HOMER: Well, he's stopped blinking. He says that's when they get ya.
--Simpsons episode, c. 1999
PALIN: I -- I answered him yes because I have the confidence in that readiness and knowing that you can't blink, you have to be wired in a way of being so committed to the mission, the mission that we're on, reform of this country and victory in the war, you can't blink.
So I didn't blink then even when asked to run as his running mate.--September 11, 2008 interview with Charlie Gibson of ABC
This is an important distinction because her next interview is going to be with Sean "Why doesn't mom love me?" Hannity. I think we can expect him to be gently deferential as he drills her on, say, the three branches of government or the state flower of North Dakota. Because if you can't ask her about the biggest initiatives within your own party, then it's time to skip to the swimsuit competition.
GIBSON: Do you agree with the Bush Doctrine?
PALIN: In what respect, Charlie?
GIBSON: What do you interpret that to be?
PALIN: His world view?
GIBSON: No, the Bush Doctrine enunciated September 2002 before the Iraq War?
GIBSON: Can't you guess?
PALIN: Are you addressing me?
GIBSON: Is there anyone else?
GIBSON: How would I know?
PALIN: Why do you ask?
GIBSON: Are you serious?
PALIN: Was that rhetoric?
Dammit, I did it again. Sigh.
I know I sound like a humorless jerk right now, but it took me five years to realize that W was chosen by Dick Cheney to placate more than the wacky right. He was chosen to make liberals so delirious with indignant mockery that we failed to fight him. In times like this, I switch from John Stewart to Sage Francis:
But some of y'all still haven’t grown into your face,
And your face doesn't quite match your head.
And I'm waiting for a brain to fill the dead space that's left,
You're all, "Give me ethnicity or give me dreads."
Trustafundian rebel without a cause for alarm,
Cause when push turns to shove
You jump into your forefathers arms.
He's a banker, you're part of the system,
Off go the dreadlocks in comes the income.
The briefcase (the freebase)
The sickness (the symptom)
When the cameras start rollin' stay the fuck outta the picture pilgrim.
Mr. Save The World, spare us the details,
Save the females from losing interest.
And Miss Save The Universe,
You're a damsel in distress,
Tied down to a track of isolated incidents.
Generalize my disease,
I need a taste of what it's like.
Living off the fat of kings,
I play the scab at your hunger strike.
Slow down Gandhi, you're killin'em.
Who's the one to blame for this strain in my vocal chords?
Who can pen a hateful threat but can't hold a sword?
It's the same who complain about the global war,
But can't overthrow the local joker that they voted for.
--"Slow Down Gandhi" from A Healthy Distrust
I smell similar bait with Palin and simply wish we had better candidates before better comedy. When every blink counts, the only political capital worth measuring is attention deficit dollars. Authentic wit is the shortest distance between two ideas. As Ted Widmer recently pointed out in Slate, Obama is losing that fund-raising drive:
The last politician to zing a convention as effectively as Palin did was Ann Richards, the formidable, beehived governor of Texas—a Democrat. Her 1988 oration was a work of genius, not only for its classic line that George H.W. Bush was born with "a silver foot in his mouth"—a much more complex and interesting joke than anything Palin said—but also for its New Deal earthiness and brassy feminism.
Rousing as it was, Biden's recent speech has nothing on this. His joke that McCain should be called "Bush44" takes too long to set up and isn't worth the effort to repeat. If Rudy Guiliani = noun + verb + 9/11, then McCain = ?! We need something more than petty ad hominem gestures to complete that equation.
TRIMMING the HEGEMONY: DOCTRINES and DOGMA
Jesus said to turn the other cheek. The Bush Doctrine says you can strike both of the other guy's cheeks before he's hit either of yours. It takes spectacular effort to maintain the agonizing contradictions at the heart of right-wing morality. True, the apocalyptic death-wish of Revelations has a free-market match in disaster capitalism -- Christian doctrine blessing the Shock Doctrine. But overall, the American right is still losing energy and credibility on laughable concessions to its evangelical base. Like it or not, a solid majority of Americans are pro-choice. They know that Intelligent Design is a joke and climate change is real. Stem-cell research hurts no one and has the potential to help everyone. But because 25% of the country believes that Adam and Eve rode a dinosaur to church,* men like McCain still bend over backwards to appease them.
Don't blink or you'll miss him, too.