International Writers Magazine
US Election 2008:
Total Eclipse of McCaine
Palin Plan Plagiarizes Change Mantra Into Driver's Seat
is no point ignoring it any longer; John McCain's brief stint as
the focal point of the Republican ticket for president of the United
States is over. Sarah Palin is in charge now. The polls, the press,
the people, and the opposition party's obsession with confronting
her at every turn have spoken; it is all Palin all the time. McCain
is simply in the way now.
It was a magnificently
forgettable few weeks, but his party didn't want him in the first place,
and this crazy idea that he even represented the slightest reflection
of change was always taken as a mild pun anyway. The whole shebang was
silly and pathetic and no one bought it and probably weren't going to,
which is why Palin is being paraded like a trophy wife across Marshal
McLuhan's roadmap. It is Palin, the New Generation Part II, whom we
crave. It is Palin we want to see at rallies, hear in interviews, to
challenge her resume, her experience and her policies. McCain's role
from here on in is nothing more than expensive chaperone.
This is where most columnists would squeeze in the odd I Told You So
sentence; but you'll get none of that here. We simply point out once
more that this election from Day One has never been about Race, Gender,
Economics, War, Poverty, Healthcare, Security, or any other banal subject
usually tossed about during these things. It has been and will be, and
right now is officially all about generation.
Palin, 44, is the GOP's answer to the nineteen-month birthing of Change
emanating from 47 year-old Barack Obama's movement. All of that arduous
battling against the Boomer Clinton hordes and entrenched Washington
lifers merely set the stage for the quick-fix alternative; the New Coke
for the giddy Pepsi Generation: The Monkees for The Beatles, Desperate
Housewives for Sex In The City, Spin for Rolling
Remember a few weeks ago when the McCain Campaign ran that goofy ad
portraying Obama as a fabricated amalgam of Paris Hilton and Britney
Spears? Well now they have their own Lindsay Lohan/Christina Aguilera
model, and suddenly being the sound, conventional, safer choice is dumped
with the bath water.
But this could all turn out to be a colossal blunder. Although it tends
to get dazzled for the short term, the American voter almost always
chooses the entrenched historical imperative of Conservative/Military/White
Guy over Liberal/Northern/New Guy (never mind black guy). Palin throes
a rusty wrench into all of that, not the least of which is replacing
"guy" with "gal", and not to mention putting the
Real Deal back into this wishy-washy, flip-flopping, fraudulent load
of feces the previous candidate offered up. John McCain used to stand
for a sound combination of moderate to social liberalism combined with
an interesting dollop of conservative economic restraint, but has since
traded the whole mess for a photo-op and a headline. But did it ultimately
cost him the presidency?
Loose Canon McCain, who was almost certainly the frontrunner when the
dust settled in November even if he had picked a Buick as a running
mate, was apparently not exciting enough for those Republicans who were
still voting for Mike Huckabee weeks after he bowed out of the race.
They needed a newer slice of the Wow. What they got was a whirlwind
of equally doled-out manic press exuberance and disdain, celebrity clamoring
and Flavor Of The Month histrionics.
But never mind the Longview, this is a quick-fix nation, and for now
Palin is its perfect candidate. She didn't have to survive months of
vicious attacks from opponents, win/lose a series of tired primaries
or bother to speak to actual reporters to defend vacillating positions.
Instead she appears out of nowhere smiling facedly, spouting cute aphorisms,
and playing the willing victim to Leftist-driven jealous rages and misinterpreted
asides. All the while she is impervious to any of it. Florenz Ziegfeld,
godfather of American cabaret, once mused, "When you're rolling,
Fame & Infamy stand side by side." In other words, "Say
what you want, just print a picture and spell my name right" --
the oldest PR axiom in the book.
To Wit: Palin has lied repeatedly and unabashedly about halting the
infamous Alaskan Bridge To Nowhere project against which her current
running mate once led a crusade, yet by all accounts, including a three-day
investigative report by the ultra-Right Wall Street Journal, Palin not
only failed to oppose it, she championed it. And by all evidence since,
the state she runs has yet to return the nearly $300 million of federal
taxes used to pay for what is now universally depicted as a monumental
None of this matters one iota. She is the new Teflon Queen, a Bill Clinton
V.2, unable to be impeded by mere rumor or evidence. In fact, like Clinton,
as each dart fails to penetrate her armor she grows stronger and more
appealing, almost robotically fierce.
But no matter how you slice the Palin phenomenon, John McCain's sad
shuffle into the shadows is complete. Watching him smile restively behind
his proposed vice president as she laps up the limelight recalls a famous
Life magazine photograph of Dean Martin working his way through
a mediocre standard while Jerry Lewis is frantically camping it up out
front; the older, less-talented Italian crooner expressing both relief
and envy that a much younger, far more engaging character was carrying
the day. It is the same look Hillary Clinton had those final weeks of
the primaries when she was living in a bizarre fantasyland of comebacks.
The only difference here is Clinton is yesterday's news and McCain could
very well still be president, while Sarah Palin is going to a ribbon
cutting at a federal library opening.
And this is wrong, because according to most everyone with a pen and
a microphone this puppy is Palin's to win or lose. You can count me
among them. There is no turning back for McCain now. He is our wrinkled
Garfunkel. Tell me you won't bristle with disappointment when he and
not the Gun-Toting, Bible-Thumping Annie Oakley shows up for those debates
A candidacy that David Gergen recently described as "bizarre to
the point of absurd" has somehow trumped the illusion that Obama
could actually run the Electoral map in the ultra-polarized puritanical
fop that is the greater United States. Somewhere in the depths of the
Republican psyche having the lily white, military vet, was not cutting
it. Campaign czar, Steve Schmidt, a Karl Rove lackey -- without all
the Gin Martini abuse -- concluded that this media blitz from Juno was
the elixir. History will eventually record that it was Schmidt's bright
idea to yank the first term governor of the fourth least-populated state
in the union; pushing what can best be described as a complete novice
on a ticket with a 72 year-old war veteran with an ambiguous medical
Some will say that its better to be interesting than good, better to
have star power than a sure thing.
Problem is, sure things win elections.
Star power goes on the lecture circuit.
That is until this improbable year of historical firsts when at least
one Star is on its way to Pennsylvania Avenue.
© James Campion
Palin Overshadows McCain
one fell swoop the McCain camp galvanized a flaccid base, challenged
the gender/generational voting gap, and put some historical wow into
a comatose candidate fronting a damaged brand.
Democrats Make Mile High Noise and History - James Campion
are only two aims of achieving success at a major party's national convention;
define/redefine the candidate while skewering his opponent and bridging
any chasms widened by primary overzealousness, power positioning, and/or
the expected special interest harangues.
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