daughter may be the biggest Tina Fey fan that there is. If
she were running for—well, anything—Madeleine would be campaigning
for her. And this started long before Tina Fey’s new career
in politics. Her imPalinization of the governor of Alaska
was just one more reason for Madeleine to like her. Can she
rock the vote? Could be.
We’ve spent a lot of time at my house talking about Sarah
Palin and practicing our winks. So far I’m the best at it,
but that’s because I’ve had so much experience—winkin’ from
the pulpit durin’ my sermons. I don’t know, I always felt
it made my parishioners feel that I was intelligent, reliable.
And darned cute.
The other day, in a spirit as charitable as I can be about
our possible future president and vice president, I told Madeleine
that one good thing you can say about Sarah Palin is that
she’s got really nice clothes. And great legs. (I’m a bipartisan
leg girl, what can I say?)
Madeleine became genuinely annoyed with me, claiming the superficiality
of my comment was indicative of how many people decide to
support this candidate or that one.
I felt a little chastened. She knows I didn’t decide to support
Obama because he likes Stevie Wonder. Nevertheless, she had
I remembered reading in The Wall Street Journal
about a voter in Missouri explaining why she, a former Clinton
supporter, had now gone Republican. It was because of Palin.
like the people I know. Her husband snowmobiles. We drive
tractors and fly airplanes.”
The McCain-Palin strategy panders to people who think like
this. Rather than encouraging voters to engage with the issues,
this campaign goes for voters’ emotions.
Palin’s mean-spirited quip about Obama “pallin’ around with
terrorists,” the implied racism of McCain’s “that one,” the
YouTube video “the One” with its anti-messianic overtones—none
of these engage issues. Instead they’re viral smears intended
to elicit reactions. They’re aimed at raising the blood pressure
of the kinds of people who are already thinking that a black
man with an Islamic middle name who practices the wrong kind
of Christianity (if he’s really Christian at all) and
actually lived in Indonesia which has the greatest percentage
of Muslins in the world, is not white enough nor Christian
enough to lead us.
So it’s no wonder that at McCain-Palin rallies supporters
hurl insults about Obama, calling him a terrorist and a commie
and a traitor, saying that Obama scares them. True, those
insults gave McCain the chance to show he was a nice guy who
would brook no character assassination of his opponent. But
he and his running mate are the ones chiefly responsible for
whipping up the anti-Obama fervor in the first place.
All the campaign rhetoric (and the debates) has led me to
believe our country is bifurcated into those who are reasonable
and those who are reactionary. That sounds simplistic and
elitist, but it sure seems like there is a large percentage
of the population who prefer jingoism and judgmentalism to
a thoughtful assessment of the character and ideas of the
The question is, what is that percentage?
It’s hard to say, but I think the election will turn on it.
If emotionalism rules at the booths, then we’ll have a McCain-Palin
administration. If reason rules, the election will go the
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if more voters took the time to weigh
the issues? When I heard Colin Powell’s remarks on Meet
the Press, I thought this is what it means to be
“fair and balanced.”
Obama, he said, “displayed a steadiness, an intellectual curiosity,
a depth of knowledge and an approach to looking at problems
. . . not just jumping in and changing every day, but showing
intellectual vigor. I think that he has a, a definitive way
of doing business that would serve us well.”
For Powell, McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin “raised some question
in my mind as to the judgment that Sen. McCain made.” And
as for the Bill Ayers business, he called it “despicable”
party has moved even further to the right,” he observed, “and
Gov. Palin has indicated a further rightward shift. I would
have difficulty with two more conservative appointments to
the Supreme Court, but that’s what we’d be looking at in a
also troubled by, not what Senator McCain says, but what members
of the party say. And it is permitted to be said such things
as, “Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.” Well, the
correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he’s a Christian. He’s
always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what
if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in
this country? The answer’s no. . . . ”
If only more people had heard Colin Powell’s remarks and fewer
Michael Savage’s rant about Barack Hussein Obama being, as
he put it, a “moose-lem.”
Anyway, under two weeks till the election and this is where
we are. The questions remain: Will the majority of voters
let reason guide them in the booth? Or will we have a president
elected by the emotionality of prejudice and fear?