My son, a recent Iraq veteran and once conservative Republican, rearranged my head last night with this stunning observation — McCain/Palin was rapidly becoming a more terrifying proposition than four more years of Bush/Cheney. It took only a moment of consideration to accept the once unfathomable was now real.
Even George Bush wasn’t so cynical and dismissive of the American people to make a vice-presidential choice as unqualified and pandering as Sarah Palin. At least Dick Cheney would bring to the presidency a depth and gravitas, however foul and menacing. Even as his decisions would have disgusted and horrified us, he would have made them knowing exactly what the hell he was doing. Sarah Palin presents the specter of a supremely empowered righteous idiot, actually LESS informed George Bush, more extreme than Pat Robertson and more blissfully reckless than Donald Rumsfeld.
And at least when George Bush lied, there was within those lies some thin frayed thread of truth. When confronted with his falsehoods, George Bush seemed somewhat uncomfortable with them. His lies may have been outrageous, but they usually weren’t bald-faced repeated reassertions that the sky is not blue. McCain doesn’t lie in the traditional sneaky George Bush sense — as a man always conscious of the possibility of being caught. McCain lies like a madman lies or a mad dog fights – as if he can own the truth through sheer willpower.
Dogmatic, inflexible, foolish, flippant, at least George Bush never seemed so feral and so self-righteous as to be utterly divorced from reflection. George Bush felt the need at times to justify his decisions to the American people and answer to the powers within his party. As much as he ruled with platitudes, we all knew he didn’t really believe them. The Maverick presents as someone accountable to nothing but his own batshit crazy thoughts.
A McCain/Palin administration could leave us longing for the good old days of Condoleeza Rice and Alberto Gonzalez, where even as our will was defied and our Constitution trampled, some sense of competency prevailed. With McCain making the decisions we could wake up to wall to wall Harriet Myers and Michael Browns — people that struck McCain as “just like him” while utterly, spectacularly unqualified for their posts.
While Bush ran a corrupt militaristic anti-Constitutional puppet coup, McCain may well give us a government driven by the ego of a true unrestrained madman — a Calligula’s Rome. If nothing else, George Bush became predictable. We knew the Bush monster was driven by the rationale of greed, not the psychosis of divine mandates and pent-up POW rage.
And not to weaken the argument, but at least GW was fun to watch in his malapropisms and cowboy cluelessness surrounded by his cartoon cast of villains and grasping vipers. Given our collective fatigue and the dire nature of our shared circumstances, under their respective protective mantle of POWism and supermomism, McCain and Palin may deny us even the solace of laughter.
Imagine four years or more of unvarnished sanctimonious dismantling of the separation of church and state married to “bomb bomb bomb” whomever. Imagine a band of brothers (and a sister or two) assembled by a man who long ago drank the red, white and blue Kool-aid and set out on a mission to win every fight he could find.