Oddly enough, I am not referring to "pig gate," that asinine flap (or is it a kerfuffle?) developing between the two battling political camps over Barack's remark about the McCain program being "putting lipstick on a pig"... the Democrat apparently failing to recognize that Governor Sarah Palin using her
stupid mean-spirited adorable joke noting that the difference between a soccer security hockey mom and a pitbull was lipstick imbued the Republican Party with an all-time trademark on the word lipstick and its use in any subsequent joke, which will instantly be called a sexist attack on that nice young perty Governor Palin (did we mention she has five children, all of whom are off-limits even if Governor Palin herself issues a press release about them?)
Anyway, I realize I'm violating my own rule ("first rule about Sarah Palin is that we don't talk about Sarah Palin")... but Maureen Dowd suckers me in, as she wrote her column today "My Fair Veep," helping the Republicans as always (it seems to be Maureen's job) in a further attempt to lower expectations for the Governor's soft-ball interview this Friday with the soft-ball hurling Charlie Gibson of ABC News. The conceit of her piece is that, like Eliza Doolittle in Shaw's Pygmalion (later "My Fair Lady"), the otherwise inarticulate, illiterate charwoman Sarah must prepare to appear well-informed on issues of the day. Maureen appears to mock Palin, while reinforcing the lowered expectations. Thanks Maureen.
For Christ's sake, Governor Sarah Palin was elected governor of a state: she's been vetted by her opponents in that race. She has parlayed no apparent family connections and no money into high office, and has now managed to get herself in the national spotlight. In short: this is a smart cookie. Yes, I realize Barack and I both graduated Coumbia in 1983, which is, indeed an Ivy League college... but that doesn't make us any smarter than Sarah Palin (who, younger than I am, is governor of a state!) Enough of the lowered expectations: Sarah Palin is a competent politician. Ironic that the very party who made hay running ads that accused Barack of basking in celebrity worship are now wholly dependent on... Sarah Palin celebrity worship! But there you go.
Lookit: this election is going to be about one thing, and one thing only: race. The race of Barack Obama's Kenyan father, to be quite specific. The feckless media can pretend its about other things (NEVER, NEVER, EVER THE ISSUES, BY THE WAY)... but this one's about... RACE. Period. Because the Republican policies of deliberately failed governance have reached a high water mark right now: we have a government failing wonderfully both domestically and in international matters. Our deficit and debt are at record highs, our international prestige at record lows, unemployment and inflation are up, as are bank failures (including the largest federal takeover of financial instiutions in history just this week), and of course, we are bogged down in not one, but two pointless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, when the real enemies (that would be OBL and AQ) are in Pakistan, where we are not engaged. So naturally, we get to hear dueling accusations and denials that Barack Obama somehow insulted Sarah Palin by calling one of the best-looking women in American politics "a pig". Good one, there. But you get the idea.
Anyway, let's get down to it. If I were Barack (and Barack, man, I'd pay at least some attention to me, because if nothing else man, IIRC, I got a higher grade than you in the one class we had in common, back when you were to my left politically... we've since shifted places a bit, of course... but then, you got million dollar book advances and I didn't... but I digress...!) Anyway, I'd deliver a speech, or run an ad, or something, that went something like this:
I've gone around this great country, speaking directly to some of the many people who feel personally connected and involved in this campaign like no other, and who, like me, believe that it's time we changed the way we do things in Washington so that the government works for the benefit of people like you, and not only for people like me, who do quite well thanks to Washington, thank you very much.
And you've been very candid with me. So let me be candid with you. You told me things like "Barack, we're afraid you'll take our guns away," or "Barack, we're afraid you'll raise our taxes," or "Barack, we're afraid you're a Muslim and a terrorist sympathizer" or "Barack, we're that afraid you'll appoint Al Sharpton as Secretary of Labor and Jesse Jackson as, well, anything and that all your other Black friends will get the good jobs."
This is a picture of my parents. And this is a picture of me with my beautiful wife and beautiful daughters. This is who I am, and where I come from. I couldn't be prouder of my heritage, and my family, than you are. I have an "only in America" story, how my mother, who gave birth to me when I was 18 and raised me herself, often with the help of programs like food-stamps, managed to send me to top schools, including ultimately with the help of student loans and scholarships to Columbia University and Harvard Law School. In case you haven't figured it out, my mother happened to be a White woman, from Kansas. My father happened to be a Black man, from Kenya. That's who they are. I carry each of them in me-- in every cell of my body. It's the year 2008, and yet, I have no doubt that there are still some of you that feel they cannot vote for me for that reason, and that reason alone. To you I say, I'm sorry you feel that way. Whether you support me or not, I wish you could move past that, and as a young preacher said, that you could judge others by the content of their character rather than by the color of their skin, But this is a free country, and you have the right to your beliefs, whether I agree with them or not.
As for the rest of you, I suppose those of you who have already embraced my message of change and hope are probably already going to vote for me. To you, I say, thank you, and for those of you who doubt we can go all the way, I say "yes we can." Look how far we've already come! To those who still have doubts about me, but have moved past the point of not being able to listen and understand, it is to you this message is directed. As to why you should vote for me, you have heard my story-- an "only in America" story, really, where a man like me could stand on the cusp of the highest office in the land-- really the only time a person of color has ever been this close to the leadership position of a country as powerful as ours ever. And you know my policies and philosophy, which, basically, amount to "the government is here to help you" is not some kind a joke, to be derisively laughed at, but is a simple fact. It was programs like the New Deal, and the GI Bill, and the Great Society, that made this country as great as it is today. Simple as that.
So... if you're still listening, and you're not afraid of me because of who I am (which, you know, neither of us can change!), then it's time that I persuaded you about why you should be afraid of John McCain and Sarah Palin.
For one thing, "it's the Supreme Court, stupid." John McCain has promised to appoint what he calls "judges who support the Constitution," and when asked for specifics, he says "like Roberts and Alito." Yes, this certainly means that, given the ages of the current justices of the Supreme Court, there will almost certainly be at least one vacancy, and possibly several, in the next presidential term. More judges like Roberts and Alito will mean more decisions from the Supreme Court that undermine or ultimately eliminate women's rights to reproductive choice, that would undermine limits on the President's authority to do everything from spy on you to hold you (forever) without charges to torturing you (in the name of national security of course) to anything else the President can dream up, that undermine the government's (state, federal or local, by the way) abilities to protect the environment... and numerous other rulings, which would make this look like a very different country, one that I'm sure many of you would not be pleased to live in.
On foreign policy, John McCain has suggested that we may be in Iraq for 100 years or more. Even the Bush Administration is now talking of withdrawal within months, now that we have achieved our goals there, and it appears the Iraqi government, which unlike ours, is running over a $50 billion surplus, has achieved enough stability to handle its own sovereign affairs itself. But John McCain has always supported the Iraq war, even as our real enemies continue to mock us from their hiding places in Pakistan, now seven years since their massive crimes against us, while he throws around words like "victory" (to try, of course, to accuse me of wanting "defeat") without himself knowing the meaning of either in this context.
John McCain wants to privatize, that is to say, end, social security. He has similar feelings toward virtually every social program, from Medicaid and Medicare, to food-stamps, to education funding, to you name it. He probably would prefer we no longer had a minimum wage; he has certainly done his best not to raise it. I do not question that we have a legitimate policy disagreement on these, but it is so much more: it is a vision about what kind of a country we live in. Do we want a country where every man, woman and child has dignity, the ability to know that if they do a fair day's work they'll get a fair day's pay, that they are not one illness from destitution, that every child in America will have the same chance to advance himself or herself the way I have through world class educational opportunities widely available? Or do we want a country where everyone is at the mercy of whatever the free market can get away with paying them or doling out-- and if it's no more than a starvation wage, so be it? I stand for one vision... John McCain for a clearly different one. The choice couldn't be clearer.
And so, ladies and gentlemen, this is the challenge before us. You can elect the party that says it's for "change" because it has changed the gender of its vice-presidential candidate even as it touts the failed policies of its own party in the White House for the last 8 years and in Congress for 14 of the last 16, only because it nominated a bright articulate, attractive young woman as its vice-president (who also stands for the same failed policies), or you can vote for actual change. A man who was also once privileged enough to be a Democratic nominee for President once said "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Well, I think he was wrong: I think we also have to fear an endless repetition of policies and approaches and philosophies that we know are just wrong and don't work. You can be afraid of me because of who God made me, or you can be afraid of what our opponents want to make of America. I think enough of you share my vision to know the kind of nation we can be. To you I say, yes, YES, WE CAN.
To all of you, whether you support me or not, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.