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The Sarah Palin Chronicles (2)

September 9, 2008

Well..it happens and it has happened.

I am not yet ready to retract what was written here about Sarah Palin but it seems that

1. A picture of her in a red white and blue bikini holding a sniper’s rifle is one of those digital, easily done frauds. After hearing about it from several friends, I found it on-line, copied it and then sent it out to several dozen people. Several of them wrote that they sent it out to hundreds of others, only to find out later it was some kind of fabrication. Sorry about that one

2. There is also the reports of Palin having pressured a local librarian in Wassila, Alaska to purge books from the local library with threats to have the librarian fired if she refused. I’ve now read a number of different accounts of this incident which vary from (1. It didn’t happen at all 2. It happened but the list (see below) is inaccurate 3. It happened just as described below

So..for starters… I appreciate the warning signals coming from Laurie Sirotkin, Cheryl Kasson, and several old college friends (among others) on all this. It certainly pays to be careful and it will take time to separate fact from fiction, spin and hearsay from truth. So let us, starting with myself, be patient and more careful to weed out fiction from fact. I have a feeling that in the end the truth will be strange enough. In time we’ll find out what is accurate and what is not about Ms. Palin. No need to exaggerate her history or values. And despite some inconsistencies, a picture is emerging.

What are the more salient points here…that can be said with some certainty

1. She is an avowed Christian fundamentalist and certainly of extreme right wing of the Republican Party – that wing that stands for continuing the Bush foreign and domestic policies and keeping the Christian Fundamentalist wing of that party front and center

2. She has given a surprising amount of energy to John McCain’s presidential run. Her youth contrasts with his geriatric posture, while I’ll leave it to others to determine whether she’s a great beauty or not, frankly, the bottom line is she is not as ugly as McCain, suggesting that the Republicans are more than simply a bunch of conservative old men.

3. She has no foreign policy experience whatsoever and her experience in government on all levels is quite limited.

4. Her acceptance speech, to the surprise of many, including myself, changed the nature of the presidential contest and reminded people that the Republicans do have a shot at winning this election which means that she has become a force that has to be dealt with

On hearing Palin’s acceptance speech (I wrote about it below – on issues it is no surprises to none exist, although the delivery was strong) and then seeing McCains numbers improve in the polls a number of friends and acquaintances got very nervous. An old college friend with whom I reconnected after some 40 years, Carole Ashinaze, worried that Palin would energize the Christian fundamentalist wing of the Republican Party and that, if united, the Republicans could possibly beat Obama. A colleague at work – a sincere and humane liberal who has opposed the war in Iraq from the outset and taken an strong stand against the Patriot Act and the erosion of civil liberties here at home was nothing short of distraught this morning. I’ve never seen him so depressed. He was talking as if the election was already lost to Obama and that America’s goose-stepping future was assured. Others with whom I am in contact, mostly through the blog have expressed similar shades of nervousness and pessimism.

Then there is my good friend Imam Ibrahim Kazerooni (Shi’ite Imam here in Denver) from Iraq who doesn’t think – where it concerns the people of Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Israel and Palestine – that either Obama or McCain will make much of a difference. And he ushers forth (or will in his upcoming entry in the blog world) a convincing set of facts of the candidates positions on the subject to drill his point home. That view varies from some old Middle Eastern (Arab, Iranian) friends who openly support Obama despite his limitations, but I would expect that in the Middle East, there is a sense that regardless of who wins the presidency, not much will change – either in Israeli-Palestine and Iraq with the danger of a looming confrontation with Iran still very much alive.

In any case, despite his limitations from my view point, as mentioned below, I still support Obama and hope he wins. At the least he’ll give the country and the world a little breathing room. The US military juggernaut in the Middle East will be slowed. I don’t expect much of the repressive legislation to be quickly undone but there’s a good chance that Guantanamo will be dismantled and that torture will no longer be the official policy of the US military. The labor movement here will be given a bit of space to organize and perhaps, perhaps, the disgrace which is the healthcare system in this country will be seriously addressed.

Obama can win. He has a lot going for him. And while I’ve never been much of a fan of Joe Biden – Biden is a tough and profoundly knowledgeable Senator. He has already – in a manner admittedly more symbolic than real – challenged AIPAC ( a little anyhow). More important is the fact that neither Biden nor Obama (despite the latter’s fiasco before AIPAC) are particularly in bed with the folks in the Democratic Leadership Council – those masterminds have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory for the Dems in 2000 and 2004.

In 2004 the Republicans did a nasty but clever thing: they went after John Kerry’s military record – and despite the fact that the campaign was fabricated, were able to turn enough of the electorate against him so that Bush could steal a second election, this time in Ohio rather than in Florida. This time¸ the Republicans appear to be doing something similar: attacking Obama for the fact that he was (rather than wasn’t!!) a community organizer. In both cases they target the Democratic candidates strength, try to turn it into a weakness.

In Kerry’s case, the Republicans managed to put John Kerry – who was a bright and capable candidate and far more liberal than his campaign suggested – on the defensive. This is what Sarah Palin is trying to do to Obama, to actually discredit him for having spent time learning about people’s issues as a community organizer. Rather than defend her record (which even with the inconsistencies mentioned above is indefensible because there is NOTHING THERE), she goes on the attack, proving that the adage `the best defense is an offense’ still has some truth to it. McCain gets his female vice presidential candidate to play the race card!

So what is Obama to do …to turn the tide around in his (and our) favor once again?

Frankly there is much he can and should do.

He should continue to present his program for the economy and for ending the war in Iraq to the American people….and he should (in my humble opinion) go blow for blow with the Republicans on the issues, on the failures of the past eight years both domestically and internationally of which we all are keenly aware.

McCain can be beaten. Listening to him speak these last months I am astounded by his superficiality, his absence of depth and his unrepentant militarism. I would have thought he might be stronger on foreign policy. He isn’t. Indeed, there isn’t much there at all. Of course we’ve just (kind of) elected one of the shallowest, politically ignorant, ideologically bigoted people in American history to the presidency twice and it is possible that the great people of this country can and will do it again.

But it need not be.

So…..we’ve got a lot of work to do. What else is new? So let’s do it.

As for the Palin Chronicles, they will continue. And together we’ll get Sarah Palin into sharper focus (that is if there really is anything worth focusing on)…

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