I just realized that this Saturday, the 29th of August, will mark the first anniversary of Sarah Palin being thrust into the national spotlight and I, for one, plan on celebrating by screaming, “I hate you!” over and over while bashing my face into a mirror. It’ll hurt, but if there’s no suffering, it’s not art. In any case, she’s been both a topic of and a participant in the national conversation for an entire year now. I want to say I can’t believe it, but I actually can and that angers me.
I actually voted for McCain in the 2000 primary election, and that’s a vote that, to this day, I’m not ashamed of. That has a lot to do with the fact that I intensely dislike Al Gore and even more to do with the fact that I think his wife, Tipper, is The Devil and shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near anything that resembles authority or power. That said, back then McCain was exactly the sort of moderate Republican I liked: Fiscally conservative and more-or-less silent as far as the crazy, right-wing social agenda was concerned.
Of course, in hindsight, I have no idea if that’s the sort of Republican he was back then or not, given his 180 degree turnaround for the 2008 election. The minute he started courting the Religious Right, I actually said, “What the fuck?!” out loud (the television didn’t have an answer for me). Over the next year, I watched with growing fascination and anger as he pandered to the lowest common denominator of the scariest demographic in the country. I admit that I’m not the best at reading people, so take the following with a grain of salt, but it’s really hard not to think that by 2007, McCain was just this tired old dude who’d decided that his principles hadn’t gotten him far enough and who, more than anything else, just really wanted to be president. He certainly came off that way and his campaign was disappointing as hell to watch. And then, a year ago, it went from disappointing to comically stupid when he announced his running mate.
I’ve read here and there that several people threatened to withdraw support if he didn’t pick a running mate who was more to the right than he was. I have no idea if that’s actually the case or not and to be honest, I don’t really care. Because of his decision, Sarah Palin now had a seat at the table and for that, he can suck my dick, war hero or not. When I first heard that he’d nominated a woman as his running mate, I thought to myself, “Wow, that’s a clever game he’s playing there.” Then I got my first look at her and couldn’t believe my eyes. In the 2000 presidential campaign, you could actually lick McCain’s hatred for Bush off the television screen. So I was stunned when I saw that the person he’d picked to potentially spend the next four years in office with was Bush’s female counterpart. Sure, there were differences: She had boobs for one thing, and a bubbly personality for another. But the rest of it was all there: She was hazy on the details (of anything), she didn’t quite convince you that she understood the basic principles of any given issue, the sloganeering was turned up to 11, there was that self-satisfied, smugness and the arrogant condescension that was backed up by fucking nothing. Well…not quite nothing.
The one real difference between her and Bush – and this is the thing about Palin that terrifies me – is that she has real charisma. When Bush called himself “the decider” even his most ardent supporters just sort of rolled their eyes and shrugged it off, and if they said anything at all in his defense it was along the lines of, “Yeah, well…” If Palin ever calls herself “the decider”, she’ll follow it up with a, “you betcha,” and then give us all a wink and people will fucking marvel at how adorable she is.
She’s been with us for a year now, speaking opposite English, and introducing phrases like “death panels” into the conversation, and yet people morons actually want her to run for president in 2012, which is almost enough to make me hope the Mayans were right. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forgive John McCain for what he’s done.