Political debates are an excersise of vapid talking points, quips and body language. Substance is irrelevant. Candidates are programmed to hold the attention span of people that watch American Idol and read tabloids while sitting on the toilet. Yet even these over scripted, dumbed down, brain massaged events have revealing moments.
Yesterday, like most political bloggers, I posted my analysis of the Biden-Palin debate and referenced Palin's most memorable sound-bite:
"Say it ain't so, Joe, there you go again pointing backwards again. You preferenced your whole comment with the Bush administration. Now doggone it, let's look ahead and tell Americans what we have to plan to do for them in the future. You mentioned education and I'm glad you did. I know education you are passionate about with your wife being a teacher for 30 years, and god bless her. Her reward is in heaven, right?"I focused on Palin's rhetorical attempt to distract from McCain's culpability as an enabler of George W. Bush's pathetic record. The "say it ain't so Joe" line was obviously scripted and delivered well enough. I neglected however to focus on Palin's most revealing sentence of the evening:
"Her reward is in heaven, right?"
I can't prove it but I doubt that line was scripted. Watching it again as well as reading the transcript, Palin's heaven line feels quite spontaneous. Hence, I am compelled to ask, does Palin truly believe that a teacher's sole reward will be in heaven? Why isn't teaching itself a reward? Perhaps if God decreed that a teacher's reward awaits in heaven, one can believe a union advocating for better pay and benefits for teachers is superfluous. As long as teachers are rewarded in heaven, why should it matter if they keep up with the cost of living?
In that one sentence, Palin illustrated a medieval pre-Enlightenment mindset that regulates the Republican Party's base. In previous campaigns, Republican corporatists humored this mindset and earned the support of religious zealots by nominating conservative judges, delivering "values" oriented rhetoric and passing homophobic legislation. Even as the religious zealots were humored, the GOP's corporatists and traditional conservative nationalists retained the real power in their white rich man's party. As we've seen the previous eight years however, these people are no longer just being humored. They have joined the Republican Party's ruling class.
How many of these neocons share the Palin mindset and are pushing for war in Iran to facilitate the Apocalypse, bring about Judgment Day and establish the Kingdom of God? John McCain in my opinion does not share this mindset. Rather, McCain is merely a garden variety crazy war monger with an impetuous temperament. In Sarah Palin he selected a running mate that shares the George W. Bush delusion of religious zealotry. A religious zealotry that resembles the crazy Jihadists who believe seventy-two virgins await them in heaven if they successfully execute suicide terrorist missions.
Republican Jihadists like Palin believe that a holy war against Muslims is a means of carrying out God's plan. Republican nationalists like McCain believe in a reckless concept of American exceptionalism as justification for an American empire and he's more than willing to shed blood for it. Simply put, the McCain/Palin ticket represents a coalition of nationalist nuts and religious nuts.
In my phone-banking activities the economy is the dominant issue on voters minds. But the presidency is more that simply a catalog of public policy positions like the economy. Otherwise we could just program liberal, conservative, libertarian, moderate, nationalist and green androids and let the voters decide which political philosophy they wanted.
The office of President however is a stewardship and the decision making stems from the core value system, life experience, intellectual acumen and temperament of the occupant. Barack Obama and Joe Biden are far from perfect. But they're both intelligent, with their hearts in the right place and neither is crazy.
Governor Palin's, "Her reward is in heaven" line has further motivated me to work for the Obama/Biden ticket. We have enough crazy leaders in this world. And eight years of crazy people in the executive branch is enough.