowhere because Palin belittled "community organizers" -- thousands of Americans who work long hours for little pay in some of the toughest neighborhoods, trying to assist the American Dream that even the poorest among us can pull themselves out of the muck with a helping hand. Palin and other GOP speakers have turned a noble job into a dirty word tonight -- shame on you! Listen to what CNN's Roland Martin said after Palin's speech was over.
My two parents are sitting home in Houston, Texas and they are both community organizers and the GOP and Sarah Palin might have well have said "being community organizers doesn't matter" to my parents face. I'm disgusted. Community organizers keep people in their homes, keep their lights on, keep food in the fridge.
It was a Speech to Nowhere because it made no mention of the men that Sarah Palin and John McCain are running to replace -- their names are Dick Cheney and George W. Bush, in case you've forgotten this week -- and no acknowledgment that as many 80 percent of Americans believe this country is on the wrong track, or that you can't solve a nation's problems when you deny they exist.
It was a Speech to Nowhere because...well, I urge everyone to read the text, without Palin's sharp delivery or her adoring fans in the crowd and in the press box, and tell me where there is any kind of policy at all -- except for the short boilerplate passage on energy -- or any mention of the issues that concern everyday Americans, including the No. 1 issue of the economy. Show me the part where this "grand slam" of speech touches on how citizens can afford health care or sending their kids to college.
But more than anything else, it was a Speech to Nowhere because for all the acclaim, the great bulk of it was devoted to one thing, and that is the one thing that millions of Americans are talking about in 2008 when we talk about "change" -- to the ugliest kind of "pit bull" politics, to use Palin's words, that tear down the other side with cheap ad hominem attacks, surrounded by a cloud of half-truths (uh, those "Greek columns"...did you actually even watch Obama's speech? Because there weren't any) and ridiculous innuendo about "parting the waters" which means nothing but fires up a big hockey rink full of Dittoheads. These kind of vicious attacks -- without having the grace to acknowledge that, despite some real differences on issues with Obama, that he has already accomplished something impressive that says something positive about America and the progress we've made -- were utterly lacking in class. And this is what Tom Brokaw considers "winning" -- have we really sunk that low as a nation?. The people of America want and deserve a real debate, now trash talk from the basketball point guard who was once called "Sarah Barracuda."
I hope America wakes up tomorrow and realizes that Sarah Palin's words were rousing -- and completely empty, that they offered no road map (let alone bridge) for America other than more of the bogus partisan name-calling that has gotten us into the mess that we're in now.
Actually, let me rephrase that.
I hope America wakes up tomorrow.
Thanks to TruthOut, click to see GOP pundits telling the truth about her "bullshit" (their words) via a mic they didn't realize was live.
*Here is some info MoveOn.org sent out suggesting we write to our local papers so people will know where Palin really stands on important issues.
Palin's speech and the reaction to it also made clear why McCain picked her. It wasn't a decision about who's most qualified to serve a heart-beat away from the presidency—it was a political decision about pleasing the far-right base of the Republican party.
Writing a letter to your local paper is a great way to make sure voters understand that. The opinion pages are the most widely-read pages of the newspaper. Write today, and your letter's a lot more likely to get published because it's so topical. It'll help sway the editorial board too.
Here are a bunch of points you might want to include in your letter:
*Palin recently said that the war in Iraq is "God's task." She's even admitted she hasn't thought about the war much—just last year she was quoted saying, "I've been so focused on state government, I haven't really focused much on the war in Iraq." 1, 2 (footnotes below)
*Palin has actively sought the support of the fringe Alaska Independence Party. Six months ago, Palin told members of the group—who advocate for a vote on secession from the union—to "keep up the good work" and "wished the party luck on what she called its 'inspiring convention.'" 3
*Palin wants to teach creationism in public schools. She hasn't made clear whether she thinks evolution is a fact.4
*Palin doesn't believe that humans contribute to global warming. Speaking about climate change, she said, "I'm not one though who would attribute it to being manmade." 5
*Palin has close ties to Big Oil. Her inauguration was even sponsored by BP. 6
Palin is extremely anti-choice. She doesn't even support abortion in the case of rape or incest. 7
*Palin opposes comprehensive sex-ed in public schools. She's said she will only support abstinence-only approaches. 8
*As mayor, Palin tried to ban books from the library. Palin asked the library how she might go about banning books because some had inappropriate language in them—shocking the librarian, Mary Ellen Baker. According to Time, "news reports from the time show that Palin had threatened to fire Baker for not giving "full support" to the mayor." 9
*She DID support the Bridge to Nowhere (before she opposed it). Palin claimed that she said "thanks, but no thanks" to the infamous Bridge to Nowhere. But in 2006, Palin supported the project repeatedly, saying that Alaska should take advantage of earmarks "while our congressional delegation is in a strong position to assist." 10
The plain fact of the matter is that Sarah Palin did a bang-up job delivering a Karl Rove-style political attack speech last night. That makes her a skilled politician but it doesn't make her views any more palatable for voters. Americans don't really want another far-right, anti-science ideologue in the White House.
P.S. If you haven't seen it, check out the Daily Show clip on Palin. It's worth a watch
1. "Palin: Iraq war 'a task that is from God'," Associated Press, September 3, 2008
2. "Palin wasn't 'really focused much' on the Iraq war," ThinkProgress, August 30, 2008
3. "The Sarah Palin Digest," ThinkProgress, September 4, 2008
4. "McCain and Palin differ on issues," Associated Press, September 3, 2008
6. The Sarah Palin Digest," ThinkProgress, September 4, 2008
9. "Mayor Palin: A Rough Record," Time, September 2, 2008
10. The Sarah Palin Digest," ThinkProgress, September 4, 2008
Labels: political philosophy