After Sarah Palin had said something especially vapid and convoluted in the Vice Presidential debate, an otherwise poised Joe Biden looked at moderator Gwen Ifill with genuine bemusement and uttered what I now believe will be remembered as the line of the campaign: “I don’t know where to start.”
Where to start, indeed. Every time McCain or Palin says something especially preposterous, I wan’t to open up my laptop and shout, “that’s really especially preposterous!!!” But it has all turned so creepy and surreal, the fun is leaking out of it. Like Joe Klein, I am of two minds: ignore the McCain freak show and hope it goes away, or paint a big sign that says, “you know this is a freak show, right?:
Their strategy is simple: you throw crap against a wall and then giggle as the media try to analyze the putresence in a way that conveys a sense of balance: “Well, it is bull-pucky, but the splatter pattern is interesting…” which, of course, only serves to get your perverse message out.
Or, you sink to a level of petty meanness intended to elicit the worst in some people who aren’t exactly models of civility to begin with.
Make no mistake–the global economy is in meltdown, with 30 years of American exceptionalism as the root cause. We have lost confidence in our leaders, and rest of the world has lost confidence in us. And despite the good news in the polls, there is a real possiblity–in an increasingly “anything-can-happen” world–that John McCain will be the next President of the United States, and Sarah Palin will have energy policy as part of her portfolio. Ok, McCain would never let her actually govern–hell, it’s even money that she’d never be sworn in–but still.
Depressed as I am about the possibility that the Steve Schmidt Shout-o-Rama may accidentally strike a chord with voters and send this election the wrong way, I’ve given up. I just can’t acknowledge McCain’s existence anymore. Citing specifics in the face of the McCain/Palin onslaught is like standing five feet from an open fire hydrant with a dime-store umbrella. It’s simply too painful to admit that in the best of the likely outcomes, my country will fall only a few percentage points shy of electing a guy who has turned out to be a shockingly principle-free wingnut, whose most distinctive talent is distilling vast quantities of outrage and indignation from nothing but the most abundant elements on the periodic table. Palin’s pretty good at this trick, too–one has to think she really blew it when she declared “flute” as her talent of choice in the Miss Alaska competition.
These are serious times. And in the immortal words of Skippy the Bush Moose, “these are not serious people. Dangerous, but not serious.”