Monday, July 20, 2009

My Response to Andrew Sullivan's "Why Palin Matters":
Two words: Bush/Cheney

Sullivan writes of his continued focus on Sarah Palin:

I'm getting lots of emails telling me to move on. I will. But I want to explain why I think the Palin drama is actually important. It's not because of her: she's a delusional, narcissistic and disturbed person who would be voted off a reality show in the first rounds. It's because of John McCain, the Republican establishment and the mainstream media. What happened last fall was a warning sign to all of us about how corrupt and cynical the GOP, McCain and the MSM are. They colluded in such a way that this unstable, erratic, know-nothing beauty queen could actually have been president of the United States. What matters is that all those in on this scam be exposed and their way of conducting themselves be reformed until they stop risking the fate of the country and the world on their own vanities and cowardice.

McCain knew full well that Palin was unqualified to be commander-in-chief at this period of time; and he knew there was no way she could ever learn enough to do the job. So his decision to pick her was pure cynicism and irresponsibility.
Obviously I've got no love for Palin. Sullivan is absolutely right about her. It is insane that she was anywhere near the presidency. It would, quite literally, be better to choose someone at random out of the phone book. And I agree with Sullivan that this is not something simply to be forgotten. America really ought to have its nose rubbed in that mess until it gets the point.


As I've said before, it's a little bit odd to obssess much over Palin's vice-presidential near miss when we actually did have eight years of George W. Bush as president--not to mention Cheney as veep. No doubt about it--Palin is a dangerous, empty-headed loon. But the probability of her doing as bad as Cheney or Bush are near zero. I mean...would she ignore experts warning of terrorist attacks? Fail to hold a meeting of terrorist principals until nine months into her term? Freak out and fly around the country in circles in Air Force One after an attack? Let the perpetrators get away by diverting resources from the war meant to capture or kill them? Begin a completely irrelevant war of choice against the enemies of those who attacked us?

Again: the odds of the radically unqualified Sarah Palin doing worse than Bush or Cheney are basically zero. If you had two options, (i) keep the last eight years or (ii) rewinde the tape of time and play it forward with Sarah Palin as president or vp, you'd have to be pretty stupid or uninformed to choose (i).

This doesn't mean we shouldn't use Palin as an illustration of contemporary conservative folly. Not at all. But let's keep things in perspective. The devil you know isn't necessarily better just because you know him. We're accustomed to the idea of Bush and Cheney--but viewed objectively, there's virtually no chance that anyone, Palin included, could ever be a worse president or VP than those two.

Sullivan then quotes Richard Cohen:
Naming Palin to the GOP ticket...was the most reckless decision any national politician has made in the longest time, and while it certainly says something about McCain, it says even more about his party. It has lost its mind. [my elipses]
Um, no, it wasn't. In fact, it wasn't really close. Unless 2002 was "the longest time" ago. Naming Palin was merely astonshingly irresponsible and stupid. It does not, however, compare to lying us into the disaster of Iraq. Sorry, Mr. Cohen--just because somehing is unutterably terrible doesn't mean that it's the worst.

And Sullivan again:
The reason we need to get to the truth of what happened is that these people nearly took this country off a cliff. They need to be held accountable. They need to be removed from their positions of power. We cannot move on until they are.
Yes, o.k., but don't forget about the ones who did take us over a cliff. Don't obsess so much over the eminently obsession-worthy Palin--the potential disaster--that you forget about the actual disaster, the fait accompli, the world-historical fuck-up that was the Bush-Cheney administration.


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