My first reaction to Sarah Palin as VP nominee was Phyllis Schlafly, the Anti-Woman of the Right. Something about Palin’s look reminded me of Schlafly as the author of A Choice Not an Echo, her paean to Barry Goldwater in 1964. Schlafly was deceptively hard-core then, presenting herself as a simple, traditional woman at the same time she was serving as an architect for the Conservative Christian Revolution that has controlled the Republican Party and plagued the nation for the past three decades. Maybe it was Palin’s glasses; I remembered the 1964 Schlafly wearing glasses, although she’s not wearing glasses on book cover. Still, Palin has a look of steely determination to her, much more so than Schlafly of 1964. Palin is the next generation of Republican ideologues.
Reading Palin’s biography only solidified my impression. She is indeed determined, tough and opportunistic, willing to seize opportunity as necessary. Palin may well be a smart choice to bolster the Aging Hero McCain in his doddering run for the presidency. She’s clearly a risky choice but one that paid off well for McCain in shock value and stealing Obama’s thunder on the day after his historic speech. I find it hard to believe that she will appeal to many Hillary Clinton supporters but after two elections that put CheneyBush into the White House, my trust in the American electorate is limited.
Choosing Palin may well be a Hail Mary pass but I do wonder how McCain, after months of saying readiness to command was the paramount requirement for president chooses the former mayor of Wasilla, Alaska and half term governor of the Last Frontier to be (an aging) heartbeat from the presidency. Then it dawned on me: Sarah Palin may well be the next George W. Bush, except a GWB with determination and ruthlessness, someone more than willing to listen to experienced statesmen like…Dick Cheney. It all fits together. John McCain has made his final deal with the Hard Right, the Neo-Cons and the Fundamentalist Christians. He gives them everything they want and they will gladly support his crusade to find honor and victory for American troops by pouring them into a disastrous war .
Even if McCain lives through a full term, Palin will be valuable to Cheney and his hawks. Palin has shown much determination and skill in promoting herself and is A True Believer, just like George. More dangerous, I believe because she can think and scheme. If elected, Palin will inherit an office transformed by her predecessor into a power center and will serve an aging McCain who’s interests, ambitions and “capabilities” will leave large areas of policy open to an attractive (remember, John McCain was 40 wanting to be 25 again” when he ditched his first wife for Cindy Hensley), ambitious, skilled politician who, like W, has an expansive concept of executive authority. Cheney may retire to his favorite fishing hole in Wyoming but his many acolytes will remain in Washington, ready to assist the new executives in continuing the American Empire.
On a personal note, my worst experience in Alaska occurred in Wasilla. Maggie and I found a B&B there that accommodated dogs. It was comfortable enough on a wet mid-September night but breakfast the following morning was ugly, with hosts and another couple (very well-to-do retirees, all) trading Rush Limbaugh factoids and venom in all directions, especially ours. Now I understand that I was in Ditto Land where people don’t think. After eight days in Talkeetna, Wasilla was a rude awakening. The WP reports that Palin has an 80 percent approval rate which tells me that, for all its beauty, Alaska is as vapid as the Lower 48.