My friend in Taiwan IMed me this morning and asked, "What the hell is going on in the United States right now?"
The truth is, I have no idea. I'm pretty mystified at what's been happening in the '08 general election, particularly since John McCain chose Sarah Palin as his running mate.
What seemed at first like an obviously campaign-ending decision by John McCain has in recent days become almost universally touted as a political masterstroke. My first hint that the US had slipped into Bizarro World was when I tuned into "This Week with George Stephanopolous" the Sunday morning following her selection. Of the 4 gathered panelists in George's round table, only the ineffectual Sam Donaldson seemed to think choosing a politician with next to no foreign policy experience after hitting Obama for the exact same resume gap was too reckless and nakedly hypocritical for his campaign to recover from. Everyone else? Loved her. Thought it was a great move politically. I thought they'd all had strokes. Turns out, joke's on me.
Naked hypocrisy, apparently, means nothing when you're dealing with the people who have, to date, been sitting this election out because John McCain isn't conservative enough to arouse their interest. They're waiting to hear their politicians say a few things. Like "opposed to abortion even in the case of rape, incest and life of the mother." Like "believes in the literal truth of the Bible." Like "believes Creationism should be taught in public schools." They've heard it from the McCain camp, and now they can get excited. From all appearances, Sarah Palin is as hostile to education, intellect and science as a lot of Evangelical voters are, and so McCain has quite cynically bought himself a lot of votes by choosing her to be his Vice President.
I feel like I'm staring down the barrel of another goddamn 4 years of Republican dominance of two branches of the federal government. A loss this year would be a shock to the system I can hardly contemplate.
Before I go too far down that path of fear and loathing, I will briefly relate some of what maddening-but-independent-seeming Camille Paglia wrote on Salon.com today. She said that a.) she doesn't believe as the gospel truth everything they're writing about Sarah Palin's alleged far-right religious views, which seems like a sensible viewpoint. Paglia likens all the stuff they're writing about her crazy Christian views to the stuff they were saying about Obama's Muslim-ness and unpatriotic-ness, and Lawd knows that stuff was bullshit. So whenever McCain thinks Palin's got a good evasive line down for each of the scandals percolating back in her home state (and learns the names of all the important world leaders), and lets her have a serious sit-down interview, maybe she'll let us know where she stands on all those wedge issues (abstinence, abortion, evolution, guns) that have gotten Evangelicals excited, and have us progressives terrified/angry. If she's as bad as I'm hearing she is (and suspect she is), on these issues, then a McCain win in November might be the only thing worse than a 3rd Bush term.