Sunday, September 14, 2008

The smartest piece on McCain/Palin that I've read


JoAnn Wypijewski is without compare in contemporary American journalism, and her unapologetic take on the political (sex) appeal of Sarah Palin is worth reading, not least for its searing description of McCain as beast in a way that I haven't quite seen captured to date:

At 42 McNasty, as he was called in high school, took up with 24-year-old Cindy, a former junior rodeo queen, and, having boosted his image and his net worth via a marriage vow, soon reverted to the pattern of insults and macho egotism that has typified most of his life. He denigrated her education at USC as a tour through "the University of Spoiled Children." For all but one of several miscarriages, he left her on her own. When she was popping ten to fifteen pills a day to mask her pain and "do everything he wanted," he never noticed. In 1992, in a rage over her gentle teasing about his thinning hair, he exploded, "At least I don't plaster on the makeup like a trollop, you cunt," a one-two punch hurled in front of three journalists and two aides but unreported until recently, by Cliff Schecter in The Real McCain. On the campaign trail in June he joked about "beating my wife" and took umbrage when others failed to grasp the simple good fun in the remark. In early August he said he'd encouraged Cindy to enter the Miss Buffalo Chip beauty pageant at the high-revving, flesh-swinging biker rally in Sturgis, South Dakota. It might have been a fine quip except that up on the stage with her daughter Meghan, staring out toward the throng where a sign urged Show Ur Tits 4 McCain, Cindy had the thin, fixed smile of endurance, not joy.
This description of McCain is not gratuitous -- because the question of his virility or lack thereof seems to Wypijewski central to understanding the selection of Palin. After all, presidential politics is still about who "does it better":

In Sarah Palin the right has its perfect emblem: moral avatar and commodity, uniting the put-upon woman who gushes, "She's just like me!" and the chest thumper who brays, "I'd do her, and her daughter" with those who have long exploited the fear and sorry machismo of both, with the help of another durable reactionary weapon. Now that it's official, as McCain's campaign manager said, that "this election is not about issues; this election is about a composite view of what people take away from these candidates," McCain's only live tag appears to be, Republicans Do It Better. Translation: small-town, gun-toting, rough-and-ready, all-American Sarah and Todd versus Barack and Michelle. White Power. (Or, close enough, White-ish.) Palin Power.

The triumph of symbolism in our politics is truly complete.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

can jasen (the activist formerly known as obarama) get this maxed out contributor to hiscandidate some paraphernalia, please?????

hrc inmediatamente sent me a full pacakage of sign, bumper sticker, buttons....
i hope this is nt indicaive of anything, i am scared, very scared

venus infers said...

But Koko dearest, politics has always been about images. Nihil novum sub sole.

I don't see what the brouhaha is all about. It is absolutely evident, what the lipstick pitbull stands for. To the "Left" (wherever/whatever that is), the lack of intelligent analysis is total. Why does McCain need her again? Because he's an "unpredictable maverick"? To satisfy his own macho insecurities? Or is it to actually get the Republican Party's sole reliable voting block (the megachurch and End of Days crowd) to actually go to the polls this November?

The really scary part is the continuous bashing of the Republican ticket. The press is totally continuing the favor with all those exclamation marks! This is actually what the Republicans want: it allows them to present themselves as the underdogs, as people that are pathologized for what are otherwise fairly common views in the U.S. It allows them to pretend that they have not been in power for the past eight years, that their people are not Bush's people. It allows them to portray Obama and his supporters as patronizingly "enlightened" brats, that have no idea about what it is to be poor.

The real task is to redirect the debate-- to remind people of Katrina, of Iraq, of Guantánamo... To remind people of the mortgage crisis, of bridges collapsing, of poor people getting arrested, of people dying in the Arizona desert, of the falling quality in education, of the uninsured, and the collapse of social security.

Beside that, McCain's machismo pales.

venus infers said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Betty and Bimbo said...

I think that the choice of Palin has worked out better for the Republicans than anyone could have hoped, predicted, or planned for. She's a spontaneous phenomenon, like a natural disaster.

Venus's point about left-wing attacks on her bolstering the Republican sense/weapon of vulnerability and powerlessness is right on. I love how the right seems to have discovered the word "sexism" en masse. Watching them throw it around is like watching a toddler with a crazy new toy.

A part of making us forget the Republicans have been in power for 8 years is that, ironically (given her Christian thing, and the fact that she basically IS the female George W. Bush in affect), she puts even greater distance between the Bush Administration and the McCain ticket. So, unfortunately, V., I'm not sure that "reminding" people about Katrina, Iraq, education, the economy, torture, etc. is going to do the trick. Not sure what is though. Thinking about it, feeling stumped.

michaelmaine fka melkyman said...

Lets all take a deep breath...everyone needs to get to your nearest swing state, make calls , canvass, give money and all of this will work out..lets remember mondales 16 point(yes 16 point) lead after picking ferrarro...whens the last time you spent a quarter with presidents mondales mug on it