A Mighty Wind blows through Republican convention
VIEWPOINT — Heather Mallick – special to CBC News
I assume John McCain chose Sarah Palin as his vice-presidential partner in a fit of pique because the Republican money men refused to let him have the stuffed male shirt he really wanted. She added nothing to the ticket that the Republicans didn’t already have sewn up, the white trash vote, the demographic that sullies America’s name inside and outside its borders yet has such a curious appeal for the right.
So why do it?
It’s possible that Republican men, sexual inadequates that they are, really believe that women will vote for a woman just because she’s a woman. They’re unfamiliar with our true natures. Do they think vaginas call out to each other in the jungle night? I mean, I know men have their secret meetings at which they pledge to do manly things, like being irresponsible with their semen and postponing household repairs with glue and used matches. Guys will be guys, obviously.
But do they not know that women have been trained to resent other women and that they only learn to suppress this by constantly berating themselves and reading columns like this one? I’m a feminist who understands that women can nurse terrible and delicate woman hatred.
Palin was not a sure choice, not even for the stolidly Republican ladies branch of Citizens for a Tackier America. No, she isn’t even female really. She’s a type, and she comes in male form too.
John Doyle, the cleverest critic in Canada, comes right out and calls Palin an Alaska hillbilly. Damn his eyes, I wish I’d had the wit to come up with it first. It’s safer than "white trash" but I’ll pluck safety out of the nettle danger. Or something.
Doyle’s job includes watching a lot of reality television and he’s well-versed in the backstory. White trash — not trailer trash, that’s something different — is rural, loud, proudly unlettered (like Bush himself), suspicious of the urban, frankly disbelieving of the foreign, and a fan of the American cliché of authenticity. The semiotics are pure Palin: a sturdy body, clothes that are clinging yet boxy and a voice that could peel the plastic seal off your new microwave.
‘Turn your guns on Levi, ma’am’
Palin has a toned-down version of the porn actress look favoured by this decade’s woman, the overtreated hair, puffy lips and permanently alarmed expression. Bristol has what is known in Britain as the look of the teen mum, the "pramface." Husband Todd looks like a roughneck; Track, heading off to Iraq, appears terrified. They claim to be family obsessed while being studiously terrible at parenting. What normal father would want Levi "I’m a fuckin’ redneck" Johnson prodding his daughter?
I know that I have an attachment to children that verges on the irrational, but why don’t the Palins? I’m not the one preaching homespun values but I’d destroy that ratboy before I’d let him get within scenting range of my daughter again, and so would you. Palin’s e-mails about the brother-in-law she tried to get fired as a state trooper are fizzing with rage and revenge. Turn your guns on Levi, ma’am.
Palin has it all, along with being vicious and profoundly dishonest. Just hours after her first convention speech, the Associated Press did a good fast listing of her untruths and I won’t dwell on them.
I did promise to watch the entire convention so you wouldn’t have to, but I discovered a neat trick. I switched between the convention and the 2003 folk music mockumentary A Mighty Wind on Bravo.
They were indistinguishable. Click on a nervous wreck with deeply strange hair doing a monologue on society today and where it all went wrong. Are you watching Christian belter Aaron Tippin singing Where the Stars and Stripes and Eagle Fly in the Xcel Centre in St. Paul or the actors from Spinal Tap remixing the 1966 version of Potato’s in the Paddy Wagon?
Who delivered this line: "To do then now would be retro. To do then then was very now-tro, if you will." Was it Rev. James Dobson of Focus on the Family talking about Bristol Palin’s shotgun wedding or was it a flashback to the Kingston Trio?
The conventioneers are nothing like the rich men who run the party, and that’s the mystery of the hick vote. They’d be much better served by the Democrats. I know Thomas Frank answered this in What’s the Matter with Kansas?; I know that red states vote Republican on social issues to give themselves the only self-esteem available to their broken, economically abused existence.
Lie works for Palin
But surely they know Barack Obama is not planning to finish off the ordinary hillbilly when he adjusts tax rates. He’s going to raise taxes on the top 2% of Americans and that doesn’t include anyone at the convention beyond the Bushes and McCains and random party management. So why cheer Palin when she claims otherwise?
Is it racism? I’m told that it is, although I find racism so appalling that I have difficulty identifying it. It is more likely the dearly held Republican notion that any American can become violently rich, as rich as those hedge funders in Greenwich, Conn., who buy $40-million mansions unseen and have their topiary shaped in the form of musical notes.
When Palin and Rudy Giuliani sneered at Obama’s years of "community organizing" — they said it like "rectal fissure" — the audience ewww-ed with them. Republicans dream of a personal future that involves only household staff, not equals who need to be persuaded to vote.
So I’m trying to imagine the pain of realizing, as they all must at some point, that it is not going to happen for them. It’s the green light at the end of the dock. It’s the ship that never comes in, gals, as Palin would put it. But she won’t because the lie works for her. It helps her scramble, without compassion, above all those other tense no-hoper ladies in the audience.
American politics isn’t short of smart women. Susan Eisenhower, Ike’s granddaughter, who just endorsed Obama, made an extraordinary speech at the Democratic convention (and a terrific casual appearance on The Colbert Report as Palin was speaking). The Republican party has already consumed nearly all of its moderate "seed corn," she said aptly. Time to start again.
Eisenhower, a scholar and journalist, has a point. Or am I only saying that because she’s part of the thoughtful demographic that I’m trying to reach here? Think, Heather, think like a Republican! The Skeptics, shall I call them, are my base, and I’ll pander to them as ardently as the Republican patriarchs tease their white female marginals.
Or maybe I’m seeing too much into it and it’s just a sexed-up version of the Republican convention.
"Everybody is trying to find out more about Sarah Palin. Someone was able to hack into Sarah Palin’s Yahoo! email account because she hadn’t taken the proper security measures. Yeah. So, folks, it’s official. No one in the Palin family uses protection." –Conan O’Brien
"But the dirt is beginning to come out. Apparently, one of Sarah’s first acts as Governor of Alaska was getting a tanning bed installed in the governor’s mansion. The Republican Party is okay with it, which is weird, because usually they ask themselves, ‘How can we make our candidate more white?’" –Craig Ferguson
"Hey, let me tell you something. If all you need to do to become vice president is be a former beauty queen with a tanning bed, then I’m casting my vote for Ryan Seacrest!" –Jimmy Kimmel
"Did you see the Sarah Palin interview on ABC? This state trooper from Alaska says that Palin lied in the interview. She lied on national television. I’d say someone’s ready for the White House!" –Craig Ferguson
"John McCain’s campaign said that Sarah Palin will not talk to the media, this is a quote, until reporters can address her with respect and deference. Oh, what is she running for, vice president or queen?" –Jay Leno
"Stock prices are down, major companies are being purchased by the government. It is a bear market and, I have to say, Sarah Palin is just the lady to shoot it for us." –Jimmy Kimmel
"For some reason, the Secret Service revealed this, that Sarah Palin’s Secret Service code name is ‘Denali.’ Turns out ‘Denali’ is an old Eskimo name that means ‘Dan Quayle.’" –Jay Leno
"Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin today said she thinks the economy needs some shaking up and some fixin’. I’m pretty sure is also her recipe for oven-baked chicken." –Jimmy Kimmel
"John McCain and Sarah Palin attended a campaign rally in Vienna, Ohio, today. They were in Vienna. Apparently, they went to Vienna so Sarah Palin could get some foreign policy experience." –Jay Leno
"Sarah Palin’s been spending the last couple of days being briefed by advisers on what she needs to know to be John McCain’s vice president. That’s true. Yeah. Apparently, the first thing they taught her was CPR." –Conan O’Brien
"This is true. In Alaska, a political activist is trying to get Sarah Palin to release over 1,000 e-mails that she’s withholding from public records. She won’t release them. Yeah. Apparently, several of the e-mails went unanswered and have the subject line ‘Mom, I need to talk to you about birth control.’" –Conan O’Brien
"They’re selling Sarah Palin action figures online. I don’t know where they get the outfits for these, but she looks like the sluttiest librarian of all time. Sad incident at Toys ‘R’ Us today — a Sarah Palin doll shot My Little Pony." –Jimmy Kimmel
"Because of Sarah Palin, people are now asking the question: Is she ready to be president? If, God forbid, something happens to John McCain, is Sarah Palin ready to be president? I don’t think we need to worry about that, because Bush has lowered the bar so tremendously." –David Letterman
"I kind of like that Sarah Palin. You know, she reminds me, she looks like the flight attendant who won’t give you a second can of Pepsi. No, you’ve had enough. We’re landing. Looks like the waitress at the coffee shop who draws a little smiley face on your check. Have a nice day." –David Letterman (Read more of Letterman’s jabs at Palin)
"Of course, now everyone’s digging into Sarah Palin’s past. There’s an old picture of Sarah Palin circulating on the internet right now, and she’s wearing a t-shirt that says, ‘I may be broke, but I’m not flat-busted.’ Yeah, John McCain was upset when he heard this and asked, ‘What’s the internet?’" –Conan O’Brien
"The Wall Street Journal said today Democrats are sending an army of lawyers and investigators up to Alaska to look into the background of Sarah Palin. And of course, John McCain is furious. He said, ‘Hey, if I didn’t look into her background, there’s no reason you should be looking into her background.’" –Jay Leno
"Experts say — this is interesting — that since Sarah Palin became the vice presidential nominee, there’s been an actual spike in the sales of her style of eyeglasses. Gone way up. Yeah. Yeah, with Palin’s glasses, you’ll be able to see everything, except what the hell your teenage daughter’s up to." –Conan O’Brien
"Dick Cheney told reporters this week, there’s no reason why Sarah Palin cannot be a successful vice president in the McCain administration. In fact, not only can she shoot a lawyer in the face, she can field dress him as well." –Jay Leno
"And the big guns are out. The Democrats have sent Hillary to Florida to go after Sarah Palin. So, that makes two Clintons trying to nail her now." –Jay Leno
"Oprah Winfrey’s in the middle of a big scandal, because she is refusing to have Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin on her show. The friction started because Palin said if she’s elected, she’ll be the most powerful woman in the country. And Oprah said, ‘The hell you will!’" -Conan O’Brien
"Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is out on the campaign trail. Today, she attended a rally in Wisconsin. The Alaska Governor said she was thrilled to visit Wisconsin because she’s never been to the Deep South." -Conan O’Brien
"And how are you going to be the vice president of the United States with five kids to take care of? She’s got a four-month-old of her own, she’s about to become a grandmother, and she’s partnered with John McCain. How many diapers can one woman possibly change?" –Jimmy Kimmel
"How many of you folks saw that last night, the Vice President, Republican Sarah Palin? Whoa, man, I like that Sarah Palin – looks like the weekend anchor on Channel 9. She looks like the hygienist who makes you feel guilty about not flossing. She looks like the relieved mom in a Tide commercial." –David Letterman
"All the Republicans are heaping praise on Governor Palin. Fred Thompson said, as an actor, he could see them making a movie about Sarah Palin and her family. Didn’t they already make that movie? I think it was called ‘Knocked Up.’" –Jay Leno
"She said at her church, Governor Palin, said she asked everyone to pray for a natural gas pipeline, which she said was God’s will. And today, God said, ‘Hey lady, I don’t deal with oil companies. That’s more Satan’s area.’" –Jay Leno
"She looks like one of those women in the Van Halen videos who takes off her glasses, shakes out her hair, and then all of a sudden, she’s in high heels and a bikini." –Jimmy Kimmel
"In her speech last night, Sarah Palin mocked Barack Obama for giving speeches in front of adoring crowds and standing in front of a stage backdrop. Ironically, Palin did so in front of an adoring crowd standing in front of a stage backdrop." –Jay Leno
"The whole extended Palin family arrived this morning in St. Paul. They even brought the high-school kid who knocked her daughter up along. His name is Levi Johnston. That’s gotta be a fun trip for him with the in-laws." –Jimmy Kimmel
"Governor Sarah Palin gave her speech tonight at the GOP Convention, and it gave people who didn’t know anything about her the chance to finally meet her, you know, like John McCain." –Jay Leno
"The Republican Convention is under way. The theme for tonight’s Republican Convention is, ‘Who is John McCain?’ Tomorrow night’s theme is, ‘Who forgot to check if the Vice President’s daughter is pregnant?’" –Conan O’Brien
"Senator McCain met the Palins as they got off the plane and had especially warm greetings for the young father-to-be [Doctored video of McCain discreetly slipping Johnston a prophylactic] Better late than never, I guess." –Jimmy Kimmel
"It’s true, John McCain’s running mate, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, has revealed that her 17-year-old daughter is pregnant. Palin said, ‘We should never have introduced her to John Edwards.’" –Conan O’Brien
"Let me ask you a question: is it just me, or does Sarah Palin look like a model for LensCrafters?" –David Letterman
"Earlier tonight, I don’t know if you saw it, Sarah Palin gave a tremendous speech to the Republicans, though some are claiming it was actually her daughter’s speech." –David Letterman
"Hey, the Republican Convention is still going wild in scenic St. Paul, Minnesota right now. Alaska Governor and Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin was the star speaker tonight. A lot of excitement. She promised a walrus in every igloo and a whale tooth in every papoose." –Jimmy Kimmel
"By the way, here’s good news, ladies and gentlemen: the Palin family crisis that we were talking about on Sunday and Monday, that has been solved now, and, today, the baby is being adopted by Angelina Jolie." –David Letterman
"And you’ve got to love this: Sarah Palin is an avid hunter. An avid hunter. A vice president who likes guns? Well, what could go wrong there?" –David Letterman
"It was an unplanned pregnancy, but the Palins say their daughter will marry the young man. He’s a fellow high school student of hers. His name is Levi Johnston. They even found his MySpace page, which they pulled down immediately, but before they did we found out that he’s a ‘f***ing redneck,’ is what he said, and another quote from him, ‘I don’t want kids.’ Remember when the Republicans compared Barack Obama to Britney Spears? Now they’ve got their their own Jamie Lynn." –Jimmy Kimmel
"Some people are saying that McCain picked Sarah Palin to appeal to women who supported Hillary Clinton. This is crazy. You can’t just replace Hillary Clinton with another woman. Bill tried that, it didn’t work out." –Craig Ferguson
"John McCain’s VP pick is the governor of Alaska, a unknown hockey mom named Sarah Palin that no one ever heard of. The only other job she had in politics was the mayor of a small town known as Wasilla, Alaska, and now she has the opportunity to be on a ticket opposite of Barack Obama, the first black man she’s ever seen." –Bill Maher
"This isn’t a presidential ticket, this is a sitcom. The maverick and the MILF." –Bill Maher
"Are you kidding me, the mayor of Wasilla, Alaska? Yeah, that’s who you want in the White House during a time of crisis. When she got a phone call at 3 in the morning, it was because a moose had gotten in the garbage can." –Bill Maher
"I think this is pertinent because McCain has been running this campaign based on ‘we’re at war, it’s a dangerous world out there. The democrats don’t get that. I John McCain am the only one standing between the blood-thirsty Al Qaedas and you. But if I die, this stewardess can handle it.’" –Bill Maher
"When they were vetting her for this job, like three seconds ago, she said, quote, I’m not making this up, ‘What is it exactly that the VP does every day?’ Let me field that for you, Sarah. They start wars, they enrich their friends, they subvert the Constitution, and they shoot people in the face. That’s what the vice president does." –Bill Maher
"And McCain felt what this nation really needs now is a vice president who looks like Tina Fey." –David Letterman
"Did you see Sarah Palin standing next to McCain at the podium the other day when he introduced her? Didn’t it look like one of those commercials where the daughter is trying to find a nice home to put Dad in? ‘We’d like someplace quiet.’" –Jay Leno
"Most of the gossip this week is centered around Sarah Palin, McCain’s controversial choice for vice president. Some question whether a mother of five who’s only been running the state of Alaska for two years is the right person to fill out a ticket fronted by a 175-year-old man, and it’s especially strange considering the emphasis that Senator McCain has put on national-security experience. Three years ago, Sarah Palin was the mayor of a town with 9,000 people in it. Nevermind national security, they barely have mall security in a town of that size." –Jimmy Kimmel
"Here’s the amazing part: back in 1984, Sarah Palin actually came second in the Miss Alaska beauty pageant. Now she could be vice president. You know what that means? For the first time in history, a beauty pageant contestant might actually bring about world peace. They’ve talked about it for years; here’s one that could do it!" –Jay Leno
"And, of course, the big news: John McCain has selected Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate. Apparently, he was turned down by his first choice, Bonnie Hunt." –David Letterman
"I guess there are some problems with Palin, though. Have you heard about this ‘Troopergate’ scandal? Palin allegedly…used her power as governor to pressure officials to fire her former brother-in-law from his state trooper job. Now, maybe I’m wrong, but wasn’t that an episode of ‘Dukes of Hazzard?’" –Jay Leno
"Speaking of Sarah Palin, she said she’s a life-long member of the National Rifle Association. Which may explain why she’s in favor of shotgun weddings." –Conan O’Brien
"Vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin has many views. She says she’s opposed to same-sex marriage. Did you know that? Yeah, Palin says everyone knows marriage isn’t for gay people; it’s for pregnant teenagers." –Conan O’Brien
"Oh, and all those Internet photos of Sarah Palin in a bikini holding a gun. But they are all photoshopped. Like those photos of Bill and Hillary dancing, all fake." –Jay Leno
"You know, Sarah Palin, John McCain selected her to be the vice presidential running mate on the Republican ticket, and she’s also the governor of Alaska, and outdoors, like the outdoors, likes assault rifles, has a collection of rifles, likes to shoot assault rifles. I’ll say this for her daughter’s boyfriend: the kid’s got guts." –David Letterman
"But Cindy McCain, for one, points out that the governor, Palin, does in fact have some national-security experience [Video: Cindy McCain pointing out that Alaska is close to Russia]. Right, she’s so close she can walk right up there and watch them like a neighborhood-watch captain or something." –Jimmy Kimmel
"Also, it’s now come out that Palin’s 17-year-old daughter is five months pregnant. McCain claims he knew that when he picked her, but, I don’t know, this whole thing, it just seems too much like the ‘Maury Povich Show’ to have been planned. At this point, I’m not sure I trust McCain to pick a fantasy-football team, to be honest with you." –Jimmy Kimmel
"But we’re learning more and more about Sarah Palin, boy, are we. Listen to this: it turns out she and her entire family once had a chair-throwing brawl on ‘Jerry Springer.’" –David Letterman
"Well there’s a lot of controversy about it. Apparently she told McCain about this weeks ago, but what happened was, I guess she said it into his bad ear. So he didn’t realize." –Jay Leno
"But, despite that, Republicans think she’s a pretty good running mate for McCain. They feel she can bring in women voters, she’s got a good conservative voting record, and she doesn’t mind eating dinner at 4:30, and that’s important." –Jay Leno
"All in all, this was a great first day for the convention, but, of course, the media did their best to try to ruin it by callously revealing a private matter in the Palin family, namely that Governor Sarah Palin’s eldest daughter is named Bristol. Have you no shame, media? That’s nobody’s business. That is a private pain, meant to be kept between Bristol, and Track, and Willow, and Piper, and Trig Paxon, and let’s say Snackchip and Toejam." –Stephen Colbert
"And I will tell you, nation, I am sick and tired of people saying Sarah Palin is inexperienced. It is sexism, pure and simple. Her enemies wouldn’t be saying this if she was a man like Frank Matheny. Oh, you don’t know Frank? He’s the mayor of Boot Hill, Montana; population: 7,500. In about 20 months, he’s going to make a great vice president. Now, critics say John McCain should have gone with someone who fills in his gaps, like Mitt Romney. But Sarah Palin does more than fill McCain’s gaps, she completes him. [Video: McCain: ‘She’s a partner and a soul-mate’]. The clincher was the identical oil-rig birthmarks" –Stephen Colbert
"She’s not bad looking. She looks like one of those women in the Van Halen videos who takes off her glasses, shakes out her hair, and then all of a sudden, she’s in high heels and a bikini. All of a sudden, I am FOR drilling in Alaska." –Jimmy Kimmel
"Not only is she young, they’re saying she’s the prettiest candidate for Vice President since John Edwards." –Jimmy Kimmel
"There was also some breaking news out of Dayton, Ohio, today where this morning Republican presidential candidate John McCain introduced the world to his third wife — actually, no, I’m sorry, that’s his running mate Sarah Palin, the freshman governor of Alaska, and star and producer of Emmy-winning 30 Rock. No, I apologize, the star of the Emmy-winning Will & Grace. No, no, I’m sorry, it’s actually the mild-mannered and troubled librarian from every Cinemax movie." –Jon Stewart
"Now obviously Sen. John McCain has made an enormous amount over Barack Obama’s lack of experience, so it seems curious that the 72-year-old, four-to-five time face cancer guy would choose a running mate whose resume appears to be more suited for a Northern Exposure reunion show." –Jon Stewart
"Alaska Gov. Sarah Pallin is John McCain’s choice. Here’s what we know about her: her name is Sarah Palin." –Jay Leno
"Actually, it was kind of a smart choice. McCain went with a woman because he didn’t want to have to be in a position to have to get CPR from Mitt Romney." –Jay Leno