Election '08: Who Change What?
According to their new campaign ads, McCain and Palin, or, rather Palin and McCain are the new mavericks, the real agents of change. They'll clean up Washington with their maverick ways and outsider approaches. Uh huh.
But they're no agents of change. Rather, they're alchemists, turning their histories and records into a fool's gold of instant mythology that the wizard of all alchemy, Karl Rove, is betting will trick the American public. Just as alchemists tried to spin base metals into gold and silver, the Palin-McCain campaign is trying to turn their ticket's abysmal record into a narrative of two system-buckers who will bring real change to the White House.
It's a narrative that the mainstream media, dazzled by Sarah Palin's gleaming white teeth and sheep's clothing, seem all too willing to go along with. Or, at least willing to surrender its hopes for any kind of questioning of this fabrication unto ABC's Charlie Gibson, a patsy and a shill, who has been granted the first main stage interview of Palin. Good grief, Charlie Brown.
The truth, though, is that McCain's campaign has been managed by an all-star team of lobbyists that includes Mr. Rick "This election is not about the issues," Davis whose firm's clients include SBC Telecommunications and Verizon. Chief political advisor, Charles R. Black, Jr., the man who told Fortune magazine that a terrorist attack would be "a big advantage" for McCain is another super lobbyist whose clients have included AT&T, Alcoa and JP Morgan. Campaign manager Steve Schmidt founded lobbying firm DC Navigators, whose clients include, according the New York Times, insurance companies and Indian Gaming Associations.
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Many members of this team are the same guys who brought us Bush 2000 and 2004. Not to mention, a couple of McCain's top advisors had to leave in the spring because of their lobbying ties to shady lender Ameriquest Mortgage, a firm that's helped bring us Foreclosure '08.
Way to rebel from politics as usual, Maverick McCain. Here's a man who not only has few decipherable policy complaints with Bush, he's also hired the folks who fooled/feared you into electing him, twice.
For her part, Palin, the anti-earmark heroine, hired lobbyists to bring back $27 million in earmarks for Wasilla, Alaska, when she was mayor. The town's population is under 10,000. Still, she managed to leave the town $22 million in debt when she left. She also was a proponent of the Alaska's famed Bridge to Nowhere, a nearly $400 million dollar taxpayer boondoggle that she only tepidly opposed after it became a national embarrassment and symbol of pork-barrel politics. In the new auto-iconography of Rovian campaigning, though, she's the common-sense Hockey Mom who will put an end to this kind of Beltway madness. If you say so, Karl.
Look this shit happens. It happens everywhere with every politician to larger and less degrees. But the truth here is that these mavericks are owned by the game they are supposedly going to change. The alchemy is mindblowing in it's audacity and evil in its simple genius: if you don't like history, simply rewrite it into disposable pop culture. Turn it into a video montage of the sort where an extremist like Palin is made over into the folksy hero next door and a guy who whose nuts Karl Rove dined on in 2000, and has been an administration lapdog ever since, is a maverick.
Polish a turd and sell it as gold. And it works in no small part because network news cowardly follows the whims of the prevailing pop cultural moment rather than doggedly pursuing the truth. Now, Palin isn't the Alaska secessionist who believes that even victims of rape and incest should have no choice in the matter, she's the breath of fresh air, the underdog outsider like half-pint Notre Dame walk-on Rudy Ruettiger. And she belongs on the field about just as much.
Despite that, as yet, you have to go deep into the back pages, or the blogosphere or the internet, or newspaper websites or tune into the recently chastened Keith Olbermann's show to get up to speed about about any of this. Or about Palin's wackadoodle church, where' they speak in tongues, pray for federal funding for gas pipelines ("It's God's will," said Palin.) and believe that Alaska will be a refuge, like Noah's Ark, during the coming Rapture, after it converts all the gays, that is, through prayer.
So far, any franks discussion of this stuff is deemed the unfair rantings of the media fringe. But this isn't a problem of the media fringe, it's one of the mainstream media not doing its job, but instead cowering before the popular passions of the cultural moment instead of calling bullshit, just as it has been doing since, well, 2000ish, when Karl Rove started manipulating the culture in earnest.
A response to this isn't to tell me everything that's wrong with Obama. We know about Jeremiah Wright and about Michelle's finally being proud of America and Obama's dubious association with Tony Rezko, and, yes, he brought some earmarks to Illinois, and all that. We know about it because he's been put under a Hubble-sized microscope.
Now, we wait on Charlie Gibson. God help us.
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