Ah, to be 72 and in love! Ten weeks ago, John McCain couldn’t pick Sarah Palin out of a lineup. Then, he decided they were “soulmates“, and that – presumably owing to some hilarious generational confusion over current teen lingo – his expressed desire to “tap” her resulted in the stupidest, funnest VP pick ever. And now, one abuse of power finding and several dozen approval points ago, it would appear that the romance is over:
With his electoral prospects fading by the day, Senator John McCain has fallen out with his vice-presidential running mate about the direction of his White House campaign.
McCain has become alarmed about the fury unleashed by Sarah Palin, the moose-hunting “pitbull in lipstick”, against Senator Barack Obama. Cries of “terrorist” and “kill him” have accompanied the tirades by the governor of Alaska against the Democratic nominee at Republican rallies.
Mark Salter, McCain’s long-serving chief of staff, is understood to have told campaign insiders that he would prefer his boss, a former Vietnam prisoner of war, to suffer an “honourable defeat” rather than conduct a campaign that would be out of character – and likely to lose him the election.
Of course, The Callow Reader thinks, were any of this true, McCain could shitcan her, problem solved. However, Callow Reader, if there is one thing that I have learned over the past eight years, it is that correcting your stupid mistakes is reckless, does not demonstrate strong, steady leadership, and would embolden the terrorists and cause more hurricanes or some shit. Instead, he should pretend to suspend his campaign, threaten war with a nuclear superpower for no particular reason, commit to 10,000 years of war in Iraq, and contradict himself a few hundred more times on the economy. Because VP picks, unlike marriage vows, are sacred and unbreakable. Or whatever.
McCain’s problem here is that he can’t win. Not because he’s a bad person or a bad campaigner – although he is – but because he decided to hook his wagon to that vigorous political stallion Dubya back in 2002 on the assumption that his approval ratings would soon top 36,000%, and, now that the President seems uninterested in getting up before 2PM or changing out of his pajamas, that is not looking like a smart bet. He’s not without fault here – there were ample opportunities to break up with the Boy King when it might have mattered, and even some timid half-steps in that direction when it didn’t – but, unfortunately, making those sorts of choices requires judgment and political courage, and those aren’t John McCain’s strong suits. Ambition, and a consuming lust for the ambitious, are – hence the embrace of Dubya. Hence the soulful tapping of Sarah Palin.
Ah, Sarah! Like crack for crackers! It’s the kind of feeling that only Yacht Rock can truly express:
Among the many spiteful joys of the Palin nomination is that it has confirmed what I have long suspected about people who listen to Hall & Oates. And it has hopefully exploded the central myth of American politics: that the modern Republican party is an equal union between white evangelicals and libertarian business types. Democrats, believing this model, have long tried to drive a wedge into this mythical divide, hoping to embarrass the business class with the anti-evolution nonsense or frighten the religious populists with the results of global warming denial. It made a certain sense – it’s the proles and the bourgies, an unnatural union, and all you have to do is explain to one or the other that they are voting against their own self-interest and it should split along natural fissures like all good class conflicts should. It never worked, because the model is wrong. The Republican coalition is not like that. It is, in fact, a big lump of yahooism with a decorative garnish of David Brooks. John McCain was a great favorite of PBS Republicans, which, along with $5.50, will get you a Happy Meal, but won’t excite the base a bit. The Palin pick has stripped away the “intellectual elites” – the beards for the base – and left the lumpenproletariat exposed, though not much smaller than it was for Bush, when you adjust for the utter failure of everything he has touched and the fact that the economy is fuckin’ fucked and we will all be bartering with human skulls by Thanksgiving. So, then, a teaching moment, and let us try to remember this for a few election cycles, or at least a few missing white women: Republicans are yahoo assholes. Tell yer friends.