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A Very Long BOW Award Post


What a week! In all the time I’ve been giving away the BOW (Buffoon Of the Week) Award, I don’t think I’ve ever had more deserving nominees. Idiocy, it seems, was in the air, helped no doubt by the fact that the Republican Party was holding it’s quadrennial hate-fest (also known as the Republican National Convention) in St. Paul, Minnesota. So, without further ado….
 
Much of the foolishness this week revolved around the Sarah Palin nomination for the Vice Presidency. I’ve blogged about Palin pretty extensively over the past week, and I won’t get into the various issues and non-issues here. I will say that there were moments when the press acquitted itself poorly, jumping on leads that turned out to be far less significant than they seemed at first. For instance, there was a rumor going around to the effect that Palin had at one point belonged to the Alaskan Independence Party, which has called for Alaska’s secession from the Union. Turns out this wasn’t true. She has always been a Republican. She and her husband attended the AIP convention in 1994, and she addressed the group at the start of their convention via taped message earlier this year, but that seems to be the extent of her connection to the party. It shouldn’t have been reported the way it was. But for the record, the rumor originated with members of the AIP
 
Then there was the article in the Washington Post that claimed she had “slashed funding” for pregnant teens -- a seeming irony given her current family situation. This also turned out to be less than accurate. She didn’t actually cut funds for the program in question, but rather cut a planned increase in funds and stretched the appropriated amount out over several years instead of giving it in one lump sum.  
 
And there was a report that she tried to ban books at the Wasilla Library when she was mayor. Technically this isn’t quite true, though the actual story is still deeply disturbing and reflects poorly on her judgment, not to mention her understanding of the United States Constitution. Parents in Wasilla expressed concern about the content of some books available to their children in the public library, and they went to their new mayor and asked her to have the books removed. Of course, she should have said, “I’m sorry, but this is the United States of America, and we don’t censure the arts or limit the availability of such things at public institutions because a vocal, backward minority doesn’t approve of the content.”  Instead, Palin asked the head of the Wasilla Library to look into honoring their request, and when this woman refused (just as she should have) Palin fired her. I really don’t see how the actual events reflect well on Palin, but her supporters seem to feel it’s important to get the story right.
 
Finally, there was the media’s intense focus on the revelation on Monday that Palin’s 17 year-old daughter, Bristol, was pregnant. Many Republicans wanted to know why the press was paying so much attention to this when it was clearly a personal matter, a family matter. I would argue that Palin’s support for abstinence-only sex education makes it somewhat relevant.  I would argue that the way the McCain Campaign, with the complicity of the Palins, dragged Bristol’s boyfriend into the family tableau that they used throughout the convention was disgustingly exploitative of a “private matter.” And, as I’ll show in a moment, the right-wing pundits have been incredibly hypocritical about this.  But I’ll grant that the media frenzy on Monday was a bit much.
 
So anyway, the press gets a nomination.
 
But then Palin’s supporters started going on and on about how the press was out to get her and was sexist because it was vetting her in ways the McCain Campaign clearly hadn’t, and things just started getting silly. Thank goodness we had Jon Stewart and “The Daily Show” to set matters right. Some of you may remember that in last week’s BOW Award post I referred to Karl Rove’s attack on Tim Kaine’s qualifications to be Vice President. Rove was convinced that Kaine would be Barack Obama’s VP choice, and so he made a point of saying that Kaine’s three years as Governor of Virginia and his time as mayor of Richmond, which is not even one of the hundred largest cities in America, didn’t qualify him for the VP slot. The choice of Kaine, Rove concluded, would have been purely political and would have shown dangerous disregard for the question of whether Kaine was actually prepared to be President.  Stewart played that same clip on his show this week, and then showed Rove going on and on about how wonderful a choice Palin is for VP, though she’s been governor for half the time Kaine has been, and despite the fact that Wasilla is one twentieth the size of Richmond.   So, that’s one nomination for Karl Rove for being a world class hypocrite.  
 
There’s more: Bill O’Reilly of Fox News has been outraged -- outraged, I tell you! -- by the treatment of Sarah Palin in the wake of the pregnancy revelation. These are the types of problems all parents have with their teenage kids and certainly Sarah and Todd Palin can’t be held responsible. Enter Stewart again. Remember back in the spring when it was revealed that Britney Spears’ younger sister, Jamie Lynn, was pregnant? Well, not surprisingly. Bill-O had a slightly different response to teen pregnancy then. The pregnancy was a tragedy and it was entirely the fault of Jamie Lynn Spears’ “pinhead” parents.  So, one nomination for Bill O’Reilly for being a world class hypocrite (not to mention a world class jackass).
 
And yes, there’s even more: Dick Morris, once Bill Clinton’s pollster, now a commentator for Fox News, spent much of the week castigating the press for their sexism in the way they were looking into Sarah Palin’s past, her experience, and her qualifications for the office. So did Nancy Pfotenhauer, McCain’s Sr. Policy Advisor. And of course, so did Palin herself. And thanks to Jon Stewart, we have tape of all three of these people -- Morris, Pfotenhauer, and Palin -- criticizing Hillary Clinton for complaining that sexism was hindering her campaign (“whining” about it, to use Palin’s word). So, one nomination each for Dick Morris, Nancy Pfotenhauer, and Sarah Palin, for being world class hypocrites.
 
All of these acts of stupidity are rooted in the simple fact that John McCain did not probably vet Palin for the position, leaving the media little choice but to do the job for him.  And, of course, they did this by immediately and legitimately asking questions about Palin’s foreign policy experience. Steve Doocy, also of Fox News, made the remarkably stupid argument that because Alaska is so close to Russia, Palin knows how to deal with Vladimir Putin.  (Stewart’s response? [Paraphrasing] Yes, and because Alaska is so close to the North Pole, she also knows Santa.) But what is totally inexcusable is that McCain used the same ridiculous argument to justify his choice of Palin in an interview with Charles Gibson on ABC News!! This is the guy who is supposedly the most qualified person ever to seek the Presidency (that’s the tripe they were peddling at the convention Thursday night) and he believes that Alaska’s proximity to Russia gives Palin the foreign policy expertise necessary to be Vice President?! That’s a nomination for John McCain.
 
We do have one nomination from outside of the Republican Convention bubble, and it’s a doozy. Representative Lynn Westmoreland, Republican of Georgia, said that Barack and Michelle Obama are members “of an elitist-class . . . that think they’re uppity.” Asked to clarify if he had actually called the Obamas “uppity” Westmoreland said, “Uppity, yeah.”  For those who don’t know, the word “uppity” according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Westmoreland’s hometown paper) has its roots in the Jim Crow Era, and is “a word applied to African-Americans who tried to rise above servile positions.” I guess you kind of have to admire the guy for coming out and saying what the Right has been hinting at for months. No more closeted racism. It’s right out there in the open now. Westmoreland claims he didn’t know that the word had racist overtones. He grew up in the South. I’ve lived here for sixteen years and I knew it after the first month.   That’s a nomination for Lynn Westmoreland.
 
So who wins? Well, actually none of the above.  At the beginning of this (now very long) post, I referred to the RNC as a “hate-fest”. I probably offended some of my Republican readers by doing so. Too bad. That’s what it was. Last week at the DNC in Denver, every criticism of John McCain’s record was predicated with praise for his life story and his service to the country. Now don’t get me wrong. Democrats did this because they thought it would play well on television, and it did. But that was the tone Barack Obama set for the convention, and his surrogates stuck to it. Republican speakers, by stark contrast, were dismissive of Obama’s life story, insulting and derisive in how they spoke about his experience, and offensive in the way they continued to harp on Michelle Obama’s alleged lack of patriotism. Tuesday night’s theme at the Republican Convention was “Honoring Service.” Wednesday night’s theme, it seems, was “Ignore All That Stuff We Said Last Night About Honoring Service, Unless That Service Happens To Have Been Performed By A Republican.” First Rudy Giuliani and then Sarah Palin spoke of Barack Obama’s years of work as a community organizer with condescension and contempt, and the GOP delegates were practically frothing at the mouth they enjoyed it so. 
 
Barack Obama graduated from HarvardLawSchool very near the top of his class. He was the first African American ever named Editor of the Harvard Law Review. He could have done anything coming out of law school. He could have gone to Wall Street and made enough in his first six months to pay off all his student loans AND start working on a collection of houses to rival McCain’s. Instead, he went back to Chicago and started working in the streets to help unemployed steel workers. He worked on behalf of the poor and downtrodden, homeless families and kids in trouble with drugs. That’s service. That should be celebrated, not mocked. Republicans oppose most government programs aimed at helping the poor. Now, apparently, they also look down their noses at people who give their time and effort to helping the poor. Perhaps it would be more convenient for Republicans if we simply got rid of the poor. That way they wouldn’t even have to think about them. The fact is, my Republican friends, you may not understand what a community organizer does, but you have no more right to ridicule that chapter in Barack Obama’s life than I would have to ridicule John McCain’s decision to go into the Navy. You may not like Barack Obama, you may not want him to be President, but you should have the decency and honesty to acknowledge his accomplishments. By belittling him, you diminish yourselves. By resorting to ridicule and mockery you make yourselves seem petty and small.   That’s what your convention delegates did. The Republican base might have been fired up by what happened in St. Paul, but so was the Democratic base, which is why the Obama Campaign raised nearly $10 million in the twenty-four hours following Palin’s smug acceptance speech. 
 
There were plenty of deserving nominees this week, but I’m giving this week’s BOW Award to the delegates of the Republican National Convention for their vitriolic displays of partisanship. Take a BOW there folks, you’ve earned it. And then by all means, tell us more about how you and your candidates intend to end the partisan bickering in Washington….

Comments

( 31 comments — Leave a comment )
wldhrsjen3
Sep. 6th, 2008 08:59 pm (UTC)
I don't intend to disagree, but I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by McCain and Palin's attacks on the Congressional/executive establishment in general and by their references to corruption/mistakes by _both_ parties. Partisan, yes - but that's the nature of an election. Obama and his supporters are no less vitriolic, in my opinion. This doesn't mean, of course, that I agree with everything they were saying. But I guess I didn't see it quite as badly as you did. :)
davidbcoe
Sep. 6th, 2008 09:11 pm (UTC)
I'm sure there are many who will disagree with what I wrote. But if you go back through the speeches -- read the transcripts of them -- the difference in tone between the two conventions was stark and troubling.
scbutler
Sep. 6th, 2008 10:26 pm (UTC)
Right on, David. Or maybe Left on.
davidbcoe
Sep. 7th, 2008 12:33 am (UTC)
Thanks, Sam! I'm a proud member of the Angry Left. Seems to me we have lots to be ticked off about.

Edited at 2008-09-07 12:34 am (UTC)
(no subject) - scbutler - Sep. 7th, 2008 02:19 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - davidbcoe - Sep. 7th, 2008 03:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
hedwig_snowy
Sep. 7th, 2008 12:51 am (UTC)
Hey! But there were 120 black people at the RNC Convention! There so diverse!

While hypocrisy is not a one-party concept, I wonder what they would've said if Obama had a daughter in the same situation? That they're claiming "sexism" for what is mostly appropriate vetting of Palin is sexist in itself and self-defeating. Include in that mantra whining and victimhood and you've got the GOP trifecta to attempt to get a VP pick, one heart beat away from the Oval Office, into office before anyone notices that Palin doesn't have the chops to be VP.

Nancy Pfotenhauer gives my backside a pain. She's worse than Perino, worse than McClellan, worse than...well just about every other spokesperson ever. Now, I immediately change the channel whenever she comes on to save me from throwing something at my set.

They certainly took liberties with the truth at the RNC con. And, I was glad to see Rachel Maddow (subbing for Olbermann last night) call there statements what they were, "Lies". I'm tired of the media using slick language to describe outright lies by politicians. Period.

The final outrage at the convention was the 9/11 video. Does the GOP have any shame left? Creeps.
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(no subject) - tiarella - Sep. 7th, 2008 05:19 am (UTC) - Expand
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tiarella
Sep. 7th, 2008 04:37 am (UTC)
Obama = intelligent & thoughtful, near the top of his class
McCain = stupid hothead, near the bottom of his class

Biden = intelligent and pleasant windbag
Palin = shrill ditz that plays intimidation politics and reminds me of Roseanne Barr (see Youtube church videos)

We've had a stupid hothead for 8 years. We don't need 8 more years of it.
davidbcoe
Sep. 7th, 2008 04:21 pm (UTC)
I agree with the "hothead" and the bit about intimidation politics. But I worry that by calling McCain stupid and Palin a ditz we fall into the same derisive politics that we saw this week at the RNC. I also think that those labels can lead us to underestimating them. McCain's not stupid, he's just a consummate politician hiding behind the "Maverick" mask. And Palin is very intelligent; she's just an ideological nightmare.
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davidbcoe
Sep. 7th, 2008 04:26 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Alis. I've been giving to the campaign, too. And I agree that there was a juvenile quality to her insults. But that's the level of political discourse that has worked for the GOP election cycle after election cycle. They really suck at running the country, but boy do they know how to win elections.
(no subject) - madkestrel - Sep. 8th, 2008 01:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - davidbcoe - Sep. 8th, 2008 02:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
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sleigh
Sep. 7th, 2008 12:55 pm (UTC)
Yes.

[applauds softly]
davidbcoe
Sep. 7th, 2008 04:27 pm (UTC)
Thanks, my friend.
crazywritergirl
Sep. 7th, 2008 01:35 pm (UTC)
Apparently the decision to mock community organizers is causing a stir. The folks out in the communities who actually get work done (as opposed to Washington) are miffed at the insult they received during the RNC. One organizer pointed out that not all of them are Liberals. They're just folks doing what needs to be done. To diss them was stupid.

Frank Rich wrote an excellent column in the NY Times today about the Palin-McCain Shotgun Marriage. Well worth the read. It's here: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/07/opinion/07rich.html?th&emc=th
davidbcoe
Sep. 7th, 2008 04:28 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the Frank Rich link. Great piece. I still think it's too early to know the effect of the conventions. I think ultimately the tone of the GOP speeches will not serve them well. And as Palin's star power fades, the stuff about Troopergate and the Bridge to Nowhere and earmarks will come back to haunt them.
jer_bear711
Sep. 8th, 2008 12:42 pm (UTC)
Joe Klein had a great piece in Newsweek about what a community organizer does. Howard Fineman also talked about it on Countdown on Friday, pointing out that Barack Obama was working for a Catholic CHURCH when he was a community organizer.

IOW, he was part of a faith-based initiative, the very thing the Republicans supposedly support.

But to them, the only service that matters is the kind with a gun and uniform. Killing people overseas is more patriotic than helping people here.
davidbcoe
Sep. 8th, 2008 02:40 pm (UTC)
>>But to them, the only service that matters is the kind with a gun and uniform. Killing people overseas is more patriotic than helping people here.<<

And you disagree with that? You must be one of those bleeding heart liberals I hear so much about....
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(no subject) - davidbcoe - Sep. 8th, 2008 04:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jer_bear711 - Sep. 8th, 2008 05:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
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