Palin As Pitbull In Lipstick: All Bark And No Bite

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[Election 2008] 




As the John McCain assault troops were going on the attack against the so-called “liberal” media, Alaska Governor cum Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin assumed center-stage at the Republican Convention and delivered a well- scri pted acceptance speech, to borrow a phrase from the Bard, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Absolutely nothing.


But perhaps poor Billy Shakespeare is part of the liberal media elite, too.


It was a strange mixture of Jimmy-Stewart-in-drag from Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, blended with a turn by Reese Witherspoon in the darkly comical Election. But the Republican/Christian right—and folks we are talking territory somewhere beyond Attila the Hun—lapped it up with cheers and standing ovations. Make no mistake about it, and Democrats will do so only at their peril, the Republican base is newly invigorated. They have never been comfortable with John McCain, but in Sarah “Barracuda” Palin, they got their girl.


Let me give Palin her due: with a degree in journalism from Podunk, Idaho, and a makeover provided by Vogue magazine, Palin delivered her lines admirably, stumbling only over the multi-syllables and phrases that she’d never uttered before: like Al-Qaida. She had done a few brief stints as a sportscaster in her adopted Alaska, and she knew what it meant to read a teleprompter. But when it comes to substance, she’s in so way over her head that there’s no pretense of making it to the top. She’ll play out the next 60 days as the Little Mermaid and let the bubbles flow to the surface. It’s all one big cartoon.


Palin delivered her attack lines with red-neck panache, but it will wait to be seen if they hit home with independents and moderates. I don’t think so. I saw how my 93-year-old Republican mother responded to her; she walked out of the room. So did others I know. And I can only imagine that she sent those last Hillary Clinton holdouts trembling.


In spite of claims by Republican lapdogs to the contrary, Palin was all hat and no saddle at the podium. She said nothing about the economy, nothing of substance about the myriad of international issues that confront this nation. Her energy policy was straight out of a high school civics class and meant to appease everyone. She had trouble with the phrase “nuclear energy”—and I’m not sure how comfortable the American people will be with atomic power plants on every street corner.


Then there was the overwhelming gall of it all: Palin comparing her six years as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, to that of Obama’s career as a community organizer, state senator, U.S. Senator, and more significantly, an international political figure for the past four years. This feeds into the derision that Palin got more votes than Joe Biden. In fact, a look at the City of Wasilla web site reveals that in 1999, Palin received all of 909 votes for mayor, which is not quite what I received for student body president in junior high school. That’s right: less than a decade ago, Sarah Palin received 909 votes and the Republicans are touting this record.


Then there was the utter gall of her broaching the line of foreign policy: “Al-Qaida terrorists want to harm America,” she snarled, “and [Obama’s] worried someone won't read 'em their rights.” It was populist demagoguery at its worst, straight out of the Huey Long playbook.


The Republicans will stoop to anything.


Moreover, as the father of a so-called “special needs” child, I was particularly outraged and appalled by her claim that she will go to Washington and speak on behalf of “special needs parents.” In fact, the evangelical Palin opposes stem-cell medical research, a line of study that promises hope for a cure for my daughter. Sarah Palin doesn’t speak one breath for me or my family or for any other special needs parents praying for medical breakthroughs through stem-cell research.


I will fight her on that score until my last breath.


For all the golly-gees and smooth-overs in the Twin Cities, the most offensive aspects of the marketing of Sarah Palin remain the fabrications and deceits surrounding her public record in Alaska. She backed off from touting her opposition to the Bridge to Nowhere (the local press caught her in that lie), but she continues to paint herself as an anti-government maverick, opposed to government spending and pork-barrel programs.


That is, of course, unless the benefit her or her many constituencies.


“While I was at it, I got rid of a few things in the governor's office that I didn't believe our citizens should have to pay for,” Palin touted. “That luxury jet was over the top. I put it on eBay.” Where it didn’t sell; it was a publicity stunt. Nor did she mention that the jet was originally purchased by her one-time politically ally, Frank Murkowski, a Republican.


In a passionate plea for more media scrutiny, Time Magazine’s Joe Klein urged his colleagues not to give in to the McCain-Palin bullying. “It is important for the public to know that Palin raised taxes as governor,” Klein wrote, “supported the Bridge to Nowhere before she opposed it, pursued pork-barrel projects as mayor, tried to ban books at the local library and thinks the war in Iraq is ‘a task from God.’ The attempts by the McCain campaign to bully us into not reporting such things are not only stupidly aggressive, but unprofessional in the extreme.”


Sarah Palin is a fraud. She’s a pitbull in lipstick, all right, and her fangs are real. But when it comes to substance, she’s all bark and no bite.




Black Star News columnist and award-winning filmmaker and journalist Geoffrey Dunn, Ph. D., is the former recipient of a both a John L. Senior Fellowship to the Cornell University Graduate School of Government and a National Newspaper Association Award for Investigative Journalism. His most recent film is Calypso Dreams. His exclusive interview with former Wasilla police chief Irl Stambaugh can be read here:






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