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Thursday, September 04, 2008

Sarah Barracuda, or The Passion of John McCain

That wasn't a speech. It was a declaration of war. A couple of quick thoughts on Palin's big night.

1) As many have noted, it was an electrifying speech, full of red meat. I thought the tone was interesting: pure contempt. How dare Barack Obama run for president! He's not even an American. It was especially interesting to see such barely contained hatred in a speech purporting to defend John McCain's record of bipartisanship. Where the Democrats last week offered a rhetorical olive branch--Obama talking about areas of shared concern for all Americans, both Obama and Biden talking about their deep personal respect for McCain the man, then Obama gallantly defending Palin against family scutiny--Palin gave us what I'll call "gunboat bipartisanship." If you do not obey us, we will destroy you. This is not your country, it is our country. We own it. Go to hell.

2) So in some ways, I read this as Nixon in stiletto heels, a more effective version on Pitchfork Pat's famed culture war speech from 1992. She oozed with disdain for urban America--"San Francisco," "community organizing," etc. If she said that small town America was not "bitter," her words suggested the exact opposite. This makes sense of her fellow traveling with her husband's Alaskan secessionism. She dreams of an America where there are no Democrats, no urbanites, no cities teaming with alien others and faggity liberals. America will only be redeemed when all America is Alaska and Alaska is all of America.

3) John McCain is the American Christ. He suffered and bled for your sins, descended into Hell, and rose again from the dead. You owe him! Bow down before his majesty, and repent your wickedness. I am the Angel of Death.


At 8:31 AM, Blogger Number Three said...

Nice point on the bitterness thing. I've met many people in my life who have it pretty good, objectively speaking, but who subjectively experience their lives quite differently--people who have amassed wealth through long-term investments but think that the world is going to hell in a handbasket; highly educated people who feel that other educated people are snobs; people who have great jobs but think that they have been hindered by affirmative action for others.

There is something very real to the human need for grievance. Apparently San Francisco has done something horrible to small town America (Rice-a-Roni?). And small town America holds a grudge.

At 12:26 PM, Blogger fronesis said...

Yep, it's definitely the rice-a-roni!

At 2:02 PM, Blogger Frances said...

Great post, TMcD. As you can see from my own comments I agree entirely with your take on the speech.

Nice point also about the Christification of John S. McCain.

At 6:46 PM, Blogger tenaciousmcd said...

Glad you guys liked the post.

Let me add one thing to my McCain Christology. Notice how prominent the "Obama is a false messiah" theme was last night. But nobody does emotive hero worship like the GOP. The false messiah only exists as counterpart to the true one. And the true one was crucified on a tiger cage of thorns.

At 7:07 PM, Blogger Frances said...

But, of course, McCain wasn't actually tortured!

At 10:39 PM, Blogger Paul said...

I probably don't need to point this out, but in the 60s San Francisco gave us gentle people with flowers in their hair...and for that SF is code for gays.


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