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Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Silent Republican Civil War: and of course Some Palin

Some rambling thoughts after the first Presidential debate, and before Thursday, and much of it inspired by DC Democrat’s excellent diary.

Ever since McCain made his first big decision of his campaign, selecting Governor Palin as his VP, I’ve begun to mentally construct what happened in the Republican party during those long months of the Democratic Primary battles

While some of the conflict between Obama and Hillary appalled many of us, it probably enthralled the rest of the country, and McCain and his strategists looked at this long and hard.

At first they tried to exploit it, fanning internal problems with Rush Limbaugh’s Operation Chaos, sending legions of obvious trolls to invade our blogs. But at heart they must have been sickened. Dems were capturing all the public attention: they had two phenomenal change candidates, one a woman, one a black American, who enthused different constituencies to register, turn out and participate in a vote. If these active elements could unify They must have wracked their brains to work out: what can we do?

And so for three months, the rumor has it that McCain wanted Lieberman but the conservative base wouldn’t wear it. It was only in REACTION to Obama’s VP pick that McCain decided to play a gender card and pick Palin

Let’s just stop and rewind this a moment. McCain went from a centrist independent VP to the far inexperienced right. Can you imagine two ideologically different candidates? Two candidates with such a gap in experience? What does this lurching swing tell you? Of course, many things about McCain’s recklessness and pursuit of power without principle. But Lieberman or Palin? What does it tell you about the state of the GOP?

It tells me this party is at war with itself.

Just as the rejection of the bailout plan has shown house Republicans are now speaking with many divergent voices, Palin’s pick is a symptom of the venomous but silent civil war which is engulfing the Republican Party.

While democrats thrashed around from February to June, yelling loudly, throwing dishes at each other, showing their dirty laundry to the world, they were still at least talking. Looking back, despite the razzmatazz and photo opportunities of the Republican convention, aren’t the fissures between supporters of McCain, Romney or Huckabee, just too wide to bridge.

Which brings me back again, as all good threads must, to Palin. By combining the qualities of the Huckabee base with their first woman VP, no doubt McCain wanted to activate the base, take over some core dem support for women, and triangulate his way out of his fissiparous party. Governor Palin was the bright shiny new thing which could act like a bandaid for the party wounds. But the strategy unravelled quickly because of the pure ineptitude of lifestyle identity politics.  Coates in The Atlantic skewers both the cynicism and sexism of this move

In election season, there is a price for being turned into a symbol. When actual journalists, with a rep to protect, show up, they are going to do their job. Which brings me to the sexism of John McCain. He knew full well what Sarah Palin was going to face if he nominated her. He knew that reporters would go through her past, that they’d quizz her on the present, that she would need to be ready, and he shunted concern aside, and tossed her to the wolves. Think on that for a moment. For one last run at the White House, he risked a future star of the party he claims to call home. How do you do that?

I don’t meant to rob Palin of agency, certainly she is also a victim of her own calculations and ambitions. But where I am from the elders protect you, and pull you back when you’ve gone too far, when your head has gotten too big.

Which leads us to the bigger as yet unknown story of the silent war within the GOP, which led to this reckless desperate hurried decision.

Palin is bearing the brunt of this. And like Coates I pity Palin too insofar as she’s actually a product of McCain’s desperation, itself a symptom of the Republican’s ideological implosion


  1. this woman is so totally anathema to my beliefs that I can only rejoice in her predicament. Her exposure as a right-wing nutcase may be the best thing that comes out of this election, if it keeps her out of future national political consideration. She was a rising star on the Right. What does that tell you about the Right? My fervent hope is that she gets sent back to Alaska to finish her career in politics. She can’t do much damage from there.

  2. spacemanspiff

    Palin is the Democrat’s best weapon now. Last night was more proof of that when Joe was on all the major channels pushing the talking points and Palin was… a bar. She is not an attack dog, and it’s hysterical the way some proclaimed her to be that “pitbull” after her rehearsed convention speech.

    I can’t wait till Thursday. Expectations could not be any lower and nothing we do ( in the blogosphere) will change that perception. I personally believe it will be a disaster. Do you imagine her going toe to toe with either Obama OR McCain last night? Joe Biden could probably do better than either of them and that’s who she’s facing on Thursday. Scary thought for the GOP.

  3. Jjc2008

    as someone who has gone toe to toe with some bloggers, as someone who has been proud to call herself a feminist from the first time I heard the word, I can tell you this: Sarah Palin is not good for women; her attempt to paint herself as the victim of sexism for no other reason (as I do not believe she cares much about other women) than to win some political points has been a failure.

    While my narratives on this are anecdotal and small in number, they are true to life.  Every one of my female colleagues and relatives, most who call/talk to me because I have been the most politically active, had the same resentful reaction.   Palin was an insult to Hillary, to Hillary supporters, to women in general.  And that had nothing to do with democrats or republicans.  I had stated I would have felt as angry if Obama had picked Sebelius or McGaskil.  Some of it for some of us has to do with age.  Those of us who are Hillary’s age saw it as the same “older women” who have worked the hardest for the longest, are ignored for a variety of reasons, including “looks.”  Take a look at the media.  Look at the women who get to be ONSCREEN. Is there a counterpart in “looks” to a Russert, a Matthews, a Buchanan a Blitzer?   In that I mean, would any over fifty, somewhat overweight, pudgy type, graying haired average at best looking women get a job on cable? Occasionally we see Candy Crowley or Donna Brazille…but never as much as the men in that age/size category.

    So Hillary being replaced by a less experienced, younger woman would be another slap in the face to those of us who worked for the last forty years and were consistently passed over for younger men and women.  Older men have wisdome; older women are mocked or disappeared.  

    The younger women in my circle feel Palin is a mocking of them while Hillary inspired them.  

    My “Hillary” friends consist of black women, Hispanic women, lesbian women mostly my age, a few younger.  

    Palin stands for everything the we feel hurts women: paternalistic religious beliefs; looks over substance; paternalistic thugs protecting her from the press.  She speaks clearly about how she feels about women’s issues and we don’t like it.

    And when women like her distort sexism, it makes me see red.  Sexism was blatant against Hillary but because she was older, because she was a Clinton, because the right has been framing Hillary Hate for over a decade, it was ignored.  And NOW the press is suddenly aware of how it treats women???

    I think the SNL skit with Tina Fey was profound as well as funny.  “Now they care about sexism????”

    Just being honest here….

  4. rfahey22

    and asked me why I and others didn’t take them as seriously as Palin’s.  It’s an interesting question, and I think that part of the answer has to due with the fact that McCain’s choice of her in the first place was nakedly cynical and manipulative.  When Obama chose Biden, it was logical that McCain might choose a female VP nominee, simply to continue dividing Democrats.  And so, because the choice was a purely political consideration, the burden is on Palin to prove that her candidacy is more than simple tokenism.  She has failed to do that spectacularly.  Biden, on the other hand, is not the sharpest tool in the shed but clearly has a firm grasp of federal politics and could step into the presidency at a moment’s notice.

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